You’re not alone in considering a remodeling project. According to the fourth annual Houzz & Home survey, more than half (58 percent) of the 170,000 U.S. respondents renovated their homes in 2014, and more than half (55 percent) have concrete plans to continue or start renovations in 2015. That means there are countless people who have gone through what you have gone through — or are planning to go through this year. And we can learn a lot from one another.
To give you an inkling of what to expect, the survey offers insights into what you might pay for a renovation project, how long it will take and more.
It’s easy to set a budget, but harder to know exactly what a home design project will end up actually costing. Maybe you’ll discover a wall full of leaky old plumbing that needs replacing or your foundation will need work. These discoveries can make your carefully planned budget seem smaller than you thought.
A good way to start planning your remodel is by looking at what others have spent on their remodel projects.
A more minor remodel in the same-size kitchen averaged $11,700 nationally among surveyed homeowners on Houzz. For a large kitchen (more than 201 square feet), the average cost was $42,400 for a major remodel and $17,800 for a minor remodel.
Chicago interior designer Erin Shakoor cautions clients that kitchen and bathroom remodel costs can quickly add up. Unlike a living room or bedroom, where clients aren’t likely to get carried away adding thousands of dollars in throw pillows or drapery, kitchen add-ons can easily push budgets beyond expectations. The fixtures, materials and relocating of plumbing all come at a significant cost. “And believe it or not, pot fillers and TVs are becoming standards in kitchens these days, and everything drives the price up,” Shakoor says.
In line with most designers, she recommends setting aside 15 to 20 percent of your budget to absorb any unforeseen costs and budget shortfalls.
While Baby Boomers probably have more savings and financial security to pay for better materials, more professional services and so on, a look at the reasons each generation gives for hiring professionals gives a bit more context.
Reviews, experience with similar projects and communication skills top the reasons a homeowner chooses one pro over another. But Millennial homeowners are twice as likely as younger Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 64) to hire a professional based on the lowest cost bid.
Not everyone has the time, money or need to tackle a major or even a minor renovation project. Two-thirds of homeowners decorated their homes in 2014, with nearly half (46 percent) having concrete plans to decorate in 2015.
Living rooms and family rooms are the most popular interior spaces to decorate, followed by bedrooms. One in five chooses to decorate all interior home spaces.
So ask yourself what isn’t working for you in your home. Is the bathroom cramped for you and your spouse? Do you love cooking but get frustrated with the lack of counter space near your stove? These are good indicators of which spaces you should be putting your hard-earned money into. And if other homeowners are any indicator, you should run the resale scenario through your mind. Because you may want to sell sooner than you think. Mustard-yellow kitchen cabinets might make you pleased as punch, but could you be just as happy with a more neutral color?
Michael Wolf, an analyst at NextMarket Insights, a research and consulting company, says home tech is an abstract concept that’s hard for people to wrap their minds around. “Companies are still in a phase of educating consumers, so a lot of people don’t quite get it yet,” he says. “But I think if you ask someone if they would want to be able to send a digital key to their mom’s phone so she can get into the house, they would say yes. That’s why there’s some hope with these big guys like Apple and HomeKit that’s raising awareness.”
Expect the planning phase of your renovation project to take around six months. Nearly a quarter of homeowners (23 percent) said their kitchen, bathroom or other interior project took between three and five months to plan, but the majority of homeowners said it took six to eight months. Sometimes it took up to two full years of planning before construction even began.
Shakoor says planning for a kitchen remodel should take three to four months if you’re working with a professional who can expedite the process of looking for products and materials. It could take a homeowner up to eight months if going at it alone. “With a design professional, you’re not looking at 20 different resources for the perfect glass tile,” she says. “A pro will have five resources, and we’ll pick the one that’s right for the budget.”
There are several options when it comes to footing the bill for your project. But before you bust out that Visa card or take out a large loan, know that about a quarter of people chose to charge expenses to their credit card, and only 9 percent went the route of taking out a loan. The significant majority (87 percent) of homeowners pulled money from savings or their personal finances to fund their projects.
As mentioned earlier, there’s just no way of knowing what obstacles might arise during your project. But there are some common ones that most homeowners deal with time and again.
Finding the right service providers and finding the right products and materials proved to be the top challenges for 33 percent of homeowners. Staying on budget was also up there, with 32 percent of homeowners saying this was their top challenge.
Other challenges will inevitably include dealing with the unexpected (hello, old plumbing in wall!), defining what your style is and collaborating with your spouse or partner.
Who hasn’t, at some point in their lives, imagined building or remodeling their home as a DIY project? It’s intoxicating to think of ourselves out of the office, in a woodshop, working with power saws and sanders. But most of us have only mastered the art of unlocking our smartphones with one hand. That’s probably why a whopping 84 percent of homeowners hired a professional to help with their remodel project in 2014, and 81 percent plan to hire a pro in 2015.
Nearly half of homeowners hired a general contractor (44 percent) or went directly to a specialty contractor (48 percent), including an electrician, a plumber, a painter and more.