Online home Remodel Estimator

9 Replies

Anyone have a favorite web based remodel estimator tool? ideally one that accounts for geographical location. Is it best to simply reach out to contractors? Looking for very rough numbers. 

Construction is too localized to have a website that can give accurate prices in any given zip code especially accurate prices for free on any given task. There are databases for costs of materials deisgned for trades and there are also databases that show averages on certain jobs. The problem is that in order to link the two together you'd need a firm understanding of your contractors business expenses, profit margins, payroll expenses etc. So prices you read online from halfway across the country aren't accurate. 

Unless you're doing alot of renovations in one key area like a particular county, It probably wouldn't pay for you to try and guess a contractors price. You're best bet is probably to develop a solid relationship with a general contractor who's reasonably priced and does good work. 

Thanks for the feedback everyone! It is certainly NOT ideal to be making swift assumptions based on automated calculators only - agreed! I am having some challenges getting started renovating a house from afar that I own in Kentucky, while I live in CA. I am just starting to build connections in the area and I think ultimately I will need to put together a design package to get accurate pricing from a distance - or hire a property management company to oversee the work. I typically have a family member in the area who acts as my "boots on the ground" for my rentals. They can go and meet contractors on site in person to receive bids and estimates, but they also have limited time so I am wracking my brain on how to make this effort smooth, but not spend tons of extra money. Maybe that's an oxymoron and I should simply suck it up and pay for professional construction management. 

There are no shortcuts to estimating rehab costs and no online systems that can do it for your accurately. You should hire a contractor or project manager to oversee your project, provide them a scope of work and get multiple bids since you own the property.

Though it may be obvious now, I will state the obvious anyways - this is something that should have been put into place BEFORE you made your purchase not after. Build your team before you repeat the mistake.

You may also download this form from the BP fileplace for free:

I uploaded this file years ago and it likely needs some refreshing but a good start. Find the general costs for each line item in that specific area and you can then go through your scope of work and add up the costs fairly accurately so long as the numbers you plug in are accurate. It is best in my opinion to break up the home into sections and tasks, knowing the costs per task or section. As an example, if your standard 10 X 10 "L" kitchen for cabinetry, counter tops, and door hardware is $7.5k and your standard appliance package is $2500, then your "kitchen line item is $10k. If you gut each bathroom and redo, and each bathroom costs an average of $6k, then you plug that in. If each window for labor and materials is $400 and you have 10 windows, then you plug in that $4k. AFter you do this over and over again, you will become very efficient at it.

Originally posted by @Emily Beatty :

Anyone have a favorite web based remodel estimator tool? ideally one that accounts for geographical location. Is it best to simply reach out to contractors? Looking for very rough numbers. 

Thanks @Will Barnard ! Agreed that this would have been better completed before the purchase. You live and learn! We weren't planning to renovate at all but have hit some unexpected road blocks getting it rented so now we are problem solving on a few items. 

I do commercial renovating all the time in CA but I'm not so familiar with how things roll in the residential world, so I'm learning most definitely. 

Your advice is very helpful. Thanks for contributing to the conversations. 

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