The Reality of a Remodel

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Often in the field, while discussing a homeowner’s potential remodel or addition, I hear about all the wonderful things that are done on the various home improvement tv shows.  As a fan of them myself, I often can recall the episode that is being described.  If you’re not familiar with the format it’s pretty simple: The hosts or subjects acquire a property that typically looks like it’s un-inhabitable and turn it into an amazing space that most would have no problem living in.  As a design consultant, the part that I don’t understand is where or how they get their pricing.  Remodel a kitchen for $8,500.00; remove a load bearing wall and vault the ceilings for $5,000.00 – these are not realistic numbers and they certainly don’t consider the rising cost of building permits and city fees.  I understand they simplify it for TV but come on. Let’s keep it in the same ballpark.  Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think you need to spend $250k to move a wall and get a beautiful new kitchen but it’s going to cost more than $13,500.00.

If you’re just looking to remodel your kitchen, meaning keep the same footprint, you should be looking at a budget of $35k to $65k depending on the size.  You might think a $30k range is a bit spread out but consider the different options you have to choose from.  Custom cabinets range from $450.00 to $700.00 a linear foot.  In contrast, store-bought or prefabricated cabinets range from $100.00 to $300.00 a linear foot.   Granite countertops can range in price from $7.00 a square foot to $70.00 a square foot. If you are looking for more than just a remodel, say an “open concept” design, you’re going to have to expand the budget to somewhere between $50k and $120k.  Taking out a wall, especially a load bearing wall, is not something to be taken lightly.  I have seen more than my fair share of collapsed ceilings from homeowners attempting to remove walls.  On TV it looks so easy and even fun, but the reality is, if not properly engineered your ceiling, or even your roof, could collapse in on itself – or worse, you! Most of the expense in removing walls is in the engineering, digging new footings, adding new posts, spanning new beams, and finally connecting all of these things to your existing structure in a way that creates an appealing aesthetic.

Watching home improvement shows is a great way to get ideas for your next remodel or addition.  Whether it’s a kitchen, bathroom, or room addition, when you’re ready to get started on your next home improvement project make sure you know what you’re really getting into.  Even though they call it reality TV, it’s often not the reality we live in.