How much it costs, per square foot, to renovate your home in The Garden State
(Above) Chong and Adam’s Jersey City, NJ, Sweeten renovation
New Jersey is a big state, and one of the most populated states in the country. That means there are a lot of homes and, of course, lots of home renovations.
If you’re a Jersey resident considering a home renovation, the first step will be determining a budget so you can compare what you have to spend, versus what you might need to spend to get what you want. Each project has many variables—from your own taste in materials and workmanship to changes in layout—that will move your cost meter up or down.
Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with vetted general contractors, has done some of the heavy lifting for you in sketching out renovation costs for New Jersey. This guide focuses on four major pricing categories: kitchen, bathroom, basement, and permits. But remember this: While a homeowner may have a budget range in mind, a contractor will want a detailed conversation and inspection of your home before handing over a more specific estimate.
Cost per square foot
In the northeast, real estate prices are only slightly better than neighboring New York City above the Hudson River. To the west are better priced, more rural properties that help give New Jersey the title of The Garden State, renowned for its extensive agricultural industry. The same pricing differential can occur when it comes to renovating your New Jersey home.
Scott, a Sweeten contractor along with his partner Tim, typically estimates a gut renovation between $250 to $500 per square foot for projects in the northeastern area of the state, with $250 a square foot representing mid- to high-range materials. Scott is part of a design-build firm, so that cost range includes everything from architectural design and drawings to fixtures, demolition, expediting, and construction.
There are fewer obstacles to a New Jersey renovation than a place like New York City, according to Scott. For example, New Jersey renovations do not normally come up against parking and access issues, or limited work hour rules imposed by a co-op for construction each day. This can mean more efficient use of time, less hassle, and a smaller price tag for the client. Remodeling a freestanding house as opposed to an apartment can be lighter on the wallet, too, as it offers direct access. Apartments often require contractors to take extra care (and time) to keep communal hallways and lobbies clean and clear, according to Bruno, another Sweeten contractor.
Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report puts a typical mid-range kitchen renovation at $320 per square foot, or $64,000 total, as an average for the New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania areas. The good news is with expensive areas like New York City pushing up that average, a kitchen renovation in New Jersey will likely be below that (depending upon your own situation and expensive or inexpensive tastes, of course!). Bruno, whose clients span homeowners in the high-end neighborhood of North Bergen to those in more affordable areas like Middlesex, pointed out that a kitchen renovation can start at $20,000, which is also the national average, for something basic (stock cabinets, basic appliances, etc.) and small (10′ x 10′).
“The sky is the limit” when it comes to a maximum budget for materials in a high-end kitchen, said Sweeten contractor Tim. The largest kitchen project he completed in New Jersey was more than $80,000. Pumping up the price were items such as custom walnut cabinets, a Wolf range, Sub-Zero fridge, a wine fridge, and a very large footprint.
A mid-range bathroom that covers about 35 square feet in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania will cost on average $20,000, according to Remodeling‘s Cost vs. Value report. This tops out at $570 a square foot and can include a recessed medicine cabinet, a standard toilet, solid-surface vanity counter, and a porcelain tub. Bathroom renovations can cost less if the majority of materials come from big-box stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot. While a 5′ x 7′ bath will roughly be the same budget cost as a 9′ x 6’, it’s the number of fixtures involved when there’s both a tub and shower that can increase the plumbing costs.
That same report put a high-end bathroom renovation at $63,249, based on a sample bathroom expanded from 35 to 100 square feet. It worked out to be $630 a square foot. “I wouldn’t even put a top number on it,” said Tim, for a bathroom on the more expensive end. “Sometimes clients want to do Italian marble right out of the quarry.” Also on the wish list could be imported custom tiles, double rain showers with digital controls, custom bathtubs, and nitty-gritty work like replacing plumbing lines.
(Above) Cristiana’s Sweeten renovation in Bergen County, NJ
The Cost vs. Value report puts an average basement conversion in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania at $117 a square foot. The example costs $75,000 and was 20’ x 30’ with a 5’ x 8’ bathroom, shower and a bar area, insulation, and laminate flooring.
But there’s a lot to take into account that will impact the budget. “It often depends on the original condition,” said Bruno. Sometimes the floor needs to be dug deeper so the ceiling appears higher, and the walls could require underpinning. Sometimes electricity and plumbing need to be installed, especially if there is no existing bathroom and that’s part of your plans. Installation and waterproofing can also be a big cost if required. Some clients just want a new drywall, new doors, a new closet, and a paint job, which could put a project at around the $16,000 mark, according to Bruno.
Those decked-out basements that come in around the $100,000 will likely have “premium finishes, acoustical isolation, laser projectors, concealed screens with surround sound, climate control and so on,” said Tim.
There’s good news for New Jersey renovators here. A few years ago, the state eliminated the need for projects to get a permit for minor work such as a bathroom renovation where fixtures are being directly replaced (so a new toilet goes exactly where the existing one was, often referred to as rip-and-replace). “For renovators looking to minimize cost and timeline delays, it is ideal to maintain their bathroom layout and simply replace existing fittings and fixtures,” said Tim. For those trickier renovations that need permits, Tim suggests budgeting between 10 to 15 percent of the entire project’s cost for permits.
In New Jersey, permits are often handled by each town and will likely be tied to the budget you submit. For example, for the township of Teaneck in Bergen County, the first $50,000 in your renovation or repair budget will cost $30 per $1,000 for permits (so permits for a $20,000 kitchen will be about $600). The next $50,000 in a budget will cost $24 per $1,000 of planned work and any amount over $100,000 will cost $22 per $1,000 of planned work. The cost of permits for Jersey City is $15 per $1,000 of the estimated cost. Plumbing permit fees range from $10 to $75 for work on fixtures to boilers.
Hopefully, all of these facts and figures give you a jumping-off point to begin pulling together a budget. If you don’t know where to start, this blog post breaks down the renovation process in six steps. Post your project on Sweeten and we can help match you to the right general contractors, assist you in evaluating bids, and provide support until project completion.
While you’re looking into renovation costs, it’s also important to consider timing. Here’s a standard timeline for an apartment renovation.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.