How much will it cost to do X, or how much per square foot (SF) or linear foot (LF) to install Y… are the two most frequent questions asked during the initial phone call.
The fact of the matter though is most legitimate remodeling and renovations contractors don’t even think in terms of SF or LF pricing, with the exception of maybe a few individual line items. Unlike new construction, every remodeling and renovation project has a different starting point as far as what it is required to be done. The short answer to those questions is that most contractors including us generally have to look at the job first and then crunch some numbers to get you an accurate and fair price for the work.
One quick example is installing ceramic tile – simple right? Well does the floor sag, is it bouncy, is it level, are there ridges, is it in an area with lots of water, what is the condition of the subflooring – does it need to be replaced? Those are all items that have to be addressed even before you consider what type of membrane or backer-board you will need to utilize with the tile. Then we get to the tile itself, what size is it, would you like it laid in a specific pattern, is it ceramic tile or is it really stone, etc…
The truth about “Average Prices” found on TV, Magazines and the web.
First – what does “average” mean? Does it include fly-by-night contractors, one man companies, or large regional and national corporations. Does it include work completed in a small town with a minimal cost of living and cost to do business, or larger cities with ritzy neighborhoods that generally have higher costs all around. Does it include permits and other “additional” costs or “change orders” that should have already been included in the original contract? (For more on why contractor prices vary: How Much Should I Charge)
Some TV shows, magazines, and websites will cherry pick the data they wish to highlight. If they are promoting how much money you can save, they will generally go with the higher price point they can use. On the flip side, if they are promoting an update to your house that is affordable, they may go with the lowest price points they can find.
One good resource that has been available for many years is Remodeling Magazine’s Cost-Vs-Value Report. It standardizes & provides nationwide, regional & city specific data on 30 common mid-range & upscale remodeling projects. It only polls legitimate remodeling firms that vary from the one-man shows up to the larger national firms.
They also poll experienced Real Estate agents & appraisers to find out how much of the cost for a project is recouped if sold that year. With that let me offer on small tidbit of information, if you are planning on reselling pretty shortly, the resale value might make sense, but if you are planning on being there any length of time do it because you want it or it will improve your lifestyle. Then of course one of the most famous lines…
“The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of the cheap price is forgotten” – Author Unknown