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How Much Does It Really Cost to Remodel a House?

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Sarah Mattie
Sarah MattieUpdated September 26, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Most people spend $20,000 or less on home remodels. However, that number can be significantly higher depending on the types of renovations you’re doing, how big your home is, and what finishes you choose. Here, we’re exploring house renovation costs in their entirety, including factors that affect pricing, how to set and stick to a home renovation budget, home remodeling regrets, and more.

Understanding House Renovation Costs

Before diving into what house renovations cost, it’s important to gain a general understanding of what goes into a home remodel, why you’re choosing to do it, and what you can realistically afford to spend on home repairs.The cost of home renovations can vary widely — from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of the first things you’ll need to determine before moving forward is your home renovation budget. If you have a small budget, you may want to do some of the projects yourself to save money. If your budget is larger, it may be worth hiring someone to do the work (including possibly hiring an interior designer) to save yourself the trouble.Also, determine what your purpose is for your home renovations. If you’re renovating to live in the house yourself, you’ll have much more flexibility on the style than you would if you were planning on selling the home. For those looking to flip the house and make a profit, it’s best to choose neutral designs and colors that appeal to the majority of the population.

Home Renovation Costs: General Findings

We surveyed 600 people who remodeled their homes between March 2020 and January 2022. We asked them about costs, issues, happiness with the results, and more. For deeper insights, we also looked at data for the country's 10 most populous states and reported any notable anomalies.Note: Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.The first thing people often ask about a project is, "How much is this home remodel going to cost?" According to our study, most people spend $20K or less on their home remodels. Here’s the full breakdown of what respondents spent:
  • $10,000 or less: 39%
  • $10,001 to $20,000: 20%
  • $20,001 to $30,000: 14%
  • $30,001 to $40,000: 13%
  • $40,001 to $50,000: 7%
  • Over $50,000: 8%
Next, we wanted to find out how people paid for their remodels. Here’s a breakdown of the different payment methods respondents used to fund their remodels:
  • Savings: 51% 
  • Credit card: 32%
  • Personal loan: 9%
  • Other: 6%
  • Cash or debit card: 2%
  • Inheritance: 2%
As you can see, most people already had the money saved up. However, we saw that a majority of those who didn’t have savings used a credit card to fund their projects. While credit cards can be quick and convenient, they can also come with high interest rates. If you haven't saved up enough money for a remodel, remember: personal loans can offer benefits like lower interest rates than credit cards and steady repayment amounts. Once you’ve finalized your budget, you may want to compare personal loan options before paying with plastic.We also found that where you live may have an effect on how much you spend. New Yorkers and Floridians spent more on their remodels than the overall group, with $10K to $20K being the most common budget for New York and Florida remodelers (compared to $10K or less, the most common budget across all respondents).

Big Spenders

The biggest spenders may also be the biggest smilers. Of those who spent $50K or more on their remodel: 
  • 85% said they would remodel again
  • 53% gave their level of happiness with the remodel the highest rating. This is nearly double the percentage of respondents who spent $10K or less and also gave their level of happiness the highest rating (27%). 
Some people ended up in over their heads, though — in fact, 12% of our respondents went $50K or more over budget, and of those, 40% went $100K or more over budget.Of those who found themselves spending $50K or more than they planned:
  • 77% said it was their first time remodeling
  • 33% said they regret the remodel, while only 9% of all respondents said the same
  • 53% said their relationships were strained by the remodel, almost double the percentage of all respondents who said the same (27%)
So, how does one avoid overspending or, on the other hand, prepare to spend more than anticipated? Either way, there are strategies you can use to mitigate both the monetary and emotional costs of a renovation. First, decide what you want to remodel and why. Is it merely cosmetic, or is it necessary? Is it just for your enjoyment or for the long-term value of the house?Once you have your vision and reason for the remodel, research costs of labor and supplies in your area. If you think you may DIY some of it, watch videos or read tutorials to be sure. Be honest with yourself and your abilities. In our survey, 42% of people ran into unexpected problems that had to be fixed before moving on with the renovations. For instance, you could be doing a simple faucet replacement and end up with a flooded bathroom, requiring a plumber to repair it at an emergency rate.That said, get quotes as needed, and before beginning any major work, have a professional check out your electrical and plumbing systems to ensure you won't encounter issues down the road. While you’re doing your research, be sure to build flexibility into your budget. Even the best-laid plans can fail. Experts recommend budgeting for 50% over your anticipated home renovation cost.This rule may be especially important for our readers in Ohio. 77% of respondents from the Buckeye State said the remodel cost more than expected, which is 25% more than all respondents who said the same (52%).


The budgeters were those with remodel budgets of $50K or less, and they made up 92% of our respondents.Not only that, but nearly 40% of all respondents spent less than $10K on the work, and 58% of them did the work themselves!Being a “do-it-yourselfer” doesn't need to be intimidating — just ask the 40% of Texans, 43% of Pennsylvanians, and 48% of Illinoisians who didn't hire a single worker or contractor to help with their remodels. There's something special about putting your own blood, sweat, and tears into a project. However, don't feel like you must do anything yourself. Verify twice, pay once. Make doubly sure you can do something before spending time or money on it. Watch videos, read how-to articles, and/or take classes before starting a project. If you still don’t feel comfortable taking on the task yourself, consider hiring a professional to help. Remember, you don't have to hire someone to do a whole job. For instance, if you plan to replace wood paneling with drywall, you don't need to have the contractor put the wall in and paint it. If you're comfortable painting it yourself, you may do so.Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help! Home repair and remodeling can lead to great life skills, savings, and hobbies, but only if you learn how to do the tasks correctly. If you've never picked up a drill before, ask someone in your life who is handy to teach you. 

Calculating Renovation Costs: Estimation Methods and Tools

There are many methods you can use to estimate renovations costs, including per-square-foot calculations, cost estimators, and contractor quotes.Per-square-foot calculations allow you to estimate the cost of the renovation based on how much space you’re renovating. Costs can range from $20 per square foot on the low end up to $150 per square foot on the high end.Cost estimators allow you to look up average home remodeling costs based on the type of room. For example, the average kitchen remodel is $30,000, whereas remodeling a living room can cost as little as $1,500. While this method will not give you an exact number, it’s a good basis to go by depending on what you’re looking to do.And finally, the best way to estimate the cost of your home renovations will be to get multiple quotes from contractors in your area. Your quotes will be tailored specifically to you and the type of renovation you’re planning on doing. If the quotes come back higher than you were planning on spending, you can always ask your contractor if there are any ways to cut expenses, such as using a different type of flooring, choosing less expensive finishes, or perhaps tackling some of the work yourself.

Factors Influencing House Renovation Costs

When renovating a home, there are many factors that affect the total renovation costs, including:
  • Size of the project: The larger the project, the more expensive it’s going to cost overall.
  • Level of customization: Basic renovations, such as new paint or flooring, and choosing standard materials and fixtures can help reduce costs, whereas changing your floor plan and choosing high-end, custom finishes will increase costs.
  • Materials and finishes chosen: Having to special order items will cost more than choosing standard materials and finishes you can find in stores.
  • Labor costs: The amount of work that needs to be completed and how many people are required to perform the work will affect the total cost of the job.
  • Project timeline: Typically, the longer the project takes, the more you’ll spend overall due to the cost of labor increasing.
  • Whether or not you run into any issues: Unexpected expenses may include finding mold in your home, needing to obtain a permit, discovering your foundation is cracked, and more. Serious issues will oftentimes need to be handled before the contractor can move forward with the project.
Also, make sure to be on the lookout for home improvement fraud, which can include paying for a service that is never completed, being pressured to replace or renovate an area you originally didn’t plan on, being pressured to take out a loan to finance your projects, or paying high prices for a poor quality of work. 

Regional and National Average Renovation Costs

On average, renovating a house costs just under $50,000. The average range of home renovations is $18,000 to $81,000, but some homeowners may spend upwards of $200,000 or more.Of course, where you live specifically will affect the total cost of your home renovation. People who live in larger cities may pay more in labor, whereas people in smaller, more rural towns may spend more on shipping materials. The most expensive states for home improvement include California, New York and Hawaii, and the most expensive states to maintain a home (which can lead to home improvement projects) are Texas, Florida, California, and Illinois, among others.The most affordable states to renovate a home are New Mexico, Mississippi, West Virginia, South Carolina, and Alabama, taking into account the median age and value of the home, the mean hourly laborer wage, and the number of construction employees per 1000 people.Recommended: How to Find a Contractor for Home Renovations

Budgeting and Financing Home Renovations

The best and most affordable way to pay for home improvements is with cash, as you won’t pay any fees or interest when using your own savings. However, because home renovations can be so costly, using cash is not always an option. Luckily, there are many financing options available to help you secure the funding you need to update your home, including:

Personal Loans

Personal loans for home improvement can be used for any renovation, update, or repair to your home. Loan amounts typically range from $1,000 to $100,000 and come with fixed interest rates and consistent monthly payments. Lenders will look at your credit score and income to determine if you’ll qualify and what rates and amounts you can receive. 

Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit

If you have equity in your home, a home equity loan or line of credit can help you secure the funding you need for home renovations. Because the loan or line of credit is backed by your house, interest rates are typically lower with these types of products than with personal loans, credit cards, and other types of unsecured financing.Recommended: Home Equity Loan vs Personal Loan: Pros and Cons

Credit Cards

Credit cards typically come with higher interest rates than personal loans and home equity loans, but if used wisely, you can receive cash back or rewards from the purchases you make for your home renovations. The key with credit cards is you should aim to pay your balance in full each month to avoid paying the high interest rates that credit card companies charge. If you can’t pay your balance off each month, a different form of financing is oftentimes more affordable.Recommended: Guide to $50k Personal Loans

Tips for Cost-Effective House Renovations

Luckily, there are many home renovation tips to make your project more cost-effective. First, prioritize what needs to be done versus what you want to have done. A new roof, for example, is probably more of a priority than a new kitchen. If you’re just looking to make aesthetic updates, consider renovations that are less expensive but tend to make a huge difference in the overall vibe and appearance of your home. Fresh, new paint, for example, can work wonders in changing the home and can be done yourself to save extra money.You can also consider using salvaged or reclaimed building materials to save on the cost of supplies. While it may be challenging to find exactly what you’re looking for, you can save an average of 50-75% when compared to buying new. And when putting the finishing touches on your remodel — such as adding artwork and furniture — buying used can save thousands.And finally, shop around both contractors and lenders to make sure you get the best deal. Obtain multiple quotes by contractors and remember to ask about timelines, as that can have a huge affect on who you choose to work with. If you need a loan for your home renovations, compare multiple lenders to find the best product to fit your needs.

Hiring Contractors and Managing Renovation Costs

The contractor you hire will ultimately dictate how much you end up spending. Make sure to do your research before making a decision. Ask friends and family members for referrals, obtain multiple quotes, ask about timelines, and ask what happens if they were to run into a problem with the remodel.It’s important that you choose a contractor that prioritizes communication. Home renovations can take a few days to up to a year or more, and there are oftentimes delays. Delays can include weather, workers getting sick, finding issues in your home such as mold or water damage, or you changing the design on something. If there is a delay and your renovation is going to take longer than expected, it’s important that this is relayed to you as soon as possible so you can make necessary arrangements.

Remodel Regrets

The good news is that only 9% of our respondents regretted their remodel. Those with regrets shared some commonalities that you may want to be aware of before embarking on your own remodel journey. The most common traits among regretted remodels included:
  • Styled in the modern farmhouse aesthetic (18%)
  • Used a credit card (42%)
  • Cost more and took longer than expected (62%)
  • Remodeled the kitchen (75%)
There are few key insights here. The first is that credit cards were the most common payment method for people who regretted their remodel. Again, credit cards can have high APRs, making them a less-than-ideal payment method for larger purchases. Personal loans, on the other hand, typically have lower interest rates than credit cards — and can be paid off in steady installments over a number of years.To help mitigate unpleasant surprises, make sure you have a strong grasp on your expected costs, then add 50% just in case. You’ll want to increase your expected timeline by about 50%, too.That said, over half of those who regretted the process said they would definitely remodel again (52%). You live, you learn!

Advice From Past Remodelers

We asked our respondents, "What is the best piece of advice you could give someone who is thinking about remodeling?"In the 600 responses, the most common words were "plan," "time," "research," "money,” "budget," and "save."There were many helpful tips, but here are some of our favorites:
  • Rome wasn't built in a day. Measure twice, cut once, and take your time.
  • Remember to remodel to what you like and not what everyone else thinks you should like.
  • Buy second-hand. Look for free materials and items on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc.
  • If you're doing the project yourself, research and learn everything beforehand, even if it seems simple. And never leave something almost done to start another. It will stay almost done forever.
  • Pinterest fails happen.

The Takeaway

The average home renovation costs just under $50,000 and takes several weeks to six months to complete.When planning for your home renovation, make sure to research your options thoroughly, budget your time and money with a 50% buffer, and choose a payment method that makes sense for your life and budget.Options for payment methods include paying in cash, taking out a personal loan, tapping into your home’s equity, or using a credit card. Taking out a personal loan can be a solid option if you need a large sum of money and want a fixed interest rate with consistent monthly payments. If you’re interested in taking out a personal loan, consider Lantern by SoFi. Lantern allows you to compare multiple lenders with just a single application and no obligation to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I keep my renovation costs under control?
What are some cost-effective strategies for house renovations?
Can I reduce renovation costs by doing some of the projects myself?
How do labor costs contribute to the overall renovation budget?
Are there any hidden costs or unexpected expenses I should be aware of?

About the Author

Sarah Mattie

Sarah Mattie

Sarah Mattie is a researcher and writer with an education background. She's passionate about teaching others about financial issues and has written extensively for a variety of degree sites and financial institutions. Her writing covers credit cards, lending products, and paying for college, among other economic topics.
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