The Costs of Remodeling These Days – 2019 Update!

As we all know well, there has been an unprecedented building boom going on all around us. This intense building economy has caused noticeable cost escalation in the construction industry overall. It’s been frustrating for all of us in the trade – architects and builders – to keep tabs on what seems to be a bit of a moving target, but here’s our current analysis of rough costs in the home improvement world.

We are now hearing whispers of a “softening” of the market, and keeping a close eye on how this might be impacting construction costs. We’re seeing that contractors are not backed up as much – years-long waits seem to be less common. But we are NOT seeing signs of costs coming down. Its been our experience in past recessions that costs don’t tend to come down – rather, they just stop going UP for a while!

Here are some numbers we’re using for preliminary budgeting these days. Please keep in mind that these are very generalized. We’re happy to chat with you directly about your particulars as you get started on your design goals. As a design build contractor for many years, we stay on top of current pricing.

Costs of building a new home can run from $275/sq ft. for a bare bones, not-much-in-the-way-of-finishes simple structure; to $300-350k for something the likes of which you see in our portfolio; to $400/sf and up for a house that’s very customized (think glossy magazine homes)…. And of course you can spend more as desires and budget allow!

For remodeling, we prefer not to use square foot costs, as these numbers are subject to the kinds of spaces as well as the overall square footage. Obviously kitchens and bathrooms cost the most per square foot, due to their plumbing, electrical,cabinetry, and fixture requirements, compared to a living room or bedroom. Costs per square foot can be lower if averaging over a greater area of work. So we prefer to do our rough pricing by space.

seattle mid century living room renovation in progress
Mid-Century Sanctuary remodel in progress.
seattle mid century living room remodel after
Completed Mid-Century Sanctuary remodel.

Here’s a range:

  • Kitchens: $80- 150k for a small to mid-sized to-the-studs remodel, including new sheetrock and lighting.
  • Baths: $30 – 70k depending on the size and how many fixtures.
  • Living areas/bedrooms/non-plumbed spaces: if new windows and trim, perhaps refinishing floors, and some new lighting: this cost might be between $30 – 60k/room.
  • Finishing an unfinished basement: figure about $150 – 200/sf. This would include insulating walls, a bathroom, windows, upgrading stairs, etc.
  • Additions:  plan on about $275-300/sf. for the structure only, not including bathrooms or kitchens within.

These are very rough numbers to plan your budget with. Other costs must be considered:

  • Sales Tax on construction (10.1% in Seattle)
  • Design fees (we bill hourly for architectural services) Plan on between 8-15% of planned construction cost. Design fees vary from firm to firm, and depend on project type.
  • Permit fees.
  • Large appliances (owners receive the best pricing when they buy a package of appliances from a dealer).
  • Elements of construction not readily apparent as you start thinking about the scope: siding patching and painting, hardscaping/landscaping etc.

Hopefully this will give you an idea of the costs involved. It’s expensive, but every single one of our clients has told us that when all was said and done, their remodel was totally worth the cost and effort, and has enriched their lives.  It’s a thrill to hear, and why we love what we do!


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