December 14, 2012

“What’s it going to cost?” is hands own the most common question we’re asked about remodeling. The true answer is … it depends.

Think about it this way: how much is a new car? You can buy many small cars for less than $16,000. On the other hand, you can buy a performance luxury car for $75,000+. So what’s the price of a new car? It really depends on many factors and the same holds true for remodeling. Here are some of the major factors that affect the price of a remodeling project.

Goals – Know your goals so that your remodeler can offer suggestions for getting there. If your goal is to create a spacious eat-in kitchen, you might need to do an addition. You might also be able to achieve your goal by combining the existing kitchen and a dining room that’s rarely used. If you are thinking about a second room addition to your home because of an elderly relative moving in, then you may want to use websites like
to see how this can be achieved in your goal time frame.

Your Home – Any remodeled space should be commensurate with the rest of your home. If you have a builder grade home, then doing a builder grade basement, for example, is probably ok. If, on the other hand, your home is nicely finished, you probably want to extend that level of finish throughout whatever space you are remodeling.

Age of the Home – Older homes, with all their charm, can also increase remodeling costs. Building codes change over time, homes built prior to 1976 must be remodeled following strict lead-safe procedures, and older homes are more likely to reveal “surprises” that can lead to unexpected costs.

Existing Conditions – Just like no two people are the same, neither are two houses. Some homes are built and maintained better than others and lend themselves more easily to remodeling.

Scope of Work – Are you doing a cosmetic or a custom remodel? Will the remodel be contained to a single area, or will flooring extend throughout an entire floor to create flow? An addition and a small bath remodel require very different levels of planning and project management, not to mention materials and infrastructure, all of which affect the cost of the project.

Materials – It seems quite logical that higher end materials increase the cost of remodeling, and they do, but it’s incremental. Regardless of the level of materials, two remodeling projects similar except for the level of materials still require the same planning, design, electrical, plumbing, hvac, general labor and project management. Don’t think you’ll spend half as much by using average materials.

You – How close will you stick to your budget? If you have a firm budget, stick with it throughout the planning process (and make sure that you’re remodeler is sticking with it as well). Beware of the “well if we’re going to do this, then we might as well do that” mentality. A series of seemingly small changes can add up quickly!

Before you even begin meeting with contractors, you can investigate average costs for common remodeling projects in the Des Moines area at

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