How much would a gut rehab cost?

Asked by Miriam, Chicago, IL Sat May 5, 2012

I was looking at a garden unit at on Hinman near the Main St. El station. The unit is huge, with a private entrancec, and in an upscale neighborhood. But it is in horrible condition. The layout is odd, the floors need to be replaced, the walls repaired, and frankly, it might need to be completely gutted and redesigned.

The place is 1650 square feet, and it is currently a three bedroom. What would be a conservative estimate for a complete gut and rehab?


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Lala Mahoney’s answer
Lala Mahoney, Agent, Wilmette, IL
Sun May 6, 2012

Hinman is a great street! And if you can score a good deal on a condo than I say go for it!

First, have the Realtor that you are using investigate by providing comps in the area and building to help you determine what upgrades to do so that you don’t overdo it, and ask the question should you do it, to make sure you are making a smart investment.

Remember, anything you do to your new condo, you are going to have to get permission from the board of the building. Once you have plans in hand, you or your contractor will have to obtain a permit from the city, which requires one for any renovation project that involves plumbing, electrical, or structural changes. A permit can be issued in as few as 15 days but will be delayed if the plans are not up to city building code. Any construction must adhere to current code/brought up to code. The Department of Buildings inspects after certain construction benchmarks, and anything that does not adhere to code must be redone. With considerable time and money at stake, most people hire an architect/general contractor.

FIND A GOOD CONTRACTOR! This is key! Contact me at for a list of workers that I know and trust in Evanston, IL. Make sure to ask each contractor for at least three referrals, and interview former clients about how the contractor measured up in terms of delivering the project within the estimated time and budget. You will thank yourself for taking the time to do this later.

These are my ‘guesses’ for pricing. Pricing will largely depend on the material & finishes you choose (please note this is my opinion and not a quote).

Demolition: $3,000
Electrical: ?
Cabinetry: $4,500
Countertops: $2,200
Bathroom finish work (tiling of 2 bathrooms: $8,000
Drywall (labor): $4,000
Drywall (material): $3,500
Hardwood flooring (material): $5,000
Hardwood flooring (install): $2,000
Carpeting: $1,500
Painting: $3,800
Appliances: $4,000
Dumpster service: $1,500
Construction cleaning: $500
Permits: $2,500
General contractor fee (if you use one) ?

Hope you find this helpful. For more information about me and how I can help,

Lala Green
Coldwell Banker Wilmette
1 vote
Rehabber, Both Buyer And Seller, Chicago, IL
Fri Oct 19, 2012
Hi Miriam,

I've been a rehabber for many years and there is no really correct answer to your questions. I noticed one response with some general estimated costs but they could be way off depending on your needs and what can be saved or not saved during the process. If its a total gut rehab you'll also need a set of drawings to get a permit. Hiring an architect has its own issues on what can be saved or not, its always a good idea to get a good understanding with a contractor and an architect who are on the same page with your budget and design wishes, no sense having an architect design something you cant afford and most if not all contractors are not architects. its important to have the 3 of you working together if its truly a gut rehab, I on the other hand believe that most so called rehabs do not need to be gutted totally because there's usually some really nice "older features" that should be and can be saved.

If I can be of any service you can reach me at
1 vote
I just wanted to update our new site
Flag Wed Feb 11, 2015
Pdangers, Home Buyer, Evanston, IL
Mon Feb 15, 2016
Gut rehab for currently 1500 sq ft currently 2 bd 2.5 bath ranch. Want to add a Master suite openly floor plan currently
0 votes
Dayle Lively, Agent, Winnetka, IL
Sun May 6, 2012
Hi Miriam,

I lived in that neighborhood for a number of years and appreciate all that it has to offer with its close proximity to the lake, parks, shopping, restaurants, and public transportation. I assume the condo you're referencing is the one at 936 Hinman, now listed for $139,900.

Instead of trying to estimate what a major renovation/gut rehab would cost, I suggest that you approach the idea from a different angle. Although this unit has a separate entrance and assuming it also gets a good deal of natural light, the fact is that many people (buyers or renters) will not consider a garden apartment. Even if you intend to live there a long time, it's still good to include a future resale/rental in your plans. Therefore, you want to renovate it to your taste and needs, making sure that you don't over-improve it for the building or neighborhood.

Within the past year, a comparably sized 3rd floor unit in the same building sold for $275,000, and was already renovated. A first floor unit across the school yard at 919 Forest sold for $322,000--very spacious and renovated. A 3rd floor unit in a building at 608 Hinman, built in 2002, sold for $325,000.

I would advise you to keep this data in mind when calculating how much you should spend on the
property--which would include both the purchase price that could be negotiated and the renovation--that total should be well under the above condo prices to keep it appropriate for a garden unit.

Make a plan of what your ideal renovation would include, and then have 2 or 3 contractors come in and give you bids on the work. You can modify the price by selecting grades of materials, finishes and appliances to fit your budget within the contractors' estimates to determine whether or not it's feasible to accomplish your goal. If not, you might be better off looking for another unit in that neighborhood.

Also, I see that there's a special assessment through 6/15/12 of $116, too. Since it's an reo/lender owned property, you should check out any additional fees and the timeline for the purchase process as well.

Good luck. It might be a great opportunity in a wonderful location. Let me know if I can help you further.


Dayle Lively
0 votes
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Sun May 6, 2012
Conservative estimate..
Does this mean the least expensive, cheapest option possible?
Does completely gutted include rewiring and plumbing?
Gutted, sometimes involves new replacement windows and doors...for some. (DIY, Hudson or Pella, these costs can be astronomical)
Redesigned often means rendering an obsolete floor plan into a contemporary design. Clearly re-configuring a framed wall is less expensive that a masonry wall. Will drains be repositioned?
How much of the work, if any, will you do?
Then comes the new stuff.
Using new dent and scratch?
Sub-Zero or Kenmore?
Granite, tile or solid surface?
150 SF Kitchen or 1500 SF Kitchen? ($150 to $400 per linear foot, installed)
Are you going for 'green' meaning HVAC, water system and insulation will all be replaced or replenished.

Now, the real guide to look at is what is the value ceiling of the community. Your new units ARV must not exceed this value by more than 7%. preferably 10% below the ceiling. (repair budget = Ceiling - 10% - acquisition cost - holding cost - cost of money) ARV must not exceed ceiling by more that 7% or plan for long term hold. Now, make your contractor commit to completing the project below this budget. Now, the available budget will determine the upgrade that should be considered.

Of course, that would be a simplistic investor strategy. When considering this is your home, the place where one's daily labors are justified, sometimes the budget is not the prime objective. In those cases, get a referral for a general contractor. There are just way too many variables.
0 votes
Regina Cartr…, Agent, Evanston, IL
Sun May 6, 2012

There are too many variables. What level of upgrade? High end medium? Does it have hardwood floors? Drywall or plaster walls. You really need a good idea of what you want to improve. Do you need to do the bathrooms and the kitchen? Are you going to move wall to improve layout ?

Best Regards,

Regina Cartright
0 votes

I think if it were done it would have to be done "right," which means changing the location of walls, ripping out the bathrooms and kitchen, redoing the floors. In short, absolutely everything needs to be done.
Flag Sun May 6, 2012
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