By Marilyn La Jeunesse

Published on March 31, 2016

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

Okay, so you’re thinking about completely renovating your home–this is not a small undertaking. We support you! But, we want you to know exactly what you’re getting into financially before making any decisions. Before tearing down the walls of your ‘70s era bathroom, find out exactly what it’s going to cost to transform your home. We sat down with a domino mom with tons of experience flipping homes to get her opinion on what it truly costs to renovate a home from top to bottom.

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

Budgeting

First things first, it’s important to understand that the price of your renovation depends on your personal preference and the cost of renovation materials. If you want to spend $100,000 on an entire home renovation, you can! A large budget may make it easier to stay within your means, but a smaller budget may help you from overspending.

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Photography by Ashley Gieseking

Prices normally vary from room to room. If you are dying to renovate your kitchen, you may spend more money in this room than, say, your laundry room. Of course, as our domino mom points out, the cost of each room is largely dependent on what is purchased to put in it.

Several renovations in, our domino mom has found that, when you look at the basic cost to renovate each room, the kitchen is normally the most expensive, with the bathroom following closely behind. The reason? She says the cost of appliances can vary tremendously, as can what you spend on tile, countertops, sinks, faucets, and other hardware for specific rooms. In fact, it was found that the average kitchen remodel can cost around $18,000, while bathrooms cost about $4,000, laundry rooms can reach upwards of $2,000, and garage upgrades can soar to nearly $8,000.

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

It’s also important to note that the age of the home you’re renovating can significantly affect the cost of renovation. Why? It is far easier to access and change wiring, plumbing, and other structures in modern houses than in older buildings.

Our domino mom suggests factoring in a 20% contingency into the budget, because sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned. And, remember, delays cost time and money, so if you’re supplying materials to your contractors, make sure they are there on time!

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Photography by Carmel and Robert Brantley

Speaking of contractors, working on an overall contract as opposed to on a time and materials basis can often help you stay within your designated budget. Working on a time and materials basis leaves more room for money mismanagement and unforeseen delays. And remember, ask several contractors for detailed estimates for your renovation before doing anything. This should give your a realistic idea of how much your home improvement will cost overall — if you’re fine with the estimates (and the 20% contingency!), you can go ahead as planned.

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Photography by Nina Choi

Where to save

If you’re looking to cut corners and save a bit of money, our domino mom suggests spending less on tile, unless it’s absolutely necessary for the look of a room. She is also a strong advocate for wallpaper — “even doing one wall can greatly change the look of a room” — which can easily be cheaper than paint if you’re only papering one wall!

Another great (and somewhat unusual) place to save money on your renovation is in the appliances you purchase. You can almost always find an alternative to your dream fridge that is just as good looking, it just costs a bit less. For example, our domino mom suggests buying a Liebherr Counter Depth Fridge in lieu of a more expensive Sub-Zero appliance, the former is about $4,000 cheaper and still looks chic and modern. Of course, if you can’t live without that SMEG fridge, plan to spend less on other renovation necessities like tiling, cabinets, countertops, and hardware.

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

If you want to save a bit more cash, try to keep the original layout in a specific room. For example, rather than pay extra money to move the plumbing around in your bathroom to get a different layout, spend a bit more money on nice fixtures instead. In the end, nicer fixtures, although a bit pricey, will end up being far less than the cost of labor to completely change the location of your toilet.

It’s also important to note that keeping the same layout in rooms with large appliances and plumbing in them can save a considerable amount of dough — but this is largely up to personal preference and the overall renovation plan.

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Photography by Alyssa Rosenheck

Where to spend

Our domino mom was adamant that “a capable, reliable contractor is worth every penny and more.” It’s hard to argue with that statement. It’s worth spending a bit more on a contractor who is guaranteed to do an excellent job with the time and money allotted. Paying less may mean you hire someone who is less dedicated and may cause delays to your home improvement (of course, this isn’t always true!).

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Photography by JOHN HINES

Overall

In general, home renovations can vary from person to person and house to house. It all depends on what is most important to you, and the overall scope of the project you’re taking on. Renovating an entire mansion should be expected to cost far more than a small two bedroom house.

The most important thing when renovating is to plan everything beforehand. Know your budget and what you want to spend the most money on. Planning ahead can save you from financial heartbreak later on.