Below are ballpark numbers intended to help you prepare a construction budget, anticipating materials and labor. Specific labor prices will be supplied by your contractor. (For design fees, please click here.)
Every contractor writes bids differently, making it difficult to compare bids apples to apples. Once our design process is completed, we offer a standardized checklist so your contractor simply has to fill in the numbers.
Construction costs for a typical kitchen renovation will fall in the $60-100K range, depending on the quality of the cabinets and other materials. That the size of the kitchen may be very small does not necessarily mean it will cost less, as there are still plumbing, electric, and construction issues to deal with.
On the low end, materials for a very small kitchen might run about $20K, plus labor costs. On the high end, that amount would not even cover the cost of appliances.
What’s important is to choose a level of finish that's appropriate to your home, and would be expected by buyers comparing homes of similar value. That means an Ikea kitchen may be the perfect solution to a starter apartment on a low floor, while a classic pre-war in a prime location merits a very high level of quality and finishes.
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Bathrooms, even though they are often the smallest rooms in the house, can be the most expensive per square foot. That's because they're the “wet” rooms of a home. They involve major plumbing, waterproofing and tile costs.
The typical New York City 5′ x 7′ bathroom renovation generally costs about $30K—$55K, depending on materials and whether the tub is replaced.
The going rate for labor used to be $18-25K, but in the boom since Covid, labor prices are now closer to $30K. Bath materials run from $6K on the budget end to upwards of $20K for better tile and plumbing fixtures.
There are many variables: Basically, a postwar apartment in good shape, with low ceilings, sheetrock walls, and simple moldings is much cheaper to paint than a pre-war apartment with high ceilings, damaged plaster, and lots of details. You can expect to pay, per room, $800—$1200 for the former, to upwards of $6000 for the latter, with every variation in between.
If you’re looking for the best VALUE, a gut renovation will provide the greatest payoff. If there are several areas you plan on changing, and you expect to keep the apartment for at least 4 years, getting it all done at once is your best bet. The cost of renovating will only rise later on, and doing it piecemeal absolutely costs more. If you have to be inconvenienced, better to do it once and enjoy it longer. Plus, the larger jobs are more attractive to contractors, and more likely to attract better talent.
For the level of finish that most homeowners will opt for, a gut renovation of a 1-bedroom apartment would typically involve construction costs of about $350K; a Classic 6 will typically run $400-800K; a Studio apartment will run about $125-300K. Naturally, it’s possible to spend much more, and there are many renovations in this city that run well over $1 million.
One of the biggest miscalculations first-time renovators make is not admitting they are doing a gut renovation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this exact statement: “It’s not like we’re doing a gut renovation or anything; we’re just redoing the bathroom and kitchen, fixing up the floors and painting.”
Guess what? That’s what a gut renovation is.
Those tasks usually precipitate updating the lighting and electric plan, changing out heavily-painted-over doors, and reworking traffic patterns.
It can be a budget buster to back into a gut renovation one addition at at time. My preference would be for you to anticipate the full project and know what size budget to set aside before demolition begins.
“Knowledgeable, willing to make suggestions, work with contractors,
understanding of budget constraints.” – Sally
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