As homeowners, you have more control over remodeling costs than you realize. The most obvious factor affecting what you'll pay to remodel a kitchen or add a master bedroom addition is the scope of the project. The biggest cost comes from the labor and materials used to add square footage or make major structural changes like moving walls, plumbing, etc.
The real costs though come from the finishes you pick, and you're probably wondering what are finishes? These are all the external home features you see – the moldings and paneling you add to walls, the cabinets and bathroom fixtures you pick, the flooring and lighting decisions that can have a significant impact on remodeling project costs. If you're not convinced, look at the list of bathroom fixtures in one small remodeling project.
Don't believe me? Here's one remodeling companies analysis of 8 projects that explains this in lots more detail.
You Control Remodeling Costs – (Whether You Know It or Not)!
… Contributed by Jackie Braitman, Braitman Design/Build
The chart above documents 8 remodeling jobs my firm, Braitman Design/Build, completed in late 2007 and 2008. The grey bars represent the percentage of the total remodeling price that went to general construction labor and materials. This includes the price for demolition, site preparation, foundation work, framing carpentry, plumbing, electrical and other types of purely “construction labor and materials”.
The yellow bars represent the cost of finishes and details. This includes items such as plumbing fixtures, tile, flooring, moldings and paneling, cabinets and the other items that make up the aesthetic decisions made by homeowners or designers. The homeowner’s decisions about finishes, appliances and details accounted for more than 50% of the costs in 6 out of the 8 jobs. These discretionary costs represented anywhere from a high of 67% of total job costs to a low of 46% of total job costs. The jobs ranged in size from $50,000 to $600,000 and for these 8 jobs, there was no correlation between size and percent of cost represented by these discretionary costs.
If anything, the chart above, understates the cost of finish decisions because often more detailed or elaborate finish decisions drive up the cost of the construction labor. Two examples illustrate this well.
- If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and you want a shower with multiple shower heads, this will increase the plumbing labor costs and those added costs are captured in the grey bars instead of the yellow, discretionary bars.
- If the addition you’re building has a complicated roof detail or multiple skylights, the extra framing labor is also captured in the grey bars instead of the discretionary yellow bars.