2019 Home Renovation Costs Per Square Foot in New Jersey

by Serena Solomon

A cost breakdown on materials, labor, and permits for your home remodel

two tone kitchen remodel(Above) Carol and Jon’s renovation in Jersey City, New Jersey by Sweeten contractor Tim

Nine million New Jerseyans live in the Garden State for the convenient commute to New York and Pennsylvania, and the option to live so close to the beach and urban areas. According to the US Census, 64% of the houses are actually owned by the inhabitants, which means there are lots of home available for renovation.

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.

Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with vetted general contractors, has done some of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to understanding renovation costs for New Jersey. This guide focuses on four major renovation cost categories: kitchen, bathroom, basement and permits.

Here’s a breakdown of typical starting costs compiled from Sweeten renovations and Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report.

  • Full home renovation: $100 psf—$500 psf
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: $25,000 to $30,000 for under 100 square feet
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: $320 per square foot (psf) or $64,000
  • High-end kitchen remodel: $80,000 to $133,740
  • Low-end bathroom remodel: $15,000 to $20,000
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: $600 psf or $21,000
  • High-end bathroom remodel and expanded: $664 psf or $66,488
  • Basement remodel: $117 psf or $75,000

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.

What a home remodel 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 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, Tim, a Sweeten contractor, typically puts a gut renovation between $250 psf to $500 psf for projects in the northeastern area of the state. This cost range also includes everything from architectural design and drawings to fixtures, demolition, expediting, construction—the whole project.

There are fewer obstacles to a New Jersey renovation than, say, a place like New York City, according to Tim. 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, as houses typically have direct access, whereas apartments require contractors to take extra care (and time) to keep communal hallways and lobbies clean and clear, according to Bruno, another Sweeten contractor.

Costs for a kitchen renovation

  • Low-end kitchen: Sweeten kitchen remodels can start at $25,000 to $30,000 for under 100 square feet with budget-friendly finishes from retailers such as Home Depot.

Sweeten contractor Gregory recently completed a kitchen in Monmouth County’s Fair Haven for under $25,000 at $100 psf. For flooring, he used 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 space is,” Joshua said.

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 include the high-end homeowners of North Bergen and those in better value areas like Middlesex, said 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-range kitchen: Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report puts a typical mid-range kitchen renovation at $320 psf or $64,000 total as an average for the New Jersey.

Joshua puts a mid-range kitchen in the $25,000 to $40,000 range. 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 cabinetry, Joshua said.

  • High-end kitchen: The average cost for a typical high-end kitchen in the New Jersey area is $133,740 or $668 psf, according to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report. This budget would allow for top-of-the-line custom white cabinets, stone countertops with an imported backsplash, a built-in refrigerator, commercial-grade cooktop and vent hood, wall oven, and built-in microwave unit.
  • When it comes to a maximum budget for a high-end kitchen, “the sky is the limit,” Tim said of his firm. The largest kitchen project they completed in New Jersey was more than $80,000. Pumping up the price were items such as custom walnut cabinets, a Wolf range, a Sub-Zero fridge, a wine fridge, and a very large footprint.

Costs for a bathroom renovation

  • 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.

Some of the smaller and better value bathrooms Bruno has worked on cost under $10,000. And by smaller, he means around 7’ x 5’ square feet.

  • Mid-range bathroom: A mid-range bathroom that covers about 35 square feet in New Jersey will cost on average $21,000, according to the Cost vs. Value report. This tops out at $600 psf and can include a recessed medicine cabinet, a standard toilet, solid-surface vanity counter, and a porcelain tub.
  • High-end bathroom: That same report put a high-end bathroom renovation at $66,488, based on an example bathroom expanded from 35 square feet to 100 square feet (or $664 psf).

The most expensive a bathroom could be? “I wouldn’t even put a top number on it,” Tim said. “Sometimes on the high-end, clients will want to do Italian marble right out of the quarry.” Also likely on the menu will be imported custom tiles, double rain showers with digital controls, custom bathtubs, and nitty-gritty work like replacing plumbing lines.

Costs for a basement renovation

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. “It depends often on the original condition,” Bruno said. 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 a crucial part of your plans. Installation and waterproofing can also be a significant cost if that is needed. Some clients just want 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 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,” Tim said.

Costs for permits

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 (so a new toilet that 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,” Tim explained. For trickier renovations that need permits, Tim suggested 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.

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.


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