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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Falter

How much does it cost to renovate a house?

If you're thinking about restoring or remodeling your house, home renovation costs are one of the biggest considerations. Taking an old or dated home back to its former glory is not a job for the fiscally faint-of-heart, and if you’re hoping to live in the house for years to come and make it a beautiful, functional home for your family, you’ll need to take the time to restore it properly. Even making changes to a home built in the last few decades could pose financial hurdles for the uninitiated.

So how can you update your space without bankrupting yourself in the process?

To help you allocate funds without blowing your budget, here’s a handy guide to budgeting for renovation costs, and a breakdown for completing the most common projects.


When putting together your renovation budget, don't forget to factor in hidden or additional fees outside of standard labor and materials. Things such as design work, obtaining permits, securing financing or conducting surveys will all add to the bottom line.

It's also a good idea to look into your current insurance policy to see if your renovation will be covered under your existing plan. Regular homeowners insurance will not always cover a large-scale renovation project – especially if the property will be left vacant for some time. If this is the case look for insurance that covers empty buildings, or even site insurance. Once your renovation is done, you may also need to up your homeowners insurance policy if the renovation has significantly altered the value of your home.


It always a good idea to pad your budget by at least 10 to 15 percent when renovating, especially if you live in an older home that may have hidden issues.

Bob Ernst, owner of Boston-based FBN Construction, points out, "Older homes have systems and infrastructure that often don’t meet current codes, efficiency expectations and/or need to be remediated in terms of lead paint or pipes, asbestos, etc. These are costs that most people aren't excited about, but are nonetheless required in many cases." Oftentimes, these issues won't be known until work on the house is started, so the costs to fix them likely won't be factored into the original quote from your contractor or builder.

Ernst adds that, in addition to hidden problems with dated or dangerous materials, that the imperfection of older homes can also increase budget and timelines. "Working with older plaster, and uneven or out-of-level surfaces makes some details harder to produce in a timely way," he says.


One of the best ways to make sure you're getting a fair price on materials and labor costs for your renovation is to get quotes from multiple service providers. That way, you'll get a true idea of the going rate for your job.

While it can be tempting to choose the design firm, plumber or contractor who comes in with the lowest bid, this cost-saving strategy can backfire if the project is poorly managed or work isn't done properly. It's important to make sure you're balancing the constraints of your budget with quality work, and that a low price isn't an indication of a lack of experience or expertise.

The best way to make sure you've got trustworthy tradespeople? Research their background beforehand. Find out about their professional certifications, credentials, and local association memberships through organizations like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the National Association of Home Builders, or the National Kitchen and Bath Association. It's also a good idea read reviews on sites like Houzz or Facebook, and always be sure to ask for (and check!) references. Paying a little bit more up front for quality, reliable contractors is always worthwhile.

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