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What a Renovation Really Costs

Written by Ann Bridgman

We’ve all seen the HGTV shows were a new kitchen costs $20,000 and a first-floor renovation just $60,000 more. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that is not realistic in Southlake, Colleyville, Keller, Trophy Club, Roanoke or Westlake. Renovations require experience, careful planning, and expert execution to get excellent results.

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Contractors realize that low prices get a prospect’s attention.

  • Some general contractors hire the cheapest sub-contractors they can find to keep their prices lower than the competition. Why are they cheaper? Less experience, no time built in to come back and fix problems, poor communication skills, little training.
  • Sometimes the general contractor has a smaller profit margin built in, which means you can expect lots of nickel and diming, and being charged for any change, add on, or problem. Because they charge less per client, they have more projects at any one time and you get less oversight and problem solving on your project.
  • Some general contractors use inferior parts and materials in areas “behind the wall”. We, the homeowners, can evaluate the workmanship of the tile guy or the painter, but can we tell if the person who sealed the shower pan put in a watertight, guaranteed liner? When you hire a general contractor, you are trusting him/her to choose sub-contractors who use the best materials.

Getting an accurate number

With any renovation, you have materials, freight, delivery, tradespeople, coordination, demo, trash removal, oversight, and hopefully insurance.

  • The variation between estimates you receive are likely that different assumptions were made by the bidder, and therefore you are not looking at an apples-to-apples quote. With my clients, the first step is to create a detailed list of assumptions upon which the general contractor can base his estimate. This assures your comparisons are correct.
  • Better subs cost more. But believe me, you want the best subs money can buy! Generalists do a little of everything and may have never worked their way up in a specific trade. Specialists are people who do one trade every day in a variety of homes and are experts. That’s the one you want in your home.
  • You can control some of your costs with your choices. Natural stone is more than porcelain. mosaics are more than 12 x 24 tiles. With my clients, I adopt a “save and splurge” strategy where you maximize the “bang for the buck” using special materials in the right places, and less expensive elements as supporting players in the overall design.

But how much does it cost and why is it so expensive?


  • With most larger renovations you have many tradespeople: demo, trash removal, cabinet makers, countertop fabricators, electricians, plumbers, tile layers, painters to name a few. These people work hard for their living and have families to feed. They usually make at least a $800 a day to cover their transportation and overhead, and their time on your project may be several days.
  • Coordination takes lots of time. All those subs need to be scheduled between job sites and instructed on what’s to be done where and what the most important items are to complete any given day. For my clients, I select, buy and arrange delivery of tile and plumbing. It takes hours to complete these tasks. Now imagine the time it takes a general contractor to organize a full kitchen renovation?
  • Right now, a full master bathroom renovation in Southlake, Colleyville, Keller, Trophy Club, Roanoke or Westlake is a minimum of $60,000, a full kitchen renovation with appliances is $100,000, and a full side bath is $15,000 minimum with a reputable contractor. If you want to move major elements in your bath, or use all natural stone, expect the price to go up from there. How do we get to that number? Well consider that the appliances in a kitchen can be $10,000-$20,000 alone

Want an inviting space filled with joy and love?

Get in touch and let’s get started! I can’t wait to hear your design dreams and bring together just the thing for a space you can relax, gather, and call home.

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where we serve

Just the Thing Decorating serves Southlake, Westlake, Colleyville, Flower Mound, Trophy Club, and Keller. 


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Located in Southlake, TX
(630) 709-5709

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Ann Bridgman in Southlake, TX on Houzz
Ann Bridgman in Southlake, TX on Houzz