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Keep Remodeling Costs Real: Budget and Shop for Value, Comfort, and Style

Keep Remodeling Costs Real: Budget and Shop for Value, Comfort, and Style

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July 20, 2009

Remodeling materials can make up half the cost of a home improvement project. While you might want to pick trendy flooring or fixtures, be careful to consider what remodeling materials add the most value, comfort, style - and durability to your home.

It's easy to dream about remodeling your home. Whether you'd love a new kitchen or you simply desire to personalize your space, remodeling is a way to add comfort and style to your home, as well as make your home truly yours. And, depending on where you live, upgrading your home can be a no-brainer investment in the future.

But before you jump into any project, begin with the basics.

Envision Your Remodel

You might know that you want to remodel a room in your house. But do you know how you'd like it to look? Spend some time flipping through magazines and surfing the Internet to find examples of the kinds of remodeling materials and styles that you like. Ask yourself: Do you want a sunken tub in the bathroom? What kind of kitchen countertops appeal to you? Do you want wood floors or would you prefer tile?

Being able to envision your remodel can serve as a helpful touchstone as you begin exploring how to fund and complete the projects you dream about. Knowing what remodeling materials appeal to you can allow you to speak intelligently to designers and contractors about what you want--and it may also give you a head start if you decide you want to do some of the work yourself.

Remodeling Costs

Create a realistic remodeling budget. The average remodeling costs for three popular projects, according to Better Homes and Gardens' Remodeling Cost Guide, can give you an idea of what to expect: a kitchen project typically begins at $15,000 and goes up to $45,000, with an average remodeling cost of $26,888.

"National averages can't account for problem plumbing setups or your taste for exotic countertops, but they can tell you that it's unrealistic to plan on remodeling a whole kitchen for $7,000," the magazine reports.

Bathroom remodeling generally costs between $7,000 and $20,000, with an average remodeling cost of $11,605. A family room addition may cost a whopping $50,000 to $90,000, with an average remodeling cost of $70,000.

The lesson here is that remodeling is typically expensive. You want to be thoughtful about how you proceed.

The Cost of Remodeling Materials

Next to labor, remodeling materials are traditionally your most expensive budget item.
When remodeling your kitchen, for instance, cabinets can make up half the cost. "Stock cabinets cost $50 to $200 per linear foot. Semi-custom cabinets with more finish and style options can cost two to three times more, and custom cabinets often cost five times more than stock cabinets," according to Better Homes and Gardens.

Granite countertops usually cost far more than your standard laminate and a hand-blown glass vessel sink are generally more expensive than standard porcelain. But don't let cost alone drive your decisions. Think about what materials can add the greatest value to your home. You might have to pay extra for durability and sustainability, for instance, but in the long run, those attributes often can more than pay for themselves.

And, sometimes, choosing high-quality materials that are also good for the earth can actually help your bottom line.

Shopping for Remodeling Materials

There are few more cost effective ways to remodel than by reusing building materials. Reuse construction yards are a terrific place to find porcelain tubs and sinks, solid wood doors, tile flooring, among other materials for a fraction of their original cost.

Be careful choose classic designs and colors when purchasing reused building materials. On that same note, avoid paying a premium for trendy items, too.

Consider the rise and fall of the master bath whirlpool tubs. Trendy items are not only expensive when you buy them, they can also severely date your home (remember orange shag carpeting?), lowering the desirability of your home when you try to sell it.

Better Homes and Garden 
Remodeling Cost Guide

Washington Post
Homeowners Want More Bang for Their Remodeling Buck

About the author: Mary Butler is Colorado-based freelancer. Mary Butler writes about homes and gardens.

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