Kitchen and bathroom renovations top the list of improvements for increasing the value of a home. But this labor-intensive remodeling can get expensive. Even without changing room layouts, the simple job of replacing finishes and fixtures can cost more than the price of a new car.
What builders call “pull and replace” remodeling can run about $12,000 to $22,000 for the average 5-by-7-foot bathroom and $29,000 to $52,000 for a 12-by-12-foot kitchen, estimates Rick Matus of Case Design/Remodeling in Bethesda, Md. “As soon as you start moving plumbing, electrical wiring and walls, the costs go up substantially from there,” he says.
Budget-minded homeowners are finding cheaper solutions in the $10,000 to $20,000 range by making do with existing appliances and fixtures, refinishing kitchen cabinets and shopping for bargains. Suppliers and builders, in turn, are responding to the recession-driven demand for cost-conscious kitchen and bath remodeling with package deals aimed at guaranteeing the costs of materials and labor.
“At first, there was no way I was going to spend $18,000 to $25,000 to remodel a bathroom,” says Hannah Laufe, an attorney and Vienna, Va., homeowner. “But to get what we wanted, my research showed that was the amount we needed to spend.”
Laufe and husband Richard Miller, a teacher, decided to renovate the outdated and worn master bathroom in their 1960s rambler. “Everything was pink, the medicine cabinet was rusty and the faucets didn’t work as well as they should,” Laufe says.
The couple tapped Case to remodel the space based on the firm’s new renovation program, called the 2012 Bath Collection, launched in January. For $13,000 to $25,000, the company will demolish an existing space, remove lead paint if necessary, and install backer board and tile. New plumbing fixtures, vanity, towel bars, lighting and painting are included in the price. “It saves the headache of shopping different sources,” Matus says. He says Case is now considering similar package deals for kitchens.
Laufe and Miller had a choice of designs in contemporary, traditional and transitional styles, but within a narrow range of products. They chose a stained maple vanity with a granite countertop, a glass door for the shower, and marble-look-alike porcelain tile on the floor and shower stall, spending about $20,000 on the project. “It took less than two weeks to complete,” Laufe says.
Cope Willis, a management consultant, and his wife Sophie, who works for an educational software company, spent about $9,000 to partially remodel their pink bathroom. They kept the existing toilet and pedestal sink, and hired a local handyman to install a new bathtub and finishes. “We worked within the existing constraints of the bathroom to keep costs down,” Cope Willis says.
New subway-style tile around the tub, marble tiles on the floor and beadboard wainscoting create what Willis calls “a clean, traditional look” in keeping with the architectural character of the couple’s 1938 Colonial in Washington.
Most of the renovation dollars were spent on the installation — about $6,000. Budgeting that amount is realistic, according to several experts who say labor accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of bathroom remodeling costs.