Money may earn a commission when you click on the products and services below. Compensation may determine where and how they appear. This content was created and/or updated by a third party and not by Money's editorial staff.

Portrait of a happy couple remodeling their house

Embarking on a house renovation journey is thrilling, promising a refreshed living space and increased property value. However, it's crucial to grasp the potential financial implications before diving into the world of blueprints and paint swatches. The costs of renovating a house can vary greatly, contingent on factors like project scope, location, materials and the extent of changes planned.

In this article, we'll delve into the multifaceted elements that contribute to the overall expense of house renovation. By understanding these factors, you can navigate your renovation project with a clearer sense of the budget required and make informed decisions that align with your vision and financial capacity.

Scope of the project

The project's scope is the first and most significant factor determining the cost of a house renovation. Are you looking to do a minor cosmetic update or a major overhaul? A simple home addition like a tankless water heater will likely cost less than a full-scale remodel involving structural changes, such as knocking down walls or adding an extension. The more extensive the renovation, the higher the cost due to increased labor, materials and potentially even architectural and engineering services.

Labor costs

The cost of labor can vary significantly based on factors like location and the complexity of the work. Skilled tradespeople such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and painters will charge different rates depending on your region. Also, if you hire a general contractor to oversee the project, their fees will contribute to labor costs. Obtaining multiple quotes from different contractors can help you gauge the average cost of labor in your area.

Materials and finishes

The choice of materials and finishes plays a major role in the overall cost of a renovation. High-end materials and custom finishes will naturally drive up the expenses. It's important to strike a balance between quality and budget. Researching different materials, comparing prices and considering their durability can help you make informed decisions that align with your renovation goals and financial capacity.

Structural changes

The costs can increase significantly if your renovation involves structural modifications, such as removing load-bearing walls or adding new openings. Structural changes often require the expertise of architects and engineers to ensure the safety and integrity of the building. Their fees and any necessary permits will contribute to the overall cost. However, these investments can create a more functional and aesthetically pleasing living space.

Permits and approvals

Depending on the nature of your renovation, you may need to obtain various permits and approvals from local authorities. These permits come with fees that vary based on your location and the project's complexity. It's crucial to factor in these costs and ensure that your renovation adheres to local building codes and regulations to avoid potential legal issues in the future.

Unforeseen expenses

Renovation projects often come with surprises, and not all are pleasant. Setting aside a contingency budget for unexpected issues that may arise during the renovation is wise. These could include hidden structural problems, water damage or other unforeseen challenges. A financial cushion can prevent these surprises from derailing your project or breaking your budget.


The cost of renovations can also vary greatly depending on where you live. Urban areas and regions with higher living costs tend to have higher labor and material costs. Additionally, local market trends can influence the availability and pricing of skilled trades and materials. Researching the average renovation costs in your area will give you a more accurate idea of what to expect.

DIY vs. hiring professionals

While taking a do-it-yourself approach can seem cost-effective, evaluating your skills and the project's complexity is important. DIY renovations might save on labor costs, but mistakes can cost you more in the long run. Hiring professionals with the necessary expertise is often safer and more cost-effective for specialized tasks like electrical and plumbing work.


Many factors influence the cost of renovating a house, and it's essential to approach the project with a realistic budget. Thorough research, obtaining multiple quotes and careful planning will help you make informed decisions and prevent financial surprises. While renovations can be a significant investment, they have the potential to transform your living space into a more comfortable, functional and aesthetically pleasing environment that aligns with your vision and lifestyle.