San Francisco - Input on Renovation Costs

39 Replies

Trying to get a VERY BALLPARK idea of what I would expect a per-square-foot gut interior renovation to cost an investor in San Francisco.

By ballpark, I mean I'd be happy with a $50/sf range ($125-175/sf, for example) or even just a high-end number (up to $200/sf, for example).

By gut renovation, I mean gutting down to the studs and replacing all electrical, plumbing, HVAC, sheetrock and then all mid-level cosmetic finishes (oak hardwood, standard granite, basic fixtures, etc).

Ignore exterior costs since I know those are a lot more variable.

I realize that there are still a million variables, but I'm just trying to determine if a conservative number is $100/sf, $150/sf, $200/sf, $250K, etc...

Thanks!

$/SF can be helpful, but additional info such as 3BR/2BA 2,000SF home and "will include kichen, 3 bathrooms, roof, etc."  or "needs only work in 2 of 3 bathrooms, etc."

@J Scott ,

This is all over the place. And depends so much on the contractor you use. Let alone the time and holding costs...

Are you bringing a crew out here? Or finding a good local contractor? (most good ones are very busy!)
Is this a 3 story townhouse w/ no parking where they have to haul everything in? Or a single story SFH w/ good acces & parking? (doubtful!)

Here's how I would approach this question, since you will know most about the property, layout, etc.

How much do you pay per sq ft to do the same thing where you're at? If you're not going to ship your own crew out here, I would double it, and it's probably a good place to start.. 

@Nhi Nguyen  ? @Manch Hon  ?

And for my not-requested 2 cents on the finishes - IMHO, there is a BIG premium in SF for high-end finish, move-in ready homes. If you're flipping it there, and spending all the money to refinish inside and out, I think the marginal increase in sales price and quick close will produce a very rewarding ROI on the marginal cost of higher-end finishes with some of the flooring, lighting, cabinets, appliances, fixtures, etc. Stuff that doesn't cost a ton more, but leaves a smashing impression. If you get just two people who love it, that could add $100K-$200K to your sales price in SF above the "market" (whatever that is) price.. No joke.

Try to add square footage if you can also. The build cost vs sales price is extremely favorable. 

Good luck J Scott!

Originally posted by @Andrew Eaton :

$/SF can be helpful, but additional info such as 3BR/2BA 2,000SF home and "will include kichen, 3 bathrooms, roof, etc."  or "needs only work in 2 of 3 bathrooms, etc."

I'm assuming gut to the studs, so there are no kitchens, bathrooms, etc. left...

I don't have a specific square footage in mind, and don't have a specific number of bathrooms in mind, but that's why I'm happy with a $50-100/sf range...  :-)

As an example, I know that I can build new construction in Atlanta for $60/sf, so I could say there's no way an interior gut renovation would be no more than $50-60/sf in that city.  Likewise, I can build new construction in Maryland for $90/sf, so I could say that an interior gut renovation would be no more than $70-80/sf in that area.

I'm just looking for a very general guideline to ballpark some numbers.  I'm just trying to figure out if I'm looking at a $1.5M project or a $2.5M project...if I'm off by even $250K on my estimates, I'm okay with that...  :-)

Originally posted by @J. Martin:
Here's how I would approach this question, since you will know most about the property, layout, etc.

How much do you pay per sq ft to do the same thing where you're at? If you're not going to ship your own crew out here, I would double it, and it's probably a good place to start.. 


Okay, that helps, thanks...I've been assuming about $200K/sf, and just wanted to make sure that it's not closer to $400/sf...

This isn't an investment (which is why precision isn't very important) -- a friend is planning to buy and renovate his personal residence, and he just wants to know about where his costs will be, to the nearest couple hundred thousand dollars...

Btw, I'm in San Francisco for the weekend...I may be extending my trip through Monday...if anyone is up for lunch on Monday, let me know!

Lots of money flying around in SF and contractors are BUSY, and smart enough to know they don't need to win but 1-in-10 deals they bid.  I live on the Peninsula, about 25 miles south of SF in a similarly expensive market.  Given that you said it was for a friend to live in himself and not an investment, I'd error on the high side, and I think $200/SF might be light, especially if the neighborhood merits $2-$2.5MM homes.

I did a similar budget last year for NEW construction (but down to the studs wouldn't have saved me much $) in my town and it was going to be a $2.0-$2.5MM exit.  My all-in budget after speaking to contractors and designers was as follows:

4BR 3BA - 3,000SF - $250/SF

Roughly categorizing as follows:

$100k - soft costs (permits, designer, plans, etc.)

$400k - contractor

$200k - finishes

$50k - landscape

$750k TOTAL

Although I am new BP and also new to investing I am a contractor. 

I don't price out renovations with SF. The numbers are always off. 

Scenario: project I did for an investor

2 full bath: $4,000/bath (includes fixtures)

10x10 kitchen L shape: $12,000 (appliance separate)

Drywall: $80/sheet (includes finish paint)

Hardwood floors: $2.00/sf (floors separate)

8 hollow core doors: $120/door

2 exterior doors: $250/door

New hot water tank: $1,500 (includes 30LF of base board heater)

This Was a 3 floor property that was damaged by hurricane Sandy. A full guy renovation. 

Total renovation including all materials (except appliance) was $57,000. Approx 2800sf. 

My pricing for investors are different than a home owner. The quality is the same but I understand there needs to be a larger margin for investors, investors give me consistent work and also there is no emotion attached so deciding on tiles, cabinets, fixtures ext... Are not too crucial. We choose finished products knowing what most home owners want. 

I hope this helps. I live in Atlanta now but this was a project I did in Queens, NY

FYI: I believe he bought the property for 90k cash and flipped it for 230k in 4 months. My time on the job was 1 month.

Originally posted by @J Scott:

Btw, I'm in San Francisco for the weekend...I may be extending my trip through Monday...if anyone is up for lunch on Monday, let me know!

 @J Scott where in SF will you be? If you're actually in the City, I'd love to meet for lunch on Monday. I'll be in the downtown area at work. I'm new in investing and trying to soak up everything I can from the BP and the podcasts.

That said, I'm a structural engineer, mostly on commercial projects, but I'd think $250/SF sounds about right for a ROM budget.

Originally posted by @J Scott:
Originally posted by @J. Martin:
Here's how I would approach this question, since you will know most about the property, layout, etc.

How much do you pay per sq ft to do the same thing where you're at? If you're not going to ship your own crew out here, I would double it, and it's probably a good place to start.. 

Okay, that helps, thanks...I've been assuming about $200K/sf, and just wanted to make sure that it's not closer to $400/sf...

This isn't an investment (which is why precision isn't very important) -- a friend is planning to buy and renovate his personal residence, and he just wants to know about where his costs will be, to the nearest couple hundred thousand dollars...

Ahhhh.. Gotcha. I don't think $150-250/sq ft would be unreasonable. Bump to higher end for lower square footage, or or lower-mid for higher square footage. Assuming no surprises... (realistic?..) I live in a building where the owner spent about $80K doing the same gut on about a 1000 sq ft 2br 2ba apartment. But that's in Oakland, and using a low-cost contractor, and not replacing plumbing, and partial electrical.  

Originally posted by @Andrew Eaton :

Lots of money flying around in SF and contractors are BUSY, and smart enough to know they don't need to win but 1-in-10 deals they bid.  I live on the Peninsula, about 25 miles south of SF in a similarly expensive market.  Given that you said it was for a friend to live in himself and not an investment, I'd error on the high side, and I think $200/SF might be light, especially if the neighborhood merits $2-$2.5MM homes.

I did a similar budget last year for NEW construction (but down to the studs wouldn't have saved me much $) in my town and it was going to be a $2.0-$2.5MM exit.  My all-in budget after speaking to contractors and designers was as follows:

4BR 3BA - 3,000SF - $250/SF

Roughly categorizing as follows:

$100k - soft costs (permits, designer, plans, etc.)

$400k - contractor

$200k - finishes

$50k - landscape

$750k TOTAL

 Great info...thanks Andrew...

Originally posted by @Brian Armstrong :
Originally posted by @J Scott:

Btw, I'm in San Francisco for the weekend...I may be extending my trip through Monday...if anyone is up for lunch on Monday, let me know!

 @J Scott where in SF will you be? If you're actually in the City, I'd love to meet for lunch on Monday. I'll be in the downtown area at work. I'm new in investing and trying to soak up everything I can from the BP and the podcasts.

That said, I'm a structural engineer, mostly on commercial projects, but I'd think $250/SF sounds about right for a ROM budget.

 Thanks Brian...

I'm staying around SoMa on this trip.  Haven't decided if I'm staying Monday or not, but I'll PM you over the weekend if I decide to stay!

@Steve Yoo  

although I not a seasoned investor yet, how do you feel that compares with other contractors in the area, because it looks like that renovation came out to $20sf which seam reasonable... It would be nice to hear form the seasonal investor how they compare the price for that area as well; in addition to see before and after of that project.

Jerry

Originally posted by @J Scott:
Originally posted by @Brian Armstrong:
Originally posted by @J Scott:

Btw, I'm in San Francisco for the weekend...I may be extending my trip through Monday...if anyone is up for lunch on Monday, let me know!

 @J Scott where in SF will you be? If you're actually in the City, I'd love to meet for lunch on Monday. I'll be in the downtown area at work. I'm new in investing and trying to soak up everything I can from the BP and the podcasts.

That said, I'm a structural engineer, mostly on commercial projects, but I'd think $250/SF sounds about right for a ROM budget.

 Thanks Brian...

I'm staying around SoMa on this trip.  Haven't decided if I'm staying Monday or not, but I'll PM you over the weekend if I decide to stay!

 Sounds good J...

SoMa is not far from my office at all, so I could certainly meet you near where you're staying or we could meet in the middle somewhere if you decide to stay Monday. If we don't get a chance to meet, enjoy SF over the weekend.

Hi J, 

$250/sf should be a good conservative number to use for your first pass calculations.  New construction in the Bay Area for under $1M homes is $125-200/sf and for $1M-3M homes it's approx $200-350/sf.  That can go up depending on some the things @J. Martin and the others have mentioned, like parking, etc.  

For comparison purposes to your area:  Our projects in the SF Bay Area (but not in the city proper) have been in the low to mid-market $200K-$600K and our rehab budgets have been between $35-65 per s.f.  for gut rehabs, including plans and permits for moving interior walls to reconfigure floor plans, bringing everything up to code, rewiring and piping as needed, new panels, etc.  We use licensed contractors for the gut rehabs.   Bumping that to $100/sf for the city, then doubling for higher end fixtures, still leaves a margin of safety. 

To see the mid-grade fixtures and finishes that we use, you can google 5741 Cottage Ct. in Castro Valley, CA.  You can see the after on Zillow and the before on google maps. 

I'd love to meet you for lunch on Monday, but I have plans.  I'll let you know if my schedule changes. 

Best Wishes for a prosperous 2015, 

Peter

I know many contractors in the industry and I don't know 1 company that prices residential with SF. Commercial is a little different but residential?

There are too many variables with finish materials and home owners wants and needs. Example: 800sf condo full gut renovation for $200/sf. This is 160k. I have done many condos in NYC and at most so far I have charged my client 85k. This is with custom cabinets, walkin closet custom shelving and the whole other things involved with gut renovation. 

Pricing a renovation is actually more numbers involved then just SF.  Not difficult though. This is how I break it down:

Materials

Labor (days, workers)

Permit fee, filing fee, architect fee

My margin (city is typically more because more traffic, tickets and more time consuming in general) each state/city is different because operating cost, insurance, licensing  is different. 

Example:

Materials: $5,000

Labor (4 crew members 1 [email protected]$800/wk, approx length of work 3 weeks): $9,600

Architect, filing: $3,500

My operating cost + profit: $4,600

Total cost: $22,700

Hope this makes sense. 

seems like a lot but calculate by SF as a whole and it won't seem like as much. My drywall consist of taping, 3 coats, polish, primer, 2 coats of paint. I use green board for all bathrooms, kitchens and basement. 

As an investor who wants to rehab I do believe they should know some basics of construction. Whether it be hands on or managing the person working on the project. 

Originally posted by @Steve Yoo :

seems like a lot but calculate by SF as a whole and it won't seem like as much. My drywall consist of taping, 3 coats, polish, primer, 2 coats of paint. I use green board for all bathrooms, kitchens and basement. 

As an investor who wants to rehab I do believe they should know some basics of construction. Whether it be hands on or managing the person working on the project. 

Oh sorry I thought that was in Atlanta.  Well I am small timer here.  I also enjoy doing it.  I am not at that point of paying people to do something that I can do a good job at and also enjoy.  If it was a huge job I would hire it out.  I hung every sheet in the house I use to live in.  I paid for it to be finished.

I agree with having a clue on how to do things.  The people that never have done this type of work get screwed over.

Also my wife would give me that look (you know that look) if I started hiring out small and easy jobs.  LOL

People that don't use greenboard are idiots and short sighted.  I do as you do anything close to water gets that

I'm rehabbing a house in Norman, Ok. ....a gut to studs project. it's a 2 bedroom 1 bath (1,100 sq. ft.)...all of the following is brand new ...HVAC, electric, kitchen with appliances (no refrigerator), bathroom, 80% of the plumbing.... We are finishing just to mid level ( no fancy counter tops or floors) we are near completion..... With $4,000 included for labor we will come in at  $23,000.

this is how I look at it. I can cook. I cook for myself and family many times but if someone paid me to cook for them I would be horrible. I pay to eat at a specific restaurant because that is what their profession is. Quality of food is more important than the price on the menu. 

Last comment: installing drywall is not the hard part. Finishing the drywall is where all the skills show. 

Originally posted by @Steve Yoo :

I know many contractors in the industry and I don't know 1 company that prices residential with SF. 

Steve - I wasn't asking for a bid...I was just trying to get ballpark figures.

I'm somewhat familiar with estimating rehab costs and understand the limitations of asking a general question like this.  Just trying to understand if I'm in the ballpark of $100/sf, $200/sf or $300/sf.  Based on the input of others in this area, sounds like $250/sf is a safe number to use for very rough analysis...

Originally posted by @Scott K. :

$80 for each sheet of drywall?????????  Wow that's sounds way high.  I am glad I know how to do drywall

That's crazy high for sheetrock installation and finishing.  For large projects in Atlanta, we pay about $26-30/sheet (labor and materials).  For large jobs in Maryland and Wisconsin, we pay about $30-34/sf.  I've talked to others in many states, and $30-35/sheet is pretty standard for large jobs.

In fact, from what I've seen, sheetrock is one of the most consistent pricing for any renovation task...I'm guessing that 90% of the country falls in the $25-40/sheet range for large jobs if you shop around (you can certainly find guys who will charge more, especially small outfits).

Sheetrock is one of the few renovation tasks where going with the largest companies tends to get you the best prices (there are tremendous economies of scale and opportunities for efficiency with sheetrock).

I think I confused everyone. The $80/sheet I did for the investor was for everything. Electrical, framing, door opening, insulation, outlets, lights. Sorry I didn't me ruin this. I priced this job for the investor. I didn't estimate with amount of electrical work or framing that was needed. 

$20-$25/ sheet is reasonable although it's typically up to final coat excluding paint. For large drywall jobs I actually pay my subs $9/sheet. 

I hope I didn't offend anyone nor confused them anymore. 

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