California Home Remodeling Cost Estimation Guide

Are you interested in a detailed home remodeling cost estimation guide with a focus on the state of California, USA? Then this post is for you. However, people from other states will also find this house renovation cost comparison guide very useful. Just spend some minutes and you’ll get useful home remodeling tips and insights that will save you money and time. 

Renovating your home has a lot of perks attached to it. You are either beautifying your home to increase the market value or improving safety or adding some other beneficial feature to it.

However, the cost of renovating a home is not a walk in the park and people who have done it before will clearly state that no two rooms in a house are equal.

For instance, it will cost you more to renovate a kitchen where you’d need to replace cabinets, appliances, countertops, bad pipes, and other things, than a living room. 

There’s no single cost calculation for renovating homes. If you try to renovate two identical houses facing each other, the cost will suffer according to the kind of renovations to be done, the quality of materials, labor and contractors, the kind of finishing needed, and the length of time it will take to renovate the home.

The cost of remodeling is not the same in every region because labor costs can fluctuate to the high spectrum if there is a high demand and low supply.

Despite all these factors, there’s still an acceptable range for house renovation costs. If you plan to renovate a house as a real estate investor or flipper, this guide will help you budget for your projects so you don’t get disappointed along the way.

Home Remodeling Cost Estimation Guide: The Planning Phase 

It can cost you less than $500 to retouch your kitchen yourself and about $500,000 to build a big home addition. 

The basic rule of thumb is that the cost of renovation spirals upwards when you are breaking walls or putting in more square footage. It costs more to do mechanical and structural changes while you spend only a little on cosmetic changes.

Every home remodeling cost estimation process needs both a scientific and artistic intellect. It also depends on the return on investment expected. These are some home remodeling projects, price ranges, and factors to consider before you proceed to involve a professional.

Kitchen Renovations

Doing a kitchen renovation is a complete game-changer starting from minor updates on some features to a total replacement. 

You can maintain a low cost by not changing the current plumbing, blueprint, and other fixtures. How about repainting your cabinets instead of replacing them?

Also, on kitchens, demand that the quote excludes the appliances. Home remodeling contractors will charge you more if they have to buy more things for you. So just get the required measurements and purchase the appliances you need by yourself.

  •         Minor kitchen cosmetic furnishing: $500 – $20,000
  •         DIY total kitchen remodel: $15,000 – $50,000
  •        Total kitchen remodel by contractor: $20,000 – $120,000

Bathroom Additions And Updates

Bathroom remodeling can be as ordinary as just changing the tiles or vanity or as significant as adding a new bathroom. Cosmetic changes are way cheaper than plumbing works. However, you should bear in mind that cost may differ based on location, type of bathroom remodel as well as personal taste. 

  •         Surface/cosmetic bathroom redesign: $1,000 – $15,000
  •        Total revamp of bathroom: $4,500 – $50,000
  •        Adding a new home bathroom: $45,000 – $85,000

Painting Services

When painting the interior, the smaller jobs have a higher cost for each square foot compared to the larger jobs especially as the bulk of the work has to do with preparation.

There are even different varieties of paint and research on the brands before you choose one. Also, ensure that you can get it from your local market by getting information about the available brands from the local paint supply.

Make preparations for two colors so you can use different colors for the walls and the trim. Some real estate investors add a third color, like using white to paint the ceiling.  

  • Cost for every square foot: $1.75-$3.50


Using a hardwood floor is more expensive than buying a carpet. If you can, refurbish the current hardwood floors instead of changing them totally to reduce costs.

Don’t forget however that the price of a hardwood floor depends on the type of wood, color, and finish.

Also, don’t compromise on carpet paddings. Part of what makes a plush carpet is its thicker padding.

  • Hardwood floors: Materials and installation cost $3-10  $3-$7  per square foot, respectively. Exotic rainforest hardwoods are more expensive.
  • Carpet: Materials and installation cost $3-9 per square foot.


Roof replacement is easily one of the most pricey repairs for houses. The type and grade of the roof the price. Make sure that the roofer has a license and a guarantee and only choose a roofer when you have more than three or four quotes. For example, slate roofing cost in California goes from $500 – $1,700 per square foot. 

Terra Cotta Tile: $600-4,000 per 100 square feet

Asphalt: $120-400 per 100 square feet

Metal: $500-1,800 per 100 square feet

Slate: $800-4,000 per 100 square feet

Finishing The Basement

Your finished basement can become a livable part of the home, therefore, taking away the need for a new square footage addition.

Some finished basements can become independent rooms and used for several purposes.

However, it costs a lot to finish a basement. Basements need flooring, drywall, lighting, and in some cases, replumbing, rewiring, or extra ductwork. These are some of the price ranges for remodeling a basement. Depending on your personal needs, getting basement remodeling costs and quotes from different companies will help you make comparisons. 

  • Get a contractor to finish a basement from scratch: $50,000 – $100,000
  • Doing the basement yourself from scratch: $15,000 – $25,000
  • Get a contractor to fix a prefabricated basement finishing system: $50,000 -$75,000

Home Additions

This is also another costly innovation in a home. You get more value and living space but oftentimes the cost of home addition is more than the value it adds to the home.

If you seek an addition, try doing sunrooms and enclosed porches for a start. They usually do not need plumbing, ductwork, or any house wiring changes.

  • Add an enclosed porch: $7,000 – $15,000
  • Build a sunroom: $15,000 – $23,000 for prefabricated sunroom, excluding installation.
  • Adding multiple rooms: $150,000 – $500,000

Labor And Permits

Doing a home renovation will mean you are spending on labor except you choose to DIY home remodeling options. 

You can reduce the cost of home remodeling by hiring home remodeling contractors and overseeing their work yourself. It will cost more if you leave all the work to a general contractor. Let’s say you want to renovate your bathroom, get a plumber to do the plumbing work, the tiles can be installed by an adept mender while you do the little odd jobs yourself like fixing a cabinet or faucet.

Real estate investors who flip houses often find it difficult to work with or hire contractors. Don’t start renovation without first knowing all there is to know about the contractors and what to do if a contractor turns bad and ruins your project.

Also when deciding the cost of a home renovation, understand that you have to get a permit for a lot of remodeling projects. You can get the permits on your own or pay the contractors to do it. Keep in mind that any renovation you have to do with a permit will also require that you use licensed contractors.

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Soft Costs

The contractor expenses are just one of the many costs incurred in a renovation. A good number of flippers fail to remember soft costs.

These are the other expenses you make apart from materials and labor. For instance, the closing costs (for flippers), utilities, loan interest, permit fees, and other costs that come with owning, buying, and selling properties.

These soft costs make it so important to predict accurately the amount of time that will be spent in the home renovation. For every month that passes by in a home renovation, there are extra costs to be paid like gas and electric bills, the interest on your loan, and water bills.

If you finish your house renovation on time, you will avoid incurring many soft costs and your profit margin will increase.

Home Remodeling Cost & ROI

House renovations are not the same. Some will give more return on investment and the house flipper has to know at what point to stop or continue the renovation.

For instance, if it will cost $10,000 to remodel a kitchen so that the value of the home will increase by $20,000, then it’s simple to do it.

The only difficult part is finding the exact cost of renovation and the after repair value (ARV) of the property. To ensure that your estimates are in the ideal range, review comps and find the present and after repair value of the property, confirm your estimate with a realtor and maybe a fellow investor.

One simple rule you can follow is the 70% rule which implies that you should not spend more than 70% of the ARV of a property after removing renovation costs. This prevents you from overpaying for a property and eventually finding it difficult to make a profit when selling the property.

Although every property is unique, some updates are common because they are more noticeable by the buyers.

The most important thing, however, is to consider the important needs of a property before you decide what renovation to do on it. For instance, if the house has a mold problem, that will take priority before you proceed to update the bathroom and kitchen and it will affect the cost of renovation.

One Often-Neglected House Renovation

Adding new appliances or new hardwood floors in the home is attractive because it is evident. However, there are important house renovations that are not evident.

You will have issues flipping a house that has foundation problems. Home inspectors concentrate more on foundations mainly because they are not plain and property owners have to spend a fortune to repair the foundation.

This is the reason why a lot of real estate investors flee from properties with foundation issues. Still, there’s a high return on investment to be earned on them because the demand and competition are low.

When you go for a home inspection on a property you might flip later, ensure that you check well for foundation problems. If you find a problem, get exact quotes from many foundation repair experts.

Before you start price negotiation on the property, ensure that you point out just how bad the foundation is. If the sellers are edgy about the foundation problems, you may get the property for a great deal.

Lastly, do not forget to ask the foundation professionals if there will be problems with the flooring because of the foundation repair. Take their answers into cognizance when calculating the renovation costs of the property.

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Home Remodeling Cost Estimation: Other Factors To Consider 

No two house renovations are the same. Before you finalize the total cost of remodeling your home, consider these few factors.

Size and Age of The House

A big house will obviously have a high renovation cost. The more parts of a house that needs renovation, the higher the cost of renovating it.

Another thing to consider is the age of the house. Every material that makes up the home has a lifespan – the pipes, wires, appliances– everything you can think of. This means that every part of the house needs replacement.

This does not mean they will all go bad at the same time. The lifespan of plumbing could be up to 50 years while that of carpeting may not exceed 5 years. But there will still come a day when the wiring and framing and pipes have to be changed.

And if integral components of the house will have to be changed, then the renovation costs won’t be as cheap as coffee.


Every industry has different labor costs and the home construction niche is not left out.

The labor costs may differ greatly according to how much labor is available. When you enter a new zone, make inquiries from the local investors, contractors, and property managers so you can have an idea of how much it would cost to hire labor for a home renovation project.

The cost of materials may not be so different across several markets but remote areas and expensive cities often sell at higher prices. Different states also have their sales tax so don’t forget to include it in your budget.


You also have to pay permit fees in local municipalities and it could be between $100 and $3,000 according to the number of permits and the jurisdiction you need. If you need to make inquiries about the fees and the procedure then contact the housing office in the locality.

You won’t pay for labor if you get the permit yourself, but the contractor will charge you for it if you delegate the task to them.

When you request a permit, the housing authority in the locality will delegate an inspector to examine your work. They may insist that you do some more work so when you are calculating your renovation costs, make allowance for that eventuality.

On a final note, remember that if you need a permit for your work, then you have to work with a licensed contractor and their fees are higher than that of their unlicensed counterparts.

How To Save Money On Home Remodeling Costs

There are plenty of holes you can plug to save money in a home renovation. However, avoid cutting corners so that your final sales price does not bear the brunt.

Avoid Bad Contractors

As plain as it sounds, using bad contractors is one of the easiest ways to lose money when flipping a house. You will eventually spend more if you have to pay someone else to redo work that was not properly done. Spend more time screening your contractors and ensure that your projects are handled by credible and experienced contractors.

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Home Remodeling Materials

Using low-cost materials reduces the total amount you send on the remodeling. But don’t fall too quickly for it. Many buyers may access the whole property through the lens of a single cheap material they notice. Always use quality stuff and ensure your attention is on the very obvious finishes. Refurbishing a house with hardwood floors will make the buyers pay more than they would if it had cheap laminate.

In most cases even, a large percentage of the home renovation costs come from labor. If the labor cost for a certain renovation is $3000 and you are to buy high-quality finishes for $200 more than the cheaper ones then, go all in. Buying a high-quality finish will be better in the long run.

You can also save on your materials by recycling the current materials. Is there a way you can paint and update the cabinets instead of changing them entirely? Can you upgrade the tub rather than replace it? Can you recoat the shower tiles to make them appear better?

Try as much as you can to resurrect the current fixtures and materials instead of changing everything about them. 

Ask your contractors to provide you with ‘labor only’ quotes so you can shop for the materials on your own. Stores like Lowe’s, 84 Lumber, Home Depot cater to your home improvement needs. You can even get a discount from these retailers based on the volume you’re buying. Some contractors overcharge for the materials and also any money you spend on your purchase can provide you with credit card rewards.

DIY Home Renovation 

You’ll save more on a home renovation project if you can do most of the work yourself.

Start with minor stuff and tackle some of the house needs by yourself. You can seek help from your acquaintances or watch DIY videos on YouTube or request little help from the contractor.

An easy part to start with is painting. You can learn painting with just a little sacrifice of your time and patience. 

Don’t Change The Footprint

Your costs will spiral upwards immediately when you start thinking about changing the layout.

Try as much as you can to avoid removing walls, or changing the layout of the bathroom and kitchen, or adding to the building.

Sample Home Remodeling Estimate

Ryan has plans for renovating a certain four bedroom, two bathroom house. The renovation cost of the house will be broken down this way.

Kitchen: $20,000

Ryan changes the tile flooring, cabinets, appliances, and countertops. He purchases the materials and then hires a contractor to do the labor.

Two Full Bathrooms: $15,000

Ryan doesn’t tamper with the footprint of the two bathrooms. He gets a contractor to change the tubs, toilets, shower tiles, tile flooring, and vanities. He also shops for the materials himself and lets the plumbing lines stay the same way.

New Carpet Upstairs: $3,500

Ryan pays around $3.50 per square foot to a carpet company for a 38-oz. carpet for upstairs. The padding of the carpet is half an inch and it covers the entire 1,000 square feet of the floor.

New Hardwood Floor Installation: $7,500

It costs Ryan about  $7.50 per square foot to buy materials and install the hardwood flooring.

Repainting: $3,000

The house has a minimal trim and so Ryan spends about $3,000 for repainting.

Miscellaneous: $1,000

Ryan is experienced and so he is aware that his budget has to make room for unforeseen expenses. While doing the renovation he eventually spent $1,000 on various tasks like minor landscaping, power washing the deck, and other things.

Amount spent on renovation: $50,000

Financing Home Improvement Projects 

If a home you’re bidding for needs remodeling, ensure that you have a plan for financing the renovation.

If you’re using conventional lenders, remember that they naturally do not finance renovation on investment properties. Real estate investors that purchase and renovate properties mostly use hard money loans. After the renovation, the investor either chooses to flip the property (sell it) or convert it to a long term rental.

Apart from hard money loans, investors can choose to pay cash, borrow from acquaintances and family, or borrow on lines of credit.

Whatever your plan for the funding is, make sure you get pre-approval before starting the offer to ease the approval process and ensure a quick settlement.

Final Word

When sourcing for a property, there’s no lens to look through which will give you the exact cost of home renovation. You will spend time working out the cost based on several factors like age, size, cost of labor, quality of materials, and many more.

Remember to always source for a minimum of three quotes before you start your project and be firm with your price negotiation. If real estate is a fresh sea to you then get as many quotes as possible so that you will have a clear idea of what to do.

But before getting the home remodeling quotes, make a list of your current needs and have everything organized i9n a single file. 

Lastly, don’t forget to properly screen the home remodeling contractors you want to hire. Your renovation project will flop if you use bad contractors. But if you’re meticulous with the screening, you will get yourself good contractors who will ensure your budget is followed to the latter while still delivering on quality.

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