A cost breakdown on materials, labor, and permits for your home remodel

living room(Above) Project by interior designer Haley Weidenbaum. Photo: Jillian Sipkins

Moving into a new house—or realizing your home hasn’t kept up with your lifestyle—can make renovation feel like a path to reinvention. Creating a budget for that planned remodel is unique to every project; taking into consideration the materials you choose, changes in layout, or moving plumbing or gas lines, all of which factor into the equation.

Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with vetted general contractors, has compiled a guide to renovation costs across Los Angeles, California, focusing on four categories: kitchen, bathroom, an addition, and permits.

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

  • Full home renovation: $100$400+ per square feet (psf)
  • Low-end-range kitchen remodel: $130$200 psf or $26,481 (based on a 200-sq-ft kitchen)
  • Major mid-range kitchen remodel: $380 psf or $76,220 (based on 200-sq-ft kitchen)
  • Major upscale kitchen remodel: $100,000 and up
  • Low-end bathroom remodel: $15,000$25,000 (based on a 35-sq-ft space)
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: $26,000$38,000 (based on a 35-sq-ft space)
  • High-end bathroom remodel: Starting at $55,000 and up
  • Mid-range master suite addition: $423 psf or $162,358
  • Upscale master suite addition: $518 psf or $331,520

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

What a home remodel costs per square foot

It’s no secret that Los Angeles is one of the pricier areas in the United States when it comes to real estate. That is also reflected in the cost of renovations. While kitchen and baths are the most popular renovations, many homeowners also do exterior upgrades and garage conversions to create additional living space.

On average, many Sweeten projects can range from $100 to $400+ psf. Typically, dry rooms (i.e., living rooms and bedrooms) are cheaper to renovate than wet rooms (i.e., kitchen and baths), and Sweeten contractor Brett estimates that while dry rooms are at the lower end of the range, the wet rooms are closer to $400 psf to start.

While price-per-sq-ft estimates are useful to renovators for ballpark figures, how that number breaks down tends to be more complicated. Contractors must account for various costs, and in L.A., the estimates break down this way:

  • Overhead (Fees, insurances, and profit): 10—25%
  • Materials: 30—35%
  • Labor: 30—47%

We also checked in with L.A.-based interior designer Haley Weidenbaum on how interior designers calculate fees. She explains, “Typically for renovations projects, I will charge a flat fee. This is beneficial for both designer and client because it allows the designer to work more freely and allows for much more transparency between the designer and client. However, it is important for both parties to agree on a scope of work so that everyone is on the same page and understands what is included under this flat fee.”

One thing to note in 2019: The cost of some raw materials has gone up—lumber, aluminum, and stainless steel—due to rising tariffs and the trade war with China. Additionally, freight costs have risen due to new carrier regulations.

Costs for a kitchen renovation

  • Low-end kitchen: Sweeten kitchen remodels can start at $130$200 for 200 square feet with budget-friendly finishes from retailers such as Home Depot. This budget includes budget finishes, laminate countertops, and mid-range sink and faucet finishes.
  • Mid-range kitchen: Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report puts a typical mid-range kitchen renovation at $380 psf or $76,220 total, as an average for Los Angeles. These figures are based on a 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry and countertops, semi-custom wooden cabinets, an island, and laminate countertops. It also includes custom lighting, resilient flooring, and paint.
  • High-end kitchen: Projects on the higher end of the scale can tally up to $150,302, based on the Cost vs. Value report. A large part of that cost can be in custom cabinetry. Sweeten contractors Anna and Vahik estimates that a high-end renovation averages upwards of $100,000.

Costs for a bathroom renovation

  • Low-end bathroom: A lower-end bathroom renovation at 35 square feet, including demo, plumbing work, and new finishes, starts at $15,000 and can reach $25,000, according to the Sweeten contractors. Bathrooms in this category typically lean on big-box stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot to source the majority of materials.
  • Mid-range bathroom: A mid-range bathroom in Los Angeles will cost on average between $26,000 to $38,000, according to the Cost vs. Value report, which is $740 to $1,086 psf for a 35-square-foot bathroom. This includes replacing all fixtures, solid-surface vanity and integrated sink, recessed medicine cabinet with light, ceramic tile floor, and a 30” x 60” tub.
  • High-end bathroom: That same report put a high-end bathroom renovation and expansion at $76,973, based on a bathroom expanded from 35 to 100 square feet. It worked out to be $770 psf; this is slightly higher than average budgets for some of the upscale bathrooms Sweeten contractors have worked on, which have cost around $55,000 to start for the high end.

With that budget, clients are looking at faucets that can cost $2,000 per piece, marble flooring, custom vanities, built-in medicine cabinets, a rain shower, and top-of-the-line lighting fixtures. At times, those pricey finishing materials can amount to half the budget. Whether it is low-end or high-end, a good general contractor can work with a reasonable budget and strategize how clients can get what they want.

Costs for master suite addition

  • Mid-range master suite addition: For approximately $423 psf or $162,358, you can build a 24’ x 16’ master suite including a walk-in closet, dressing area, freestanding tub, separate shower, and double vanity over an existing crawl space, according to Cost v. Value’s report. This pricing includes carpeting in the bedroom and tile on the bathroom floor, lighting throughout, and an exhaust fan.

A crawl space and a raised foundation make it “easier for the crew to crawl underneath the subfloor to access the rough connections. It becomes more challenging and expensive when working on a renovation with a house on a slab on grade. If fixtures are being relocated or saw cuts, trenching, and backfill are required, then these can add to the cost of the renovation,” says Brett.

  • Upscale master suite addition: For approximately $518 psf, or $331,520, it’s possible to create a 32’ x 20’ master suite with a separate sitting area and a large master bath, also over crawl space, according to the Cost v. Value’s report. This includes custom shelving and built-in storage, as well as a walk-in closet and dressing area with windows. The bath has everything that is included in a mid-range remodel, along with stone counters and a partitioned space for a toilet. The suite also features a wet bar with microwave, sink, and refrigerator for this budget range.

Costs for permits

The cost of permits changes from town to town in Los Angeles. However, typically the cost will be determined by your budget and require a bit of high school math to figure out.

According to Sweeten contractor Brett, this number varies between an estimated $500 to $1,200 depending on the specific scope of work for each project.

Sweeten contractors Anna and Vahik explains, “Permit costs vary for different neighborhoods. Average kitchen and bath remodels (“express permits”) with no structural changes or layout changes cost around $500 to $1,000. Bigger projects such as additions, remodels with structural changes, or exterior work that need plan changes start at $5,000 and can go up to $20,000 in cities like Santa Monica.”

One helpful resource is this fee calculator, which allows you to input the electrical, plumbing, fire, HVAC, etc. updates you plan to make, and calculates the cost for you.

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

Renovating your home or an ADU in Los Angeles? Sweeten can help!

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

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

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