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These are the MOST EXPENSIVE Rooms to Remodel

Being a homeowner is an expensive, yet, rewarding investment. However, there comes a time in every homeowner’s journey when a remodel needs to happen. When looking to remodel specific rooms in a house, it can be helpful to educate oneself on just how expensive certain room remodels can be. 

 

The most expensive rooms to remodel in a home are the kitchen, bathroom, and basement or other such entertainment spaces. The average cost of remodeling these most expensive rooms in the bay is:  kitchen ($43,000-$70,000), bathroom ($11,000-$25,500), and basement/entertainment room ($250-$350 per square foot.)

 

While remodeling prices in the Bay Area can be pretty expensive, there are certainly ways to minimize and control costs. In this article, you’ll learn the various reasons why certain remodel projects get so pricey, and how to avoid such pitfalls.

 

The Most Expensive Rooms to Remodel In A Home

 

The Kitchen 

 

This likely comes as no surprise, but kitchens are by far one of the most expensive rooms to remodel in a home. Not only is plumbing and electrical work quite a doozy, but installing, painting or building new cabinets or kitchen islands is incredibly labor intensive and expensive. 

 

If you have ever attempted to re-paint your cabinets, you will know exactly how much time it takes (and that’s probably why you will never attempt to repaint them yourself ever again.)

 

A lot of times kitchen remodels are so expensive because when someone attempts to remodel only a portion of the kitchen, they inevitably realize a full-scale remodel is in order. The kitchen is one of the most prominently displayed and most commonly used spaces in the home, so it makes sense that it ranks as the most expensive room to remodel because you are likely to spend more than half your time in the kitchen.

 

Kitchen remodels vary greatly and depending on the size and complexity of the room and remodel design. High end counter tops and cabinetry do not come cheap. If you choose to remodel with custom cabinets for an upscale remodel, the cabinets alone might cost you $30,000 depending on the type, material, and amount of cabinetry required.

 

In the event you are not looking to own one-of-a-kind zebrawood cabinets, you can opt for stock cabinets which will lower the price of your kitchen remodel. They may not have the same high-end finish, but they’ll do the job (at a significantly lower cost).

 

Upper cabinets and kitchen countertops are the most common kitchen replacement. Kitchen countertops, often carry a hefty price tag. Countertops made of materials like granite, glass, soapstone, or Corian will cost more, but are incredibly durable and long-lasting (meaning, unless your aesthetic taste changes, your remodeled countertops will last for years without needing any kind of fixing or updating).

 

According to Houzz the average remodel cost for a kitchen that is 200sqft or bigger is $42,000. A smaller remodel, say 100sqft or smaller, might be more like $25,800. However, as everything is more expensive in the Bay Area, it comes as no surprise that the average cost of a large kitchen remodel in San Francisco is $70,000! The average cost of a small kitchen in SF? Only $43,900.

 

Typically, when homeowners remodel their kitchen countertops, they invariably succumb to the temptation to purchase all new appliances as well.  This helps to explain why kitchens are typically the most expensive room to remodel. Often the purchases snowball so that the features being remodeled don’t look out of place against older, lower-quality features. 

 

All this comes before considering investing in a ‘smart kitchen.’ High-tech kitchen features like touch-screen appliances, voice command, and wireless controls help to rack up the price of a luxury kitchen remodel. About 1 out of 7 homes have a television in their kitchen or a wireless speaker like Sonos that feeds not only into the kitchen, but throughout the entire home. 

 

Fortunately, certain aspects of the kitchen can be done by home-owners with relative ease (like installing your own backsplash in a smaller kitchen.

 

The Bathroom

 

According to Manta.com, as of 2020 the average cost of a bathroom remodel in Mountain View, CA was $12,600 (ranging from $4,300 as the minimum cost and $20,000 as the maximum.) Likewise, according to Home Advisor, the average Bay Area bathroom remodel in 2020 is between $11,000-$25,500!

 

Due to the higher cost of living in places like San Francisco, homeowners can expect to spend about $13,000 more on a bathroom remodel project than the national average. Anyone living in the Bay Area should expect a larger bill, considering they’ll be paying more for a bathroom remodel than home owners in other parts of the country.

 

Houzz compared the average U.S cost of a 100-sqft master bathroom remodel (around $21,000) with that of a San Francisco 100-sqft remodel and found the San Franciscans would be paying around $34,100. Yikes.

 

What is the point of remodeling a bathroom if you’re going to be spending that much money? Well, unlike the rest of the country whose bathroom remodels only yield a 50 percent return investment, San Franciscans tend to yield a 90 percent or more return investment, purely due to bathroom remodels. That’s incredible.

 

Like kitchens, bathroom remodels deal with a ton of extra plumbing and electrical work, which is labor intensive and does not come cheap. Re-tiling, contingent on the kind of tile work, is also quite expensive (with labor and material costs.) 

 

Bathrooms are also one of the most expensive because often the bathrooms being remodeled are master baths, and some master bathrooms can be as large as an additional room. Master baths tend to include double sinks, a separate bath and a separate shower, in addition to a toilet. 

 

Even though you can save money depending on the materials you purchase, the labor of a bathroom remodel is still going to cost you a pretty penny (even if you don’t invest in the high-tech bidet toilet from Japan that plays soundscapes).

 

The Basement / Entertainment Space

 

Basements are becoming increasingly popular to include in a home-build, or to do as an add on to an already constructed home. Not only is the construction and or remodel of a basement becoming increasingly popular, people are getting more creative and expansive with basements as well. 

 

Basements are no longer the dark, damp, low-ceiling dwellings of the past. Goodbye hobbit-house basement, hello Palo Alto second-home basements! We’re talking 10-foot tall ceilings with 2 ½ baths. So yeah…basement remodels can get expensive.

 

Palo Alto architect Roger Kohler says the standard price of constructing a basement is  $250 to $350 a square foot. Of course, that’s simply the price for constructing the square footage, this does not include the extra bells and whistles that a basement can offer like wine cellars, music recording studios, high-tech home theaters, or a bowling alley (if you like feeling that you live in the White House).

 

Basements can add a surprising amount of re-sale value to a home as well, especially if the basement is converted into an en suite or private small apartment which can potentially be rented out, lived in by a 30-year-old child who has yet to leave the nest, or an aging parent.

 

Interestingly, many cities do not count underground space in the square footage of a home. Therefore, so many smaller homes have add-on, subterranean basements, because they greatly increase the property value.

 

Since the price of remodeling or adding on a basement depends on the square footage (and just how adventurous you plan to get) most of the cost will come from determining the size and general structure of the basement. Will it be entirely underground? Will it be a small livable guest suite, a game room, or some other niche entertainment structure?

 

If you are looking to make the space more inviting and livable, you’ll likely you want to include things like windows, plumbing, and electrical work. All of which does not come cheap. 

 

The one plus side about basement remodeling is that you can often get away with using cheaper materials, like concrete, for flooring, as often the novelty of a basement can render the requirement of high-end flooring or detailing somewhat unnecessary.

 

The Living Room

 

Living rooms are not nearly as costly as kitchens or bathrooms since they generally do not include things like plumbing or expensive, high-energy appliances. However, many homeowners perform remodels on living rooms typically for three reasons: 1) to better accommodate a larger entertainment area, 2) to make it more attractive 3) to re-wire electrical outlets to locations that make sense for the space.

 

Remodeling a living room, only for aesthetic reasons, is often the cheapest option. This could include adding things like crown molding, built-in entertainment displays, or removing oddly placed entertainment displays. 

 

When it comes to demolition, like removing an oddly placed wall or built-in as mentioned, this is usually best reserved for professionals. However, smaller demos can be performed by homeowners.

 

In the Bay Area, you can expect a living room remodel to cost you anywhere between $7,000-$20,000 depending on the square footage of the space and the exact remodel specifications you are dreaming of. Remember, living room remodels can often be performed on an interior design level just as sufficiently and for much less money than doing a constructive remodel.

 

The Bedroom

 

Remodeling a bedroom seems simple enough. However, these simple fixes certainly add up. According to DoItYourself.com, homeowners should expect to spend about $100 for every square foot of a bedroom when performing a remodel.

 

The average estimate to remodel a standard bedroom is around $8,000. This number covers installing new carpets, renovating windows, installing crown molding, re-painting walls, heaters, AC vents, re-wiring and re-lighting. Naturally, in San Francisco, you can expect that number to be higher (more like $15,000 average room remodel cost.)

 

Of course, this does not include the extra frills not included in the reconstruction (like new bed frames, new bed sheets, amours, vanities, nightstands, light fixtures, etc.) Often, most homeowners don’t actually remodel every feature of a room. 

 

The most important changes tend to be installing thicker, more weather-proofed windows, and replacing carpets. Other aspects of room remodels, like painting and installing molding, can be performed by the homeowner, or can at least be cost-controlled by sourcing cheaper materials.

 

Other Expensive Spaces To Remodel

 

While remodeling rooms in your home may be at the forefront of your mind, other spaces cannot be neglected. Just as rooms in the house are expensive to remodel, there are some other remodeling jobs that can get just as pricey. 

 

The Master Closet

 

It might surprise some to know that closet remodels are actually quite pricey, depending on the size of the closet and the type of organization one chooses to install. As of August 2019, the national average cost for a closet remodel is about $125 per square foot. Typically, this ends up being anywhere between $3,000-$5,000 just to remodel a closet.

 

Of course, a small walk in closet will cost much less to remodel and reorganize than a closet the size of an infant’s room. The price is also contingent upon whether you choose to paint, install storage systems, custom lighting, shelving, and organizers. 

 

The higher price tag usually results due to the hiring of a professional closet organizer, as well as hiring electricians to install special lighting designs. Labor will always cost you, especially when you live in places like the Bay Area.

 

Decks

 

While a deck may not be considered a room, it is one of the most common add-ons and remodels that homeowners do, and it can get costly depending on one’s deck vision. Deck construction can cost anywhere between $2,000 – $13,000 depending on choice of materials and square footage. The average home owner, for example, typically spends around $7,000 for a 200-500sqft deck.

 

One of the best things about a deck remodel, however, is that it is typically one of the quicker types of projects to accomplish. It is also a remodel project that can often be performed by the homeowner (especially if the remodel is simply re-finishing a deck.)

 

Garage

 

Many people don’t put much thought into their garages. In fact, many homeowners don’t even use a garage to store their vehicles or work space, but rather to stuff it full of storage bins and material goods that feel too sentimental to get rid of, but that have no real place in the home.

 

However, garage remodels are becoming more and more common, and they can get quite elaborate. Especially considering the popularity of the ‘man cave’ movement, as the garage can now be seen as more than just vehicle storage, but a place for a man to retreat.


The national average for garage remodels is around $12,500. San Francisco homeowners can expect their remodel to cost anywhere between $6,000-$20,000. This all depends on whether custom flooring is put it, if there is painting involved, whether electrical wiring is required, and if shelving and closet organizers are needed to be installed.

 

Controlling The Cost

 

Some remodel bids will quote you for both labor and materials, however, most of the time a contractor is going to quote labor and leave the sourcing of materials up to you. This is to ensure freedom of choice for the customer to control some aspect of the costs and style. As remodels are expensive, any respectable contractor company will not force you into a price bracket for materials you aren’t even in love with.

 

For this reason, the total cost of any given remodel will be based entirely on the individual and their choice of materials. When it comes to remodeling there is a massive range as to what one can spend. 

 

While you can source scraps of original hardwood flooring from an architectural salvage yard, at a low cost, without sacrificing aesthetic, you can also buy brand new hardwood floor (or tiling that looks like hardwood, that can be programmed to be heated in the morning or nights.)

 

Prices completely depend on your desired materials, and how much time and effort you are willing to spend to save some money during the already overwhelming process of a remodel. However, many homeowners find a pride and joy in taking the time to curate their materials while being able to save money in the process.

 

At the end of the day, a remodel is going to cost you thousands of dollars. However, if you decide to go with previously used materials, or want to do some of the labor yourself (like installing your own backsplash or painting your own cabinets) then you can obviously save a some money. It all depends on you, your budget, you desired aesthetic, and how much time you have on your hands!

 

The Key Take Away

 

Remodeling any room in the home can be an expensive endeavor, however, the kitchen, bathroom or basement will likely be the priciest, especially for those homeowners in the Bay Area. Fortunately, most contractors only quote for labor, not materials, so you can control how costly your remodel gets based on the types of materials you choose.

 

Any room that requires additional plumbing, electrical, or significant amount of woodworking will automatically be more expensive. If you add on ‘smart home’ features, like any built-in wireless speakers, voice command features, or remote-control lighting, you can plan to fork out even more dough.

 

In the Bay Area, remodel prices are significantly higher than the national average, so it’s wise to get quotes from multiple contractors, and to keenly evaluate where to cut costs on your remodel projects.

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