An Insider’s Guide to Budgeting for Your Whole Home Renovation


So how much does it cost to undertake a whole home renovation? This is a question that many people ask prior to deciding exactly when, how and in what way they are going to remodel their home. First and foremost, cost is going to be a primary factor. What exactly can you afford to do? And, will it be worth it in the end?

The question of affordability is not necessarily cut and dry. Yes, you can certainly get a pretty good estimate of what a major house remodel is going to cost, but you need to keep in mind that there are more than likely going to be unforeseen issues—those costs that come up as walls are torn apart, foundations excavated, and mechanical systems updated. Your contractor should certainly do his/her best to plan for everything and anything, but the again they probably don’t have x-ray vision and are thus not going to be privy to issues that may be impossible to see prior to the actual renovation.

And then of course, the question of whether or not beginning a whole home remodel project is worth it.  This is your home after all—where your life takes place, your family gathers, where memories are made. Ask yourself this: Will a whole home renovation make you love your house more, make you want to spend more time there, and enable you to enjoy that time better in a newly remodeled environment. If the answer is yes, and your budget allows—then go for it!


Budgetary Considerations:


Adding on or Working with What’s There?

So first thing’s first, what do you want to see happen during the remodel? Are you planning on adding on to your existing structure, or are you focusing on perhaps gutting portions of the home and then renovating? Cost considerations here are pretty significant. Let’s say you decide to engage in a full scale addition. From the foundation to the studded-up walls, to mechanicals, siding and roof, you need to remember that this process is very much like building a house from the ground up, inasmuch as there are a ton of major factors to consider—factors that quickly add up. Right from the start, you need to plan for architect and engineer fees, blueprints, permits; it also may mean, if you’re on septic, re-engineering the system. Often, homeowners overlook these types of costs when doing an addition and therefore fail to budget accordingly.

Beyond these early-on expenses, you also have to account for things like site work. Especially with an addition that builds out, there are going to be excavation fees associated, erosion control measures put into place, all of these things do come with price tags.  And then of course you’re going to want to have the area graded, seeded and landscaped upon completion.

The key with a home addition project is to make sure you try and take everything possible into consideration. This is where you sit down with your contractor and their team and really attempt to nail down the details, leave no stone un-turned. You want your budget to be as comprehensive as possible.


By the same token, if you are focusing on working with what’s there, you also, first off, need to be mindful of the preliminary expenses. For instance, if you are going to be knocking down walls or adding windows for light and ventilation, there is probably going to be attached engineering and print fees. Depending on the scope of your whole home renovation project, there may be permitting fees attached also. Again, talk to you contractor, understand all that you can about the potential expenses that may arise throughout the renovation. And try to plan for the unexpected as far as your budget is concerned.


Mechanical Matters

With any type of home remodel project, the mechanicals are going to be an issue. In an ideal world, all runs smoothly, all facets tie in together exactly as planned and no adjustments or repairs need to be made. On time, exactly on budget, brand new home, voila! This is the dream scenario. Real world scenario: the addition or remodel is running for the most part as planned. The electrical team discovers though that some of the wiring behind the walls is insufficient. The panel box itself now needs to be upgraded. And with the newer codes, the breakers required are definitely on the pricier side. Here is a $700-1000 expense you weren’t counting on and thus didn’t necessarily budget for—and that’s just for the panel box and breakers.

Or, let’s say you want to add on a new bathroom. Who doesn’t want to upgrade their home with that always-dreamed-of spa like bath experience…So now you’re looking at plumbing, and more specifically at tying in your home’s existing plumbing with that of the new bathroom. Depending on the age of the house, the type of pipes, whether, copper or pvc for example, and the location of the new bath, this could be a rather costly endeavor—just the tying in process, aside from the actual construction of the space and the purchase/installation of the fixtures and cabinetry. Again, there is that lingering septic system issue. If your home is on septic and you’re adding a bathroom, this could mean a totally re-engineered and rebuilt system—not a minor cost.


Here’s what you need to remember about your whole home renovation project…First of all, you want to work with your design-build contractor to try and account for every possible detail, expense and issue that could come up. Secondly, you need to keep in mind that there may be a surprise or two along the way. It’s just the nature of the remodeling beast—so have some flexibility in your budget. And finally, you need to relax, go with the flow and keep imagining yourself in your gorgeously remodeled home!