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How much does it cost to remodel or renovate a house?

on 09/01/2023 | Reading time: 15 minutes
house remodiling
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Remodeling or renovating a house is often necessary to update its appearance, improve its functionality, or increase its value. However, the cost of remodeling or renovating can vary widely depending on various elements, such as the size and scope, the quality of materials used, labor costs, permit and inspection fees, and any unexpected issues or costs. This article will provide an overview of the average costs of remodeling or renovating a house, the factors influencing these costs, ways to save money, and financing options.

Average Cost of Remodeling or Renovation

The average cost of remodeling or renovating a house can range from $20 to $200 per square foot, depending on various factors. Here is a breakdown of the average costs:

  • Labor: $20 to $75 per hour
  • Materials: $10 to $100 per square foot
  • Permits and inspections: $1,000 to $3,000
  • Unexpected issues or costs: Varies
Expense Cost per square foot
Labor $20 - $75
Materials $10 - $100
Permits and Inspections $1,000 - $3,000 total
Unexpected Issues Varies

Factors Influencing Cost

Several factors can influence the cost of remodeling or renovating a house:

  1. Project Size and Scope: The bigger the project, the higher the cost. For example, remodeling a kitchen is typically more expensive than remodeling a bathroom.
  2. Quality of Materials: Higher quality materials will generally be more expensive. For example, granite countertops will be more costly than laminate countertops.
  3. Labor Costs: The project's complexity can cause labor costs and workers' skill level fluctuations. Skilled laborers, such as electricians or plumbers, will charge more than general laborers.
  4. Permit and Inspection Fees: The necessity for permits and inspections, which can elevate the cost, is influenced by the location and extent of the project.
  5. Unexpected Issues or Costs: Unforeseen problems can lead to a rise in the project's overall cost, like finding mold or changing the wiring.
  6. Geographic Location: The cost of remodeling or renovating can vary based on location. For example, remodeling or renovating a house in a large city will generally be more expensive than in a rural area.

Ways to Save Money

There are several ways to save money on a remodeling or renovation project:

  1. DIY vs. Hiring a Professional: When you do work yourself, you can save on labor costs, but it may take longer and not be as professional as hiring a skilled worker.
  2. Reusing or Repurposing Existing Materials: Reusing or repurposing existing materials can save on the cost of new materials.
  3. Comparing Costs to Find the Best Deals: Comparing prices for materials and labor from different sources can effectively economize.
  4. Doing Smaller Projects Incrementally Over Time: Doing smaller projects incrementally over time can spread the cost and make it more manageable.

Financing Options

There are several financing options available for remodeling or renovating a house:

  1. Savings: Savings are the most cost-effective way to pay for a remodeling or renovation project.
  2. Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit: A home equity loan or credit line can be a suitable option for homeowners with adequate home equity.
  3. Personal Loan: A personal loan can be a good option for those without sufficient home equity.
  4. Credit Cards: You can use credit cards for small projects or portions of a larger project, but they typically carry high interest rates.
Financing Option Pros Cons
Savings No interest or fees Requires sufficient savings
Home Equity Loan/Line of Credit Lower interest rates Requires sufficient home equity
Personal Loan Does not require home equity Higher interest rates
Credit Cards Convenient High interest rates

Calculating Costs

To calculate the cost of remodeling or renovating your house, you can use the following formulas:

1. Determine the Size of the Project:

Calculate the square footage of the area to be remodeled or renovated.

Square Footage = Length x Width

2. Calculate Material Costs:

Ascertain the expense of the required materials for each square foot and then multiply by the total square footage.

Material Costs = Cost of Material per Square Foot x Square Footage

3. Calculate Labor Costs:

Determine and multiply the hourly labor rate by the hours needed to complete the project.

Labor Costs = Hourly Rate of Labor x Hours Needed

4. Calculate Permit and Inspection Fees:

Determine the cost of the necessary permits and inspections.

Permit and Inspection Fees = Cost of Permits + Cost of Inspections

5. Calculate Unexpected Costs:

Estimate any incidental costs, such as needing to replace wiring or address mold issues.

Unexpected Costs = Sum of all unexpected expenses

6. Sum all Costs:

Total Cost = Material Costs + Labor Costs + Permit and Inspection Fees + Unexpected Costs

Using these formulas will help you estimate the total cost of your remodeling or renovation project. Nonetheless, it's always prudent to incorporate a 10-20% contingency into your budget to account for unforeseen expenses.

Example: Let's say you are remodeling a kitchen that is 10 feet by 12 feet. You will be using materials that cost $50 per square foot, labor will cost $30 per hour and will take 50 hours to complete, permits and inspections will cost $1,000, and you estimate $500 for unexpected costs.

  1. Square Footage:
    12 ft. x 10 ft. = 120 sq. ft.
  2. Material Costs:
    $50 per square foot x 120 square feet = $6,000
  3. Labor Costs:
    $30 per hour x 50 hours = $1,500
  4. Permit and Inspection Fees:
  5. Unexpected Costs:
  6. Total Cost:
    $6,000 (materials) + $1,500 (labor) + $1,000 (permits and inspections) + $500 (unexpected costs) = $9,000

Therefore, the estimated kitchen remodeling project cost would be $9,000. It is advisable to add a 10-20% contingency to this estimate, so the final budget should be $9,900 to $10,800.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How much does it typically cost to remodel a house?

It usually costs between $20 and $200 per square foot, influenced by factors like the project's size and extent, the materials' quality, labor expenses, fees for permits and inspections, and any unanticipated problems or expenditures.

2. Is it cheaper to remodel or build a new house?

It depends on various factors, such as the condition of the existing home, the extent of the remodeling required, and the location. In some cases, it may be cheaper to remodel, while in others, it may be more cost-effective to build a new house.

3. How can I save money on my remodeling or renovation project?

There are several ways to save money on a remodeling or renovation project:

  • Do the work yourself.
  • Reuse or repurpose existing materials.
  • Compare different sources to find the most competitive prices for materials and labor.
  • Do smaller projects incrementally over time.

4. Do I need a permit to remodel or renovate my house?

It depends on the location and the scope of the project. Some projects may require a permit, while others may not. It is always wise to consult with your local municipal office or building department to confirm the necessity of a permit.

5. How do I finance my remodeling or renovation project?

There are several financing options available for remodeling or renovation projects, including:

  • Using your savings.
  • Taking out a home equity loan or line of credit.
  • Obtaining a personal loan.
  • Using credit cards.

6. How do I estimate the cost of my remodeling or renovation project?

To estimate the cost of your remodeling or renovation project, you can use the following formula:

  • Total Cost = Material Costs + Labor Costs + Permit and Inspection Fees + Unexpected Costs
  • Material Costs = Cost of Material per Square Foot × Square Footage
  • Labor Costs = Hourly Rate of Labor × Hours Needed
  • Permit and Inspection Fees = Cost of Permits + Cost of Inspections
  • Unexpected Costs = Sum of all unexpected expenses

7. How much should I budget for unexpected expenses?

Adding a 10-20% contingency to your budget is advisable to cover any incidental costs that may arise during the remodeling or renovation process.

8. How long does it typically take to remodel or renovate a house?

The time it takes to remodel or renovate a home depends on the size and scope of the project and any unexpected issues that may arise. Smaller projects may take a few days or weeks, while larger projects may take several months.

9. Should I hire a contractor or do the work myself?

It depends on your skill level and the complexity of the project. If you are skilled and comfortable doing the work yourself, it may save you money on labor costs. However, hiring a contractor may be advisable for more complex projects or if you are uncomfortable doing the work yourself.

10. How do I choose a contractor?

When selecting a contractor, it is essential to:

  • Get recommendations from friends, family, or online reviews.
  • Check the contractor's license and insurance.
  • Get multiple quotes and compare them.
  • Ask for references and check them.

15 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Home Remodeling Companies

1. Are you licensed and insured?

Hiring a contractor with proper licensing and insurance is crucial to safeguard yourself from liabilities arising from accidents or damages.

2. How long have you been in business?

Experience matters. A company that has been in business for several years will likely have a better track record and more experience than a newer company.

3. Can you provide references?

Ask for references from past clients. Call them and ask about their experience with the company, the quality of the work, and if they encountered any problems.

4. Do you have experience with my type of project?

Ensure the contractor has experience with the kind of project you are planning. Ask to see photos of past projects similar to yours.

5. Who will be working on my project?

Please inquire about the individuals involved in your project and their respective qualifications. Make sure the company has skilled workers for all aspects of your project.

6. What is the estimated timeline for my project?

Ask for an estimated timeline for your project. While unexpected issues may arise, it is essential to have a general idea of how long the project will take.

7. Will you obtain all necessary permits?

Make sure the contractor will receive all required permits and inspections. Failure to do so can result in fines and delays.

8. What is the payment schedule?

Understand the payment schedule. Never pay the total amount upfront. A standard payment schedule is a small deposit upfront, followed by payments at specific milestones and the final payment upon completion.

9. What does the quote include?

Ensure that you comprehend all the elements encompassed in the estimate. Ask for a detailed breakdown of the costs, including materials, labor, permits, and other expenses.

10. What is your warranty or guarantee?

Ask about the warranty or guarantee on the work. Make sure you understand the terms and what is covered.

11. How will changes or unexpected issues be handled?

Inquire about the approach for managing discrepancies or unanticipated problems. There may be additional costs or modifications to the timeline if unforeseen issues arise.

12. How will you protect my property?

Ask how the contractor will protect your property during the remodeling or renovation. For example, will they cover floors or furniture to protect them from dust or damage?

13. Do you have a cleanup plan?

Ask about the cleanup plan. Ensure the contractor will clean up the work area and remove all debris at the end of the project.

14. What is your communication plan?

Ask about the communication plan. Ensure you understand how and when the contractor will communicate with you about the project's progress.

15. Do you have any concerns about my project?

Ask if the contractor has any concerns about your project. It can help identify potential issues before the project starts.


Although refurbishing or renovating a home can be expensive, meticulous planning and budgeting can make it more manageable. It is essential to consider the size, scope of the project, the quality of materials, labor costs, permit and inspection fees, and any unexpected issues or costs. Shopping around for the best prices, reusing or repurposing existing materials, and doing smaller projects incrementally over time can help save money. Several financing options are available, including savings, home equity loans, personal loans, and credit cards. The key to a successful remodeling or renovation project is careful planning and budgeting.

The opinions articulated in this piece are the guest author's and may not necessarily align with those of Crackerjack. Find more about staff authors of Crackerjack

About the author
Fancy House LLC
Fancy House LLC is a seasoned contractor and a prolific writer in the field of home improvement. With their extensive experience and expertise, they have earned a reputation for delivering exceptional results in construction projects of all scales. As a writer, they share their knowledge through well-researched articles that offer practical tips, advice, and inspiration to homeowners and DIY enthusiasts. With a friendly demeanor and a commitment to quality, Fancy House LLC is a trusted contractor who consistently delivers outstanding home improvement services and informative content.

Our Pricing Methodology

At Crackerjack, we assist many people each year with their projects. Our process involves collecting estimates from local professionals and conducting our own research, which we use to provide you with valuable price information. Please note that the prices provided in the current article are for informational purposes only and may change at any time. To receive a personalized cost estimate for your specific project, we recommend contacting a professional in your area.

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