12 Home Improvement Costs (Home Repair List)
When you include your emotions and hard-earned money, Home Improvement and Remodeling is very exciting and challenging. Any home remodel will involve some of our own energy, and also that of many professional trades people.
What are the most common home repairs?
- Foundation Repairs average between $4,000 and $10,000. Insurance does not cover foundation damage caused by typical soil compaction or movement.
- Roof Replacement costs average between $7,200 and $10,460. Our roof was replaced 3 years ago for a few dollars under $12,000 in the Portland, Oregon area. Be careful that you do not take the cheapest bid among your minimum of 3 bids. When you are looking at replacing your roof, you may be needing an emergency patch, or maybe you can wait until the end of summer when you can get better pricing. Bids are based on the size of the roof, and not the square footage of your home.
- Replacement of Water Heater can range between $500 for 40 gallon electric water heaters, to $1,500 for 60 gallon gas water heater. If your water heater is several decades old, then you may need to upgrade water pipes, cracking electrical wires, hurricane strapping and a stand that keeps the pilot light 18″ above the floor to prevent risks of gas explosion.
- Termite Damage typically costs around $3,000. These bugs can damage our homes without us even seeing any signs of their activity. This summer, I began pulling the flooring away from one of my rooms in my home. At first, I saw some very, very fine sawdust and thought that it was from when the home was built 40 years ago. That was not the case. For the next several weeks, I continues to remove structural beams and tongue and groove 2×6’s that had been destroyed from termites. During the whole process, I never saw one living termite.
- Water Damage projects costs average around $2,700, but often near $7,500. There are contractors that I work with that make very good money cleaning the aftermath of broken pipes containing water and sewer pipe content. The projects that I have worked on typically range between $10-15,000 because of the cleanup process. If sewage is involved, then the requirements needed to protect breathing and touching the waste cause the price to increase, and the labor costs to increase.
- Repair or Install New Pipes cost between $8,000 and $10,000 for homes that are older and need to be updated. All of the pipes in our home begin to rust at some point of time if they are built with copper, steel or galvanized and cast iron. Today, plumbers use many different types of plastics that do not break down such as PEX (polyethylene). One time I was flipping a home and one of the pipes to the back bathroom had a leak under a cement floor. The plumber needed to cut the concrete and attempt to locate a broken pipe that was 15″ under the slab, then repair the line and fill concrete back over the new pipes. I forgot to mention that I also needed to repair the carpet in that room. Let’s just say that it cost me more than the original bid by several thousand dollars.
- Heating/AC Replacement (HVAC) costs between $4,800 and $9,580. There are so many variables with the heating and cooling of a home system. We went into a home to flip one time and out of habit always pull the heating duct cover off and check the ductwork. It was so gross that I immediately walked out of the home. There was a dead rat, cheerios, toys, dirt and dust and other things that I can’t put a name to. In order to make this home livable, we would have needed to remove and replace all the ductwork in this 3,000 square foot home and have someone tear off all the sheetrock and insulation in the ceilings and walls.
- Mold Removal/Remediation starts around $500 and can reach $6,000 for larger projects. Lawyers reference this repair as “Mold is Gold”. Mold can cause all kinds of sicknesses and no one likes to find this black fungus.
- Septic Tank Repairs cost between $900 and $1,500. Installations average around $6,000 for a 1,000 gallon tank. Leach field repairs average around $1,500 for replacing a broken pipe which leads to the tank. The price of a leach field replacement is between $5,000 and $20,000. This is the most costly portion of the septic system. For comparison, a new septic field with a 1,500 gallon tank will cost between $15-25,000. Leach fields typically last around 20 years before needing repairs or replacement. Drain fields are between 18-30″ inches in depth, and then covered with 36″ of soil.
- Asbestos Removal costs between $20 and $65 per square foot. A homeowner that begins a project dealing with asbestos should count on an average project starting around $1,500.
- Driveway Repairs range between $3.00 per square foot on up for basic concrete and blacktop. Concrete flat work in our area has doubled in the past 2 years. We pay around $16-20 per foot for concrete and around $15 per square foot for block or decorative stone. If you live in the country, then you can put up with the holes and save enough money to drive around the hole(s). I remember our driveway in the country when I was growing up during the late 1970’s, and we had one of the worst winters in history. The Columbia River surface was completely frozen except for the channel, and the nearby Sandy River surface was frozen all the way over. When the freeze began to thaw, our family driveway was impassable. My dad said to stay off of it and it would settle back down in a few weeks…which it did. There were spots on the gravel/dirt driveway that were a foot taller than other areas.
- Electricians charge $110-150 for the first hour in our region. Last year I was involved in a complete wiring replacement in an older 1950’s home. We changed all the wiring from dried out 2-wire, to 3-wire which added a ground to the old home. All the 220 lines were replaced and all light fixtures were upgraded. The panel was replaced for about $1,500 and the home was safe again.
**We are using price averages from several sites on the internet for home renovations and remodeling costs. Since every city and state has projects costs that range 50% or more, it is difficult to provide pricing statistics for your region or country.
11 Home Improvement Variables To Consider:
When you are ready to start a bathroom or a kitchen remodel, or another project on your house, consider getting involved with the process. Below you will find 11 valuable items to consider when starting your project, and you will gain great satisfaction in keeping the project on task.
- Grab Your Gloves. Will you help with the remodel? You can help clean up the work area and keep it clear and safe. You can help with City permits by driving down to the city or county to deliver drawings and other items. You may want to be the project manager and hire each local contractor yourself (electrical, plumber, painter, flooring, and don’t forget my favorite hot tub installer).
- Location. While each state has similar minimum wages, private contractors do not follow a similar pay scale. You may find that contractors in your area are higher or lower than your state average; while surrounding states are completely different.
- Big Box. Do you have large commercial building supply stores in your city or region? If your local contractor needs to buy his/her goods from a city that is several hundred miles away, then the shipping costs will be transferred to your project.
- Permits. I do not even like talking about this subject, but it is a necessary evil. As a home inspector for several years, I saw the benefits of having a system that we can measure against. While the costs vary in every city, you can either call or check online to get an estimate before your project begins.
- Noise. It is always surprising how many homeowners get upset with a local contractor because of the noise or dust that they get in their living room. Contractor equipment may even get louder than your television that is always at the maximum level. You will get dust in other areas of your house: Guaranteed. It is hard to believe sometimes, but not all contractors clean up after themselves. You may need to pay insane prices to get them to show up at your home , and then need to remind them that they need to put plastic on the carpeted floors, or close the door to the room that is being remodeled, or bring in a temporary porta-potty to use instead of the backyard tree for all of your neighbors to see.
- Contracts. Some of you live in the country and still believe that a ‘hand-shake’ is all that you need. I recommend highly to reconsider this coveted gesture. Whether this is your best friend or a local contractor, the courtrooms are full of well-meaning people who needed to settle in court. Make sure that you have called your home insurance company and checked on your coverage, and we also recommend purchasing an ‘umbrella’ policy that additionally covers your house and wherever you go. Imagine a home painter on a 30′ ladder that falls and gets seriously injured. His liability insurance is only for ONE million. That seems like a lot, but a few weeks in the hospital today could exceed his coverage. Where does the remaining money come from? Your insurance. If you can’t pay, then your house is the next on the chopping block. So we recommend purchasing additional insurance for major projects, or require the contractor to get a two or five million additional rider to cover any accidents.
- Neighbors. Yep, this is not always a fun topic. Sometimes your neighbors just need a reason to come over and see your new home improvement project. They walk in and step on a nail, or touch wet paint. They may be one of those pesty neighbors who want to stick their nose in everyone else’s business. We recommend telling the neighbors about the noise, local contractor vehicles and other distractions before your project begins. Tell them that you will have a fantastic ‘Open House’ (with free food) after the project is completed and that they will be (or not be) invited.
- Money. There are several ways to pay for your remodel (refinance, home equity, cash, other). Always be prepared for additional expenses that come along. Do NOT pay any contractor upfront for 100% of the invoice. Typically, you can negotiate half down, and half at completion. If the contractor does not agree, then look for another experienced contractor. Also, we recommend having a friend or family member look at the project before releasing the remaining fifty percent of the bill. Try finding a friend who is a handyman or someone who has built or remodeled their own home before…experience is always the best teacher.
- Timing. Remodeling our homes can take a lot of time. It is not uncommon for larger projects to go half a year or more. Sit down and take some time and look at your calendar. Do you want to have a project going on while your friends are over for Thanksgiving? Do you live in a cold and wet environment? Maybe you do not want additional mud carried throughout your house, so instead you want to start in the summer time.
- Health. Sometimes we are not prepared for an unknown health emergency. The least that you can do is to grab your calendar and see if there are any medical procedures that will keep you off your feet for a few days or weeks. At the same time, please consider that we are all vulnerable human beings. I personally watched the strongest man that I have ever known, my father, progress from walking normal, to cane, to walker, to manual wheelchair, to permanent wheelchair in less than two years. That process is horrible to watch…and for him to live through. Each of us have similar life experiences that we must be prepared to live through. Maybe you need to find a backup person that can help you get through your home improvement project in case a spouse, a friend, or yourself gets ill. Sorry to bring this up…but it is a reality.
- Project Management.Depending on your project size and cost, you may want to manage your own renovation, and you will be able to save some additional money. If you already are planning on watching and monitoring the project from your living room, then why not enjoy the home building process. Some of the skillsets that you will need are to manage the home improvement costs from start to finish (the budget). If you can manage the project budget, then you will be able to control the time management role. You will need to get at least three cost estimate bids from each different task you will need (plumber/electrician/flooring/HVAC/etc) When you know what you home remodeling costs are in advance, you will be able to manage the project more efficiently. Managing all of the time scheduling is like a puzzle, you will need to understand the building process. For example, just because the interior painting contractor is available, does not mean that he can begin working before you tear off the sheetrock to work on the plumbing, or install the tankless water heater. Just because the vinyl flooring contractor is available tomorrow, does not mean that he should install before all the other contractors drop their tools on the new floor and potentially damage the vinyl. You will also need to understand how long sheetrock takes to dry before it is painted, or if you can have electricians and plumbers working together in a small bathroom. You will need to put yourself in the shoes of the contractor and think like they do. The planning stage can be difficult if you do not know what the contractor will be doing, but if you are in doubt, ask the contractor how much time and space that they need. They will appreciate your concern and support. You will be in charge of your own time management for the project. If you get behind in your deadlines, then you are the only person to blame. Start by Defining your project, then Order the tasks, then Estimate the project costs and time frame, then Develop the schedule and stick to it. When the project is completed, you will have great satisfaction in knowing that you kept the budget, timeline and quality with your standards.
Enjoy the process of your remodel. Sometimes it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel when we get frustrated with the extended timelines. The end result will be worth it.
We have included an info graphic below that provides some national estimates for your home remodel projects. Use the information as a guide to begin your remodeling process. If you would like an additional ear, please send us an email and we will do our best to get back to you. We want to provide valuable information for your future.
Before you begin your home improvement project, start with the basics. Go outside and start walking toward your home from the outside curb. What is your path? How do you get inside the house:
- Are there steps into your house? A concrete sidewalk that enters into your home with no steps is ideal in case someone needs to be using a walker or wheelchair in the future.
- Are your doors to your house 36″ wide? The entry door and interior doors should be wide enough so that someone in a wheelchair can maneuver easily into any room of the home.
- Are your hallways wide enough?
- Is your bathroom accessible for a wheelchair? Can a person use the toilet and shower that requires a 5′ area of turning radius access for maneuverability.
- Does your home have access into a bedroom for someone with mobility concerns?
- Are there grab bars located throughout your home? Do the stairs have grab rails on both sides of the stairs?
- Is your kitchen accessible for those with eyesight or mobility limitations? The oven needs to have controls on the front of the unit for viewing and so that a person in a wheelchair doesn’t burn their arm when they reach up and over the burner to turn off the temperature control knobs. Can a person in a wheelchair cook and clean the dishes?
- Does your carpet have holes or warn spots? We do not want anyone to trip on a loose rug or mat.
Once you feel that your home is able to provide a safe environment for the next decade, then you can start putting together your labor and materials spreadsheet, and grab that cost calculator. We will be writing more about safety items to be aware of in our future articles.
Some Questions About Home Remodeling:
Can you renovate a house for 50k?
It would be easy for us to say yes, but that would not be fair since we do not know what your project consists of. If your home needs a new roof, a large addition that will have a master bedroom and bathroom, new hardwood flooring throughout, a new central air system and a swimming pool…then we are confident that you will need more funds.
But let’s say for example, if you are changing an existing bathroom remodel that needs new tile floor, recessed lighting and new light switches and light fixtures, new interior door, upgraded electrical outlets (GFCI), upgrades to the plumbing such as new water lines, drain pipes, water heater and an updated toilet, then you are within your budget. Most bathroom remodels cost between $6,000 and $15,000. Home renovation costs vary according to location and region, size of room, your taste for quality, rearranging the floor plan (ie. moving the toilet to the opposite wall), fixtures and appliances and other variables.
The cost of remodeling ranges all over the spectrum because of installation costs, whether you need to borrow money and your finance payments, types of products and their accessibility, and so much more. If you were modest with your upgrades and realistic with your needs, you would be able to have an extra $35,000 to upgrade the electrical wiring and electrical outlets in the home. Or, maybe you might need to look at your roof replacement options, or installing new vinyl windows.
As you can see, there are many options available that are affordable, but there are expensive home repairs also. The wisest choices are to look forward ten years and ask yourself what your house will need for you to live there, instead of moving into a care center.
Is it cheaper to remodel or build?
In some cases it is less expensive to make changes to your existing home than to build, or even buy an existing home. If your home needs to updated so that you or a loved one can have appropriate access for their walker or wheelchair, then it will be cheaper to stay in your current home.
There are very few homes on the market that have access for wheelchairs. If you moved, then you would need to improve and remodel the new home to accommodate the required access.
When we move, there are additional costs such as moving vans and helpers, closing costs, new locks and security and many more items. This does not even include the energy and weeks of packing and unpacking that are very time intensive.
How much should a handyman charge?
I watched a Youtube video the other day that was titled something like: ‘A Handyman Will Be The Highest Paid Career In The Near Future”. The host began to talk about how the trades have suffered with the lack of young workers moving into the trades.
The handyman that possesses the skills to install a garbage disposal, install wood siding or install a washing machine, or provide snow removal, or build a fire pit inside a wood fence surround, or chain link fencing that surrounds a pool deck and pool fencing that he built last summer, never has to worry about finding a job.
Independent handymen companies usually charge between $60 to $95 an hour on average. Actual prices can climb up to $125 for an independent operator if they have a specialty like installing granite countertops, quartz countertops, ceramic tile, laminate flooring, kitchen remodeling or a higher end outdoor kitchen.
If a handyman is not afraid of ladders, they can do exterior painting, install metal roofing or a wood shake roof. There also is a lot of profit for a handyman if he/she can install wood siding, or vinyl siding, or even stone siding.
How much money should you save for home repairs?
There are several variables to consider when writing about what home repairs cost. There are no two people alike: I like to paint my house every 7 years so that it looks clean and nice and protects my home. While my neighbor just painted her house after 25 years. Let’s just say that it was not the same color as it was 25 years ago.
Another variable to consider is where your region that you live in is located. Minnesota homes need different upgrades than what a home in Tucson, Arizona requires. My brother lives in the High Desert of Oregon. The temperature drops into the double digit negative numbers in the winter, while climbing into the triple digits in summer.
I have read investor and trade magazines that recommend saving 1% of your home value. In Portland, the average price of a home is $466,000. One percent of $466k is $4,666. I am sure that there are some years where I have spent roughly $5,000 for my home maintenance, but there are also years where I have put $20,000 into my home.
Three years ago, we put a roof on the home, painted the home, built a new deck, replaced a water heater, purchased a kitchen appliance, and screamed several times for no reason.
If homeowners were able to save $388 per month ($4,666 / yr), then they could have a great savings ready for when they needed to replace windows, replace the heat pumps motor, replace the pool deck, replace the garage doors after your teenage son accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal.
Oh yeah, that happened. The garage doors cost me $2,100, and my insurance said that my deductible was about $1,800. What? Anyway, it wasn’t for a couple weeks after the self inflicted crash that he admitted that he did an ‘oopsy’ and ‘slipped’ because his shoe was not on correctly. Yeah, you are laughing now, but I wasn’t laughing then….
Here is the way that I look at saving up for home repairs. For example, we purchase a car for roughly $40,000, and sell it 3 years later for $25,000. That is a loss of $15,000 and we accept that loss because we don’t expect our vehicle to make us money. But our real estate, our home, provides us a great return on investment if we live in it for five or more years. Our home will become one of our investments that we can count on during our retirement years.
The True Cost of Home Improvement – An infographic by HomeAdvisor