Remodeling Cost for Small Apartment With Pics (Example)

9 Replies

I've gotten a lot of questions lately about rehab and renovation costs.  I think it's very tough for new people to understand the real cost of renovating an apartment, house or building.  I also see a lot of posts from wholesalers where there rehab cost is way underestimated (of course).   I just finished a quick rehab of an apartment in one of my buildings and I thought it would be of interest to see my actual costs. 

A few things to note:

  • I had two of my own employees who know construction do the work.  I pay each one $27/hour.   If you hire a handyman in the bay area you will probably pay $35-50/hr depending on skill level and the trade involved.
  • This work was done in Richmond, CA.  I think the pricing should be approximately the same around the rest of the Bay Area.  Perhaps it would be a little higher in the South Bay or Peninsula.  
  • I wasn't aiming for a high-end look, but I also feel that if I'm already putting in the effort then I might as well put in decent materials and invest in doing it right.
  • This apartment is pretty small, 500 square feet.  It was a 1-bedroom apartment with a weird living room space that didn't feel functional.  I turned it into a 2-bedroom apartment that now does not have a living room.  
  • This renovation took 2.5 weeks for two guys

Scope of Work

  • Demo and gut entire kitchen, gut one bedroom, and partial gut of bathroom
  • Build new closet and frame out a wall to create a bedroom
  • Install new laminate flooring in two bedrooms
  • Install new subpanel and new electrical for entire apartment
  • New (and some reused) cabinets
  • New quartz countertop
  • New (but bought used) 24" range
  • New microwave and fridge (new fridge not shown in photos)
  • New toilet, medicine cabinet and vanity light in bathroom 
  • New built-in kitchen table and chairs

Cost of Work (approximately)

  • Labor $6,500
  • Cabinets $2,000 - I bought some nice, used Ikea cabinets from Craigslist for a previous job and I had some left over. I decided to use the left-over cabinets for this job. They are higher-end then necessary for this apartment. The extra cabinets I needed in order to complete the design ended up costing $2,000. I would say this was the biggest splurge for this project. It was a pain in the arse to run to Ikea and figure out how to piece together
  • New Laminate wood flooring - $.089/square foot.$300
  • Used 24” oven and apartment size fridge.$900
  • Microwave, Sink, faucet, sink hardware $600
  • Quartz Countertop (one 10 foot slab)$300
  • Electrical Materials: wire, receptacles, lights, etc..$400
  • Baseboard (had it left over from another job so $0, but would have cost around $100)
  • New interior door, wood studs, drywall, mud  $300
  • Paint $100
  • Dump Fees $500
  • Misc stuff I’m probably forgetting $500

TOTAL COST $12,500
Rehab cost per square foot = $25

@Ori Skloot  If you are paying your employees $ 27 an hour , with withholdings , workmans comp , and the other related costs , they are costing you around  $ 38.00 to $ 42.00 an hour 

The true cost of your labor was closer to the $ 9000 mark . 

@Matthew Paul    Thanks for the good point.  My rate with workers comp and withholding is around $33/hr.   That's the number I used to get $6,500 in labor.   I pay them a very nice bonus at the end of the year, so realistically it's probably more like $35/hr, so my labor cost for the job would be around $7,000.   

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@Ori Skloot

Great post Ori, thank for breaking this down. Assuming a similar scope of work for a 1000 SqFt house would you say say $25 a SqFt would still hold (maybe $25-40 with a regular handyman or crew). 

What I am trying to ask is does a bigger project still come out to about the same price per SqFt with similar scope of work?

@Jonathan Pflueger good question.   Typically, the bigger the square footage the more the price per square foot should drop because the cost of the kitchen, electric meter, hvac system, etc is then spread across more square feet.   

@Ori Skloot  can you give more details on the electrical and plumbing work you did? Was this without permits?

I ask because if you redid ele and plumbing for kitchen and bath, plus added new panel and did rewiring, than those costs are quite low. But if you just replaced kitchen cabs and counter without moving any fixtures, and same for bath (left tub alone), then it’s much less work not needing to remove and reinstall Sheetrock, not to mention the plumbing and electrical work. 

Most people would spend a minimum of $25 PSF for a light remodel- replace kit cabinets/counters, floor, paint. Much more if you’re going to the studs. Think $25k to do a 1000 sq ft apartment. 

Of course you have your own guys, so that saves you a lot in labor, as I’m assuming you’re getting decent quality for good prices paying them direct. Plus you’re optimizing for materials cost by reusing and buying some used stuff. 

(BTW I opted to ditch those POS 24” stoves! I needed to replace one, and they are very expensive compared to a standard 30” model. Plus they look cheap! Fortunately I was able to add a 30” model...so I got to spend $400 on a nice whirlpool stainless gas range that looks decent too! But I feel you on the 24” model, if you have no choice :(

The kitchen photos show only a single basin sink.To what advantage is that when all the kitchen sinks in the past have been a twin basin. I don't see how someone can wash a full load without having the other side to rinse in. People have told me they have bought a plastic tub to put on the counter in order to do their dishes. When you saw those for the first time, didn't you question that even a little?

Originally posted by @Thomas McLaurin :

The kitchen photos show only a single basin sink.To what advantage is that when all the kitchen sinks in the past have been a twin basin. I don't see how someone can wash a full load without having the other side to rinse in. People have told me they have bought a plastic tub to put on the counter in order to do their dishes. When you saw those for the first time, didn't you question that even a little?

 I prefer a single basin from a maintenance perspective and typically always use this in rentals.  There are far fewer opportunities for leaks to develop in the drain plumbing under the sink when there are less than half the amount of joints within the plumbing.  My personal residence has a single basin sink and we use a drying rack similar to the one pictured below and never really even considered it a problem

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