Marti Kilby, CRS

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Home Renovations – Are you Over-Paying?

Home Renovations – Are you Over-Paying?

Have you ever had a contractor come to your home and give you a bid only to have your jaw drop in disbelief as the quote turns out to be hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than you anticipated?  If you live in San Diego, the answer is probably “yes”.   It turns out that like everything else in southern California, you will generally spend more on home renovations here than you would pay in many other parts of the country.  But what is a fair price here in America’s FinestCity?

Let’s look at some of the most common renovations and see what people are paying on average both here in San Diego and elsewhere in the country*, and how you can save money. 

Kitchen Remodel – Kitchen remodels can vary from a minor replacement of stock cabinets, counters and appliances, to a large scale re-do that changes the lay-out, and includes custom cabinets with high-end fixtures and finishes.  A minor re-do in San Diego will cost you about $19,000 and a major renovation about $60,000 – $110,000.  Average costs nationwide are about $12,000 – $33,000.  The good news is that your return on minor kitchen renovations is about 93% while major projects bring an 86% return on investment.

Room Addition – The average cost nationwide to add a room to an existing home is $42,000 while in San Diego, that cost climbs to $86,000, depending of course on the size of the room and other specifications.

Bathroom Remodel – As with a kitchen re-do, your total costs will largely depend on the fixtures and finishes and degree of customization you select.  Locally, expect to pay about$11,000 –  $16,000 for your bathroom renovation, compared to $9,600 nationwide.  You’ll pay more if you have plumbing issues that need to be addressed as part of the project.

Window Replacement – Replacing old windows is one of the best investments you can make in terms of improving your living environment by reducing sound and heat transfer.  They also have a high return on cost of about 91%.  Vinyl window replacement on an average 3 bedroom 2 bath home in San Diego will cost about $12,000.

Exterior Painting – There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to brighten or update a home.  Nationwide the cost is about $2600 while in San Diego the average cost is $4000.

Saving Money on any project start with getting competitive bids.  Ask your friends and your Realtor for contractor recommendations and let the trades people know you are getting at least 3 quotes.  However, cheaper isn’t always the best choice.  Make sure you have a written scope of work and understand exactly which materials and permits, if required, are included and which are not and a timeline for completion. 

Next, determine what, if anything you can do yourself.  Can you help with demo and hauling away old cabinets and appliances? Perhaps you can do the prep work for painting the exterior or actually do the painting for an interior remodel?  The key here is not to bite-off more than you can chew.  If you’ve never painted a room, starting on your brand new kitchen is probably not a good idea. And steer clear of plumbing and electrical work which is best left to the pros.

Whatever renovations you choose for your San Diego home, the chances are that if professionally completed you will add value to your home – not 100% of what you spent, but value that will not only make your home a more enjoyable place to live, but more competitive should you put it on the market for sale.


Curious about the value of your San Diego home?  Just give me a call for a no-obligation custom market analysis.




*Costs are based on stats collected by

Photo courtesy of Lars Construction


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