A professional remodeling job typically costs more than homeowners imagined.

In this era of cable TV shows, where jaw-dropping results are achieved for a pittance in less than 60 minutes, it's not hard to see how one's expectations are typically out of line with the reality of costs.

Add to that the variability of labor and material costs between different regions and metros in the country and you start to get a sense of how dramatically prices and value for the same work can vary across the United States.

These annual reports provide the numbers you need on how much it really costs for a pro to do a typical remodeling project, as well as how much that project can be expected to bring in resale value.

The numbers come from RemodelMAX, an unbiased third-party research firm that keeps track of labor and product costs in markets nationwide. They report on how much it really costs for a professional to do a typical remodeling project, as well as how much a real estate pro believes that project will increase a home’s value if it’s sold within a year of when the work was completed. By dividing the project’s value into its cost, you get a sense of how much bang for the buck you’re generating as a result.

Unlike reporting services that claim to report average or typical costs for remodel jobs that were performed, Cost vs. Value bases its numbers on what it would cost to do any of 29 theoretical projects in each of 99 markets nationwide. They put the same amenities into the same-sized space, varying their price by market. Likewise, while they assume it takes the same amount of labor to do the work, they  vary labor costs according to the local rate.

After that, they add the same corporate expenses: taxes, worker’s comp insurance, and general overhead items like the cost of having an office, a website, a phone number, utilities, company vehicles, and equipment. Finally, they add a reasonable profit.

We’re not talking about repainting some rooms or planting flowers. 

Most Cost vs. Value projects range from difficult to impossible, not to mention dangerous, for a DIYer to do.  And if you don’t plan to sell within several years of the project, ignore payback numbers. They are closely tied to the latest rises and falls in home prices, and we all know how quickly those can change within a few years.

In general, the hotter the market, the bigger the payback.

As you review the reports, note that in some cases there are  two versions of a common job, such as renovating or adding a kitchen or bath. The baseline or standard version is called a midrange project and the higher-priced version is called an upscale project. The difference between them usually has to do with the scope of work and the complexity of the project. It also takes into account different quality standards for finishes: for instance, the midrange major kitchen remodel calls for a plastic laminate island countertop while the upscale version has a stone top.

A job that’s done by a pro rarely will pay back at resale a higher amount than was invested in it in the Short Term.

In general, work to replace items that are broken or need simple changes, like replacing a steel entry door or a vinyl window, score higher paybacks than more discretionary projects, such as constructing a two-store addition or updating a kitchen.

Below are two  downloadable reports for the Raleigh NC metro and the Chapel Hill NC metro.

  1. Remodeling Cost VS Payback in Raleigh, Cary, and Apex NC
  2. Remodeling Costs VS Payback in Chapel Hill and Durham NC

About Paradise Found Construction

Since 2008, our mission and passion has been to help our clients throughout the Triangle NC create their personal Paradise in their homes. We work closely with them to understand Their Vision, and leverage our vast experience in residential design to bring it to life in a 3D Color Visual Design before helping them Rediscover the Paradise in Their Home.


We are proud to be this year’s recipient of the STAR Award for Best Insurance Renovation given by the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County’s Remodelers Council.

The project for which we were recognized was a basement renovation. The home owner came to notice a pinhole leak in the hot water supply line. Because the line is located in a rarely accessed part of the basement, by the time the leak was noticed the damage was done. The leak had been spraying steamy mist throughout the area, which ultimately caused a 100% moisture content in the walls and ceiling.

Moist areas are a breeding ground for mold spores, and this basement’s moisture level allowed the mold colonies to cover all exposed surfaces. This was exacerbated by the HVAC system’s return and supply line, which circulated the spores.

The home owner had to remove everything from the location, cleaning what was salvageable and storing the rest. Then came the deconstruction phase, including the excavation of the entire front wall of the basement. New drains had to be installed and expert mold remediation had to be done.

Once that was complete, we were able to go in and start our rebuilding process. We created a new large bedroom adjoining the full bath and redesigned and updated the wet bar/kitchenette. We also enlarged the bathroom and updated it to include a lovely walk-in tiled shower with frameless shower glass and soap niches, a carefully designed and coordinated vanity with a granite top, new lighting and a wall-hung mirror, as well as tile flooring.

The new living spaces functioned and looked so much better than the original areas. Many energy and water efficiencies, as well as the vastly improved indoor air quality, helped transform the basement into a bright, warm, rich, and inviting sanctuary.

Come see us at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, September 27th through September 29th, as we participate in this year’s Southern Ideal Home Show.

The Home Show is the Triangle area’s largest home and garden event. More than 200 exhibitors will be present to feature their products and services, as well as to offer their industry expertise in answering questions on your projects. Exhibitors, local businesses and local experts, fall into such categories as home improvement, outdoor living, interiors, and kitchen and bath.

Paradise Found Construction will be located at Exhibit booth 132. Jeff Wiblitzhouser and members of our team will be on hand to speak with you about your remodeling or renovation projects. Whether it’s a bathroom upgrade or a complete kitchen renovation, we pride ourselves on helping our clients find energy efficient ways to improve their homes. We specialize in green construction and products, and would be more than happy to work with you on going green, too.  With Energy Star products and green products, you’ll not only save money but you’ll make your contribution to the world we live in and help keep it beautiful!

So, mark your calendar for September 27th-29th. We look forward to seeing you at the Southern Ideal Home Show at the NC State Fairgrounds!

Water Damage Restoration Covered by Insurance

A small pinhole in the coupling of the hot water supply line from the hot water heater developed and began leaking and spraying hot steamy mist. Because of its location in the seldom used finished full basement, it initially went unnoticed.

By the time the homeowners noticed the leaking water, the moisture content in the ceiling sheet rock and well down the walls read 100%. The moist, warm environment proved to be ideal for colonies of mold spores to spread throughout the basement, aided by the HVAC system's return and supply lines circulating the mold spores. It didn’t take long before mold patches eventually covered all of the exposed materials and surfaces, furniture included.

The homeowners had protection from their insurance policy and were able to have repairs done after this unfortunate disaster.

Construction ensued. The ceiling, floors, and all of the interior and exterior walls were stripped down to the wood framing and masonry and disposed of. The first and second floor HVAC duct work was removed, and the entire existing full bath was gutted.

The remodeling included increasing the size of the full bath and removing the shower/tub as well as installing a large and comfortable tile shower. We added a small towel closet, and a separate entry into the adjoining room, which would now be reconfigured into a bedroom. A new EPA water sense-rated commode, a vanity cabinet with a natural granite countertop and an under-mount sink, a wall-hung mirror, and new sconce lights rounded out the update.

We turned the adjoining room next to the full bath into a bedroom. We added generous closet storage space and new lighting.

We finally turned our attention to the old kitchenette/wet bar. We took away some of the footprint to add to the full bath and designed an efficient and handsome wet bar/kitchenette.

Porcelain tile, no VOC interior paints, a complete replacement of the basement and first floor HVAC ducting, air handler equipment cleaning, and green-certified carpet and pad combined to create a healthy and light-filled living environment.

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