Kimi, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

What is a reasonable estimate for a full remodel of a 2BR 2 BA condo in san francisco?

Asked by Kimi, San Francisco, CA Sat Jul 16, 2011

We just purchased an older unit that needs a complete gutting- removing cottage cheese ceilings, new kitchen, 2 new bathrooms, new cabinets, light fixtures, wood floors throughout, you name it. We're on a tight budget, and I have gotten estimates ranging from 120-200k.

Is this reasonable? Think we could do it for 80k?

Help the community by answering this question:


Watching the FLIP/Remodeling shows on HGTV; there is one consistant theme;
The Owner gets in over his head, doesn't allow for the unexpected, and goes over budget:

Why don't you just get a quote from three contractors;
we can't possibly visualize what you've got from our computer.

Good luck and may God bless
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 9, 2011
Hello Kimi,

I cannot answer your question, as I am in the same situation as you! I was wondering if you'd mind sharing with me what you end up doing for your renovation and how much it cost?

I am in the process of looking for a contractor and are at a loss of what is 'doable' as I too am on a tight budget.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 9, 2011
There are many factors that have direct ties to the actual cost of the project.

Usually for the work that you listed 120k - 200k is pretty reasonable, depending on the type of contractor you are going with and how much they charge per hour. If you do have a tight budget then your should probably try and do the remodel yourselves, it is possible for the homeowners to take out building permits in San Francisco so all you really need is a little insight knowledge on how to find right people.

I would split your project into stages and figure out which stage you can handle yourself (with the help of laborers or friends perhaps) and which parts you must subcontract (Electrical, Plumbing, Tile, Drywall).

If you feel comfortable with building yourself - go ahead and do it.

During the course of your remodel you can always consult with a contractor for some tips and advices. Let me know if you have any questions, we are here to help.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 20, 2011
Kimi--Based on my and my clients' experiences, I would say that $80,000 for the work you're outlining probably won't cover everything. $120,000-$200,000 sounds more realistic.

I'd recommend figuring out what you can live with--maybe modify some of the plans so you're working with existing electrical/plumbing line locations, etc. You can control costs with the materials you select, so if you'd love a bunch of high-end light fixtures, you might want to consider fixtures that look good but are substantially less expensive.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 20, 2011
If you have received a number of bids from reputable, insured, licensed contractors and they are coming in from $120k to 200k, you have your answer. If your budget is $80k then share that info with the contractor and make the project fit your budget. In my opinion your contractor should have complete transparency and you should understand each cost element of the bid. When you know the itemized costs then you are in a position to make choices about what to scale back. You want the contractor to make a profit and stay in business. Otherwise he won't be around to warrant his work and take care of punch list items.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 16, 2011
There are many variables and yes you can do it for $80K if you want. Set the budget and decide what you want done for that much.
Tell the contractor that $80K is the top budget and talk over what is most important to you. There are always alternatives and cost cutting methods that can be explored.
Also to get a starting point number ask your insurance agent what price per square foot is being used as the industry standard for units like yours if they are fire damaged.
Another method I like to use when negotiating is to have the contractor break down materials (can be saved on if less quality or different types can work) and labor. Then ask his man-hour costs and do the division to see if the time he's estimating seems reasonable.
This is a good time to get the work done and don't be afraid to ask questions now. Establish early on that you expect to be informed and are capable of understanding the explanations. Negotiate reasonably it's fun!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 16, 2011
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
I would say, definitely; $120 to $200!

How could we possibly give you a number without seeing it?
I just had a questioner ask me to value her house in Connecticut.

Please be reasonable.
I worked as a Kitchen remodeler and Cabinet salesman for expensive cabinets; I saw $20,000 kitchens and I saw $80,000 kitchens.

No, I'm sorry, I do not know any referrals in S.F.

Good luck and may God bless
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 16, 2011
Hi Kimi-

There are many factors involved in a remodel. Ask your reatlor for 3 or 4 contractor referrals and get multiple bids. The costs can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. Also, without providing a square footage, it's next to impossible to estimate such a figure. Do you know anyone who has recently gone through a remodel and liked the people they worked with? That would be a good place to start as well.

Good luck!



Zephyr Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 16, 2011
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