How Much Does it Cost to Remodel?

Tony Stefan is an architect practicing in Sarasota and Manatee Counties

Every renovation project is different, and there are no standard per-square-foot budgets. Many people, builders included, assume that remodeling is similar to new construction, or even costs less! Here are some of the main things to consider:

• Peoples’ ideas about construction costs are often based on new mass-production houses, where similar or same designs are executed many times over, having one project located very close to the next project, by large crews having divisions of labor, within a highly informed and competitive negotiating environment. This is very different from how renovation projects are procured and delivered.

• Every remodeling project utilizes a unique team of subcontractors, tradesmen and material suppliers that provide relatively smaller quantities of time and material, in projects scattered throughout a region. Every remodeling project is as unique as the Owner and the Home. In this environment, it’s not possible to gain the efficiencies of scale that production homes have.

Remodeling, like the restaurant business, is a service. Consider this: why does a soda in a restaurant cost so much more than a soda purchased in a grocery? Because you did a lot of your own work buying, transporting, storing, cooling and opening the soda yourself! The contractor is essentially delivering a custom project to your door.

• There is tremendous variability in quality of construction when it comes to building materials and components. Kitchen counter tops can range from $20 per square foot for plastic laminate to over $120 per square foot for exotic marble. Everything from floor tile to faucets to roof covering has a similar range of cost, which makes uniform cost-per-square-foot budgets almost useless.

• You have to go through a thorough design and decision-making process to determine precisely what a project would cost, however useful budgets can be developed early in the process that use reasonable assumptions. Most budgets can be developed after a focused interview, with some preliminary measurements, from a single meeting.

• A good remodeling budget can be developed from a line-item estimate. The project is organized into major construction phases, and within each phase into separate divisions, and within each division into individual activities, which will in turn be further separated into material and labor components.

• After this line-item estimate is developed, then you can add it all together and divide that total amount by the area of the project. This will give you a cost-per-square foot budget!

Find out how an architect can help make your project successful at “What’s in a Design?”