Seattle Home Remodels: Understanding the Steep Price and How to Save

Hey there, fellow homeowners! Are you considering a remodel in the beautiful city of Seattle? Well, buckle up because we’re about to dive into the nitty-gritty of Seattle home remodel costs. Whether you’re dreaming of a sleek new kitchen, a cozy attic conversion, or a modern bathroom upgrade, it’s important to understand the price tag that comes with it. In this blog post, we’ll break down the factors that contribute to the steep price of Seattle home remodels and, more importantly, share some savvy tips on how to save without compromising on quality. So, grab your coffee and let’s get started!

Factors That Contribute to the Steep Price of Seattle Home Remodels

  1. Location and Housing Market Trends

    The Eastside surcharge, Condo charges, Broadmoor

    Location Location Location. Every Location Tells a Story.

    The cost for the same work can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Can the work be done 24/7, or does the work need to be done 9 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday without Exception? Where can tools and materials be stored? On-site? Off-site and brought back each day? What does parking look like? What kind of access is there to the project area – both the project site and the specific project area? Is the home along a narrow road in Seattle with parking that can be impossible to find? Is the project area up many steps, or does it require an elevator?

    An ideal situation is plenty of parking, space for a dumpster, where materials could be delivered by a commercial truck, where tools and materials can be stored safely on-site, and where there is access to power.

    A more restrictive setting would be a condo tower remodel project where access is limited, tools and materials cannot be kept on-site, minimal noise, and hauling material to and from the condo becomes a thing.

    More time and more risk lead to higher Seattle home remodel costs.

  2. Permitting and Regulatory Costs

    Nearly everything requires a permit. Some project permitting can be simple, while others require the engagement of engineers, architects, and more. Are as-built plans needed? What about a site plan? If so, what kind of detail is needed? Can the contractor do this, or does it require a specialist like an engineer, surveyor, architect, or all?

    The key to permitting costs is planning – figure out all the details ahead of time, follow the rules, and make it easy for the reviewers to approve the permit.

    Permits costs will be whatever they are, and for remodel work, you’ll typically find them to be in the 2-4% range of the estimated project cost. So, on a $150,000 Seattle home remodel, expect $3k to $6k in permitting fees. At the very least, expect a minimum of $2.5k in permitting costs.

  3. Labor and Material Expenses

    A misnomer is that materials are an expensive part of the project, and while materials cost money, they cost about 1/3 of the cost, with labor making up about 2/3 of the cost.

    Everybody wants the best for the lowest price – including ourselves. In construction, as with many things, you get what you pay for. If your primary focus is on cost, we have a saying that the cheapest contractor is the most expensive in the long run. In other words, we’ve made a fair living fixing the work completed by the lowest-cost provider.

    Operating legally and ethically has its costs. Is your contractor licensed, bonded, and insured? Have them prove it. Does your contractor have employees or day laborers? If your contractor has employees, do they have health care coverage, 401k matching, and PTO benefits? Do they get paid for non-billable hours worked?


  4. Scope and Complexity of the Project

    If it is a remodel, realize there will be surprises along the way and pressure to make changes as the project progresses. For another $5k, you could… Do that a few times during a remodel, and the cost can escalate quickly. Changes are okay, but any change will ordinarily have an increased price tag. The best thing to do is communicate clearly and ask questions. If you say, “Can you also do X?” Realize that it will cost money if it changes the previous scope.

Savvy Tips to Save on Seattle Home Remodels Without Compromising Quality

  1. Set a Realistic Budget and Prioritize

    Figure out what you want and how much it will likely cost. Ballpark numbers can be dangerous and, at the same time, helpful in setting expectations. Based on our project experiences, bathroom remodel costs range from $25k to $75k. Kitchen remodels from $50k to $125k. Multi-room / whole house remodels from $200k to $400k.

  2. Research and Compare Contractor Quotes

    Research is helpful. The best way to research is by asking those within our network- that could be friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Googling “How much does a bathroom remodel cost?” Or “How much does a kitchen remodel cost?” is likely to turn in results that, while interesting, may not be helpful to the local market conditions.

    Comparing quotes for contractors can be helpful so long as it is an apples-to-apples comparison – and that is where it can be tricky. Trust your gut.

  3. Opt for Value Engineering

    Anything is possible for a price, but is there a middle ground that can mostly accomplish what is desired without spending five times as much as you had budgeted?  Perhaps ask the contractor and folks involved.

  4. Consider DIY or Sweat Equity

    DIY is fun. That is how Shawn first got started. That is the best way to save money, but you tend to get what you pay for. Think about what you do for a living. I bet most people could “technically” do the job, but can they do it well and professionally like you?

  5. Reuse and Repurpose Materials

    Actually, No. Reuse and repurpose is great; however, don’t do it with the mindset that it will save money. Again, it’s labor that costs money. And the labor it takes to save and repurpose materials significantly increases the cost.

  6. Seek Out Discounts and Deals

    You’ll get the best bang for your buck when you think about the nice-to-have items on your list of priorities. Were you thinking of new flooring in a specific room? Well, what about flooring in the surrounding rooms? Think about painting one part of the house. What about the entire house?

  7. Time Your Remodel Strategically

    Generally, you’ll want floors before cabinets and cabinets before new electrical. Drywall, trim, and paint can come last.

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