Sweeten’s 2020 cost guide to home remodeling in Los Angeles, including kitchen, bath, and whole-home (plus ADUs and permit tips!)
(Above) Project by L.A. designer Haley Weidenbaum. Photo: Jillian Sipkins
Moving into a new house—or realizing your home hasn’t kept up with your lifestyle—can make renovation feel like a path to reinvention. Creating a budget for that planned remodel is unique to every project. The materials you choose, changes in layout, or moving plumbing or gas lines, all factor into the equation.
Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors offering support through project completion, has compiled a guide to remodeling costs in Los Angeles, California, focusing on five categories: kitchen, bathroom, an addition, ADUs, and permits.
Here’s a breakdown of typical starting costs compiled from Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report and Sweeten contractors.
- Full home renovation: $100—$400+ per square feet (psf)
- Minor range kitchen remodel: $ $135 psf or $26,993 (based on a 200-sq-ft kitchen)
- Major mid-range kitchen remodel: An average of $50,000
- Major upscale kitchen remodel: $100,000+
- Minor bathroom remodel: $15,000—$25,000 (based on a 35-sq-ft space)
- Mid-range bathroom remodel: $26,000—$38,000 (based on a 35-sq-ft space)
- High-end bathroom remodel: Starting at $55,000+
- Mid-range master suite addition: $436 psf or $167,440 (based on a 24′ x 16′ space)
- Upscale master suite addition: $532 psf or $340,894 (based on a 32′ x 20′ space)
- Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU): Starting at $50,000 for a conversion and $125,000+ for ground-up construction.
Keep in mind that every professional contractor will want to have a detailed conversation with you. They will also inspect your home before developing an estimate specific to your needs and wants.
How much a Los Angeles remodel costs per square foot
It’s no secret that Los Angeles is one of the pricier areas in the United States when it comes to real estate. However, the housing stock in the area is fairly new. It won’t experience behind-the-wall issues that are often found in older structures. Kitchen and baths are the most popular renovations. Exterior upgrades and garage conversions are on the uptick to create additional living space.
On average, many Sweeten projects can range from $100 to $400+ psf. Typically, dry rooms (i.e., living rooms and bedrooms) are cheaper to renovate than wet rooms (i.e., kitchen and baths), and Sweeten contractor Brett estimates that while dry rooms are at the lower end of the range, the wet rooms are closer to $400 psf to start.
One thing to note: While Sweeten contractors attempt to explore all avenues to stay competitive, it is an industry that is affected by trade. The prices you’re quoted at any given time may not be the same six months or a year from now. Prices on labor and materials fluctuate and this will be reflected in your overall quote.
Bringing in a designer
We also checked in with L.A.-based interior designer Haley Weidenbaum on how interior designers calculate fees. She explains, “Typically for renovations projects, I will charge a flat fee. This is beneficial for both designer and client. It allows the designer to work more freely and offers more transparency between the designer and the client. However, it is important for both parties to agree on a scope of work. Everyone should be on the same page and understand what is included under this flat fee.”
How much a Los Angeles kitchen remodel costs per square foot
In 2020, California bans the running of new gas lines to any new construction which means no gas stoves. This move is essential in the lowering of the carbon footprint. Even though buildings with existing gas lines aren’t affected, be sure to check the latest codes. If you’re looking to renovate for resale, you don’t want to invest in appliances that aren’t in compliance.
The logistics of storage and delivery make the cost of cabinets in L.A. less expensive than more densely populated urban areas.
- Minor kitchen: Sweeten kitchen remodels can start at $135 or from $26,993 up to $40,000 for 200 square feet. The finishes would be budget-friendly from retailers such as Home Depot. This budget includes budget finishes, laminate countertops, and mid-range sink and faucet finishes.
- Mid-range kitchen: Sweeten has seen project costs come in at $50,000. At this budget, expect new stock or semi-custom cabinets, appliances, and manufactured or quartz countertops.
Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report puts a typical mid-range kitchen renovation at $ 389 psf or $77,767 total, as an average for Los Angeles. A 200-square-foot kitchen would include 30 linear feet of cabinetry and countertops, semi-custom wooden cabinets, an island, and laminate countertops. It also includes custom lighting, resilient flooring, and paint.
- High-end kitchen: Projects on the higher end of the scale can start at $100,000. A large part of that cost can be in custom cabinetry. Sweeten contractors Anna and Vahik estimates that a high-end renovation averages upwards of $100,000.
How much a Los Angeles bathroom remodel costs per square foot
- Low-end bathroom: A lower-end bathroom renovation at 35 square feet, including demo, plumbing work, and new finishes, starts at $15,000 and can reach $25,000, according to the Sweeten contractors. Bathrooms in this category typically lean on big-box stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot to source the majority of materials.
- Mid-range bathroom: A mid-range bathroom in Los Angeles will cost on average between $26,000 to $38,000. According to the Cost vs. Value, the cost is $740 to $1,086 psf for a 35-square-foot bathroom. All fixtures are replaced featuring solid-surface vanity and integrated sink, recessed medicine cabinet with light, ceramic tile floor, and a 30” x 60” tub.
- High-end bathroom: The average cost Sweeten contractors report working on for upscale bathrooms start around $55,000. Remodeling’s Cost vs Value puts a high-end bathroom renovation and expansion at $76,973. This is based on a bathroom expanded from 35 to 100 square feet. It worked out to be $770 psf.
With that budget, clients are looking at faucets that can cost $2,000 per piece, marble flooring, custom vanities, built-in medicine cabinets, a rain shower, and top-of-the-line lighting fixtures. At times, those pricey finishing materials can amount to half the budget. Whether it is low-end or high-end, a good general contractor can work with a reasonable budget and strategize how clients can get what they want.
How much a Los Angeles master suite addition costs
- Mid-range master suite addition: For approximately $436 psf or $167,440, you can build a 24’ x 16’ master suite including a walk-in closet, dressing area, freestanding tub, separate shower, and double vanity over an existing crawl space, according to Cost v. Value’s report. This pricing includes carpeting in the bedroom and tile on the bathroom floor, lighting throughout, and an exhaust fan.
A crawl space and a raised foundation make it “easier for the crew to crawl underneath the subfloor to access the rough connections. It becomes more challenging and expensive when working on a renovation with a house on a slab on grade. If fixtures are being relocated or saw cuts, trenching, and backfill are required, then these can add to the cost of the renovation,” says Brett.
- Upscale master suite addition: For approximately $532 psf, or $340,894, it’s possible to create a 32’ x 20’ master suite with a separate sitting area and a large master bath, also over crawl space, according to the Cost v. Value’s report. This includes custom shelving and built-in storage, as well as a walk-in closet and dressing area with windows. The bath has everything that is included in a mid-range remodel, along with stone counters and a partitioned space for a toilet. The suite also features a wet bar with microwave, sink, and refrigerator for this budget range.
How much Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) cost
An ADU is a secondary housing unit on a single-family residential lot. They tend to be adjacent to a primary housing unit, and are usually much smaller than the average home. You can learn more about them here, as well as the numerous new laws passed in 2016 and 2019 that are encouraging their proliferation in California by making them faster, easier and more efficient to build.
Existing electrical and plumbing
Sweeten general contractors have worked on projects that range from about $50,000 to over $200,000, depending on whether they are conversions or ground-up constructions. There are numerous other factors that come into play. Importantly, what you have to work with is key–are you converting an existing structure that has electrical and/or plumbing? If so, it could be a relatively affordable proposition. Sweeten contractors Anna & Vahik tell us that in Los Angeles County, conversions average about $75,000 while ground-up constructions start at a range between $125,000 to $150,000.
Sweeten contractor Brett explains that the specifics of the job will cause a wide variance in the costs associated with bringing it to compliance. He said, “ I have been able to convert garages to ADUs from $58,000, which already had plumbing (sewer) and its own electrical service. I also did another job, which was an old garage, and to completely convert it cost about $196,000.”
Costs for permits
The cost of permits changes from town to town in Los Angeles. However, typically the cost will be determined by your budget and require a bit of high school math to figure out.
According to Sweeten contractor Brett, this number varies between an estimated $750 to $2,500 depending on the specific scope of work for each project.
Sweeten contractors Anna and Vahik explains, “Permit costs vary for different neighborhoods. Average kitchen and bath remodels (“express permits”) with no structural changes or layout changes cost around $500 to $1,000. Bigger projects such as additions, remodels with structural changes, or exterior work that need plan changes start at $5,000 and can go up to $20,000 in cities like Santa Monica.”
These figures provide a jumping off point to estimate your potential home remodeling costs in Los Angeles. On the (more fun) planning side, 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.”
Renovating your home or an ADU in Los Angeles? Sweeten can help!
Post your project on Sweeten and we’ll match you with multiple vetted general contractors to provide estimates for your renovation. 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.