Measure for Bathroom Tile Accurately: Tips & What You’ll Need


How to measure for bathroom tile correctly—and get the quantity and type tile that’s just right for your bathroom

measure for bathroom tile(Above) Mitzie + Jenifer’s Sweeten renovation

Numbers are stable facts that control our world. So, to measure for bathroom tile on floors or the walls, it would seem that everything is clear-cut, with nothing left open for interpretation. Right?

In this guide, Sweeten outlines how to measure space for bathroom tile, so that in the end, you will have a measurement that lets you purchase the correct quantity of tile. You’ll also calculate for enough extra to make the installation smoother. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

When measuring bathroom dimensions and matching numbers to a physical product—tile—questions will come up.

  • Overage is required, but how much?
  • Should you tile under large bathroom components (like tubs and vanity cabinets)?
  • Does tile seam width change the purchase amount?
  • For wall tile, how far up does the tile go?

What you will measure: 

  1. You will begin with one set of measurements: those that cannot be changed.
  2. Next, you tighten up that set of numbers by taking variables into account.

What you will need to measure for bathroom tile:

Begin with a tape measure, preferably one with a metal blade 1-inch wide or more for rigidity. Do not use a vinyl measuring tape of the type used for clothing and other fabrics. A laser measuring device is a great add-on but is not necessary.

You will also need a simple way to jot down numbers. Pen and paper work best, but if you are working with an app or program, you can use that. Having an extra hand, too, eases the process and produces more accurate numbers.

Getting the fixed dimensions

Certain dimensions in a bathroom are fixed; meaning, they cannot be changed. Begin there.

To measure the bathroom floor tile:

  • Measure the dimensions of the entire bathroom. Measure from one wall to the opposite wall. Then, measure the other walls from side to side. If the room has alcoves or areas in addition to that larger floor space, measure those separately as if they were separate rooms.
  • Measure the available floor space that will be tiled. Measure only the floor area that will be tiled. Rather than subtracting non-tiled areas (such as bathtubs) from the overall dimensions of the room, measure the floor space on its own.

To measure the bathroom wall tile:

  • Full-wall tile runs from the floor to the ceiling. Areas near showers and bathtubs often receive tile from floor to ceiling.

What is a tile wainscot?

  • Tile wainscot is a tile field that runs partially up the bathroom wall. Forty-two inches is a common wainscot height for a bathroom with a 7-foot or 8-foot ceiling. Even better, measure the height of the ceiling, then divide by one-third and use that as your wainscot height.

black and white shower tile

(Above) Jessica + Jessie’s Sweeten renovation

To measure the shower wall and floor tile:

  • Measure all shower walls from side to side and top to bottom. Do not account for the shower pan or shower curb.
  • For the shower pan, measure from side to side in both directions to produce the area measurement.
  • If the curb or threshold will be tiled, assume a height on both sides of at least 2 inches and width of at least 2 inches. Shower curbs may not rise more than 9 inches.

Tips to control for variables:

  • The tape measure will sag, so keep it as straight and level as possible. This is the benefit of having an assistant: to keep the tape measure tight. A laser measuring tool is helpful for distances over 8 to 10 feet, as it produces a straight line.
  • Ignore baseboards, as tile overlaps baseboards. Be sure to measure from wall to wall, not from baseboard to baseboard.
  • Subtract cutouts down to the square foot. Items less than a square foot, such as the toilet flange or shower drain, should not be subtracted.
  • If the sink cabinet will stay in place and you are certain that the bathroom layout will never change, do not tile under the cabinet. Subtract the cabinet from the flooring area.
  • If you think that you will change the bathroom layout in the future, tile underneath the sink cabinet.
  • Tile usually does not run under the shower or bathtub. Do not figure shower or tub floor space into your measurements.
  • Interior tile grout widths range from 1/16-inch to 1/4-inch. Unless this is an unusually large bathroom, do not use grout widths as a variable when measuring for bathroom tile.
  • Site-built showers do not always need tiled shower pans and curbs. You may subtract this quantity of tile if you expect to use a prefabricated shower pan.

Using your measurements to purchase bathroom tile

Once you have a solid set of numbers in hand, it is time to buy the bathroom tile. You will need to consider a few issues before you make the final purchase.

Tile overage: How much extra bathroom tile should I buy?

After you adjust the fixed quantity of tiles with the control variables, you now have the total amount of tile required—almost! The last step is to plan for a standard overage amount of 10% or more.

For example, a 100 square foot bathroom with 10% overage results in a purchase of 110 square feet of tile.

Products may arrive damaged or otherwise unusable. Too many unusable products must be returned, but a broken tile or two may not be worth the effort. More importantly, it is nearly impossible to order exactly the amount of tiles that will be laid down. Field tile edges are typically cut to fit the space. While tile installers strive to recycle cut pieces in other areas of the project, some pieces cannot be used. Boxed tile, too, often ends up with extra tiles left in the box.

Special-shape or unique-size tiles and layout designs

Most tiles are square or rectangular, and most layouts are grid or brick patterns. What happens if you vary the tile size or layout?

Unique tile shapes and sizes require that you purchase more tile. If the tile cannot produce a straight edge when laid, increase the overage to 20% or more.

Layouts that differ from grid or brick patterns also require more tile. Diagonal, herringbone, or chevron patterns, for example, result in cut pieces in a variety of triangular sizes. Some triangles can be used elsewhere, but most cannot.

Other factors for measuring bathroom tile

The ease with which you can return the tiles is an important factor in measuring bathroom tile. A brick-and-mortar store may accept sealed, full-box returns for full value or for full value minus a stocking fee. Online tile suppliers may require you to pay to ship back unused tile.

Having some extra tile on hand has its benefits. Over time, installed tile may crack and need to be replaced. Or you may wish to use the tile for smaller applications within the bathroom, such as for a sink backsplash.

Best tile and applications for bathroom flooring

All bathroom flooring tiles should be specified as such by the manufacturer in the product description or in the technical specifications. Wall-only tile cannot be used for floors, as it is too thin for foot traffic and often too slippery.

Another clue is the COF (or coefficient of friction) slip ratings published by tile manufacturers. For foot traffic, higher numbers are better than lower numbers. Look for a COF rating of 0.50 or more for your floor tile.

Grout seams are necessary between floor tiles. Wide seams impart more friction, thus a safer floor. More seams, too, give the foot friction. This is one reason why mosaic tiles are so popular for floor tiles: the increased proportion of grout to tiles.

Best tile and applications for bathroom walls

Like floor tile, manufacturers often label bathroom wall tile. However, in most cases, you can use bathroom floor tiles for bathroom walls.

One exception is with showers, bathtubs, and other high-moisture areas. Look for tiles with a water absorption rate of 0.5 percent or lower. Tiles labeled specifically with the name “porcelain,” as certified by the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCA), are guaranteed to fall under the absorption rate range.

Given the visibility of bathroom wall tile, it is often best practice to keep tile seams narrower, to use more routine layouts, and to use tiles with less complex visuals. Highly ornate tiles are acceptable, but are best limited to use in borders or for smaller applications, like backsplashes.

Having a shortage of tile will cause delays, while ordering too much tile affects your budget. Use this guide to measure for bathroom tile accurately and you’ll get even closer to the exact tile quantity you need!

Two ways to keep a renovation project on track and save money: avoid order and delivery hiccups. Read more here.

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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Aging in Place Design Costs & Tips to Improve Home Accessibility


Sweeten explains aging in place design costs, plus accessible design costs (and how to add them to a home!) 

(Above) Marissa + Jeremy installed bright lights for future aging in place in their kitchen remodel

What is aging in place design? What does accessible design mean?

To some, “aging in place” is a design term that means creating living spaces that are safe and accessible for people who want to stay in their homes and care for themselves as they grow older.

To others, the term “accessible design” or “living in place” is more applicable, as it means designing spaces that suit the needs of children and adults in one home. In both cases, the goal is to create living spaces that are, safe, accessible, and also make design sense.

Sweeten gives an overview of aging in place design costs, plus costs for accessible designs, and gives tips for when these designs can be beneficial to the family lifestyle. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

How much does accessible design cost?

When part of a major renovation, the cost to include accessible techniques can be minor. “Things don’t necessarily need to cost more, they are just different,” said Julie Schuster of Julie Schuster Design Studio and is a certified living in place professional (CLIPP). “If you are remodeling a kitchen you probably want under cabinet lighting. Why not upgrade slightly to add bright LED lights that are good for aging eyes?” 

There are two approaches to accessible living spaces: 

  • Remodel to suit the urgent needs of the homeowner.  A wheelchair user will need, among other things, wide doorways and hallways, and a curbless shower with a bench and grab bars. A family with young children may want night lights in the hallways, non-slip bathroom floor tiles, and anti-scald shower valves.
  • Remodel to make the design flexible for future improvements. “It is important to learn the things that could crop up in the future and then design backward for them. I install blocking behind a shower wall while renovating, so grab bars or a built-in bench can be added later. Putting in the blocking does not add to the overall cost,” said Kammi Reiss of Kammi Reiss Design.

For Sweeten contractor Aaron, being flexible in design is key. In one condo project, they placed a removable panel in front of the kitchen sink so a wheelchair user can roll up to the sink for use. 

What does aging in place cost?

While many accessible design techniques have similar costs as any renovation project,  some projects do have an increased cost. For example, the combination of slippery surfaces and a wet setting in bathrooms often cause accidents, especially for people with mobility issues or poor eyesight. 

Here’s a comparison from Remodeling’s 2020 Cost vs. Value Guide that compares a standard  5-foot by 7-foot bathroom of mid-range quality to an accessible one of the same size. The accessible bathroom includes 36-inch-wide doors, flat panel electric switches installed at sitting level, walk-in curbless shower with fold-out seat, adjustable shower head, thermostatic mixing valve, LED lighting, ceramic tile walls with contrasting color stripes, towel bars (grab bars) that can support 250 pounds each, night lights, and reconfigured storage accessible to someone in a seated position, among other items.

Here’s an example of what universal design can recoup at resale at a national level.

aging in place

Remodeling asked us to revise the remodeling project for them,” said Louie Delaware, co-founder of the Living in Place Institute. “Everyone assumed that it would cost much more and would not be worth as much.”  While there are increased costs, the return on investment is similar to that of the accessible bathroom. 

Costs for accessible design projects:

Here are some estimated costs for common projects often associated with accessible designs:

  • Entrance ramp: $1,300 to $ 3,500
  • Door widening to accommodate wheelchairs: $400 to $800, each
  • Chair lift: $3,000 to $6,000, curved stairs will cost more
  • Widening hallways (often includes moving plumbing, heating and cooling and electrical lines):  $500 to $2,000
  • Grab bars with decorative finishes: $100 to $200, each
  • Curbless showers: $2,000 to $8,000
  • Faucets with lever controls: $200 to $400

Many of the techniques used in accessible design or aging in place design are the same, whether planning for yourself, someone who wants to age in place, or to suit the needs of a growing family. The goal is to create a safe, accessible design for everyone to enjoy.

Read how aging in place and living in place can bring ease to day-to-day living for every family member.

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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Sweeten’s Splurge vs. Save Renovation Guide: A Breakdown by Room


Want to get more value out of each room in your home? Know where to invest (splurge) vs. hold back (save) in a renovation.

Your house needs a few improvements and you have the urge to do them all immediately. Every project seems to announce itself with equal priority. Unless you’re awash in money and time, you cannot address all at once. You need to sift through your priorities—starting with knowing where to splurge vs. save during a renovation. 

Below, Sweeten helps you understand where to splurge vs. save so you can define your priorities. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

What does splurging mean?

Splurging doesn’t mean overspending. It can mean shifting money from one project to another. Or placing one project higher on the to-do list than other projects. Splurge on things that you touch or see often. Splurge on things that are meaningful to you or which make you happy. 

What does saving mean?

Saving doesn’t mean to skip or ignore. It means that you can safely put it on the back burner for now. Or if you want to do it, you can dial down on the cost a bit. Many times, after the project has been on the back burner long enough, you might see it in a clearer light.

Once you think in terms of splurge vs. save during a renovation, all of these home projects fall into an order that makes perfect sense.

Splurge vs. Save: Kitchens

Splurge: Kitchen Countertops

Every day, you touch, see, and use your kitchen countertops. Whether you choose quartz, solid surface, natural stone, laminate, or wood, your countertop choice is semi-permanent. After the design, fabrication, and installation, changing out your countertop shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you want a certain type of quartz countertop, but choose a shade or pattern that you don’t feel strongly about, ask yourself: How will I feel about this in a year? 

Save: Kitchen Appliances

Kitchen appliances are better designed than ever. The rising tide of improved kitchen technology lifts all boats—even for lower-priced appliances. With research, you can find lower-cost refrigerators, dishwashers, cooktops, and ranges that fit your needs. These appliances often match or exceed the quality of higher-priced versions from only a few years ago. 

Splurge vs. Save: Bathrooms

Splurge: Bathroom Fixtures

Bathroom fixtures are more than just mechanical devices. They aren’t just knobs and levers that start and stop the water. Fixtures are ornaments that complement a beautiful shower, tub, or sink. Spend more to splurge vs. save for bathroom fixtures that make you happy.

Save: Bathroom Technology

Technology has entered all parts of our lives, so why not the bathroom, too? IoT, or the Internet of Things, is a concept that describes how common things within our life are now Internet-equipped. Bathroom technology and IoT are not gimmicks! IoT devices can track water usage, regulate heating, and allow the bathroom to better adapt to your needs. Bathroom technology has its place, and it is the future. But for now, you can limit your bathroom smart devices or put them on the back burner.

Splurge vs. Save: Living rooms

Splurge: Paint

That designer paint that you’ve been eyeing? Now it can be yours. You can easily justify spending more on the premium paint that you want in the living room. That’s because the living room gets so much facetime, and it’s so public. Poor quality paint may flake, chip, or fade over time, costing more in the end. When you decide to splurge instead of save on your desired paint, you’ll be happier in the long run.

Save: Lighting

Living room lighting, while necessary, does not need to be expensive. Prioritize the shape and the finish of the lighting fixture over the brand name. One trick of designers is to over-scale lighting fixtures for a dramatic look. Just make sure that all of the in-wall wiring for sconces and ceiling lights is complete first!

Splurge vs. Save: Bedrooms

Splurge: Bedroom Closet systems

An unfinished closet is an empty box waiting for your stuff. However, that stuff has no place to go unless you create a system. Gone are the days of the closet rod with one shelf above it. Closet storage systems belong in all closets now. 

Reach-in closets benefit from a shoe fence or shoe cubby, two or three drawers, and plenty of open shelving, plus a closet rod. Walk-in closets should be outfitted with the same and more: additional shelves and drawers, pull-out baskets, multiple hanging areas, and lighting.

Save: Millwork and trim

Custom millwork and trim are the finishing touches for homes. If yours is a home of architectural significance, custom trim throughout is practically required. But if you want to save money, you can ease back on the fancy millwork in the private areas of the home. Save the ceiling medallions, crown molding, chair rails, dentils, batten, and picture rails for the dining and living areas.

Splurge vs. Save: Basements

Splurge: Basement Flooring

Moisture is usually the deciding factor when you consider whether or not to finish your basement. Prevalent moisture can turn an expensive basement remodel into an uninhabitable area best used for storage. 

An attractive, moisture-shedding floor covering and a subfloor system can make a world of difference. Begin with the subfloor system, interlocking 24-inch squares that elevate your floor covering about 1-inch. Then, choose a basement-ready floor covering that you love, whether ceramic or porcelain tile, luxury vinyl planks, engineered wood flooring, or laminate flooring.

Save: Guest bedrooms

Building out a guest bedroom in your basement is a wise move when you know that it will get frequent use, either by friends and family or as a rental unit. But if you want a guest bedroom in your basement only for the occasional visitor, you’re taking up valuable space best used for other activities.

Splurge vs. Save: Attics

Splurge: Built-in storage

Built-in storage doesn’t often rank high in priority in other parts of the house, but this is not the case for attics. Attics are starved for space to begin with. Once you add furniture, you have even less storage room. Knee walls are the short walls that extend from the floor to the rafters. Knee walls that have built-in storage should be built during the remodeling process, not later.

Save: Full bathrooms

Full bathrooms—toilet, sink, and shower or shower/tub—are a rarity in attics unless the intent is to build out an entire suite with living quarters. Otherwise, attics used as offices or children’s play areas work well with just a half-bathroom.

Splurge vs Save: Decks

Splurge: Deck Flooring

Your choice of deck flooring can easily make or break how much you end up using—and loving or avoiding—your deck. With that in mind, you’ll want to prioritize decking.

For the best in looks and maximum strength, choose a premium wood such as ipe or mahogany. Both are long-lasting, easy to maintain, and they return maximum resale value. Composite wood—a mixture of wood fibers and plastics—is smooth, splinter-free underfoot, and looks remarkably like wood.

Save: Deck Built-ins

Built-ins such as benches, tables, and planters are wonderful additions to decks. Built-in benches are especially valuable because they tuck away to the side, opening up more space in the center of the deck. Yet one way to pare down your deck-building budget is to save the built-ins for a later day. The same builder (or a different one) can always come back and create those built-ins that your heart desires.

Splurge vs. Save in a Renovation: Conclusion

Almost every room in a home would gladly use a piece of the budget. Knowing what projects can wait until a later date, or what may or may not maximize the full breadth of the room, can help guide on where to splurge vs. save in your renovation.

Here’s how to minimize the mess during a renovation and how to clean up after it’s finished.

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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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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Sweeten’s Guide to Hamptons Renovation Costs in 2020


Sweeten’s 2020 guide to Hamptons renovation costs, including kitchen, bath, and whole-home, plus permit tips

The Hamptons…the mere mention conjures up images of poolside luxury and endless summer. But what’s it really like to live—and renovate—there? If you’re considering buying a home in the East End to renovate, there are some things you should know. Luckily for you, we’ve done the homework! Read on to learn what to expect (and budget) for your Hamptons renovation costs. (Keep in mind that all projects are unique, and many variables will impact a remodel!)

Sweeten offers a guide to Hamptons renovation costs, focusing on four categories—cost per square foot, kitchen, bathroom, and permits. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Note: every expert contractor will want to have a detailed chat and inspection of your home before creating an estimate for your needs and wants.

Here’s a breakdown of typical Hamptons renovation costs, compiled from Sweeten renovations and Remodeling’s 2020 Cost vs. Value report.

  • Full home renovation: Starting at $100 per square foot (psf) with stock materials; high-end properties start at $250+ psf
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: $25,000 for under 100 square feet
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: $40,000—$75,000
  • High-end kitchen remodel: $75,000+
  • Low-end bath remodel: $20,000
  • Mid-range bath remodel: $25,000—$40,000
  • High-end bath remodel: $40,000—$100,000
  • Basement remodel: $25,000—$100,000

To be clear: when referring to the Hamptons, we are talking about the Town of Southampton and the Town of East Hampton, which both comprise many hamlets and villages. Hamlets such as Westhampton, East Quogue, or Hampton Bays lie within the boundaries of the town of Southampton. The villages of Amagansett and East Hampton are within the administrative boundaries of the town of East Hampton. So, any building permits filed will be with the offices of Southampton or East Hampton.

There is a season for everything, but especially in the Hamptons. Usually, there is a big push before summer so that everyone can enjoy their homes before the summer is out, and everyone is very busy. If possible, start your design process in the fall and do the work in the winter. 

However, with the unexpected events of 2020, real estate industry experts expect the busy season to shift due to the freeze on non-essential activities and business.

Hamptons home renovation costs per square foot

According to experts who work in both New York City and the Hamptons, the consensus is that costs per square foot are essentially the same in both locales. As we point out in our cost guide to Westchester County, proximity to Manhattan dictates both the buyer demographic as well as real estate values. This, in turn, is reflected in the cost of renovations. As Sweeten contractor Eric points out, however, there are subtle differences between the villages and hamlets, with East Hampton being the priciest. Sweeten sees projects starting at $100 per square foot with stock materials and high-end properties at $250+ psf.

While renovation costs per square foot will vary depending on whether it is a gut or non-gut, and the level of finishes and custom features you require, Eric tells us that there is a starting point of $150 psf for renovations with stock materials. Luxury waterfront properties, however, start at $500 psf for high-end renovations and can exceed $1,000 depending on complexity and finishes. (See Budget Basics: Renovation Costs Per Square Foot, where we outline three levels of renovation.)

Additionally, cost increases over the past year have also pushed baseline budgets upwards: the price of fuel has gone up, as has general liability insurance, said Sweeten contractor Eric. “Building materials are also up from last year because of supply and demand; everyone is renovating! And when homeowners are renovating, the cost for electricians and plumbers and other subs increase, because they can pick and choose between the most profitable jobs. They will charge more now for smaller jobs like a single kitchen or bath.”

Costs for a kitchen renovation

  • Low-end kitchen: Most Sweeten kitchen remodels in the budget range average $25,000 for under 100 square feet with budget-friendly finishes from retailers such as Home Depot. 
  • Mid-range kitchen: Most Sweeten projects in the mid-range can fall between $40,000—$75,000. In Sweeten contractor John‘s experience, he cites a mid-range kitchen could average in the $75,000 range. Ariel Okin, an interior designer who works in the Hamptons, tells us: “Kitchen gut renovations can range from $40,000—$150,000 depending on the level of work the client wants, and the same goes for baths. Square footage, scope of work, and estimated amount of time it will take to complete the job are all major considerations that go into pricing out the project.”
  • High-end kitchen: At Sweeten, we’ve seen projects cost start at $75,000 for high-end finishes. According to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value 2020 Report, a major upscale kitchen remodel averages $166,408 in New York or $832 per square foot.
    This is based on a 200-square-foot kitchen with top-of-the-line custom cabinets, stone countertops, imported tile backsplash, built-in refrigerator, microwave, commercial-grade cooktop, and vent hood, as well as all new lighting and wood floors.

Sweeten contractor John estimates that a high-end kitchen in the Hamptons will start at $150,000 and up.

Costs for a bathroom renovation

  • Low-end bathroom remodel: At Sweeten, we’ve seen projects begin at $20,000. John quotes a three-piece (shower, sink, and toilet) project to average out to about $35,000 for a 5’ x 8’ space with budget-friendly finishes.
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: Sweeten has completed bathroom renovations between $25,000—$40,000 in the mid-range that covers about 100 square feet. Cost vs. Value 2020 Report cites an average of $29,585 for a mid-range bath remodel.
  • High-end bathroom remodel: At the high-end range, Sweeten renovations that consist of three-pieces can cost between $40,000—$60,000. A high-end master suite remodel consisting of 4-5 pieces including a shower, double sink, bathtub, and toilet costs between $60,000—$100,000. According to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value 2020 Report, an upscale bathroom remodel averages $88,523 in New York or $885 psf. This is based on expanding an existing 35-square-foot bathroom to 100 square feet, relocating all fixtures, and installing a new shower with a frameless glass enclosure, freestanding soaker tub with high-end faucets, stone counters with dual sinks, one-piece toilet, and a humidistat-controlled exhaust fan.

Sweeten contractor John estimates that a high-end master bath renovation would run about $100,000 on average.

Costs for a basement renovation

At Sweeten, we’ve seen basement remodels budgeted at $100—$150 psf or $25,000 for a simple coat of paint. A gut renovation would cost $50,000—$100,000 which could include plumbing, electrical, an entertainment center, appliances, closets, and with possible walls going up or down. An average basement conversion project in the New York area is $75,000, according to the Cost vs. Value report. The project for this size budget includes a 20′ × 30′  foot room and a 5′ × 8′ foot bathroom with a shower and bar area as well as insulation and laminate flooring. This sample project works out to $117 psf.

What to know about permits in the Hamptons

Permits are a big part of the renovation process in Hamptons towns. While expediters are not regularly used there, the process can involve two types of experts not usually called upon in renovation projects elsewhere.

  • Environmental consultants can assist homeowners and architects in parsing land use regulations, coastal environmental planning, and acquisition of related permits. Given the delicate ecosystems and the proliferation of wetlands and sand dunes along the coasts, these consultants are crucial to navigating this aspect of the permit process. Additionally, they can answer help determine whether you can expand the footprint of a house or add a dock. They typically charge by the hour (ranging from $250-350/hour, with a minimum project fee). For the initial site inspection and report, some offer a flat rate fee of around $1,500. This fee would cover the property inspection and produce a report.
  • Local attorneys who are well-versed in the zoning codes of the particular town in question can help navigate the process. Sweeten architect Andrew tells us that East Hampton recently changed some of its codes and a local attorney assisted him and his client in liaising with the town office on a debated matter of allowable square footage. Attorneys’ fees vary; a local real estate agent can provide recommendations.

Keeping up with local regulations and requirements

While the town offices may be small and provide a more personal interaction, as Sweeten architect Andrew relates, don’t mistake that casual air for a casual approach to enforcing regulations. For example, certain Hamptons neighborhoods won’t allow work on weekends, or after a certain time during high season. There have also been increasing attempts to limit the square footage on properties and accessory structures that may be used as rental properties. Additionally, there are stringent regulations at the town, state, and federal levels that will affect your renovation, depending on scope.

It’s important to understand what the current code is. However, you should also try to find out what is upcoming or anticipated in terms of changes. Because project timelines can extend, you want to ensure you’re complying with the relevant codes when your project finishes.

One relatively recent development has been a change in the energy conservation requirements in East Hampton, for example. Andrew notes that he is dealing with this on a current project. Now, they’ll need to hire someone who is certified to complete the HERS rating, which will cost between $1,000—$2,000. They may also need to use different building components to achieve better insulation and R-value required today.

The Town of Southampton provides this handy Building Permit Application Checklist for residential interior renovations (note that different fees and applications are required for other types of construction).

  • Building permits for residential interior remodeling permits run $65 psf up to 2,000 square feet on the first story of a house with a $50 fee for up to $1,000 of estimated construction cost (ECC).
  • This Electrical Permit Fee Schedule indicates that electrical permits range from a minimum of $50 for a re-inspection to $1,000 for additions, renovations, basement wiring, and garages with more than 7 devices over 15,000 square feet.
  • Fees for plumbing fixtures are $5 per fixture with a $50 minimum.

Ready to start planning your Hamptons renovation?

Now that you understand typical Hamptons renovation costs, you can start the planning process! Sweeten’s Renovation Checklist offers you a downloadable roadmap to organize all of the moving parts of a home renovation, including laying out your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” Once you post your home renovation project on Sweeten, you’ll be matched with multiple excellent contractors who can provide their expertise and estimates. Sweeten stays involved and monitors your project until it is completed. The result: peace of mind during the renovation and your dream house at the end!

Learn more about remodeling costs based on location and project scope with our handy cost guides.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.

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



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The Cons of DIY in Home Renovations: Leave it to the Pros


DIY’ing your full home renovation is tempting…but should you really do it? Here, Sweeten lays out the cons of DIY for home renovations.

the cons of DIY

This is a do-it-yourself, do-it-all maker culture. Fueled by enough YouTube videos, a homeowner can feel emboldened to take on anything—even a DIY home renovation.

It’s natural to be undecided about whether you want to do that full home renovation by yourself or hire professionals. Doing it yourself can mean acting as your own project manager, or it can mean doing it all by hand (completely or partially.) In any case, the prospect of cost savings is what tempts most renovators.

However, there is a counter-argument—the cons of DIY. Is that DIY full home renovation really in your best interests? Examining the cons of DIY isn’t a scare story or a money pit narrative. Instead, it’s a window onto the scale and complexity of DIY full house renovation. Below, Sweeten outlines how to make an informed decision.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Cons of DIY: Completion time

Home renovations require time and attention to make both small and key decisions. Depending on the scope, part of your home may be covered in plastic protection, or kitchens and bathrooms will be unusable. What you want is a full home renovation that operates on a compact, predictable schedule.

You have a life. Career, kids, relationships, friends, leisure: All of these have priority. This narrows down the amount of time that you have available to work on your house.

Professionals compress the schedule and complete the project much faster than if you had done it by yourself. Both parties should discuss the schedule and duration so everyone has a clear understanding and realistic expectations. Plus, they have a vested interest in finishing in an efficient manner since yours is likely one of many projects they’re completing.

Keeping on schedule

When you install your own laminate floor or paint your own bathroom, timing is easy. You have three or four minor milestones to hit, and it’s simple to keep them in order.

But when the project is as multi-layered as a full home renovation, it’s like playing multi-dimensional chess. Each project—floor, walls, windows, plumbing, and more—has its own set of milestones. Each of those projects is a milestone and must weave in with other projects. And, to make it even more interesting, you sometimes need to bounce back and forth between projects. Coordinating subcontractors within that system can get bewildering.

By contrast, contractors know how to keep scheduling straight; it’s their stock in trade. They’ll keep all of the projects running as consistently as possible. And they’ll seamlessly coordinate the movements of the subcontractors.

Cons of DIY: Quality of work

Unless you have tiled a shower before, you first need to learn how to tile a shower. The worst classroom for learning how to tile is in your own house. You do not want your house to be a test subject for your beginner tiling, wiring, flooring, or plumbing skills.

Professionals do this work all the time. With training, apprenticeships, and experience in the field, they have already worked out the kinks. Professionals generally turn out professional quality work.

Codes and permits

A vast amount of full home renovation work touches on building codes and permits. Structural work, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and even water heaters require permits in most municipalities. All permit work must be done according to code. And just because you aren’t required to pull a permit for a certain project doesn’t mean that building code isn’t applicable.

Code-compliant work may suffer at the hands of DIYers. The pros know code and are professionally bound to turn out work that complies with the latest codes. Contractors, subcontractors, designers, and architects stay abreast of the latest changes in their field.

Cons of DIY: Finding subcontractors

Subcontractors are skilled tradespeople who do projects like plumbing, electrical, drywall, painting, or flooring.

Even if you’ve decided to DIY your home renovation by hand, you still might end up hiring pros for some projects like whole-house wiring, solid wood or engineered wood floor installation, drywall installation, tiling a shower, or blowing or rolling insulation into an attic.

Finding and lining up good subcontractors can be a challenge. Using a contractor can take that chore off of your plate since the contractor has ready access to a pool of trusted subs.

Renovating safely

Homeowners taking on full DIY home renovations risk injury in many ways. Old paint might be lead-based, or those floor tiles might have asbestos. Black mold is common in ceilings, attics, and walls. Falls—the most common type of household injury—can occur even when you are on a ladder painting crown molding.

When you hire professionals to do the job, they have the know-how, safety gear, and materials to keep themselves and you safe. Safety is second nature to them since their livelihood and health depend on it.

Do DIY renovations really save money?

One reason often mentioned for doing a DIY full home renovation is that it saves money. As long as you can keep the renovation moving and on-target, with no wasted time or materials, you just might save some money.

But there is also the distinct possibility that you may lose this bet. If your project isn’t clearing inspections, you need to do it over until you get it right. That costs money. If you decide to do a hands-on renovation, you may need to purchase tools that are used only once: a wet tile saw, a full set of drywall tools, a paint sprayer.

When you hire a professional to do your full home renovation, you might save money in a number of ways. Savings might come in the form of wholesale discounts, bulk discounts, or special perks granted by a supplier since the professional is a regular buyer. Or from years of experience, the professional may have a keen eye for finding materials that are still high-quality but less expensive.

Is a DIY home renovation the right choice?

No solution applies to everyone in all situations. A DIY home renovation might be perfect if you are hungry to learn new skills. For anyone who is interested in the process as well as the product, DIY renovation is an eye-opener. Finally, if you are short on money but long on time, a DIY renovation might be right for you.

Hiring professionals to do your whole-house renovation helps you hit those critical timing marks that keep you on schedule. The work will be done to professional quality, safely and cleanly, in accordance with local building codes. Peace of mind and the assurance that the job will be done right—and not hanging over your head for months—are just a few of the benefits of using pros to do your full house renovation.

Ready to find the perfect general contractor professional for your home renovation? Get started today!

Post A Renovation Project

Here’s what Sweeten homeowners took part in during their renovation and what their general contractors handled.

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 Cons of DIY Renovation


DIY’ing your full home renovation is tempting. But should you really do this?

the cons of DIY

This is a do-it-yourself, do-it-all maker culture. Fueled by enough YouTube videos, a homeowner can feel emboldened to take on anything—even a DIY home renovation.

It’s natural to be undecided about whether you want to do that full home renovation by yourself or hire professionals. Doing it yourself can mean acting as your own project manager or it can mean doing it all by hand, completely or partially. In any case, the prospect of cost savings is the tempting carrot at the end of the stick.

But there is a counter-argument—the cons of DIY. Is that DIY full home renovation really in your best interests? Examining the cons of DIY isn’t a scare story or a money pit narrative. Instead, it’s a window onto the scale and complexity of DIY full house renovation. Below, Sweeten outlines a chance to make an informed decision.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Completion time

Home renovations require time and the attention to make both small and key decisions. Depending on the scope, part of your home may be covered in plastic protection or kitchens and bathrooms will be unusable. What you want is a full home renovation that operates on a compact, predictable schedule.

You have a life. Career, kids, relationships, friends, leisure: All of these have priority. This narrows down the amount of time that you have available to work on your house.

Professionals compress the schedule and complete the project much faster than if you had done it by yourself. Professionals are contractually bound to a completion timeframe. Plus, they have a vested interest in finishing on time since yours is likely one in a queue of other projects on their books.

Keeping on schedule

When you install your own laminate floor or paint your own bathroom, timing is easy. You have three or four minor milestones to hit, and it’s simple to keep them in order.

But when the project is as multi-layered as a full home renovation, it’s like playing multi-dimensional chess. Each project—floor, walls, windows, plumbing, and more—has its own set of milestones. Each of those projects is a milestone and must weave in with other projects. And, to make it even more interesting, you sometimes need to bounce back and forth between projects. Coordinating subcontractors within that system can get bewildering.

By contrast, contractors know how to keep scheduling straight; it’s their stock in trade. They’ll keep all of the projects running as consistently as possible. And they’ll seamlessly coordinate the movements of the subcontractors.

Quality of work

Unless you have tiled a shower before, you first need to learn how to tile a shower. The worst classroom for learning how to tile is in your own house. You do not want your house to be a proving ground for your fledgling tiling, wiring, flooring, or plumbing skills.

Professionals do this work all the time. With training, apprenticeships, and experience in the field, they have already worked out the kinks. Professionals generally turn out professional quality work.

Codes and permits

A vast amount of full home renovation work touches on building codes and permits. Structural work, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and even water heaters require permits in most municipalities. All permit work must be done according to code. And just because you aren’t required to pull a permit for a certain project doesn’t mean that building code isn’t applicable.

Code-compliant work may suffer at the hands of DIYers. The pros know code and are professionally bound to turn out work that complies with the latest codes. Contractors, subcontractors, designers, and architects stay abreast on the latest changes in their field.

Finding subcontractors

Subcontractors are skilled tradespeople who do projects like plumbing, electrician, drywall, painting, or flooring.

Even if you’ve decided to DIY your home renovation by hand, you still might end up hiring pros for select projects such as whole-house wiring, solid wood or engineered wood floor installation, drywall installation, tiling a shower, or blowing or rolling insulation into an attic.

Finding and lining up good subcontractors can be a challenge. Using a contractor can take that chore off of your plate since the contractor has ready access to a pool of trusted subs.

Renovating safely

Homeowners taking on full DIY home renovations risk injury in many ways. Old paint might be lead-based or those floor tiles might have asbestos. Black mold is common in ceilings, attics, and walls. Falls—the most common type of household injury—can occur even when you are on a ladder painting crown molding.

When you hire professionals to do the job, they have the know-how, safety gear, and materials to keep themselves and you safe. Safety is second nature to them; their livelihood and health depend on it.

Are you really saving money?

One reason often mentioned for doing a DIY full home renovation is that it saves money. As long as you can keep the renovation moving and on-target, with no wasted time or materials, you just might save some money.

But there is also the distinct possibility that you may lose this bet. If your project isn’t clearing inspections, you need to do it over until you get it right. That costs money. If you decide to do a hands-on renovation, you may need to purchase tools that are used only once: a wet tile saw, a full set of drywall tools, a paint sprayer.

When you hire a professional to do your full home renovation, you might save money in a number of ways. Savings might come in the form of wholesale discounts, bulk discounts, or special perks granted by a supplier since the professional is a regular buyer. Or from years of experience, the professional may have a keen eye for finding materials that are still high-quality but less expensive.

Is a DIY home renovation the right choice?

No solution applies to everyone in all situations. A DIY home renovation might be perfect if you are hungry to learn new skills. For anyone who is interested in the process as well as the product, DIY renovation is an eye-opener. Finally, if you are short on money but long on time, a DIY renovation might be right for you.

Hiring professionals to do your whole-house renovation helps you hit those critical timing marks that keep you on schedule. The work will be done to professional quality, safely and cleanly, in accordance with local building codes. Peace of mind and the assurance that the job will be done right—and not hanging over your head for months—are just a few of the benefits of using pros to do your full house renovation.

Here’s what Sweeten homeowners took part in during their renovation and what their general contractors handled.

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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Sweeten’s Guide to Hamptons Renovation Costs in 2020


Sweeten’s 2020 guide to Hamptons renovation costs, including kitchen, bath, and whole-home, plus permit tips

The Hamptons…the mere mention conjures up images of poolside luxury and endless summer. But what’s it really like to live—and renovate—there? If you’re considering buying a home in the East End to renovate, there are some things you should know. Luckily for you, we’ve done the homework! Read on to learn what to expect (and budget) for your Hamptons renovation costs. (Keep in mind that all projects are unique, and many variables will impact a remodel!)

Sweeten offers a guide to Hamptons renovation costs, focusing on four categories—cost per square foot, kitchen, bathroom, and permits. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Note: every expert contractor will want to have a detailed chat and inspection of your home before creating an estimate for your needs and wants.

Here’s a breakdown of typical Hamptons renovation costs, compiled from Sweeten renovations and Remodeling’s 2020 Cost vs. Value report.

  • Full home renovation: Starting at $100 per square foot (psf) with stock materials; high-end properties start at $250+ psf
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: $25,000 for under 100 square feet
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: $40,000—$75,000
  • High-end kitchen remodel: $75,000+
  • Low-end bath remodel: $20,000
  • Mid-range bath remodel: $25,000—$40,000
  • High-end bath remodel: $40,000—$100,000
  • Basement remodel: $25,000—$100,000

To be clear: when referring to the Hamptons, we are talking about the Town of Southampton and the Town of East Hampton, which both comprise many hamlets and villages. Hamlets such as Westhampton, East Quogue, or Hampton Bays lie within the boundaries of the town of Southampton. The villages of Amagansett and East Hampton are within the administrative boundaries of the town of East Hampton. So, any building permits filed will be with the offices of Southampton or East Hampton.

There is a season for everything, but especially in the Hamptons. Usually, there is a big push before summer so that everyone can enjoy their homes before the summer is out, and everyone is very busy. If possible, start your design process in the fall and do the work in the winter. 

However, with the unexpected events of 2020, real estate industry experts expect the busy season to shift due to the freeze on non-essential activities and business.

Hamptons home renovation costs per square foot

According to experts who work in both New York City and the Hamptons, the consensus is that costs per square foot are essentially the same in both locales. As we point out in our cost guide to Westchester County, proximity to Manhattan dictates both the buyer demographic as well as real estate values. This, in turn, is reflected in the cost of renovations. As Sweeten contractor Eric points out, however, there are subtle differences between the villages and hamlets, with East Hampton being the priciest. Sweeten sees projects starting at $100 per square foot with stock materials and high-end properties at $250+ psf.

While renovation costs per square foot will vary depending on whether it is a gut or non-gut, and the level of finishes and custom features you require, Eric tells us that there is a starting point of $150 psf for renovations with stock materials. Luxury waterfront properties, however, start at $500 psf for high-end renovations and can exceed $1,000 depending on complexity and finishes. (See Budget Basics: Renovation Costs Per Square Foot, where we outline three levels of renovation.)

Additionally, cost increases over the past year have also pushed baseline budgets upwards: the price of fuel has gone up, as has general liability insurance, said Sweeten contractor Eric. “Building materials are also up from last year because of supply and demand; everyone is renovating! And when homeowners are renovating, the cost for electricians and plumbers and other subs increase, because they can pick and choose between the most profitable jobs. They will charge more now for smaller jobs like a single kitchen or bath.”

Costs for a kitchen renovation

  • Low-end kitchen: Most Sweeten kitchen remodels in the budget range average $25,000 for under 100 square feet with budget-friendly finishes from retailers such as Home Depot. 
  • Mid-range kitchen: Most Sweeten projects in the mid-range can fall between $40,000—$75,000. In Sweeten contractor John‘s experience, he cites a mid-range kitchen could average in the $75,000 range. Ariel Okin, an interior designer who works in the Hamptons, tells us: “Kitchen gut renovations can range from $40,000—$150,000 depending on the level of work the client wants, and the same goes for baths. Square footage, scope of work, and estimated amount of time it will take to complete the job are all major considerations that go into pricing out the project.”
  • High-end kitchen: At Sweeten, we’ve seen projects cost start at $75,000 for high-end finishes. According to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value 2020 Report, a major upscale kitchen remodel averages $166,408 in New York or $832 per square foot.
    This is based on a 200-square-foot kitchen with top-of-the-line custom cabinets, stone countertops, imported tile backsplash, built-in refrigerator, microwave, commercial-grade cooktop, and vent hood, as well as all new lighting and wood floors.

Sweeten contractor John estimates that a high-end kitchen in the Hamptons will start at $150,000 and up.

Costs for a bathroom renovation

  • Low-end bathroom remodel: At Sweeten, we’ve seen projects begin at $20,000. John quotes a three-piece (shower, sink, and toilet) project to average out to about $35,000 for a 5’ x 8’ space with budget-friendly finishes.
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: Sweeten has completed bathroom renovations between $25,000—$40,000 in the mid-range that covers about 100 square feet. Cost vs. Value 2020 Report cites an average of $29,585 for a mid-range bath remodel.
  • High-end bathroom remodel: At the high-end range, Sweeten renovations that consist of three-pieces can cost between $40,000—$60,000. A high-end master suite remodel consisting of 4-5 pieces including a shower, double sink, bathtub, and toilet costs between $60,000—$100,000. According to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value 2020 Report, an upscale bathroom remodel averages $88,523 in New York or $885 psf. This is based on expanding an existing 35-square-foot bathroom to 100 square feet, relocating all fixtures, and installing a new shower with a frameless glass enclosure, freestanding soaker tub with high-end faucets, stone counters with dual sinks, one-piece toilet, and a humidistat-controlled exhaust fan.

Sweeten contractor John estimates that a high-end master bath renovation would run about $100,000 on average.

Costs for a basement renovation

At Sweeten, we’ve seen basement remodels budgeted at $100—$150 psf or $25,000 for a simple coat of paint. A gut renovation would cost $50,000—$100,000 which could include plumbing, electrical, an entertainment center, appliances, closets, and with possible walls going up or down. An average basement conversion project in the New York area is $75,000, according to the Cost vs. Value report. The project for this size budget includes a 20′ × 30′  foot room and a 5′ × 8′ foot bathroom with a shower and bar area as well as insulation and laminate flooring. This sample project works out to $117 psf.

What to know about permits in the Hamptons

Permits are a big part of the renovation process in Hamptons towns. While expediters are not regularly used there, the process can involve two types of experts not usually called upon in renovation projects elsewhere.

  • Environmental consultants can assist homeowners and architects in parsing land use regulations, coastal environmental planning, and acquisition of related permits. Given the delicate ecosystems and the proliferation of wetlands and sand dunes along the coasts, these consultants are crucial to navigating this aspect of the permit process. Additionally, they can answer help determine whether you can expand the footprint of a house or add a dock. They typically charge by the hour (ranging from $250-350/hour, with a minimum project fee). For the initial site inspection and report, some offer a flat rate fee of around $1,500. This fee would cover the property inspection and produce a report.
  • Local attorneys who are well-versed in the zoning codes of the particular town in question can help navigate the process. Sweeten architect Andrew tells us that East Hampton recently changed some of its codes and a local attorney assisted him and his client in liaising with the town office on a debated matter of allowable square footage. Attorneys’ fees vary; a local real estate agent can provide recommendations.

Keeping up with local regulations and requirements

While the town offices may be small and provide a more personal interaction, as Sweeten architect Andrew relates, don’t mistake that casual air for a casual approach to enforcing regulations. For example, certain Hamptons neighborhoods won’t allow work on weekends, or after a certain time during high season. There have also been increasing attempts to limit the square footage on properties and accessory structures that may be used as rental properties. Additionally, there are stringent regulations at the town, state, and federal levels that will affect your renovation, depending on scope.

It’s important to understand what the current code is. However, you should also try to find out what is upcoming or anticipated in terms of changes. Because project timelines can extend, you want to ensure you’re complying with the relevant codes when your project finishes.

One relatively recent development has been a change in the energy conservation requirements in East Hampton, for example. Andrew notes that he is dealing with this on a current project. Now, they’ll need to hire someone who is certified to complete the HERS rating, which will cost between $1,000—$2,000. They may also need to use different building components to achieve better insulation and R-value required today.

The Town of Southampton provides this handy Building Permit Application Checklist for residential interior renovations (note that different fees and applications are required for other types of construction).

  • Building permits for residential interior remodeling permits run $65 psf up to 2,000 square feet on the first story of a house with a $50 fee for up to $1,000 of estimated construction cost (ECC).
  • This Electrical Permit Fee Schedule indicates that electrical permits range from a minimum of $50 for a re-inspection to $1,000 for additions, renovations, basement wiring, and garages with more than 7 devices over 15,000 square feet.
  • Fees for plumbing fixtures are $5 per fixture with a $50 minimum.

Ready to start planning your Hamptons renovation?

Now that you understand typical Hamptons renovation costs, you can start the planning process! Sweeten’s Renovation Checklist offers you a downloadable roadmap to organize all of the moving parts of a home renovation, including laying out your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” Once you post your home renovation project on Sweeten, you’ll be matched with multiple excellent contractors who can provide their expertise and estimates. Sweeten stays involved and monitors your project until it is completed. The result: peace of mind during the renovation and your dream house at the end!

Learn more about remodeling costs based on location and project scope with our handy cost guides.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.

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



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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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Sweeten’s Splurge vs. Save Renovation Guide: A Breakdown by Room


Want to get more value out of each room in your home? Know where to invest (splurge) vs. hold back (save) in a renovation.

Your house needs a few improvements and you have the urge to do them all immediately. Every project seems to announce itself with equal priority. Unless you’re awash in money and time, you cannot address all at once. You need to sift through your priorities—starting with knowing where to splurge vs. save during a renovation. 

Below, Sweeten helps you understand where to splurge vs. save so you can define your priorities. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

What does splurging mean?

Splurging doesn’t mean overspending. It can mean shifting money from one project to another. Or placing one project higher on the to-do list than other projects. Splurge on things that you touch or see often. Splurge on things that are meaningful to you or which make you happy. 

What does saving mean?

Saving doesn’t mean to skip or ignore. It means that you can safely put it on the back burner for now. Or if you want to do it, you can dial down on the cost a bit. Many times, after the project has been on the back burner long enough, you might see it in a clearer light.

Once you think in terms of splurge vs. save during a renovation, all of these home projects fall into an order that makes perfect sense.

Splurge vs. Save: Kitchens

Splurge: Kitchen Countertops

Every day, you touch, see, and use your kitchen countertops. Whether you choose quartz, solid surface, natural stone, laminate, or wood, your countertop choice is semi-permanent. After the design, fabrication, and installation, changing out your countertop shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you want a certain type of quartz countertop, but choose a shade or pattern that you don’t feel strongly about, ask yourself: How will I feel about this in a year? 

Save: Kitchen Appliances

Kitchen appliances are better designed than ever. The rising tide of improved kitchen technology lifts all boats—even for lower-priced appliances. With research, you can find lower-cost refrigerators, dishwashers, cooktops, and ranges that fit your needs. These appliances often match or exceed the quality of higher-priced versions from only a few years ago. 

Splurge vs. Save: Bathrooms

Splurge: Bathroom Fixtures

Bathroom fixtures are more than just mechanical devices. They aren’t just knobs and levers that start and stop the water. Fixtures are ornaments that complement a beautiful shower, tub, or sink. Spend more to splurge vs. save for bathroom fixtures that make you happy.

Save: Bathroom Technology

Technology has entered all parts of our lives, so why not the bathroom, too? IoT, or the Internet of Things, is a concept that describes how common things within our life are now Internet-equipped. Bathroom technology and IoT are not gimmicks! IoT devices can track water usage, regulate heating, and allow the bathroom to better adapt to your needs. Bathroom technology has its place, and it is the future. But for now, you can limit your bathroom smart devices or put them on the back burner.

Splurge vs. Save: Living rooms

Splurge: Paint

That designer paint that you’ve been eyeing? Now it can be yours. You can easily justify spending more on the premium paint that you want in the living room. That’s because the living room gets so much facetime, and it’s so public. Poor quality paint may flake, chip, or fade over time, costing more in the end. When you decide to splurge instead of save on your desired paint, you’ll be happier in the long run.

Save: Lighting

Living room lighting, while necessary, does not need to be expensive. Prioritize the shape and the finish of the lighting fixture over the brand name. One trick of designers is to over-scale lighting fixtures for a dramatic look. Just make sure that all of the in-wall wiring for sconces and ceiling lights is complete first!

Splurge vs. Save: Bedrooms

Splurge: Bedroom Closet systems

An unfinished closet is an empty box waiting for your stuff. However, that stuff has no place to go unless you create a system. Gone are the days of the closet rod with one shelf above it. Closet storage systems belong in all closets now. 

Reach-in closets benefit from a shoe fence or shoe cubby, two or three drawers, and plenty of open shelving, plus a closet rod. Walk-in closets should be outfitted with the same and more: additional shelves and drawers, pull-out baskets, multiple hanging areas, and lighting.

Save: Millwork and trim

Custom millwork and trim are the finishing touches for homes. If yours is a home of architectural significance, custom trim throughout is practically required. But if you want to save money, you can ease back on the fancy millwork in the private areas of the home. Save the ceiling medallions, crown molding, chair rails, dentils, batten, and picture rails for the dining and living areas.

Splurge vs. Save: Basements

Splurge: Basement Flooring

Moisture is usually the deciding factor when you consider whether or not to finish your basement. Prevalent moisture can turn an expensive basement remodel into an uninhabitable area best used for storage. 

An attractive, moisture-shedding floor covering and a subfloor system can make a world of difference. Begin with the subfloor system, interlocking 24-inch squares that elevate your floor covering about 1-inch. Then, choose a basement-ready floor covering that you love, whether ceramic or porcelain tile, luxury vinyl planks, engineered wood flooring, or laminate flooring.

Save: Guest bedrooms

Building out a guest bedroom in your basement is a wise move when you know that it will get frequent use, either by friends and family or as a rental unit. But if you want a guest bedroom in your basement only for the occasional visitor, you’re taking up valuable space best used for other activities.

Splurge vs. Save: Attics

Splurge: Built-in storage

Built-in storage doesn’t often rank high in priority in other parts of the house, but this is not the case for attics. Attics are starved for space to begin with. Once you add furniture, you have even less storage room. Knee walls are the short walls that extend from the floor to the rafters. Knee walls that have built-in storage should be built during the remodeling process, not later.

Save: Full bathrooms

Full bathrooms—toilet, sink, and shower or shower/tub—are a rarity in attics unless the intent is to build out an entire suite with living quarters. Otherwise, attics used as offices or children’s play areas work well with just a half-bathroom.

Splurge vs Save: Decks

Splurge: Deck Flooring

Your choice of deck flooring can easily make or break how much you end up using—and loving or avoiding—your deck. With that in mind, you’ll want to prioritize decking.

For the best in looks and maximum strength, choose a premium wood such as ipe or mahogany. Both are long-lasting, easy to maintain, and they return maximum resale value. Composite wood—a mixture of wood fibers and plastics—is smooth, splinter-free underfoot, and looks remarkably like wood.

Save: Deck Built-ins

Built-ins such as benches, tables, and planters are wonderful additions to decks. Built-in benches are especially valuable because they tuck away to the side, opening up more space in the center of the deck. Yet one way to pare down your deck-building budget is to save the built-ins for a later day. The same builder (or a different one) can always come back and create those built-ins that your heart desires.

Splurge vs. Save in a Renovation: Conclusion

Almost every room in a home would gladly use a piece of the budget. Knowing what projects can wait until a later date, or what may or may not maximize the full breadth of the room, can help guide on where to splurge vs. save in your renovation.

Here’s how to minimize the mess during a renovation and how to clean up after it’s finished.

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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