Cost Guides / By Serena Solomon / March 20, 2018
Home Renovation Costs: Fairfield County Edition
Plot your reno budget and be one step closer to your Connecticut dream space
Renovation is a reinvention towards a new level of home for you and your family. Creating a budget for a renovation is unique to every project; the many variables, from your own taste for materials and quality of work to whether you are changing the layout or whether you are moving plumbing or gas lines in a kitchen or bathroom, all factor into the equation.
Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with vetted general contractors, has compiled a general guide to costs across the county from Greenwich and Westport to Stamford, focusing on four renovation categories—kitchen, bathroom, basement, and permits. Keep in mind that every professional contractor will want to have a detailed chat and inspection of your home before developing an estimate specific to your needs and wants.
Cost per square foot
Somewhere between $220 and $250 per square foot is the general gauge of a gut renovation in Fairfield County, said Elizabeth, an architect in the Sweeten network. That price can easily sneak up to $300 to $350 a square foot, she advised, depending on how complex your renovation is (structural issues, layout changes, etc.) and how expensive your tastes are in terms of fixtures and finishes. Those figures also do not include fees for architects and engineers who might be necessary throughout the course of the project.
The range of projects that Alfonzo, a Sweeten contractor, has worked on in the Fairfield County area has varied greatly. On the low-end, he has done basic kitchens for $85 a square foot using big-box materials, all the way up to projects costing closer to $250 a square foot which installed higher cost materials like tile, built-ins, or custom items.
Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report puts a typical mid-range kitchen renovation at $320 per square foot, or $64,000, as an average for the Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania areas. These figures are based on a 200-square-foot kitchen with laminate countertops, a standard sink, and faucet, with an energy-efficient range, built-in microwave, and ventilation system. It also includes a garbage disposal, custom lighting and resilient floorings such as vinyl, linoleum, or cork. New kitchens that Elizabeth’s architectural firm has worked on usually cost between $25,000 to $60,000, but it is easy to surpass that, she said.
A high-end kitchen renovation would mean fully custom cabinets, sourcing the best materials from overseas, and dealing with the added expense of a layout change, Alfonzo said. A recent kitchen renovation he worked on came to $125,000. The cabinets alone were $70,000, the countertop material was shipped in from Italy, and changing the layout of the kitchen also bumped up the cost and involved substantial plumbing and electrical work. The example Alfonzo used matched the average price of a high-end kitchen in the Cost vs Value report, which equated to $630 a square foot. This includes more expensive materials such as stone countertops, an imported tile backsplash, a water filtration system, commercial-grade cooktop and vent hood, plus a built-in microwave unit.
A mid-range bathroom in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey will cost on average $20,000, according to the Cost vs Value report. That’s $570 a square foot for a 35-square-foot bathroom. This includes a recessed medicine cabinet, a standard toilet, solid-surface vanity country, and a porcelain-on-steel tub. A budget of $15,000 to $20,000 is typical for a full bathroom renovation in the Fairfield area, according to Elizabeth. For a low-end and very small bathroom, Alfonzo has done projects that come in at less than $6,000. At this price, it is usually a powder room with only a toilet.
That same report put a high-end bathroom renovation and expansion at $63,249. The sample bathroom was expanded from 35 square feet to 100. It amounted to $630 a square foot. One of the more expensive bathrooms Alfonzo worked on came in at $88,000. This included a walk-in closet that led into the bathroom. The client wanted a custom-made European toilet, major structural changes, and marble shipped from Italy, which took three months to arrive.
Basement renovations by Sweeten contractors have ranged from $30,000 to $100,000. The elements that tend to inflate the budget include adding a toilet or a shower and work needed to bring the room up to code. Some town regulations might require two forms of egress or natural light (so adding a door or a window) or a certain ceiling height, which means digging down and lowering the floor. An average basement conversion in the Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania areas is $75,000, according to the Cost vs Value report. The project for this sized budget includes a 20′ x 30′ room and a 5′ x 8′ bathroom with a shower and a bar area as well insulation and laminate flooring, which comes to $117 a square foot.
Each town in Fairfield County has its own table of fees for building permits. In Alfonzo’s experience, building permits, including those for plumbing and electrical, can cost anywhere from $300 to $2,500 per project. The variation is often tied to your budget. For example, in Stamford, your building permit will be $13.26 for each $1,000 in your budget. That permit will cover your electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work.
Over in Norwalk, building fees are structured slightly different. A building permit costs $13 per $1,000 of estimated work, which includes some electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work. However, if there are major changes in these areas, then separate permits for electrical, plumbing, and HVAC might be required at a cost of $13.26 for every $1,000 budgeted in those areas. Check the building department in your local township for a better idea of permitting costs for your project.
Issues you may or may not encounter along the way such as structural problems that need fixing or bringing a staircase up to current code could also manipulate your end budget. Take into consideration wet areas like kitchens or bathrooms cost more to renovate than dry spaces (for example, dining rooms and bedrooms) due to materials and labor that may be more complex, Alfonso says.
Hopefully, all of these facts and figures give you a jumping-off point to begin pulling together a budget. Sweeten’s Renovation Checklist offers you a downloadable roadmap to organize all of the moving parts of a renovation including laying out your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” Once you post your project on Sweeten, we’ll match you with multiple excellent contractors who could provide estimates. Sweeten also checks in with you until project completion. Just remember, sit down with your general contractor to develop an accurate budget and you’ll be on your way to the home you’ve always wanted.
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