A guide to house renovation costs for New Jersey in 2020, including kitchen, bath, and whole-home (plus a basement budget and permit tips!)
Nine million New Jerseyans live in the Garden State. And why not? There’s the option to live close to beaches, own a farm, or live the quintessential American suburban life. There’s also a convenient commute to New York City and Pennsylvania. According to the US Census, 64 percent of the houses are owned by the inhabitants, which means there are a lot of homes available for renovation.
First step: Setting a budget
If you’re embarking on a home renovation journey, your first stop will be creating a realistic budget so you can compare what you have to spend and what you might need to spend to get what you want. Each project will have a unique process and outcome with many variables—from your own taste in material and workmanship to changes in layout—that will move your cost meter up or down.
Luckily, Sweeten has done some of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to understanding house renovation costs for New Jersey. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.
Here’s a breakdown of typical starting house renovation costs in New Jersey, compiled from Sweeten renovations and Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report. Renovators in denser areas closer to New York City will likely see slightly higher budgets.
- Full home renovation: $100 per square foot (psf) and up
- Low-end kitchen remodel: $20,000 to $25,000
- Mid-range kitchen remodel: starting at $30,000
- High-end kitchen remodel: starting at $60,000
- Low-end bathroom remodel: $15,000 to $20,000
- Mid-range bathroom remodel: $685 psf or $24,000
- High-end bathroom remodel and expansion: starting at $40,000
- Basement remodel: starting at $20,000
But remember this: While it is great to have an idea of your end cost, a contractor will want a detailed conversation and inspection of your home before delivering a more specific estimate.
New Jersey home remodeling costs per square foot
New Jersey is a big state. In the northeastern part of the state, real estate prices are slightly lower than neighboring New York City. To the west are better-priced rural properties that helped give New Jersey the title of “Garden State” for its extensive agricultural industry. The same cost variations can occur when it comes to renovating your New Jersey home.
Most Sweeten projects generally start at $100 per square foot (psf) in New Jersey. Sweeten contractor Norm, who is based in Northern New Jersey, has seen gut renovations start at $200 psf and go up from there. This cost range also includes everything from architectural design and drawings to fixtures, demolition, expediting, construction—the whole project.
Easier logistics in New Jersey
There are fewer obstacles to a New Jersey renovation than, say, a place like New York City, according to Norm. New Jersey renovations do not normally come against parking and access issues or limited hours a co-op will allow for construction each day, like what happens over the Hudson. This can mean more efficient use of time, less hassle, and a smaller budget for clients in New Jersey.
House renovations can be lighter on the wallet, too. Houses typically have direct access, whereas apartments require contractors to take extra care (and time) to keep communal hallways and lobbies clean and clear. “All those things make a home renovation much less labor-intensive than an apartment,” said Norm.
How much a New Jersey kitchen remodel costs per square foot
- Low-end kitchen: Sweeten kitchen remodels can start at $20,000 to $25,000 for under 100 square feet with budget-friendly finishes from retailers such as Home Depot.
New Jersey-based Sweeten contractor Gregory recently completed a kitchen in Monmouth County’s Fair Haven for under $25,000 at $100 psf. For flooring, he used a prefinished engineered floor lumber core with a real wood veneer on the top layer. This cost $2,500. The cabinets were purchased ready to install and a stone counter was paired with a stainless steel undermount sink, “which was quite cost-effective,” Gregory said. “A good budget number per square foot of floor space might be $100 to $150 psf for economical kitchens,” he added.
Joshua, a Sweeten contractor who does a lot of renovations in Monmouth and Ocean counties, recently redid a 160-square-foot kitchen for under $20,000. To stick within this economical budget, he used vinyl plank flooring, a basic subway tile backsplash, and premade cabinets that come in standard measurement options like 12, 15, and 21 inches. “You can make it pretty close with those measurements, but with custom, you can make it fit exactly to what the space is,” Joshua said.
New Jersey-based Sweeten contractor Bruno, whose clients include the high-end homeowners of North Bergen and those in better value areas like Middlesex, agreed that a kitchen renovation can start at under $20,000 for something basic (premade stock cabinets, basic appliances, etc.) and small (10’ x 10’ square feet).
Mid to high-end budgets
- Mid-range kitchen: Sweeten has seen mid-range kitchens start at $30,000. Joshua puts a mid-range kitchen in a range up to $40,000. Instead of hitting up big-box stores like Home Depot, as you would for a lower-end kitchen, this price bracket allows you to shop in specialty stores for items like tiles or cabinets, Joshua said. Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report puts a typical mid-range kitchen renovation at $375 psf or $75,000 total as an average for Trenton, New Jersey’s capital.
- High-end kitchen: Sweeten’s typical remodel starts at $60,000. The average cost for this level in Trenton, New Jersey, is $145,000 or $725 psf, according to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report. The largest kitchen project Norm completed in New Jersey was more than $150,000. Pumping up the price were items such as a kitchen island with double-thick quartz and a waterfall edge, a Wolf range, reclaimed wood beams added to the ceiling, a wine fridge, and a very large square footage.
How much a New Jersey bathroom remodel costs per square foot
- Low-end bathroom: Sweeten bathrooms can start at $15,000 to $20,000 for a 5’ x 8’ space with budget-friendly finishes.
Bathroom renovations can cost less if the majority of materials come from big-box stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot for porcelain tiles, a molded sink, and a fiberglass shower. “The crux of the job is always similar in terms of what you have—a toilet, a shower, tiles, vanities—then you expand your budget with what finishes you use,” Joshua said.
- Mid-range bathroom: A mid-range bathroom that covers about 35 square feet in New Jersey will cost on average $24,000, according to the Cost vs. Value report. This comes out at $685 psf and can include a recessed medicine cabinet, a standard toilet, solid-surface vanity counter, and a porcelain tub. Typically, the smaller the space, the higher the square foot cost.
- High-end bathroom: Sweeten has seen high-end bathrooms start at $40,000. That same Cost Vs. Value report puts a high-end bathroom renovation at $75,000, based on a bathroom expanded from 35 square feet to 100 square feet (or $750 psf).
The budget of a recent bathroom that Norm worked on came to that $75,000 average. “It had it all—an oversized, walk-in steam shower with body sprays and frameless glass,” he said. There was custom carpentry and a freestanding tub, “which are very expensive,” Norm added. Then there is the less exciting but very important work of replacing the plumbing lines.
Costs for a basement renovation in New Jersey
For a basement remodel in the New Jersey area, expect the starting cost to begin at $20,000. The Cost vs. Value report puts an average basement conversion in New Jersey at $117 psf. The example project cost $75,000 and was 20’ x 30’ with a 5’ x 8’ bathroom, shower, a bar area, insulation, and laminate flooring.
But there’s a lot to take into account that will impact the budget. Sometimes the floor needs to be dug deeper to raise the ceiling height. The walls could require underpinning. Electricity and plumbing might need to be installed if there is no existing bathroom. Installation and waterproofing can also be a significant cost if it is needed as well as pumps to drain out incoming water. Some clients just want new drywall, new doors, a new closet, and a paint job, which could put a project at around the $20,000 mark.
A premium basement could cost between $100,000 and $150,000, according to Sweeten contractor Norm. Clients tend to get creative with basements from custom bar areas to cinema-style entertainment rooms. “I’ve done a lot that are geared towards homeschooling with learning nooks built underneath stairs,” he said. “Or there’s been funky, retro-style laundries with dropdown racks that fall out of the walls.”
Costs for permits in New Jersey
There’s a lot of 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 in which fixtures are being directly replaced (often referred to as “rip-and-replace”).
“Doing direct replacement — replacing the toilet or oven, old for new — will keep your costs down,” said Norm. This means plumbing and gas lines can stay as is, which can be a huge expense saver. For trickier renovations that need permits, some Sweeten contractors suggest 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.
- In 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 that $20,000 kitchen you’re planning 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.
- In Morris Township, a permit will cost $33—$44 per $1,000 for the first $50,000 of the renovation budget and $27—$33 per $1,000 for the next $50,000 and $20—$28 per $1,000 for a project over $100,000.
- For Toms River in Ocean County, the fee will be $39 per $50,000 of the estimated cost of work, add $25 for projects budgeted from $50,001—$100,000 and add $19 for projects costing over $100,000.
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,” so you can plan and get started off on the right foot.
Preparing your home for resale? Read up on the best remodeling projects to invest in to appeal to buyers.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.