Renovation Reality: Actual Costs Of Four Popular Redos

So you want to redo your kitchen. Great! Now you have to do is pick out your new appliances, countertops, backsplash material and other assorted finishes, figure out what to do with your cabinets, find a contractor, and get started. Phew! Before you can do any of that, though, you have to set a budget. Yes, we said the “B word.”

Let’s face it: Budget is a bad word. Not just because it represents an amount of money you may not be entirely comfortable spending, but also because it’s often a number that’s based on what you think you can afford, not what things really cost. When perception meets reality in home renovations, you can be in for a serious sticker-shock experience.

If you’re getting ready to do a remodel or make some updates, it behooves you to do the research before you get too excited about it. It just might turn out that what you think will be an easy and cheap little project isn’t either. We’ve broken down four of the most popular renovations by expected cost so that you can make a more informed decision.

Redoing kitchen cabinets

If you’ve never priced out renovations, you really have no point of reference. We personally experienced one of those perception-does-not-meet-reality situations recently when we started gathering information about the cost of painting our kitchen cabinets to take them from the traditional Cherry tone we’ve never liked to something a little more modern. True Story: We had laughingly agreed that we would pull the trigger if it was less than $1,000, only to come to find out that it was going to be triple that. So, never mind on that whole painting the kitchen cabinets thing, unless we decide it’s worth the hassle and stress (and family strife) of a DIY weekend.

When estimating the cost of your kitchen, contractors may calculate the cost per foot or by the number of cabinets you have, and your estimates may vary wildly due to a number of factors. It’s important to beware of lowball estimates here. Repainting kitchen cabinets is no easy feat, and cutting corners can greatly impact the final product.

When comparing your estimates, look at what each includes; lower-cost jobs may not provide adequate protection for your floors, counters, and appliances, may not prep the cabinets properly, may not include the appropriate number of coats of paint, and may only include the outside of doors and drawers. Also pay attention to whether you are expected to provide paint and materials or if they’re included in the estimate.

Expected cost: $1,200 – 7,000

New flooring

The cost of having new flooring installed will also vary greatly depending on factors including the material chosen, the amount of square footage involved, and the condition of existing flooring. If you’ve never explored flooring options, you may not realize that installation is typically priced per square foot. Many contractors have set prices, while some adjust the price depending on the ease of the material being installed. There may also be geographical differences that affect the cost of installation. And don’t forget to check with big box stores like Home Depot, who may have installation specials tied to specific flooring product purchases. In general, these are the going prices for professional installation:

Expected cost: $2 – 2.50 per square foot

Interior painting

Painting is one of those activities that can give you great bang for your buck, especially if you choose to do it yourself. But not all of us are great at finishing what we’ve started (guilty!) or capable of painting challenging spaces, which makes outsourcing a smart move. Be sure to ask questions of potential contractors including whether or not they provide materials, any extra costs involved with taller ceilings, and steps they take to protect your home and furnishings – you don’t want to end up with speckled everything. They should also be able to give you an estimate as to how many hours the job will take so there are no surprises at the end.

Expected cost: $24 – 45 per hour

New shower

Ever looked into redoing your shower? Would it surprise you to hear that a basic frameless shower door costs $1,500? Yes, what seems like a small job can quickly become a budget-buster, especially when you start to factor in the cost of materials. Get fancy with that tile, and you’re really looking at an expensive renovation given the small amount of space involved.

But, if your shower is tired, not functional, or in need of a reno for other reasons, it can be well worth it. When comparing estimates, you want to look beyond the overall cost to examine what is involved. Is the contractor using the most modern and recommended materials behind the tile to ensure the area is water tight? Are there extra costs involved in installing the shower mechanisms and the drain? Are they updating the plumbing? Are they building out a tile floor or installing a shower pan?

Expect to pay: $1,200 – 2,500 for shower, $1,000 – 2,000 for frameless shower door


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