09-30-2009 10:22 PM
We are seriously considering putting in an offer on a house, but what we want to do before we actually move in is replace all of the flooring throughout, replace the appliances in the kitchen, and put in a tub in the master bathroom and retile the tub surround. We're thinking about doing about 1200 square feet (the living space) in hardwood (or engineered wood if that's a huge savings, but not laminate), and about 1200 square feet (the bedrooms) in berber carpet (something nice, but not real wool or top of the line). For the appliances, we want a stainless steel refrigerator and microwave/oven combination built in wall unit (i.e., a stainless microwave above a stainless oven). For the tub, it can't be huge (there isn't the space), so just a normal tub surrounded by travertine tile.
We are estimating $35K for these improvements - does this sound right? We are very afraid of underestimating these costs and bidding too much. We probably wouldn't want to buy the house if we couldn't do the improvements within this budget.
Any thoughts would be very, very much appreciated!
09-30-2009 11:34 PM
Does the kitchen already have wall units that you're replacing?
If so, price out the actual units you like - appliance costs are all over the map. We did got a good consumer-grade refrigerator, and a decent range and dishwasher for about $2600 total; the same models in stainless would have totalled about $300-400 more, so if you figure a built-in microwave can be had for the price of a dishwasher (dunno; it would be ridiculously overpriced for a freestanding one) $3000 for that but pro-grade or fancier models could go WAY up from there.
If not, no idea what the cabinetry work will cost, or what the gas line or 220v for the oven will cost. An extra 15A circuit for the microwave will not be expensive as long as your breaker box is fairly near the kitchen and the space is workable; I think we paid about $200 although that was an add-on on top of other work being done.
The prices I was quoted for new hardwood or bamboo flooring, installed, ran between $9-12/square foot. The place we bought turned out to have good enough old oak, and refinishing ran just a touch over $3/square foot ($3700; the house is 1220sf in total but no hardwood in the kitchen or baths.) Flooring coverings will usually be a fixed quote rather than an estimate with time and materials, so it is somewhat "safer" than other remodel work that can run over budget.
10-01-2009 12:37 AM
I am not sure where you live, but there are many Chinese building material stores in SF and Oakland that offer great pricing on hardwood flooring. The price range usually falls between $7 to $10 dollar per sq ft, labor and material included for the flooring. Berber carpet runs around $3 a sq ft at Home Depot. Stainless steel ref usually starts $1500 or so for side by side.
10-01-2009 12:50 AM
Take pictures, get measurements, get estimates from a couple of local contractors, maybe 3 or 5 (showing them your photos and measurements) and get an average.
Not rocket science!
10-01-2009 11:05 AM
10-01-2009 11:28 AM
10-01-2009 12:44 PM
Having recently talked with a friend of mine who lost $60K with a contractor.
Get a book on dealing with contractors.
Don't pay in advance. Use an escrow system.
Pay on completion of work and after you have sign off sheets for the sub-contractors (so that you aren't hit with workman's liens if the contractor didn't pay them for their work).
It doesn't matter how friendly and trustworthy a contractor acts.
Reputation is a better indicator.
But best is following the time proven process when dealing with a contractor.
I don't like Angie's List for recommendations.
I tried them for a dentist and was well and truly burned.
And they didn't change their processes so that a dentist couldn't game their system.
10-01-2009 07:53 PM
California law is very specific about paying contractors. Unfortunately many contractors don't follow the law and strong arm clients to pay more than they are required to.
The max upfront is 10% of the job
Balance is due at finish, however 10% can be held back for 30 days and it is up to the homeowner to pay it within that time frame. I have always considered the end of the job to be when the work is completed and the permits are signed off. I hold 10% back just in case and it has been necessary on occasion. The roofer who damaged the railings and said it was my fault for having new railings comes to mind. I had the railings repaired and sent him the balance.
Beware of any contractor that wants to bulk of the money up front.
10-01-2009 07:55 PM