Home Remodels: What You Need To Know


Thinking about remodeling a room or two in your home? If you answered yes, you’re definitely part of a growing trend. In 2001 most of us stayed in our homes for an average of 4 years, today we stay in our homes for an average of 10! No surprise we are investing more and more each year in improving our homes.

According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Services, homeowners spent approximately $100 billion in 2013 on discretionary home alterations and additions in kitchens, bathrooms, and other rooms such as bedrooms, closets, and laundry rooms. This $100 billion is just a third of total remodeling dollars spent in necessary home improvements, replacements, repairs and upgrades due to natural disasters and/or deterioration. This dollar amount increased by 12% in 2014 and again increased in 2015.

There are many reasons that spur home remodels... you’d like to make your newly purchased house into your dream home, your family size just increased or decreased due to a new marriage or a child becoming an adult and going off to school or work, you’ve recently “come home” to work and need a bedroom to become your office, you can’t afford a new home or you can’t obtain a mortgage on another home, etc.  Whatever your reasons, keep your eyes open to the two major realities of home remodels: time and money.

The 2016 Houzz and Home Survey, compiled annually by Houzz.com, provides real insight into the time and money aspects of home remodeling.  (Houzz.com is the reference for all data in this piece except when otherwise stated. Houzz is a website and online community that links housing professionals and local homeowners. Launched here in Palo Alto in 2009, Houzz serves more than 40 million unique users monthly on architectural and landscaping design, decor, and home improvements.)

Let’s discuss money and budgets first. The average cost for home renovation comes in at approximately $59,800. Obviously, the size or square footage of the home determines the cost of the job, as do demographics (people 25-34 years old spend less and those 55 years and up spend more) and the selections of materials, appliances, lighting, heating/cooling/automation. Surprisingly, homeowners who do not create a budget, approximately ⅓, for the job tend to spend less than those who do and stay within their budget, approximately ⅓. Roughly one third of homeowners who create a budget tend to exceed it! Only 3% of renovations come in under budget.

Why do renovation jobs go over budget? People opt for more expensive materials (travertine vs. ceramic tile) or appliances (Sub Zero over Whirlpool). Products and/or services are more costly than anticipated. Unexpected/unavoidable construction and/or code related issues. A change in project/design/scope or a change/dispute with contractors.  Whatever the reasons, if you do create a budget, create a line item within that budget with contingencies for the just-in-case scenarios. And remember to factor in inflation.

The time it takes to do a renovation depends upon the room(s) being renovated (again, size/square footage determine the actual time). The kitchen, the first choice of rooms to be remodelled, takes approximately five months. You read that number correctly...five...5 months!  A master bath takes nearly four months, another bathroom takes about three and a half months.  A laundry room takes approximately three months, a closet two and a half.  Other rooms such as a family or living room take about three and a half months.The more structural changes within the room’s interior, the more electrical/automation changes, the more personnel changes, etc., the more time the job takes.

Bottom line, be prepared to expend time and money for your home renovation.Think through your needs and wants on the front end. Do your research. Be patient as well as exacting. And enjoy your enhanced and improved home!