South Philadelphia Reno Costs/Time

16 Replies

Hi All,

Wanted to see if anyone has recently completed a studs out renovation who can speak to associated costs in South Philly (19148)? This will include all-new systems, shooting for just-above-standard finishes and detail (i.e. tile backsplash in bathrooms). Will be hiring out most of the work and supplementing with my own time/efforts on weekend. 

Similarly, is 6 months a reasonable timeline?

Any advice is truly appreciated. 

- Cheers

@Clay Tolbert It depends on the sq footage and are you changing the footprint of the property? Adding a 3rd story? Rooftop deck? If no zoning permits are required, then 6 mos is plenty of time to do a full rehab for a 3/1 1200 sq ft sfr in philly.

Originally posted by @Mayer M. :

@Clay Tolbert

@Troy Sheets would be the perfect person to provide some insight here

Thanks Mayer. 

Clay, I generally budget $100/sq ft for a full gut rehab on a single family. If you have your own labor in house or are doing work yourself you can knock that down a bit but it's a very safe number. If you're not getting too crazy structurally, you can save some systems, a roof, or you don't need new water and sewer ran out to the street, you can deduct for those. 6 months, once you have permits, is how long an average rehab takes I'd say. 

As I mentioned in another post, this is a general number and can go up or down with factors I mentioned previously like smaller houses tend to cost more per sq ft since you're packing all the same systems, appliances, etc. into a smaller footprint. Your big costs like HVAC or appliances stay relatively the same no matter if it's 1200 or 2400 sq ft. Another factor is a corner property has a lot more windows and siding that can potentially drive your costs up. 

Thanks for the intro, @Mayer M.

@Troy Sheets , greatly appreciate the context. Tremendously helpful. I had hopes of getting it somewhere down around $75 -- though that feels a little hopeful depending on scope and what I'm able to tackle in my spare time. Either way -- greatly appreciated.  

@Joseph ODonovan -- I would be leaving the footprint completely alone. Though, I had thought about doing a little digging out to allow for an egress in the basement and another legal bedroom. In your experience, is that prohibitively expensive or difficult to do?

Originally posted by @Clay Tolbert :

Thanks for the intro, @Mayer M.

@Troy Sheets, greatly appreciate the context. Tremendously helpful. I had hopes of getting it somewhere down around $75 -- though that feels a little hopeful depending on scope and what I'm able to tackle in my spare time. Either way -- greatly appreciated.  

If you shop subs and materials hard and do some work yourself, it's entirely possible. I hear of others getting things done much cheaper than I can but there are tradeoffs. I'm a GC and mostly use the same subs and suppliers over and over, rarely haggle or price shop, and for that I get quality and speed but price isn't going to be as competitive. If you get multiple bids for your trades and materials you can probably save some money that way. 

 

@Troy Sheets That makes perfect sense. Ideally finding that sweet-spot of time/money, of course. Though I'm under no misconceptions about the realities of narrowing that down on the first go. Either way, truly appreciate the guidance and will keep all in mind. Would love to discuss further once project is near-ready to go.

@Clay Tolbert , there are a couple of things to be aware of. Philadelphia recently introduced a new rule with regards to EZ permits. EZ permits, which allow a contractor to pull a building permit for one and two family dwellings without the need for drawings are no longer permitted for non-owner occupied buildings. Essentially, if this is not your personal home, you are now required to submit architectural drawings with your permit application. For non-structural work, this would not cost a terrible price, but something to be aware of. 

Regarding digging out cellars. It seems like you're just referring to adding an egress well, but if you intend to actually dig the cellar floor out to create higher ceilings, PLEASE READ.  Please never let a contractor dig out a cellar without proper monitoring. This practice has led to hundreds, if not thousands of catastrophic structural failures throughout the city. Many contractors dig below the existing foundations causing the party walls to slip out. For every great contractor out there, there is another who doesn't get this basic concept. This could cost you an immense amount of money to correct. sometimes complete demolition of both properties is required. Imagine if you had to rebuild your neighbor's house as well as your own. There are safe ways to do this, so tread lightly. I'd be glad to answer any questions about this. 

-Rob-

Thanks so much, @Robert Palladino . Greatly appreciate it. The context on permitting is very helpful.

In regards to the dig-out, I was referring to a simple egress well. And I actually have seen the effects of the types of thoughtless excavations you speak of. In fact, two happened on a good friend's block on the Fishtown/Olde Richmond border and I have seen what a disaster it is. That said, any insight on the complexity of a simple egress well is truly appreciated. 

-Cheers

@Clay Tolbert , that's what I thought. Regarding the egress well, you're going to need an architect or engineer to design the well. This is the only way that the city will give you a permit for the new well. If you want the well to open onto the sidewalk, you will be required to submit a site plan to the Streets Department for their approval. They will typically allow a 3'-0" encroachment onto the sidewalk. I would be weary of installing a prefabricated egress well because the rubble foundations are jagged, making it difficult to secure and seal. I've seen it done, and it's rarely pretty. There are size and height requirements for an egress window. Most window manufacturers can tell you which window sizes meet the egress requirements. The construction is pretty straight forward. Most residential contractors in the city have done this before. feel free to reach out with any questions.

Hope this helps,

Rob 

Stumbled onto this thread, really great info here, thanks everyone. 

@Troy Sheets , you mentioned shopping for subs, which is something I am researching for Philly, could you help give an idea what the cost is to hire subs? I imagine labor quotes will be based on an hourly cost 

1. Electrician hourly cost Philly area?

2. Plumber hourly cost in Philly area? 

3. HVAC hourly cost in Philly area? 

4. Mason hourly cost in Philly area?

Would appreciate it, thanks!

Originally posted by @Simond Wong :

Stumbled onto this thread, really great info here, thanks everyone. 

@Troy Sheets, you mentioned shopping for subs, which is something I am researching for Philly, could you help give an idea what the cost is to hire subs? I imagine labor quotes will be based on an hourly cost 

1. Electrician hourly cost Philly area?

2. Plumber hourly cost in Philly area? 

3. HVAC hourly cost in Philly area? 

4. Mason hourly cost in Philly area?

Would appreciate it, thanks!

Hi Simond,

My subs bid a flat fee per the plans I provide or at a minimum a clear and detailed written scope of work. You really can't overspecify. Every time I've had conversations/texts/walkthroughs and assumed someone understood exactly what I was trying to convey, I've been let down, so I try very hard to be as detailed as possible when spec'ing out a job. Oh, if you pay a contractor hourly they'll never finish! 

 

@Troy Sheets thanks for the feedback. Then I will go with your general $100 per square feet to budget for a full gut rehab as a good rule of thumb. For the $100 per square foot, does that include materials and the cost of labor? 

thanks for the info, appreciate the insights.

Originally posted by @Simond Wong :

@Troy Sheets thanks for the feedback. Then I will go with your general $100 per square feet to budget for a full gut rehab as a good rule of thumb. For the $100 per square foot, does that include materials and the cost of labor? 

thanks for the info, appreciate the insights.

Yes that's what I use for worst case scenario (for the most part) on an average Philly row home including labor and materials but not necessarily architecture or permits. Again, there are so many variables I hate using a per foot number like this but it'll keep you out of trouble (again, for the most part!). Don't forget if you're finishing the basement to add that square footage as well. It's not free to dig them out and pour concrete, put in mechanicals, bathroom, egress, etc. and finish it all. 

@Clay Tolbert how far north or south in 19148 are you looking to invest? Once you pass Tasker you see a pretty significant drop in the ARV and the quality of finishes relative to True East Passyunk. For this pocket, and almost the entirety of South Philly, you need to be open to digging the basement. This is a big pain point of what investors do not want to do and they only want basements with finishable heights (7 feet). The reality that these almost do not exist in this pocket and to be competitive to sell in this pocket you need a deep basement. Some people like to try and "save costs" by slapping on some drywall on a 6'4 basement height to make it show nice in pictures but this is why so many properties in South Philly are sitting, the investors aren't competing properly, and therefore not getting the high returns or low days on market that this area can offer. What about this pocket of south philly aligns with your strategy?