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Total Makeover: What’s the Cost of Gutting a Home and Remodeling?

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Most home renovation shows would have you believe that gutting and remodeling your house is as simple as a 30-minute programming block. Draft up some pretty designs, get crazy with a sledgehammer, lay some tile, and bam — your dream house is complete.

The reality is a little more complicated, not to mention pricey. According to HomeAdvisor, a full home renovation costs $150,000 on the high end, and that doesn’t account for unexpected bumps along the way. To give a better picture of the cost of gutting a home and remodeling than what you see on your favorite flip show, this guide features:

  • An overview of high-level costs from multiple sources
  • A real-life total home makeover estimate
  • Key budgeting factors to consider
  • Cost estimates for each major house component

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Home gutting and remodeling cost overview

The cost of gutting your home and renovating it will vary based on the size of the home, the cost of the finishes, and extent of your remodel. But for the sake of a tidy estimation, here are a few quotes from reliable sources across the web:

Source: HomeGuide
Average gut cost: $2,500-$7,000
Average remodel cost: $19,800-$73,200
Average cost per square foot to remodel: $15-$60
Low and high end remodel range: $15,000-$150,000+
Methodology: HomeGuide uses vetted estimates from over 500,000 pros from across the country to help price out common renovation projects.

Source: HomeAdvisor
Average gut cost: $1,200-$4,700
Average remodel cost: $18,340-$76,127
Average cost per square foot to remodel: $60-$150
Low and high end remodel range: $3,600-$150,000
Methodology: HomeAdvisor averages out the data from 6,500 user-contributed remodel projects.

Andrew Holmes, VP of Construction for award-winning construction firm Blockhouse Residential, suggests homeowners price out the gutting and renovation separately. “I always tell my clients the best way to do this is to demo the entire project first, and then construct the scope and budget of the renovation,” Holmes says. “Otherwise, you can spend a lot of money and time planning and then open up the walls to find that you’re stuck with $30,000 in structural repairs. Then your budget is blown.”

Total house makeover: A real-life example

Holmes shared a recent proposal for a complete remodel of a 3,750 square foot home where his firm did most of the labor, but the buyer saved some costs sourcing appliances and hardware:

Full Gut Remodel Labor Materials (Estimate) Cost
Demolition/Disposal $1,500 $1,000 $2,500
Structural Repair $8,000 $6,725 $14,725
Plumbing $25,000 $1,500 $26,500
Installing HVAC $8,000 $3,500 $11,500
Electrical $12,000 $2,400 $14,400
Drywall & Primer Accounted for in materials $1.50 per sq ft. $25,143.50
Interior Doors $50 $125 per door $1,750
Flooring $2 per sq ft. $3 per sq ft. $18,625
Kitchen Cabinets $1,750 $4,800 $6,550
Kitchen Counters $45 per sq ft. (labor included) $3,037.50
Kitchen Backsplash $15 per sq ft. $5 per sq ft. $560
Bath tile $5 per sq ft. $4 per sq ft. $5,400
Vanities $100 $500 (per vanity) $3,000
Total $133,691

Cost estimates for each major house component

With high-level numbers out of the way, let’s drill down into the costs associated with each component of the full home renovation:

After reviewing these cost estimates, you may be wondering: Is it cheaper to gut a house and renovate, or completely rebuild?

At a high level, it’ll typically cost you less to gut and renovate your home than build it from scratch. According to HomeAdvisor, building your own home will cost $163,467 to $483,868. The typical home renovation on the high end will still cost less than building from scratch at the low end.

But it’s not guaranteed that renovating an existing structure will cost any less. Unexpected problems, specialty projects and features, and pricey add-ons can quickly push your budget into “new build” territory if you’re not paying attention.

Key budgeting factors to consider

At the start of your renovation, you’ll be tempted to jump to the final product and visualize that shiny new kitchen or dream laundry room. Be sure to consider the boring stuff, too. These steps in the remodel won’t be as exciting as selecting your Carrara marble, but they do heavily influence your bottom line.

“Something that I try to express to everybody is regardless of the scope of the project, try to take your emotions out of it as much as possible. You have to go through the steps and complete them. So if step one is 95% complete, you can’t move onto step two,” advises Holmes.

Architect, designer, and contractor fees

When you undertake a project as massive as a home gut and renovation, you’ll need professionals on your side (unless you’re a contractor yourself). Architects, structural engineers, interior designers, plumbers, and electricians — not to mention the general contractor who runs the show — will steer you away from costly mistakes and help your renovation stay safe and on track. Depending on how much help you get, HomeGuide estimates the cost of professional help and labor can account for 10%-30% of your total cost.

Bringing your home ‘up to code’

Depending on the age of your home, your plumbing and electrical systems could be severely outdated. You may not know what you’re dealing with until you open up the walls and start renovating the property. In some cases, you’ll need to replace some of your home’s core components to keep your project above board. A few examples: Rewiring an entire home costs between $4,000-$20,000. To install new plumbing, expect to pay $8,000-$15,000.

Structural issues

You may not realize you have foundation issues until your remodel is well underway. From cracks and leaks to settling, the average foundation repair costs between $1,978-$6,982. Plus, you might plan on knocking down a few walls in the process. On average, it’ll cost between $300 and $500 to take down each wall, but the price will increase if the wall is load-bearing or houses plumbing, hearing, electric, or HVAC work. To save on structural costs, work with your architect on a strategy for moving walls in a cost-efficient manner.

Overall size of the property

Contractors will often price home renovation projects based on square footage. According to one estimate from MillionAcres, you can expect to pay $10-$60 per square foot for a mid-grade remodel, or $150 per square foot for an upscale remodel. So let’s say you’re remodeling a house at $60 per square foot. If you have 1,800 square feet, your remodel would cost a total $108,000, whereas a 2,000 square foot house would cost $150,000.

Secondary expenses

Certain renovation projects can make it challenging, or downright impossible, to live in your home during the process. Disrupted gas and power lines in the kitchen could lead to several meals out a week. When the bathrooms are out of commission, you may need to pay for a hotel stay. All in all, secondary expenses related to your renovation can add up.

Location of home

The cost to renovate per square foot in a high cost of living urban area could end up costing you twice what it would in a rural or suburban locale, according to HomeAdvisor. Although you can’t control a property’s location, you can shop around for multiple contractor quotes to ensure you get a fair price that’s standard for the area.


Your material selections throughout the home will account for a large portion of your total costs. You can pay $1.50 per square foot for basic subway bathroom tile or $45 for the mosaic marble. There will be low and high end selections for flooring, countertops, light fixtures, and shower heads, too.

Top-selling Charlotte, North Carolina real estate agent Steven Mueller advises homeowners to weigh personal preferences with resale value: “If your goal is to be in the house a year or two, then you might want to build it more towards what the buying pool is going to want. Whereas if you’re going to be there seven years, you can make it a little more taste specific because you’ll build equity just by being there.”

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