How to Estimate Home Remodeling

Remodeling involves extensive planning to avoid extra costs and logistical problems.

Remodeling involves extensive planning to avoid extra costs and logistical problems.

Estimates for home remodeling projects help give you a ballpark estimate for the work, but you can never guarantee your home improvement costs. Opening up a wall to expand a room or replacing faulty plumbing frequently means spending more money than you planned. Estimating the remodeling work, however, helps you save for the job, and also offers a valuable tool in making a budget for labor, materials and supplies.

List all of the changes you want to see in your home remodeling project on a piece of paper. If your project involves more than one room or a large area, make a separate list for the work needed in each area.

Organize a remodeling estimate book using a three-ring binder. Divide your binder with dividers for each room planned for remodeling, if your project involves more than one room. Add your list from the first step, or lists, to the three-ring binder.

Measure the room undergoing the remodeling with the measuring tape or laser measure. Take accurate measurements to ensure your cost estimate reflects the true price for remodeling.

Draw the floor plan for the room remodeling project on graph paper. Complete the drawing with the doorways and windows placed accurately on the paper. If your remodeling job includes removing or relocating walls, include a before and planned-after footprint for each room undergoing a transformation.

Shop for products to use in the remodeling. Make a list of brand names, model numbers and prices for use in your projects. Collect this information on three-ring binder paper, and insert the information in your remodeling planning binder. Add pocket dividers to your plan book to keep your remodeling research together with your floor plan drawings.

Add advertising materials, pricing brochures and photos to your remodeling three-ring binder. Insert extra pocket three-ring binder dividers to store your materials in the appropriate section of your remodeling book.

Locate local remodelers matching your home improvement needs by using the Internet and attending local home improvement fairs.

Meet with remodeling providers for estimates using your planning binder as a guide for the required work. If you plan on doing the remodeling work yourself, estimate the price of your labor for each hour and the number of hours required to complete each project. Add this cost figure to the cost of the supplies and materials listed in your remodeling three-ring binder.

Develop a formal remodeling budget for each room or for your remodeling projects. Use the combination of your research materials and work estimates to create your remodeling budget.

Items you will need

  • Remodeling magazines, brochures and product advertisements
  • Tape or laser measure
  • Three-ring binder
  • Binder dividers
  • Graph paper


  • Investigate prospective contractors with the local consumer affairs department to select a reputable company. This research helps narrow the prospective remodeler field down to companies with knowledge of local building codes and a reputation for quality work.


  • Get at least three written estimates from licensed remodeling professionals. Ask the workers or companies to itemize the specific work and require a list of the products planned for use in the remodeling work.

About the Author

*I have written chapters and articles for Oxford and Harvard University Presses, ABC-CLIO, and others. Arcadia Press published two of my local history texts and I have also written for numerous "article sites," including Pagewise in 2002. My "How to become a...real estate agent" is available as an online text from a Canadian publisher. *I taught writing courses at a branch campus of Indiana University. *I held a California real estate license and have remodeled four of my own homes and advised others on financing homes, repairing credit to qualify for loans, and managing construction (including meeting local, state, and federal regulations for restoration and development grants). *I served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer and wrote nearly $75,000 in small education grants (under $1,000). *My travels include frequent road trips in Canada, Mexico, U.S., and Europe. I attended school at Cambridge University and used this as a base to explore the UK and Europe.

Photo Credits

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