This is a very common first question for homeowners to ask. What many people don’t realize is that this is both a very vague and complex question to answer. A similar scenario would be going to a car dealership and asking, “how much does a white car cost?” Well, are you buying a used white Honda or a new white Porsche? What trim package are you interested in? Are you pre-buying a service package?
Like the cost of a car, the cost of a home renovation can vary greatly and will be dictated by your needs and your budget. It’s important to establish both of these early in the conversation. Pricing of different projects varies greatly depending on the client’s end goal.
Thorough pre-construction planning allows your builder to be efficient, which stretches your dollar further–not spending valuable time making big decisions when the project has begun. In the long run, a well-planned project will cost less than a poorly planned project because the builder would have identified most of the challenges upfront before the project is started. This is why it's important to bring your contractor into the project as soon as possible when working with a design team. Alternatively, choose a design-build firm that will streamline the process themselves.
Establishing both the client’s ‘why’ and ‘what’ allows a high-quality contractor to place the project within an estimated price range. An estimate is usually a range in costs, based on recent projects similar to the goals of the homeowner and relative to the experience of the builder. This estimate step allows the builder to assess if the project is a good fit for them and if they are a good fit for the homeowner.
People often ask, “Can you give me a price per square foot?” The honest answer is, no. There are too many variables that are unique to your specific home. To get an exact cost for your project, you need to go through the detailed fixed cost pricing process, where the final price is one number, not a range.
Saying, “I want an addition”, is a vague project request. What do you want in it? The type of square footage you are adding will greatly vary the price of your project. An addition with a kitchen is significantly more expensive than an addition with a bedroom. The cost is more than the square footage, it’s what else you will need for that new space. Kitchens require a significant amount of plumbing, HVAC, and electrical work, among other specialty trades, whereas a bedroom likely only needs electrical and HVAC.
A quality builder is more than just someone good at the trade. Quality should stand for their craftsmanship as well as their values and treatment of clients and employees. As a responsible employer, the company needs to pay its staff a good living wage. The builder’s team members live in the same area as the client and the cost of living can be high in the Seattle area. Just as the client expects to be paid a fair living wage from their employer, the builder you work with should also pay their team fairly. Much of the builder’s income goes to the replacement of tools, wear-and-tear of vehicles, gas, time to get to the job, and the knowledge and experience of high-quality subcontractors. It’s not only the quality of the end-product that the builder produces, it’s the quality of the type of employer that they are and the company culture they maintain.
A homeowner should always begin by determining the amount they want to spend and then speak to a qualified contractor who will guide them through what is possible with their budget. You can only truly get an accurate price of a project by speaking with a qualified and experienced contractor. A Google search will not give you a reliable estimate because costs will vary based on the city you live in, what your needs and wants are, the cost of materials at the time you need them, and much more.
To help in the process of planning your home addition or renovation, we have created an eBook all about preparing for your Project. Download "The Homeowner’s Guide to Planning a Remarkable Renovation."
With an educational background in Marketing and Communications, Marin loves to write and find new ways to connect with our clients and followers.