Setting the Scene for Outdoor Living


An outdoor kitchen is the ultimate al fresco space! Get ready for a ton of fun (and a good investment for your home)

outdoor kitchen(Above) Outdoor kitchen renovation by Sweeten contractor Dennis

If you agree that the kitchen is the heart of the home, then consider bringing that sense of entertaining and relaxation outside with an outdoor kitchen. The options for an outdoor kitchen are endless—sinks, fridges, lighting, roofing, the list goes on.

If this sounds appealing, then you are not alone! More than 70 percent of homeowners who have outdoor space are looking to enhance the patio with the goal of making it more relaxing, according to a recent survey from American Home Furnishing Alliance. A CNN Money survey predicted the outdoor kitchen market to be worth almost $6 billion yearly.

An outdoor kitchen might become the cherry on top of your home renovation plans. It isn’t the cheapest project, nor a necessity, but Sweeten outlines what you need to know to help you weigh your decision. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

How to schedule your outdoor kitchen project

Luckily, it’s possible to do outdoor work at nearly any time of the year. However, weather with temperatures above freezing (minus rain and snow!) is preferred. On average, the shortest timeframe to complete an outdoor kitchen without delays or unforeseen events is 2-3 weeks. The longest average timeframe for an outdoor kitchen completion is four months. Start the process at least six months before you want to have the outdoor kitchen completed which also leaves enough time to create a good kitchen plan, advises Dennis, a Sweeten general contractor in Philadelphia.

Budget for an outdoor kitchen

Like all home renovation projects, it’s best to determine what you want to spend in the beginning. Your budget will be a meeting place of your financial abilities and what you need and want. Dennis has worked on outdoor kitchens in the Philadelphia area that range in price from $15,000 to more than $100,000, which is a similar price range given by Jose, a Sweeten general contractor in the Miami area.

A lower budget outdoor kitchen will use materials such as concrete or cement pavers for the floor, according to New York City Sweeten general contractor Santi. Pressure-treated wood for cabinetry is also another good value choice. Materials in a more expensive outdoor kitchen could be stainless steel cabinets, stone floors, and a natural stone countertop, Santi said.

Appliances will also take up a big chunk of the budget. Jose said you should expect to pay several thousand dollars for a grill, fridge, and other appliances that are tough enough to survive the great outdoors.

The national average cost of a mid-range backyard patio that includes a fire pit, small fridge, sink, gas grill, lighting, a pergola, and a 20-foot square patio on flat ground is about $56,000, according to Remodeling‘s Cost vs Value report. That renovation will add over $30,000 to your home’s value. Many outdoor kitchens will start with a patio or deck that is already there, potentially bringing down the cost, according to Dennis.

Draw up the design

The layout of your outdoor kitchen can be drawn up by a kitchen designer or in a growing number of cases, a landscaper, says Dennis. Landscapers help to blend the outdoor kitchen into the overall look of your outdoor space. And of course, your general contractor can likely assist you with the design.

Consider where you place the grill, sink, and fridge as they create the “work triangle” for whoever is cooking. Be sure to keep that area free of obstructions or foot traffic. The design is also an important time to look at the strength of your deck if you are not starting from scratch. Dennis advises that existing decks will need to be assessed to determine if they can handle the added weight.

outdoor kitchen remodel (Above) Outdoor kitchen renovation by New York Sweeten contractor John

Make note of the materials

With the outdoor factor, materials used will differ greatly from your indoor kitchen. And then factor in your style preference and budget. If a bench—a single permanent structure which encompasses countertop, storage, and appliances—is part of your design, common materials are stucco, concrete, or stacked stone, says Dennis. Quartz is also a possibility, according to Jose.

When it comes to cabinets, don’t install too many as you’re not going to keep a lot of plates, pots, and pans in your outdoor kitchen. Whatever you do have should be able to stand up to the winter cold and that includes pipes that drain easily for winterizing.

Understand outdoor kitchen appliances

The staple piece of your outdoor kitchen, and likely the most expensive, is the grill. If you’re planning on installing this permanently by building it into a bench, then don’t hold back on price, Dennis advised. “You want to make sure you have a quality grill—and fridge—because if they break you aren’t going to find one that is an exact fit for the permanent structure,” he said.

Whether your chosen grill will use a propane tank or rely on gas lines, it will have a big impact on your budget, timelines, and permits needed. Even though you’ll need to replace a tank, you won’t need gas lines from house to patio; which saves time, money, and effort.

Ironically, not all fridges can withstand the winter. “Some fridges cannot handle freezing weather even though that seems odd,” Dennis said. Outdoor fridges must work harder to maintain a constant temperature when the weather fluctuates. Consider high-grade stainless steel, which will reduce rust.  But don’t forget the added convenience of an outdoor fridge comes with the inconvenience of needing electricity. This will set you back a few hundred dollars, but solar energy is a possibility.

Coverings for outdoor kitchens

Providing shade and shelter from the rain comes in many forms. For more extravagant outside kitchens—such as a TV for watching sports and a sound system—Dennis recommends something similar to a gazebo roof that has full coverage. There’s also lattice, which will provide some shade, but not rain cover. On the lower end of the budget scale is a retractable awning.

Lighting for outdoor kitchens

Have a long think about what you will use your new outdoor space for. Will you be reading? Playing cards with friends at night? Then perhaps you need more lighting over the seating area as well as where you prepare the food.

Hosting dinner parties? Then consider more ambient lighting that highlights architecture. And if you’re already planning on having a fridge and the electricity it needs, the lighting might be a natural progression.

Don’t forget plumbing!

Running water is important for cooking, so prepare to lay some pipes from your house to your outdoor kitchen. Depending upon the distance, it could cost between $600 to $1,500, according to Sweeten contractor Jose. Cold water is the only necessity here, but “if a client really wants hot water, we can explore a really small, tankless water heater,” he said.

Once you get the water out there, you then have to get rid of it. “You can’t put the waste water into the ground,” said Jose, “It needs to be connected back into the house’s sewer.” Use of a dry well, where water is filtered before going into the ground, might be possible, but this will depend on building codes.

Prepare for permits

The permitting process for outdoor kitchens can be surprisingly complicated. Not only will you need a building permit, but also an electrical permit for refrigeration. If you don’t want to use gas tank lighting, you’ll need mechanical or plumbing permits for water and gas. To avoid gas or electricity permits, clients can use a gas cylinder for the grill and solar energy for electricity, Sweeten contractor Santi suggested.

You may need approval from a zoning department. Dennis advises homeowners to check their local zoning codes as there may be limits on how much land you can cover with materials like concrete because rain cannot easily soak through it. There may also be restrictions on how close to the property line you can build. “It would be a waste of time to design something gorgeous and then submit it and not have it approved,” Dennis said.

Ready to turn your outdoor space into a hub of outdoor entertainment?  Start getting matched with your ideal Sweeten general contractor today!

ADUs or accessory dwelling units can transform into home offices, living space for family or as a rental, or a retreat.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



Source link

Setting the Scene for Outdoor Living


An outdoor kitchen is the ultimate al fresco space! Get ready for a ton of fun (and a good investment for your home)

outdoor kitchen(Above) Outdoor kitchen renovation by Sweeten contractor Dennis

If you agree that the kitchen is the heart of the home, then consider bringing that sense of entertaining and relaxation outside with an outdoor kitchen. The options for an outdoor kitchen are endless—sinks, fridges, lighting, roofing, the list goes on.

If this sounds appealing, then you are not alone! More than 70 percent of homeowners who have outdoor space are looking to enhance the patio with the goal of making it more relaxing, according to a recent survey from American Home Furnishing Alliance. A CNN Money survey predicted the outdoor kitchen market to be worth almost $6 billion yearly.

An outdoor kitchen might become the cherry on top of your home renovation plans. It isn’t the cheapest project, nor a necessity, but Sweeten outlines what you need to know to help you weigh your decision. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

How to schedule your outdoor kitchen project

Luckily, it’s possible to do outdoor work at nearly any time of the year. However, weather with temperatures above freezing (minus rain and snow!) is preferred. On average, the shortest timeframe to complete an outdoor kitchen without delays or unforeseen events is 2-3 weeks. The longest average timeframe for an outdoor kitchen completion is four months. Start the process at least six months before you want to have the outdoor kitchen completed which also leaves enough time to create a good kitchen plan, advises Dennis, a Sweeten general contractor in Philadelphia.

Budget for an outdoor kitchen

Like all home renovation projects, it’s best to determine what you want to spend in the beginning. Your budget will be a meeting place of your financial abilities and what you need and want. Dennis has worked on outdoor kitchens in the Philadelphia area that range in price from $15,000 to more than $100,000, which is a similar price range given by Jose, a Sweeten general contractor in the Miami area.

A lower budget outdoor kitchen will use materials such as concrete or cement pavers for the floor, according to New York City Sweeten general contractor Santi. Pressure-treated wood for cabinetry is also another good value choice. Materials in a more expensive outdoor kitchen could be stainless steel cabinets, stone floors, and a natural stone countertop, Santi said.

Appliances will also take up a big chunk of the budget. Jose said you should expect to pay several thousand dollars for a grill, fridge, and other appliances that are tough enough to survive the great outdoors.

The national average cost of a mid-range backyard patio that includes a fire pit, small fridge, sink, gas grill, lighting, a pergola, and a 20-foot square patio on flat ground is about $56,000, according to Remodeling‘s Cost vs Value report. That renovation will add over $30,000 to your home’s value. Many outdoor kitchens will start with a patio or deck that is already there, potentially bringing down the cost, according to Dennis.

Draw up the design

The layout of your outdoor kitchen can be drawn up by a kitchen designer or in a growing number of cases, a landscaper, says Dennis. Landscapers help to blend the outdoor kitchen into the overall look of your outdoor space. And of course, your general contractor can likely assist you with the design.

Consider where you place the grill, sink, and fridge as they create the “work triangle” for whoever is cooking. Be sure to keep that area free of obstructions or foot traffic. The design is also an important time to look at the strength of your deck if you are not starting from scratch. Dennis advises that existing decks will need to be assessed to determine if they can handle the added weight.

outdoor kitchen remodel (Above) Outdoor kitchen renovation by New York Sweeten contractor John

Make note of the materials

With the outdoor factor, materials used will differ greatly from your indoor kitchen. And then factor in your style preference and budget. If a bench—a single permanent structure which encompasses countertop, storage, and appliances—is part of your design, common materials are stucco, concrete, or stacked stone, says Dennis. Quartz is also a possibility, according to Jose.

When it comes to cabinets, don’t install too many as you’re not going to keep a lot of plates, pots, and pans in your outdoor kitchen. Whatever you do have should be able to stand up to the winter cold and that includes pipes that drain easily for winterizing.

Understand outdoor kitchen appliances

The staple piece of your outdoor kitchen, and likely the most expensive, is the grill. If you’re planning on installing this permanently by building it into a bench, then don’t hold back on price, Dennis advised. “You want to make sure you have a quality grill—and fridge—because if they break you aren’t going to find one that is an exact fit for the permanent structure,” he said.

Whether your chosen grill will use a propane tank or rely on gas lines, it will have a big impact on your budget, timelines, and permits needed. Even though you’ll need to replace a tank, you won’t need gas lines from house to patio; which saves time, money, and effort.

Ironically, not all fridges can withstand the winter. “Some fridges cannot handle freezing weather even though that seems odd,” Dennis said. Outdoor fridges must work harder to maintain a constant temperature when the weather fluctuates. Consider high-grade stainless steel, which will reduce rust.  But don’t forget the added convenience of an outdoor fridge comes with the inconvenience of needing electricity. This will set you back a few hundred dollars, but solar energy is a possibility.

Coverings for outdoor kitchens

Providing shade and shelter from the rain comes in many forms. For more extravagant outside kitchens—such as a TV for watching sports and a sound system—Dennis recommends something similar to a gazebo roof that has full coverage. There’s also lattice, which will provide some shade, but not rain cover. On the lower end of the budget scale is a retractable awning.

Lighting for outdoor kitchens

Have a long think about what you will use your new outdoor space for. Will you be reading? Playing cards with friends at night? Then perhaps you need more lighting over the seating area as well as where you prepare the food.

Hosting dinner parties? Then consider more ambient lighting that highlights architecture. And if you’re already planning on having a fridge and the electricity it needs, the lighting might be a natural progression.

Don’t forget plumbing!

Running water is important for cooking, so prepare to lay some pipes from your house to your outdoor kitchen. Depending upon the distance, it could cost between $600 to $1,500, according to Sweeten contractor Jose. Cold water is the only necessity here, but “if a client really wants hot water, we can explore a really small, tankless water heater,” he said.

Once you get the water out there, you then have to get rid of it. “You can’t put the waste water into the ground,” said Jose, “It needs to be connected back into the house’s sewer.” Use of a dry well, where water is filtered before going into the ground, might be possible, but this will depend on building codes.

Prepare for permits

The permitting process for outdoor kitchens can be surprisingly complicated. Not only will you need a building permit, but also an electrical permit for refrigeration. If you don’t want to use gas tank lighting, you’ll need mechanical or plumbing permits for water and gas. To avoid gas or electricity permits, clients can use a gas cylinder for the grill and solar energy for electricity, Sweeten contractor Santi suggested.

You may need approval from a zoning department. Dennis advises homeowners to check their local zoning codes as there may be limits on how much land you can cover with materials like concrete because rain cannot easily soak through it. There may also be restrictions on how close to the property line you can build. “It would be a waste of time to design something gorgeous and then submit it and not have it approved,” Dennis said.

Ready to turn your outdoor space into a hub of outdoor entertainment?  Start getting matched with your ideal Sweeten general contractor today!

ADUs or accessory dwelling units can transform into home offices, living space for family or as a rental, or a retreat.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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2020 Costs for Home Renovation in Washington DC


Remodeling costs in Washington DC in 2020, including  kitchen, bath, and whole-home (plus building additions and permit tips!)

Washington DC remodeling cost

A stately Capitol Hill rowhouse. A mid-century modern jewel in Falls Church. A unique craftsman’s cottage in Kensington. Whatever your abode, it’s a great time to renovate in Washington DC, the sixth most populated area in the country. If you’re ready to make your own splash to a home and increase its value, one of your first steps is to create a budget to cover your remodeling costs in DC. 

Sweeten offers a cost guide to give you a sense of how to budget for remodeling costs in the DC area, Montgomery and Howard counties in Maryland, and select counties in Virginia, including Fairfax and Arlington. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Here’s a quick overview of budgets for some standard renovation projects:

  • Gut renovation: Starting at $100 per square foot (psf)
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: Starting at $20,000$25,000
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: Starting at $30,000$40,000 
  • High-end kitchen remodel: Starting at $68,000
  • Low-end bathroom remodel: Starting at $12,000$15,000
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: Starting at $21,000 or $600 psf.
  • High-end bathroom remodel and extension: Starting at $40,000
  • Adding square footage: Starts at $120 psf

Total Gut Renovation Costs for a DC Home

A total gut renovation in Washington DC that brings a home down to its frame and studs could start at around $100 psf. Doing it all at once will get you the best price per square foot if you are already planning multiple projects. 

How much does a Washington DC kitchen remodel cost per square foot?

  • A best-value kitchen remodel typically starts between $20,000$25,000. This allows the replacement of cabinets and countertops from big-box stores, a stocked appliance package, and tile flooring.
  • For a mid-range kitchen, expect starting costs between $30,000$40,000. This pricepoint would include semi-custom cabinets, hardwood floors, upgrade in appliances, and an island (with no sink).

Remodeling‘s Cost Vs Value report found the average cost in the Washington DC area costs around $68,000. This works out to be $340 psf. About 60 percent of the cost is recouped in the value it adds to your home. With a budget of this amount, you can remodel a 200-square-foot space with countertops, semi-custom wood cabinets, and a stainless steel sink with a standard single-lever faucet. It also allows the addition of a built-in microwave, dishwasher, and custom lighting. Other than adding a kitchen island, the layout, such as where the oven and dishwasher are installed, must remain the same as the original design. Keeping your layout will be the biggest influence in a low budget down.

  • For an upscale kitchen remodel, costs start at $68,000 and include a stone or marble countertop as well as opening up the space or removing a wall.

A luxury remodel comes in at an average of $135,000 for Washington DC, the Cost Vs Value report found. The psf cost is $675. This project can add 58 percent of the budget to your home’s value. An upscale kitchen remodel can consist of custom cabinets, built-in sliding shelves, stone countertops, and imported ceramic or glass tile backsplashes. The appliances would also kick up a few notches to include a commercial-grade cooktop and vent hood. The kitchen can also have designer faucets and a water filtration system.

Washington DC remodeling cost

How much does a DC bathroom remodel cost per square foot?

  • For a best-value bathroom, expect a typical project to start between $12,000$15,000. At this budget, it would not be a gut but a refresh.
  • A mid-range bathroom remodel has costs at $21,000 or $600 psf. These figures come from the Cost Vs Value report. For this price,  you can remodel a 35-square-foot bathroom. It includes adding a porcelain-on-steel bathtub, ceramic tiles, and a recessed medicine cabinet with built-in lighting. This renovation can add $14,000 to a home’s value. That’s 65 percent of the project’s cost.
  • A high-end bathroom remodel starts at $40,000. This budget includes a 3 or 4-piece bath such as the sink, shower/tub combination, and toilet. For $67,000, a 5-piece bathroom could be installed.

According to the 2020 Cost Vs Value report, the average price in this category is around $67,000. For this price, you can expand your bathroom from 35 square feet to 100 square feet. The new bathroom can have features like a freestanding soaker tub. On top of that, you can have a shower with recessed shelves, a frameless glass enclosure, and body spray fixtures. Your budget can also afford a double sink and double-mirror vanity with custom draws and wall cabinets.

Adding square footage to your DC home 

Enlarging living space to an existing floor plan starts at $120 psf and can easily go up to $200 psf. The most economical addition is adding square footage over a crawl space. An extension where you are adding or adjusting the foundations will come in around $150 psf. The cost increases to $200 psf if a wet space—bathroom, laundry, or kitchen—is added. The cost of adding a second floor can start at $150 psf.  

Other remodeling costs in DC: Permits

The District of Columbia is a compact city of only 69 square miles. The Council of the District of Columbia issues building permits for this area. Permits cost two percent of the budget for work over $1,000. For example, a permit for $20,000 bathroom will cost $400

Prince George’s County, to the east and south of the city, uses an equation for permit fees. $50 + (Construction Costs x 0.008) = permit fee. So, a $20,000 renovation would cost $210. Watch out for specific fees for projects such as basement finishing which is $340

In Montgomery County, the area to the north, building permits for alterations, additions, and repairs start at $270.

Enjoy making your DC home your own! Know the costs and find the right renovation team to bring your vision to life. Post your project on Sweeten and you’ll be one step closer to your home sweet home!

Six steps on how to start your renovation and finding the right general contractor for your scope.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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2020 Home Renovation Costs in Westchester County Edition


A guide to house renovation costs for Westchester in 2020, including kitchen, bath, and whole-home (plus a basement budget and permit tips!)

Westchester remodel cost

(Above) Westchester home renovation by Sweeten general contractor Alan

Moving into a new house—or realizing an older home hasn’t kept up with your lifestyle—can make renovation feel like a path to reinvention. However, creating a budget for a remodel is unique to every project! Budgets depend on many factors, like the materials you choose, changes in layout, or moving plumbing or gas lines.

Sweeten has compiled a guide to renovation costs across Westchester County, New York, focusing on four categories: kitchen, bathroom, basement, and permits. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Here’s a breakdown of typical starting costs compiled from Sweeten renovations and Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report.

  • Full home renovation: $100—$250 per square foot (psf)
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: Starting from $25,000$30,000 for under 100 square feet
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: Starting at $40,000—$50,000
  • High-end kitchen remodel: Starting at $70,000
  • Low-end bathroom remodel: Starting at $16,000
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel:Starting at $628 psf or $22,000
  • High-end bathroom remodel and expanded: $700 psf or $70,000
  • Basement remodel: $50 psf

Keep in mind: every professional contractor will want to have a detailed conversation and inspection of your home before developing an estimate specific to your needs and wants.

Westchester home remodeling costs per square foot

It’s no secret that Westchester County, with its close proximity to New York City, is one of the pricier areas when it comes to real estate. That is also reflected in the cost of renovations. On average, many Sweeten projects can range from $100 psf—$250 psf. Based in Westchester, Sweeten contractor Gregory has worked on projects that involve multiple rooms or a gut renovation at the $250 psf range. 

Anything higher, he said, “usually applies to one or more specialty trades, such as architects or engineers, and insurance costs which factors into the overall budget.” Choice of material will also affect the cost per square foot.

Similarly, a higher cost stems from the quality and experience of the skilled workers the contractors hire for the project. “Costs for construction vary based on experience, which increases for a higher-end result,” said Sweeten contractor Chuck who handles projects in the Westchester area. For instance, “A presentation representing the finished product—design and organizing, scheduling, and advising on the materials—is a service that adds to the budget.”

One thing to note: While Sweeten contractors attempt to explore all avenues to stay competitive, it is an industry that is affected by trade. Therefore, the prices you’re quoted at any given time may not be the same six months or a year from now. Prices on labor and materials fluctuate and this will be reflected in your overall quote.

Westchester renovation costs

How much a Westchester kitchen renovation costs

  • Low-end kitchen: Sweeten kitchen remodels can start at $25,000—$30,000 for under 100 square feet with budget-friendly finishes from retailers such as Home Depot.
  • Mid-range kitchen: Expect to see starting budgets from $40,000$50,000 for a typical mid-range kitchen.

Westchester-based Sweeten contractor Majid has worked on projects costing $40,000 for 150 square feet, or about $260 psf. This budget includes mid-range finishes.

Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report puts $350 psf or $70,000 total, as an average for Westchester County. These figures are based on a 200-square-foot kitchen with standard finishes, like an energy-efficient range, built-in microwave, and ventilation system. It also includes garbage disposal, custom lighting, and resilient floorings such as vinyl, linoleum, or cork.

  • High-end kitchen: Sweeten has seen projects start at $70,000 for an upscale kitchen.

In the Cost vs. Value report, the average high-end kitchen remodel cost more than $137,000 for a 200-square foot space. A project in that price range includes custom cabinets, built-in sliding shelves, stone countertops, and imported tile backsplashes. The appliances can include a commercial-grade cooktop and vent hood as well as upscale faucets and a water filtration system.

According to Sweeten contractor Majid, a large part of a high-end kitchen can be attributed to the cabinets. For example, one of Majid’s clients recently spent $50,000 on fully custom European cabinets.

How much a Westchester bathroom renovation costs

  • Low-end bathroom: A lower-end bathroom renovation, including demo, plumbing work, and new finishes, can reach $16,000, said Oziel. Bathrooms in this category typically lean on big-box stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot to source the majority of materials.
  • Mid-range bathroom: A mid-range bathroom in Westchester County will cost on average $22,000, according to the Cost vs. Value report, which is $628 psf for a 35-square-foot bathroom. This includes a recessed medicine cabinet, a standard toilet, solid-surface vanity counter, and a porcelain-on-steel tub.
  • High-end bathroom: That same report put a high-end bathroom renovation and expansion at $70,000, based on a bathroom expanded from 35 square feet to 100 square feet. It worked out to be $700 psf.

With a higher budget, clients are looking at faucets that can cost $2,000 apiece, marble flooring, custom vanities, built-in medicine cabinets, a rain shower, and top-of-the-line lighting fixtures. At times, those pricey finishing materials can amount to half the budget. Whether low-end or high-end, good general contractors can strategize with a reasonable budget to help clients achieve renovation goals.

Costs for a basement renovation in Westchester

Sweeten contractors have worked on basement renovations that cost anywhere from $20,000 to $75,000. A $20,000—$30,000 or $50/psf budget would update an already finished basement. This includes painting, flooring, and lighting. If the space is raw and being renovated to a finished living area, the cost is around $75,000. For this budget, a bathroom, a kitchen, and HVAC can be added.

For Majid, a simple basement remodel can cost as little as $50 a square foot, which works out to be about $40,000 for an 800-square-foot space. Adding a toilet or shower could increase your budget, plus any necessary work to bring the room up to code. Waterproofing and drainage can also push up a basement project’s cost. 

Some town regulations might require two forms of egress or natural light (by adding a door or a window) or a certain ceiling height, which means digging down and lowering the floor. An average basement conversion in Westchester is $75,000, according to the Cost vs. Value report. A project with this budget includes a 20×30 foot room, a 5’×8′ bathroom with a shower and bar area, plus insulation and laminate flooring. This example project works out to $117 psf.

Costs for permits in Westchester

The cost of permits changes from town to town in Westchester County. Typically, home renovation costs will be determined by your budget, and require some basic math to figure out. For example, the permit costs below are broken out among the different towns across the County:

  • Pelham: Building permits cost $250 for a project costing under $5,000 plus $12 per each additional $1,000.
  • Scarsdale: Building permits cost $255 for a project costing between $10,000 and $50,000. For projects budgeted over $100,000, a permit costs a flat fee of $1,755 plus $14 for each $1,000 or fraction over $100,000.
  • Katonah: Permits cost $14 for every $1,000 of a budgeted project.
  • Hastings-on-Hudson: The fee will cost $17 per $1,000 of the estimated construction cost.

These figures provide a jumping-off point for your Westchester County renovation budget. On the (more fun) planning side, Sweeten’s Renovation Checklist offers you a downloadable roadmap to organize all of the moving parts of a renovation including laying out your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.”

Thinking about renovating? Sweeten can help!

Post your project on Sweeten and we’ll match you with multiple vetted general contractors to provide estimates for your renovation. Sweeten also checks in with you until project completion. Talk with your general contractor to develop an accurate budget, and you’ll be on your way to the home you’ve always wanted.

ADUs or accessory dwelling units can transform into home offices, living space for family or as a rental, or a retreat.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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A NYC Bathroom Remodel Restores Prewar Beauty


For this prewar NYC bathroom remodel, tile and gold finishes reveal old-school charm

prewar bathroom renovation

“After” photos by Miao Jiaxin for Sweeten


  • Homeowner: Leah posted a project on Sweeten
  • Where: Upper West Side, Manhattan, New York
  • Primary renovation: A rip-and-replace bathroom
  • Notable: Feature and custom items were worth the wait.
  • Result: The removal of a drop ceiling brought the space closer to the original feel.
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

BEFORE

Leah, a lawyer in the finance industry, bought her prewar one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side. She spent several years living in the apartment before embarking on a kitchen renovation. She also redid the floors. “The decisions I made after really living in the space were just better—how I moved in and out of the kitchen, how the rooms communicated with each other,” she said.

The renovation projects became exhausting, so she took a break—even though the bathroom was disjointed from the rest of the apartment, with its beige tones and frumpy ’70s aesthetic. It also had a dropped ceiling for seemingly no reason, which cramped the small space. “I backed away because it seemed like too much to take on,” she said, but she finally took the plunge and posted her NYC prewar bathroom remodel on Sweeten to find a general contractor.

Slideshow:

AFTER

Leah envisioned something that was reflective of her co-op building’s beautiful foyer with its marble and clean look. “I think my design was to let the space speak for itself,” she said. The Sweeten contractors she hired set out to raise the ceiling. “We didn’t know what we were going to find,” Leah said. Because they could not find any pipes or any other obvious reason for the dropped ceiling, they were able to raise it again.

She selected classic subway tiles for the walls and a marble top for the vanity. With the floors, the Sweeten contractors made a reassuring discovery—the original tiles were still underneath, and matched the new creamy hexagon tiles Leah had chosen. It was a confirmation that her design choices were in line with how the bathroom was originally meant to be.

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While Leah had planned for white and silver tones, she made a last-minute decision to bring in gold fixtures. “I wanted to add warmth,” she said of the 11th-hour choice. Luckily, she found the renovation process to be far less taxing than she had anticipated. She was in daily communication with her Sweeten contractors, who helped solve problems and helped her make those nuts-and-bolts decisions, like how far up the wall the tiles should go. “It was a very collaborative process,” she said.

BONUS

Leah decided early on where she would save money (like tile choices) with her budget and where she would spend more lavishly. Because of the small space, she decided on a custom bathtub, which took six weeks to make in South Carolina. “Every bathtub that was standard was made for bigger spaces,” she said. “I needed something that fit my dimensions.” The shower enclosure and tub combination became a showstopping centerpiece of the bathroom and were well worth the wait.

STYLE FINDS

Casa Vogue porcelain wall tile in glossy Snow White, hexagon floor tile, and white chair rail: Kohler. Bathtub: MTI Baths. Shower and sink fixtures in French Gold: Kohler. Empire Windsor vanity: Kitchensource.com. AiO Cabinet and mirror: Robern. Vanity light fixture: Restoration Hardware. UltraMax toilet: Toto. Glass surround: Alpha Glass.

Even small changes to a floor plan may free up enough square footage for an extra bathroom. Here’s how five Sweeten homeowners who added one.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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She Shed Gives a Derelict Backyard Garage Real Purpose


A “she shed” in Queens emerges from a garage renovation, complete with a pull-down ladder, kitchen, and bathroom

She Shed

“After” photos by Miao Jiaxin for Sweeten

When her elderly mother needed some assistance, Michelle, a paralegal from Queens, New York, decided to move back home. From the start, she knew she would want her own space to thrive in this new living arrangement. Renovating a 228-square-foot beat-up garage in the backyard provided the perfect solution: the ultimate “she shed” retreat that she nicknamed The Shak. As this was her first-ever renovation project, posting her project to find fully-vetted contractors through Sweeten “seemed like a no-brainer.” Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner. The result: a vibrant space that is truly all her own.

Guest post by Sweeten homeowner Michelle

Finding the right contractors

My journey down the renovation rabbit hole began when I found myself picturing the dilapidated garage in the backyard as my dream “diva den,” as my best friend calls it. While researching different designs and models, I remembered an article on Sweeten I’d read a few years ago and had always wanted to use their services. It seemed like a no-brainer to have an intermediary help locate vetted contractors. It also solved the huge question of ‘where to begin.

Since I had no idea what my renovation would cost, Sweeten helped me modify my scope of work and nail down a realistic budget. They introduced me to a few contractors who were a good match for my project. I finally felt like I had a team behind me, which is great once you start writing big checks.

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I asked questions that clearly came from watching copious amounts of home improvement TV. Everyone was extremely patient and explained why things are done a certain way.

Planning the “She Shed” garage remodel

I knew instantly that the first Sweeten contractor I met was the right fit for the job. Finally, I found someone as excited about my garage as I was! At that stage, I only had a basic idea of what I wanted. We took down most of the existing structure, retaining only the foundation. Since I was renovating a 12′ x 19′ garage, I wanted the interior to be basic and for the structure to retain the identity and functionality of a garage. That meant concrete floors, no molding, and a statement-making garage door. If you took out the rugs and furniture of the she shed, the structure could have use as a garage or workspace. I also wanted a calming space with one stipulation: no white walls.

Experiencing a real-life renovation

Working with everyone on my contractor’s team was amazing. I asked questions that clearly came from watching copious amounts of home improvement TV. Everyone was extremely patient and explained why things are done a certain way. Most importantly, nobody exposed me for the complete novice that I was. Gaining an understanding of how everything worked also helped reign in some of my design ideas. To top off the contractor’s great service, he downloaded WhatsApp to stay in touch with me when I left for Cuba mid-project. I greatly appreciated his dedication to my peace of mind.

The weather was one of the biggest challenges during my project. It wasn’t an issue when my project started in August. However, when November arrived, it was either too cold, too rainy or was supposed to rain but didn’t. Either way, there were a few bad weather days that halted work on The Shak. My contractor also had to juggle other clients. In my naiveté, I thought contractors worked on one project at a time. I came to understand that The Shak was my highest priority, but contractors work on other dream projects at the same time.

ladder to garage attic

Building a ladder to the attic

As the exterior took shape, and the interior work began, I became more involved in the project. That is also when my attention to detail heightened. For storage, we utilized the space, we utilized the space above the ceiling. How to access that space became an hour-long discussion. I asked the contractor and his partner how I would get up to the storage space. “Use a ladder,” they said. “That’s what I do in my garage.” I’m no mathematician, but a nine-foot-tall ceiling plus a five-foot-tall girl does not equal easy movement of big boxes up a six-foot ladder. And where would I keep this ladder when I wasn’t using it? After a bit of selling on my part, they agreed to install an attic ladder. It was worth hashing out and in the end, my contractors loved the ladder too.

Personalizing the “she shed” bathroom

It may sound weird, but finding my dry-flush toilet was exciting. The she shed did not seem usable to me if you had to keep going into the house to use the bathroom. After endlessly searching for a toilet that did not need to be hooked up to sewage lines or have an odor, I came across a dry flush toilet. It is a great invention. It works like a Diaper Genie disposal system with a continuous bag that self-seals when “flushed,” then, a new portion of the bag opens for use.

Since the bathroom is a small 3’ x 4’ space, I definitely wanted some over-the-top designs on the walls. I initially thought of using three-dimensional self-adhesive wall panels but decided against that since I wanted a mix of color and patterns. As a naturally curly-haired girl, the print I chose was a perfect fit for my preference of streamlined chaos.

garage bathroom remodel

A tip on DIY wallpaper hanging

However, by the time I found the mural, the contractors had completed the interior space. So, my best friend and I enrolled in the university that is YouTube. After watching about twenty videos, we felt qualified to hang wallpaper, something neither of us had ever done before. I love what we accomplished, but some things take more skill and patience than she or I possess. I will never hang wallpaper again.

Ultra-bold backsplash tiles

After the contractor installed the sink and countertop, my next big project was the backsplash. I wanted something different and eye-catching, something that would not bore me. I came across graffiti tiles but the designs weren’t bold enough. After feeling empowered with my new construction knowledge, I decided to decoupage my own tiles. We figured out the dimensions for the backsplash and measured out 5′ x 2′ worth of decoupage tiles as well as some purchased ones. It is one of my favorite things in The Shak. Now, when my friends come over, they all choose their favorite tile. I love how they invite interaction.

I have never embarked on a project of this size. At times, it was scary. I would get a call at 8 a.m. from my contractor, asking which direction I wanted the French doors to open or what size I wanted the windows to be, with no clue of how to respond. My advice to anyone starting a project would be to pick a contractor that listens to your ideas. It is also helpful to watch some YouTube videos, home improvement shows, or however else you like to educate yourself. The more a homeowner knows, the better he or she can direct the construction of their masterpiece. I couldn’t be happier with everything I accomplished in making The Shak a reality.

Thank you, Michelle, for sharing the story of your she shed, The Shak with us! We hope it brings joy and relaxation.

RESOURCES: Garage door: Clopay Avante. Flooring: stained concrete. Stone Harbor Greige paint,10YY 48/071: Glidden. Exterior light fixture; Doors and windows: Lowe’s. Siding: Vinyl. Midea 9,000 BTU mini split central air: Amazon. Boholmen sink and Grevsta cabinets: IKEA. Refrigerator: Home Depot. Backsplash: Zazzle and custom tiles. Toilet: Laveo Dry Flush. Foam bath floor mat tiles: Amazon. Wall mural: Pixers.

ADUs or accessory dwelling units can transform into home offices, living space for family or as a rental, or a retreat.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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2020 Home Remodeling Costs in Dallas


A guide to home remodeling costs in Dallas; including kitchen, bath, whole home, and outdoor, plus outdoor deck & patio costs

Dallas remodeling costs

Dallas is the ninth-largest city in the United States. It’s a headquarter for multiple Fortune 500 companies like American Airlines. There’s the Dallas Cowboys as well as real cowboys. And of course, there’s BBQ. Dallas is a thriving city and a great place to renovate your dream home. Sweeten‘s guide to home remodeling costs in Dallas provides a jumping-off point to get you on your way. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Developing a budget is your first step to your dream home. Sweeten contractors will want to sit down with you and inspect your home to reach an accurate number. 

Here’s a quick overview of budgets for some typical renovation projects:

  • Gut renovation: starting at $80 – $100 per square foot (psf)
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: starting at $10,000 – $15,000
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: starting at $25,000 – $30,000
  • High-end kitchen remodel: starting at $40,000
  • Low-end bathroom remodel: starting at $8,000 – $15,000
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: starting at $15,000 – $25,000
  • High-end bathroom remodel and expansion: starting at $30,000
  • Deck composite: $19,000 or $60 psf
  • Wood deck: $13,000 or $40 psf
Dallas home remodeling costs per square foot

A total gut renovation in Dallas that brings your home down to its bare bones and remodels it to your liking, starts at $80 – $100 psf for a home that has low-range finishes. This means materials such as laminate flooring and countertops, value-brand appliances, and basic tiles from big box stores like Home Depot. 

Although a gut renovation is a big project, consider doing it all at once to get you the best bang for your buck. You’ll also have your dream home much quicker than renovating room by room. 

How much a Dallas kitchen remodel costs per square foot
  • A kitchen renovation in the best-value range can start at $10,000 and reach $15,000. To get a new kitchen at this price, it needs to be a rip-and-replace job, meaning a layout of the kitchen must stay the same with pipes and appliances remaining where they are. Materials will be pre-made cabinets and appliances from big-box stores. 
  • A mid-range kitchen remodel in Dallas has costs starting at $25,000 – $30,000. What does a mid-range kitchen look like at this starting cost? The kitchen layout must remain the same as a rip-and-replace: swap your old oven for your new one and your old sink for your new sink. You can get a stainless steel sink with single-lever faucet, laminate countertops, a built-in microwave, new appliances, custom lighting, and semi-custom cabinets. An island could also be added. Moving plumbing, gas, and electrical, reconfiguring the layout, or choosing custom features will increase the budget.
  • For an upscale kitchen, labor costs and a refresh with select high-end materials such as marble or quartz countertops, imported backsplash tile, and high-quality fixtures start at $40,000. The costs increase from there with custom features, new cabinets and appliances, and reconfiguring the layout.
chart of home remodeling costs in Dallas
How much a Dallas bathroom remodel costs per square foot
  • At the low-end, expect a rip-and-replace bathroom with no behind-the-wall surprises to start at $8,000 – $15,000. The layout will remain the same where plumbing doesn’t move. This budget won’t include any issues like leaks or mold discovered once the project begins. Materials will include a prefabricated vanity, ceramic tile, and fixtures from big-box stores.
  • In the Dallas area, a mid-range bathroom can start at $15,000 – $25,000. The average cost for this price range remodel is about $20,000 or $570 psf, as per Remodeling‘s Cost Vs Value report. The key to a budget in this range is rip-and-replace. This means keeping the layout the same and swapping out an old toilet for a new one, an old vanity for a new one, etc. That way, no expensive plumbing work is needed.

The example project for this budget is a 35-square-foot bathroom. You can install a new porcelain-on-steel bathtub, ceramic tiles, and a recessed medicine cabinet with built-in lighting. More than 55 percent of your budget can be recouped in the value the project adds to your home.  

  • For a high-end bathroom remodel and expansion, the cost can start at $30,000. This budget includes a three-piece bathroom (tub/shower combo, toilet, and sink) for a typical 5’ x 7’ space. The cost increases with features including a double vanity, creating a separate shower from the tub, specialty tile, a custom vanity, or a toilet with additional functions.

Adding outdoor space to your home

Dallas is a city perfect for outdoor entertaining, whether it’s a crisp winter night in front of the fire pit or a cold beer paired with a hot summer evening. An outdoor area is often the cherry on top of a dream home remodel. It’s the project to really let your creative juices flow. There are endless options to make your outdoor area your own with extensive outdoor kitchens, gas fireplaces, fans and misting systems for cooling, custom lighting, and landscaping. 

A basic wooden deck will likely cost $40 psf or $13,000 for something in the 320 square foot range, according to the Cost Vs Value report. A deck made from composite, a mix of wood product and plastic, will cost just under $19,000 for the same size or $60 psf. This material tends to last longer and requires less maintenance. 

Permit costs

Dallas is experiencing a lot of new building construction. This has resulted in a more rigorous approval process compared to approvals for existing homes. 

There are numerous cities and towns that make up Dallas. Each one has its own building department and its own fee structure for permits. Your Sweeten contractor will likely put an estimate in the budget for building permits, which will be determined by your end costs or square footage of your project.

The upmarket suburb of Highland Park bases building permit costs on square footage. The permit for a 200 square foot kitchen renovation costs $490, according to Highland Park’s calculator.  

In the city of Addison, building permit fees start at $40 for projects under $500 in value. Fees then increase with the project’s budget. For example, a project with a budget between $2,000 and $25,000 will have a base cost of $115 with an additional $23 per $1,000 for estimated costs over $2,000. That means the permit for a $20,000 mid-range bathroom remodel will cost $529

Building permit fees in Cedar Hill, southwest of the city’s center, are determined by square footage. There is a set fee of $400 for any renovation of less than 1,250 square feet. For each additional square foot over 1,250, the permit increases by $.60. After 2,500 square feet, it increases by $.40.

Enjoy making your Dallas home your own. Understand the costs and find the right renovation team to bring your vision to life. Post your project on Sweeten and you’ll be one step closer to your home sweet home. 

Six steps on how to start your renovation and finding the right general contractor for your scope.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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The Best Home Improvements to Make for Resale in Atlanta


The best Atlanta home improvements for resale, from new garage doors to a light kitchen or bath refresh

atlanta renovate for resale(Above) Renovation in Roswell, Georgia by Sweeten contractor Justin

The Atlanta housing market is humming. The value of homes increased by over seven percent in 2019, according to data from Redfin. It’s one of those American city’s that is revitalizing with the fourth-fastest growth rate in the nation. As a result, Atlanta homeowners are increasingly planning for home improvements. 

If you’re thinking of prepping your house for sale, Sweeten outlines the top home improvements for the Atlanta market to get the best price and sell quickly. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Sometimes renovations aren’t always about what you want but what the homeowner who comes after you might want. A good idea is to take a look at the style of spec homes. “They try to use elements that have a large appeal,” said Sweeten contractor Lonny, who is based in Atlanta. When looking at the styles around Atlanta for your home improvements, sticking with what’s popular is best for resale rather than involving your unique preferences. “There might be hundreds of choices for faucets, but 95 percent of people might go with three styles,” said Lonny. 

Renovation projects to consider: 

1. Change out the front door

First impressions endure when selling your home. “It is crucial that your entranceway is well kept,” said Lonny. Sprucing up the front of your home could be as simple as adding a new front door. For one client, Lonny swapped out a plain door for a craftsman-style door along with matching shutters. “It really set the house apart,” he said. 

2. A fresh coat of paint 

Atlanta-based Sweeten contractor Justin advises homeowners to think like makeup artists when accessing the front of their home ahead of a sale. “You’re not going to attract buyers if the windows are fogged up and the paint is chipping,” he said. Ensuring your house is clean and your paint fresh will go a long way in getting the best price, Justin said. 

3. Replace the garage door

Along with your actual front door, replacing your garage door is a quick and easy fix to improve your home’s value. A garage door replacement costs $3,663 on average for the Atlanta area, according to Remodeling‘s Cost Vs Value report. Your home’s value is increased by more than 76 percent of that cost. 

4. Invest in siding

Lonny often gets calls about siding replacement from homeowners who are planning to sell their home. New siding is a great investment, according to the 2020 Cost Vs Value report for Atlanta. A project that installs fiber-cement siding costs an average of $17,000. Over $13,000 or 78 percent of the project’s cost is returned to you in the value that it adds to the home. That’s one of the highest returns on investment of any renovation project, according to the report. 

5. Basement as living space

The basement is the first thing Justin looks at if a client is planning to resell their home. An unfinished basement has the potential to significantly increase the square footage of your home. “Finishing your basement is going to yield the largest return on your investment,” said Justin. 

Other alterations, such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel, are helpful, but they don’t add to the size of your home like a basement can. The square footage of your home and its price per square foot will feature prominently in your home’s sale listing. Depending on how many floors you have, a finished basement could almost double that square foot measurement.

A full basement renovation that includes budget-friendly floors, paint, lighting, and a half bath can start at $20,000. “On the conservative side for finishes, a turn-key basement will cost around $50-65 per square foot to finish out,” said Justin. “This includes a small kitchen area and basement bathroom if all the rough-in plumbing is already installed.”

According to the Cost Vs Value report, the average cost of a basement remodel in Atlanta was $70,000. This increases a home’s value by $46,000 or more than 65 percent of the renovation’s cost, the report found.

6. The bathroom adds value

Giving your bathroom a makeover is an easy route to a higher house price. Recently, a real estate agent contacted Lonny with a house about to go on the market. To increase its value ahead of the sale, Lonny completed a modified gut renovation in the bathroom. “This was something that was needed because it was dated from the 1980s,” said Lonny. The customer had everything replaced except the cabinetry. The budget was about $20,000. A bathroom remodel in this budget range adds almost $13,000 —65 percent of the budget— to your home’s value, according to the Cost Vs Value report for Atlanta. 

If you don’t have the time for a major remodel, then simple superficial changes might be a better option. This could mean swapping outdated fixtures like faucets for something more modern, said Lonny. A new countertop on your vanity could also spruce up your bathroom with minimum effort.  

7. A streamlined kitchen refresh

Kitchens are the gathering place, a focal point for any home. A kitchen could also make or break your home’s value, according to Justin. Rather than doing a full renovation that involves the costly exercise of changing a layout, stick to a scaled-back renovation. “A new countertop, backsplash, and faucet can go along way,” said Lonny. “If there’s the budget for it then I also suggest lighting and flooring.”

Cabinets, especially if they are custom-built, can take up a huge chunk of a budget. For a renovation that is geared towards increasing value, Lonny advised keeping cabinets as is. That way the budget and timeline can be streamlined. 

A minor kitchen remodel with a budget of $23,000 has a high return on investment of 73 percent, according to the Cost Vs Value report. A minor kitchen remodel in this instance involves replacing only the front of your cabinets, sink, faucet and countertops while adding an energy-efficient cooktop, oven, and refrigerator.

Give your home a fresh and neutral slate. Curb appeal gets the potential buyer to enter the door. A conservative palette inside allows them to more easily see how they can make the home their own. Take these home improvement ideas into consideration and be one step closer to closing the deal.

Here’s the renovation cost guide for Atlanta for purchasing a new home or updating an existing one.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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2020 Guide to Remodeling Costs in Houston


Sweeten breaks down remodeling costs in Houston, including kitchen, bath, whole home, and outdoor spaces (plus patio and permit costs!)

Houston remodeling costs

Whether you’ve got a bungalow in Houston Heights, a Craftsman cottage in Montrose, or an apartment in downtown, it’s time to make your Houston home your own. Sweeten‘s guide to remodeling costs in Houston provides a jumping-off point to get you on your way. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

One of the first steps to a renovation is creating a budget. To get an accurate number that is specific to what you want and the home you’re working with, a Sweeten contractor will want to sit down and discuss the details. 

Here’s a quick overview of budgets for popular renovation projects:

  • Gut renovation: starting at $80 – $100 per square foot (psf)
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: starting at $10,000 – $15,000
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: starting at $25,000 – $30,000
  • High-end kitchen remodel: starting at $40,000
  • Low-end bathroom remodel: starting at $8,000 – $15,000
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: starting at $15,000 – $25,000
  • High-end bathroom remodel and expansion: starting at $30,000
  • Deck composite: $18,000 or $56 psf
  • Wood deck: $13,000 or $40 psf
How much a Houston remodel costs per square foot

Remodeling costs for a total gut renovation in Houston starts at $80 – $100 per square foot (psf) for a project that uses affordable finishes. This means materials such as laminate flooring and countertops, value-brand appliances, and basic tiles from big box stores like Home Depot. 

Although a gut renovation is a big project, consider doing it all at once to get the best bang for your buck. It’s also going to get you your dream home much quicker than renovating room by room. The bigger your project, the less per square foot it will cost. 

How much a Houston kitchen remodel costs per square foot
  • A low-range kitchen remodel can start at $10,000 – $15,000. At this budget, the project would be a rip-and-replace job—plumbing and electrical remain where there are with no layout changes. The finishes such as tile, appliances, and cabinets would be budget-friendly from a big-box retailer.
  • A mid-range kitchen remodel in Houston has costs starting at $25,000 – $30,000. What does a mid-range kitchen look like at this starting cost? The key is keeping your layout the same. This means replacing your oven and dishwasher without moving their location so plumbing and gas lines can stay as is.

You can get a stainless steel sink with single-lever faucet, laminate countertops, a built-in microwave, value-brand appliances, custom lighting, and semi-custom cabinets. An island could also be added. Moving plumbing, gas, and electrical, reconfiguring the layout, or choosing custom features will increase the budget.

  • For an upscale kitchen, labor costs and a refresh with select high-end materials such as marble or quartz countertops, imported backsplash tile, and high-quality fixtures start at $40,000. The costs increase from there with custom features, new cabinets and appliances, and reconfiguring the layout.

chart of remodeling costs in Houston

How much a Houston bathroom remodel costs per square foot
  • At the low-end, expect a rip-and-replace bathroom with no behind-the-wall surprises to start at $8,000 – $15,000. The layout will remain the same where plumbing doesn’t move. This budget won’t include any issues like leaks or mold discovered once the project begins. Materials will include a prefabricated vanity, ceramic tile, and fixtures from big-box stores.
  • In the Houston area, a mid-range bathroom can start at $15,000 – $25,000. The average cost of a mid-range bathroom remodel is about $19,000 or $542 psf, according to Remodeling‘s Cost Vs Value report. Like kitchens, the key to a budget in this range is sticking to the same layout. This avoids costly and time-consuming plumbing work.

This budget is for a 35-square-foot bathroom with a new porcelain-on-steel bathtub, ceramic tiles, and a recessed medicine cabinet with built-in lighting. A renovation of this level can add almost $12,000 to a home’s value, recouping close to 60 percent of the project’s cost.

  • For a high-end bathroom remodel and expansion, the cost can start at $30,000. This budget includes a three-piece bathroom (tub/shower combo, toilet, and sink) for a typical 5’ x 7’ space. The cost increases with features including a double vanity, creating a separate shower from the tub, specialty tile, a custom vanity, or a toilet with additional functions.
Costs for adding outdoor space

Houston is a great city for year-round outside entertaining. Crisp winter nights can be spent by the fire pit. Humid summer afternoons can be paired with a cold drink on the patio. An outdoor area is a project to really let your creative juices flow. There are endless options to make your outdoor area your own with extensive outdoor kitchens, gas fireplaces, fans and misting systems for cooling, custom lighting, and landscaping. 

You can also stick with something simple that has a restrained budget. A basic wooden deck will likely cost $40 psf or $13,000 for something in the 320 square foot range. A deck made from composite, a mix of wood product and plastic, will cost around $18,000 for the same size or $56 psf. This material tends to last longer with less maintenance. 

Other remodeling costs in Houston: Permits

The cost of building permits varies from place to place. There are nine counties that make up the city of Houston. Each one has its own building permit system and fees. 

For example, in Harris County, most residential renovations attract a $130 fee. The minimum fee in Montgomery County is $15 plus $.30 per square foot of your renovating project. Depending on your remodel, there could also be a plan review fee (half the initial permit fee), a plumbing permit ($100), and a mechanical permit fee ($100). 

Enjoy making your Houston home your own. Understand the costs and find the right renovation team to bring your vision to life. Post your project on Sweeten and you’ll be one step closer to your home sweet home. 

Six steps on how to start your renovation and finding the right general contractor for your scope.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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House Renovation Costs in New Jersey 2020


A guide to house renovation costs for New Jersey in 2020, including kitchen, bath, and whole-home (plus a basement budget and permit tips!)

New Jersey renovation costs

Nine million New Jerseyans live in the Garden State. And why not? There’s the option to live close to beaches, own a farm, or live the quintessential American suburban life. There’s also a convenient commute to New York City and Pennsylvania. According to the US Census, 64 percent of the houses are owned by the inhabitants, which means there are a lot of homes available for renovation.

First step: Setting a budget

If you’re embarking on a home renovation journey, your first stop will be creating a realistic budget so you can compare what you have to spend and what you might need to spend to get what you want. Each project will have a unique process and outcome with many variables—from your own taste in material and workmanship to changes in layout—that will move your cost meter up or down.

Luckily, Sweeten has done some of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to understanding house renovation costs for New Jersey. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Here’s a breakdown of typical starting house renovation costs in New Jersey, compiled from Sweeten renovations and Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report. Renovators in denser areas closer to New York City will likely see slightly higher budgets. 

  • Full home renovation: $100 per square foot (psf) and up
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: $20,000 to $25,000
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: starting at $30,000
  • High-end kitchen remodel: starting at $60,000
  • Low-end bathroom remodel: $15,000 to $20,000
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: $685 psf or $24,000
  • High-end bathroom remodel and expansion: starting at $40,000
  • Basement remodel: starting at $20,000

But remember this: While it is great to have an idea of your end cost, a contractor will want a detailed conversation and inspection of your home before delivering a more specific estimate.

New Jersey home remodeling costs per square foot

New Jersey is a big state. In the northeastern part of the state, real estate prices are slightly lower than neighboring New York City. To the west are better-priced rural properties that helped give New Jersey the title of “Garden State” for its extensive agricultural industry. The same cost variations can occur when it comes to renovating your New Jersey home.

Most Sweeten projects generally start at $100 per square foot (psf) in New Jersey. Sweeten contractor Norm, who is based in Northern New Jersey, has seen gut renovations start at $200 psf and go up from there. This cost range also includes everything from architectural design and drawings to fixtures, demolition, expediting, construction—the whole project.

Easier logistics in New Jersey

There are fewer obstacles to a New Jersey renovation than, say, a place like New York City, according to Norm. New Jersey renovations do not normally come against parking and access issues or limited hours a co-op will allow for construction each day, like what happens over the Hudson. This can mean more efficient use of time, less hassle, and a smaller budget for clients in New Jersey.

House renovations can be lighter on the wallet, too. Houses typically have direct access, whereas apartments require contractors to take extra care (and time) to keep communal hallways and lobbies clean and clear. “All those things make a home renovation much less labor-intensive than an apartment,” said Norm.

New Jersey renovation costs

How much a New Jersey kitchen remodel costs per square foot

Lower-end budgets
  • Low-end kitchen: Sweeten kitchen remodels can start at $20,000 to $25,000 for under 100 square feet with budget-friendly finishes from retailers such as Home Depot.

New Jersey-based Sweeten contractor Gregory recently completed a kitchen in Monmouth County’s Fair Haven for under $25,000 at $100 psf. For flooring, he used a prefinished engineered floor lumber core with a real wood veneer on the top layer. This cost $2,500. The cabinets were purchased ready to install and a stone counter was paired with a stainless steel undermount sink, “which was quite cost-effective,” Gregory said. “A good budget number per square foot of floor space might be $100 to $150 psf for economical kitchens,” he added.

Joshua, a Sweeten contractor who does a lot of renovations in Monmouth and Ocean counties, recently redid a 160-square-foot kitchen for under $20,000. To stick within this economical budget, he used vinyl plank flooring, a basic subway tile backsplash, and premade cabinets that come in standard measurement options like 12, 15, and 21 inches. “You can make it pretty close with those measurements, but with custom, you can make it fit exactly to what the space is,” Joshua said.

New Jersey-based Sweeten contractor Bruno, whose clients include the high-end homeowners of North Bergen and those in better value areas like Middlesex, agreed that a kitchen renovation can start at under $20,000 for something basic (premade stock cabinets, basic appliances, etc.) and small (10’ x 10’ square feet).

Mid to high-end budgets
  • Mid-range kitchen: Sweeten has seen mid-range kitchens start at $30,000. Joshua puts a mid-range kitchen in a range up to $40,000. Instead of hitting up big-box stores like Home Depot, as you would for a lower-end kitchen, this price bracket allows you to shop in specialty stores for items like tiles or cabinets, Joshua said. Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report puts a typical mid-range kitchen renovation at $375 psf or $75,000 total as an average for Trenton, New Jersey’s capital.
  • High-end kitchen: Sweeten’s typical remodel starts at $60,000. The average cost for this level in Trenton, New Jersey, is $145,000 or $725 psf, according to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report. The largest kitchen project Norm completed in New Jersey was more than $150,000. Pumping up the price were items such as a kitchen island with double-thick quartz and a waterfall edge, a Wolf range, reclaimed wood beams added to the ceiling, a wine fridge, and a very large square footage.

How much a New Jersey bathroom remodel costs per square foot

  • Low-end bathroom: Sweeten bathrooms can start at $15,000 to $20,000 for a 5’ x 8’ space with budget-friendly finishes.

Bathroom renovations can cost less if the majority of materials come from big-box stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot for porcelain tiles, a molded sink, and a fiberglass shower. “The crux of the job is always similar in terms of what you have—a toilet, a shower, tiles, vanities—then you expand your budget with what finishes you use,” Joshua said.

  • Mid-range bathroom: A mid-range bathroom that covers about 35 square feet in New Jersey will cost on average $24,000, according to the Cost vs. Value report. This comes out at $685 psf and can include a recessed medicine cabinet, a standard toilet, solid-surface vanity counter, and a porcelain tub. Typically, the smaller the space, the higher the square foot cost.
  • High-end bathroom: Sweeten has seen high-end bathrooms start at $40,000. That same Cost Vs. Value report puts a high-end bathroom renovation at $75,000, based on a bathroom expanded from 35 square feet to 100 square feet (or $750 psf).

The budget of a recent bathroom that Norm worked on came to that $75,000 average. “It had it all—an oversized, walk-in steam shower with body sprays and frameless glass,” he said. There was custom carpentry and a freestanding tub, “which are very expensive,” Norm added. Then there is the less exciting but very important work of replacing the plumbing lines. 

Costs for a basement renovation in New Jersey

For a basement remodel in the New Jersey area, expect the starting cost to begin at $20,000. The Cost vs. Value report puts an average basement conversion in New Jersey at $117 psf. The example project cost $75,000 and was 20’ x 30’ with a 5’ x 8’ bathroom, shower, a bar area, insulation, and laminate flooring.

But there’s a lot to take into account that will impact the budget. Sometimes the floor needs to be dug deeper to raise the ceiling height. The walls could require underpinning. Electricity and plumbing might need to be installed if there is no existing bathroom. Installation and waterproofing can also be a significant cost if it is needed as well as pumps to drain out incoming water. Some clients just want new drywall, new doors, a new closet, and a paint job, which could put a project at around the $20,000 mark.

A premium basement could cost between $100,000 and $150,000, according to Sweeten contractor Norm. Clients tend to get creative with basements from custom bar areas to cinema-style entertainment rooms. “I’ve done a lot that are geared towards homeschooling with learning nooks built underneath stairs,” he said. “Or there’s been funky, retro-style laundries with dropdown racks that fall out of the walls.” 

Costs for permits in New Jersey

There’s a lot of good news for New Jersey renovators here. A few years ago, the state eliminated the need for projects to get a permit for minor work such as a bathroom renovation in which fixtures are being directly replaced (often referred to as “rip-and-replace”). 

“Doing direct replacement — replacing the toilet or oven, old for new — will keep your costs down,” said Norm. This means plumbing and gas lines can stay as is, which can be a huge expense saver. For trickier renovations that need permits, some Sweeten contractors suggest budgeting between 10 to 15 percent of the entire project’s cost for permits.

In New Jersey, permits are often handled by each town and will likely be tied to the budget you submit.

  • In the township of Teaneck in Bergen County, the first $50,000 in your renovation or repair budget will cost $30 per $1,000 for permits (so permits for that $20,000 kitchen you’re planning will be about $600). The next $50,000 in a budget will cost $24 per $1,000 of planned work and any amount over $100,000 will cost $22 per $1,000 of planned work.
  • In Morris Township, a permit will cost $33—$44 per $1,000 for the first $50,000 of the renovation budget and $27—$33 per $1,000 for the next $50,000 and $20—$28 per $1,000 for a project over $100,000.
  • For Toms River in Ocean County, the fee will be $39 per $50,000 of the estimated cost of work, add $25 for projects budgeted from $50,001—$100,000 and add $19 for projects costing over $100,000.

Hopefully, all of these facts and figures give you a jumping-off point to begin pulling together a budget. Sweeten’s Renovation Checklist offers you a downloadable roadmap to organize all of the moving parts of a renovation, including laying out your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves,” so you can plan and get started off on the right foot.

Preparing your home for resale? Read up on the best remodeling projects to invest in to appeal to buyers.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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