Learn how much home remodeling costs in Los Angeles – understand accurate pricing for your kitchen, bathroom, addition, ADU, or whole home renovation projects.
Unlike a simple purchase like buying a car or vacuum, the price range for a house renovation cost can vary greatly because there are so many factors and variables involved. If two neighbors renovate the exact same space in each of their homes, it’s quite possible one of them could easily spend double what the other spends. So, although home renovation costs are hard to pin down accurately, this article will provide you with some guidance about the range of costs for major home remodeling in Los Angeles and Southern California.
Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable general contractors, we talk to our pros every day and track the real-life home remodel costs of major home renovations that Los Angeles homeowners are paying – below is an overview of the data we’ve collected.
- House renovation costs in Los Angeles are categorized into labor, materials, soft costs, and contractor profit. Labor includes both contractor and rough materials costs. Materials encompass finish materials selected by the homeowner. Soft costs involve planning, design, and permit fees. Contractor profit typically ranges from 15-30% of the total budget.
- Homeowners should carefully review contractor bids, as some may only cover labor and profit, requiring additional consideration for finish materials and soft costs.
- Avoid the temptation to solely choose the middle or lowest bid. Evaluate contractors and bids thoroughly, considering experience, reputation, and the scope of services included.
- Costs for specific projects, such as kitchen and bathroom remodels, ADUs, garage conversions, home additions, and backyard remodels, come with unique considerations. Size, reconfiguration, materials, and scope influence costs.
- Inflation has contributed to increased material costs, impacting the overall price of remodeling projects.
- Deciding whether to remodel depends on budget feasibility, emotional attachment to the home, and the desire for improved quality of life. Resale opportunities should also be considered based on the neighborhood’s housing market.
- Remodeling timelines vary, with bathroom remodels taking around three weeks, kitchen remodels about six weeks, full home remodels lasting 3-6 months, and larger ADUs requiring 6-9 months. Delays are common, so homeowners should anticipate a longer timeline.
- In neighborhoods with starter homes, homeowners should be mindful of renovating within the market’s resale value limits. Over-renovating might not yield a proportional return on investment.
When it comes to a home remodel in Los Angeles, the total remodel cost can be broken down into four major categories: Labor, Materials, Soft Costs, and Contractor Profit.
- First is the ‘labor’ charged by the contractor. Although it’s called labor, it also includes ‘rough materials’ (items the contractor buys like lumber, nails, drywall, etc.). Since the cost of rough materials is somewhat standard, the cost of the labor category is largely dependent on what the contractor pays for his staff, subcontractors, etc., and this can vary a lot. Larger contractors with lots of staff will generally charge more for labor because of their higher staffing costs.
- Second is materials (sometimes known as ‘finish materials’) which have to be selected by the homeowner. This includes things like faucets, tile, door knobs, and even appliances. The total cost of this category can also vary greatly depending on the chosen materials. Materials can be included or excluded from a contractor’s bid, so estimates need to be carefully reviewed for inconsistencies.
- The third category is ‘soft costs’ and includes items like the costs to create plans by an architect, the costs to hire a designer (if needed), and city plan check & permit fees (and impact fees if applicable). Usually, these fees are NOT included in a contractor’s price.
- The last category is contractor profit. This number varies based on the size of the job, location, and several other variables. It can range from 15-30% of the total project budget and is typically between 20-25%.
It’s important to understand which finish materials, if any, are included in the contractor’s bid (as an allowance) and which ones will be purchased directly by the homeowner. When it comes to the home remodel costs discussed below, these are the total of all the categories above.
Therefore, you’ll need to be aware that when you review a contractor’s bid, it may be just for the labor and contractor profit portions. Keep in mind that you will need to add finish materials and soft costs to get to your total home remodel cost. Alternatively, the contractor’s price could include quite a few allowances for materials, design fees, or permit fees, so please review the estimate carefully to understand what it does and doesn’t include.
You should know upfront that every contractor’s estimate format will vary significantly because there is no standard template. Each contractor uses their own format, and they will all vary in terms of the level of detail included. Sadly, that will leave you, the homeowner, with the responsibility of comparing these bids carefully in an attempt to figure out what is and isn’t included in each.
In the construction business, there is even a term for this process… It’s called “bid spreading”. I’ve written a detailed blog on how to correctly compare contractor bids here. The GreatBuildz free service includes helping clients compare and analyze bids.
One more important tip about selecting a contractor for your home remodel based on price. Sometimes, it’s appealing to just get three contractor estimates and choose the middle one…since that feels like the right thing to do. Try to resist the urge to just pick the middle bid and truly review both the contractors and bids carefully.
Even worse is the temptation to select the lowest bid. This can be a recipe for disaster if you end up hiring a contractor that bids low just to get the job but fully intends to charge you lots of ‘extra costs’ along the way to increase their profit margin.
Home Remodel Contractors
All the projects in this article will require hiring a licensed General Contractor (B-license). Only this category of contractor is legally qualified to take on any of these major projects that require a multitude of different trades (ie. electrician, plumber, carpenter, etc).
If you have an interest in taking on a major home remodeling project, a qualified contractor should be your first call.
Some people start by hiring a designer or architect to help plan out their new space. But, if you are working within a specific budget (like most people), meeting with one or more contractors will give you some general insight into the reality and approximate costs of your intended project.
Preparing for a Renovation
Regardless of the exact remodel you decide to undertake, one thing you should do in advance is prepare yourself for the process.
Specifically, you’ll need to start planning on adjusting your lifestyle during your remodel. If you’re undertaking a substantial remodel like a major home addition or complete home remodeling, you may need to consider moving out of the home for several months. You might look into a 6-month apartment lease or a long-term Airbnb rental, etc.
If you’re doing a smaller project like a bathroom remodel, you’ll just need to think through how to adjust your family’s lifestyle to one less bathroom.
If you’re planning to remodel a kitchen, please consider what you’ll do for cooking and meal preparation for around two months. One idea is to set up a makeshift kitchen in your garage or other room…where you can have access to your fridge and a source of water/sink.
How Much Does a Los Angeles Kitchen Remodel Cost?
$35,000 – $100,000k+
Although the range of remodel costs above is wide, most kitchens fall into the $45-70k range in Los Angeles. The majority of your kitchen remodel cost will primarily be from a few categories: cabinets, countertops, appliances, and labor. Let’s discuss the variables that affect the total remodeling cost: size, reconfiguration, materials (including appliances), and scope.
Size: This one is pretty obvious; the larger the kitchen, the more materials it requires, and the more labor it takes to install those materials. In addition, larger kitchens usually incorporate larger appliances, which are more expensive.
Reconfiguration: A new kitchen renovation that replaces the cabinets, appliances, and sinks in the same location as the old kitchen is the most efficient and cost-effective. On the other hand, reconfiguring the kitchen will add to the remodel cost because ‘utilities’ like water, electrical, gas, and venting have to be relocated to accommodate the new design.
Also, removing and/or adding walls as part of the kitchen redesign will add costs for similar reasons. The costs of reconfiguring a kitchen vary depending on things like the need to remove load-bearing walls and the difficulty of running utilities to a new location.
Materials: The costs of this category can vary greatly and are most affected by just a few items – cabinets, countertops, and appliances. Homeowners generally have two cabinet options.
- The lower-cost option is pre-fabricated cabinets that come in standard sizes (IKEA or Home Depot, etc)
- Custom cabinets are manufactured specifically for each kitchen based on the design requirements.
Countertops are similar in that they come in either:
- The pre-fab variety that’s cheaper but has limited size & customization, or,
- Custom slabs give homeowners a much greater variety of styles & design options but have to be ‘fabricated’, so you end up spending significantly more.
Lastly, appliance pricing can run the gamut from cost-effective, $2,500 total, to wildly expensive high-end brands, which can easily be over $50,000.
Scope: Although most kitchen remodels replace the cabinets, countertops, and appliances, the scope and cost can vary depending on other items the client wants to include in their renovation. Such items may include flooring, lighting, custom backsplash, wallpaper or paneling, and open shelves.
When you start thinking about remodeling your kitchen and budgeting for this project, it’s a good idea to start with a plan and a checklist of the items to be included in your scope. Check out this blog outlining the 10-step process to planning for remodeling your kitchen.
This helpful kitchen remodel checklist can also help you detail what items should be included in your scope of work. Once you complete this checklist, you can hand it to each contractor who is bidding on the project so they all have the exact same understanding of your scope and can provide more accurate estimates. This will help ensure that all contractor bids are more consistent.
How Much Does a Los Angeles Bathroom Remodel Cost?
$20,000 – $60,000
Most bathroom remodels in Los Angeles cost closer to $25,000 for a smaller or secondary bathroom and $40,000 for a larger master bathroom. Let’s break down the total remodel cost, options, designs, and considerations further.
Just like a kitchen, the most efficient and cost-effective option is to remodel the bathroom and replace the major items in the same location – toilet, vanity, shower, and tub. Relocating these means increased costs from re-routing water and waste lines as well as removing and installing new electrical, lighting, exhaust, and potentially walls.
Bathrooms require more different materials than kitchens, so expenses are more distributed among multiple items like floor tile, shower tile, vanity, shower door, tub, sinks, faucets, shower/tub fixtures, and more. In the case of a bathroom, it’s important to clearly understand and quantify which of these materials are paid for by the contractor versus the homeowner, as this can make a drastic difference between various contractors’ estimates.
Let’s discuss a few items that make up a significant portion of the bathroom remodel costs: Tile, vanity, stand-alone tubs, & fixtures. Tile is expensive because it’s very labor-intensive to install. So, regardless of the cost of the tile itself (which can certainly be expensive), this is a major cost of the project as it encompasses laying the entire floor, shower walls, shower floor, and any tub surround.
The shower walls and floor also require the installation of a backer-board and a ‘hot-mop’ as waterproofing under the tile, which adds another cost in this category.
Although there are certainly inexpensive, small vanities available (IKEA or other retailers) in standard sizes, once you get into larger, two-sink vanities, the costs can easily get into the thousands. Large vanities up to 6’ in length can be purchased from retailers, but anything over that size will need to be custom made and that will further increase the remodeling cost.
A separate tub (not paired with a shower) is often found in elegant master bathrooms and makes up some of the price differentials between a small bathroom and a large one. Finally, plumbing fixtures can vary greatly in cost. If you are not picky about faucets and showerheads, there are certainly cost-effective options. But if you’re trying to achieve a certain contemporary look, you’ll find these materials can run into the thousands.
ADUs, JADUs & Garage Conversions
There has been a lot of excitement about new California ADU regulation changes that now allow a great deal of flexibility for most single-family homes. These changes mean that just about every Los Angeles homeowner can add living space to their property by building an ADU, JADU, or garage conversion. ADU stands for an accessory dwelling unit and JADU stands for junior accessory dwelling unit.
For more details on these new regulations and what you might be allowed to build on your Los Angeles property, check out my blog: Los Angeles ADUs – What You Need To Know. The remodel costs of each of these categories are quite different, so let’s take each one separately.
How Much Does a Detached Garage Conversion Cost?
In most cases, a standard two-car garage (approximately 360sf) conversion will average $90-110k. Because the structure already exists, turning this space into an ADU (with a living space, a bathroom, and a kitchen) is an efficient way to go. Generally, you’re saving on home remodel costs because you already have a foundation, framing, stucco, and a roof.
However, if any of these need to be repaired, replaced, or brought up to code, that will obviously increase your budget. The soft costs involved in this project are reasonably small, ideally between $5,000 – $8,000 for your plans and permits.
If you think of a garage conversion to an ADU as building a small house, it can help you understand the number of details and materials that go into a project like this. All the same elements that are in your existing house are required like plumbing, a water heater, electrical systems, appliances, air conditioning, heat, and the list goes on.
A good ADU contractor with pertinent experience can help you understand all the details involved, but to give you an idea of the list of elements involved, check out my blog Construction Checklist For Building An ADU.
With a project like this, it’s extremely important to document in detail which materials are paid for by the contractor and which are paid for by the client. Finally, make sure to include in your total budget both the contractor’s bid and the price of materials you’re buying directly. This will help you better evaluate the full remodel cost of the project.
How Much Does an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) Cost?
$150,000 – $400,000
The new regulations allow you to build an ADU up to 1200 square feet, but they can also be as small as 200sf. So, depending on the size of the ADU you desire, the budgets can vary widely. A good rule of thumb is to budget $300-$400 per square foot. Also, keep in mind that the bigger you build, the lower you’ll be paying on that cost per square foot range.
So, if you’re building 300sf, you’re probably budgeting at least $120,000, but if you want to build 1,000sf you can budget $300,000 or less. The reason for this is that any ADU, large or small, has one set of the most expensive components like a bathroom, a kitchen, a water heater, an HVAC system, etc. As an ADU gets bigger, that additional area is usually a cheaper space to build, like larger living areas, more bedrooms, and closets.
An ADU can either be attached to the house, an existing garage, or a free-standing unit – the costs of these are not significantly different. As mentioned briefly above, building an ADU is no different than building a small version of your house, so it’s not a simple project.
You’ll want to make sure to engage an experienced architect/designer for the plans and speak to several quality contractors to get their opinions, recommendations, and cost estimates for your desired project. The architecture plans for an ADU should run you between $8,000 – $15,000.
Finally, it’s a good idea to start with a checklist to get a sense of what items go into an ADU project. See my ADU Checklist article for a full list of requirements you can use as a resource.
How Much Does a JADU (Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit) Cost?
$60,000 – $100,000
According to the new state regulations, a JADU is defined as a 500sf maximum separate living unit that must be created from within the ‘envelope’ of the existing home. So, that means taking part of the space within your home, be it a bedroom or an attached garage, and converting that to a distinct living unit containing a small kitchen, a separate entrance, and (optionally) a bathroom. Most of the time, this project involves converting an attached 2-car garage into a JADU.
An attached garage conversion to a JADU is somewhat cheaper than a detached garage conversion to ADU because all the necessary utilities (gas, electrical, water, waste) are available nearby. The other items and remodel cost ranges are similar, like the bathroom, kitchen, flooring, windows, etc. Like the discussion above, you’ll want to engage an architect and contractor when starting such a project. Check out more info about building a JADU here.
How Much Does a Home Addition in Los Angeles Cost?
$250-400 per square foot
Although most additions are ‘attached’ to the rear of the house, there is quite a bit of variety concerning the possibilities, and therefore the remodeling costs can vary significantly. For example, some additions require quite a bit of reconfiguration within the existing home to accommodate the new space, and that will add to the total remodel cost.
Also, a two-story addition will be more expensive than a single-story addition due to the structural elements required to support the second floor. Finally, ‘dry’ rooms such as family rooms and bedrooms are cheaper than ‘wet’ rooms like bathrooms, kitchen & laundry rooms. This makes a lot of sense when you think about the fact a bedroom is essentially four walls and a floor, while a bathroom needs plumbing, tile, vanity, countertops, fixtures, etc.
For more detailed information about building an addition to your home, check out my home addition blog.
In Los Angeles, a very common addition is a master suite, which is a combination of dry space (bedroom, closet) and wet space (a master bathroom). A master suite might be 400-500 square feet in size and cost around $150,000 but can range from $120-200k depending on the size and required finishes. I’ll discuss below some variables that can affect the remodel cost of a master suite or other addition.
Another common project is just to add a bathroom to a home. Older homes were often built with a limited number of bathrooms compared to what homeowners expect today. Creating a bathroom addition will range between $50-100k, depending on whether it’s a standard-sized guest bathroom or a luxurious master bathroom. Get more details about bathroom additions costs and tips here.
If your existing house is on a slab foundation (not a raised foundation), it will be more difficult to connect the plumbing (waste lines) and could increase costs. Also, if your electrical panel is at capacity, you may need to upgrade it to accommodate new electrical circuits in your additional space.
Next, if your roofing material is old or unique, it might be difficult to match it in constructing the addition, creating the possible need to re-roof the entire home. Finally, your chosen materials & finishes will have a significant impact on your project pricing. Some examples are lots of cabinetry in the bathroom/closet, wood/tile flooring versus carpet, luxury bathroom elements such as a large shower & freestanding tub, and extra features like patio doors, wood deck, or barn-style doors.
How Much Does a Backyard Remodel Cost?
A backyard remodel could include a variety of different projects with different budgets so your costs will depend on what you choose to build. Here are some price ranges depending on your selections:
Pool Installation: $50,000 – $100,000+
Spa construction: $10,000 – $30,000
Outdoor patio area or deck: $5,000 – $20,000,
Patio cover or pergola: $3,000 – $20,000.
Landscaping: $2,000 – $15,000
Outdoor BBQ/kitchen: $10,000 – $100,000
Firepit: $2,000 – $20,000
How Much Does Whole Home Remodeling Cost in Los Angeles?
$100-300 per square foot
Whole-home remodels in Los Angeles are the most difficult category to estimate because the total remodel cost will largely depend on what’s included. Every home is unique and requires a specific scope to accomplish the desired remodel. Therefore, the only way to get a true, realistic estimate is to invite several contractors to bid on the job (and potentially have an architect design the plans).
One way to create a rough budget for a whole home remodel in Los Angeles is to separate it into its major components. You start with the most expensive parts, which are likely the kitchen and bathrooms, assuming these are all included in the remodel. Based on the costs discussed above for each of these components, you can add these up to establish your overall budget.
Then, you might add in the following elements, depending on which are included in your whole home remodel: flooring, windows, interior/exterior paint, doors, windows, landscape/exterior, any systems such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, roofing, etc. My ADU checklist blog is a good place to consider all the elements you might need in a remodel.
Unfortunately, the hardest part of budgeting is the structural elements if you are doing any reconfiguration of your space by adding or removing walls. The remodel cost will depend on your unique situation and the structural engineer’s design, which could include structural support, beams, foundation reinforcement, shear walls, etc.
Because this is just too difficult for the layperson to budget, your best bet is to get multiple contractor estimates. Make sure each contractor breaks down his bid into all the various elements so you can compare these structural costs on each bid in an apples-to-apples way.
For whole home remodeling, you’ll most likely need a set of architectural plans before a contractor can give you an accurate estimate. Although you can do some research online regarding budgets per
square foot, these will be large ranges. The only way to narrow down the actual price is to either have a detailed set of plans or develop a detailed renovation checklist that outlines for the contractor every item that’s included in your project.
Price Increases and Material Costs
It should come as no surprise that material costs have increased substantially, along with everything else, during this period of high inflation. It’s always unfortunate when a homeowner who intends to remodel finds out that the budget they assumed was accurate from a year ago is now incorrect and the real price of their remodel has increased 10-20%. But unlike a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk, a 10% increase in the cost of a renovation can equate to a shockingly large number, often tens of thousands of dollars.
That being said, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University’s latest quarterly Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) report predicted a 5.9% decrease in home renovation spending through the second quarter of 2024, most likely related to issues of high interest rates, softening house price appreciation, and slow home sales.
We can assume that some of the cost increases in current project bids are the contractor’s decision to charge more because they need more profit to finance their lifestyle, which has become more expensive (the inherent cycle of runaway inflation). Some of the increase comes from their cost of labor. Their staff demands higher wages (again, because milk and everything else is more expensive for them to buy). And finally, their subcontractors are now charging them more for their labor.
But, we cannot forget that a large portion of the cost of any remodeling project is the materials. Specifically, in this case, these are the rough materials the contractor needs to complete the job. These are simple things like lumber, plywood, drywall, paint, nails, etc. These all seem like commodities and you would expect them to be cheap. And most of the time, that’s somewhat true. But during this inflationary environment, the prices of these materials have increased substantially. The contractor has no choice but to pass these increases along to the consumer in their bid. The contractor takes a risk that prices continue to increase between the day they provide the cost estimate and the day they must procure the materials for the project.
Finally, let’s discuss what is known as ‘finish materials’. These are items that must be selected by the owner for design reasons…items such as flooring material, light fixtures, faucets, shower tile, doors, windows, cabinets, etc. There are major pricing differences between basic builder-grade versions of these materials and ultra high-end or custom versions of these. Therefore, a contractor cannot include finish materials in their bid until and unless the homeowner specifies exactly what they want. Regardless, the price of these finish materials has also climbed substantially.
Is a Remodel Right For Me?
One of the most common barriers to beginning a home remodeling project that homeowners report is not knowing fully whether or not remodeling is right for them or if they should move instead. If this seems to describe you best, here are a few things to consider when deciding which route to take:
Is the budget best or even realistic for your family?
Once you’ve secured at least three quality quotes from different contractors, you should have an idea of whether or not the cost of a remodel fits within your budget. Even if it does, it’s then time to consider if it’s worth it. This fully depends on what makes the most sense for you and your family.
Is your home more special to you than the cost?
Remodeling is a no-brainer if you’re very attached to your home. Unless facing economic hardship, homeowners who find themselves in love with their home but instead sell and move for money eventually regret it.
If remodeling is more expensive but enhances your quality of life, you know that remodeling is the answer for you.
How Long Does a Home Remodel Usually Take?
That ultimately depends on how in-demand your contractor is, the time of year, and access to materials. And, of course, many, many other factors. If you’re not prepared, though, the time can take some by surprise. It’s a long-term commitment to the process.
It’s difficult to estimate an “average” time for remodels, but to give you an idea, a bathroom may take three weeks while kitchen remodels may take six. Full home renovations can easily take 3-6 months and a larger ADU can take 6-9 months. Either way, it’s best to be prepared in case you’re required to move out for any amount of time during the renovations.
Whatever the estimated timeline that you get from the contractor, you should be aware that the project will invariably take longer. So, you should add a month or two to the timeline you receive. A vast majority of projects experience delays, so if you prepare yourself at the outset for an expanded time horizon, you won’t be shocked when this occurs.
Even if you can stay at home throughout the entire length of the renovation process, it can be a significant life adjustment to live in a house while it’s being remodeled. However, as long as you are prepared, you can rest assured as you watch your home transform into something even more beautiful than it was before. The process of renovating brings a lot of homeowners joy.
Trends in Home Remodeling
Evolving trends in home renovating significantly influence project costs as homeowners strive to align their renovations with current design preferences and technological advancements. One prevalent trend impacting expenses is the increasing demand for open and multifunctional spaces. The desire for seamless transitions between areas prompts structural changes, potentially involving additional costs for layout alterations and space optimization.
Material choices contribute significantly to costs, especially with the growing preference for natural and sustainable options. Earthy tones, stone surfaces, and wooden accents may incur higher expenses compared to conventional materials, reflecting the shift toward eco-conscious design. Matte finishes, though elegant, might involve pricier products compared to their glossy counterparts.
The integration of smart home technology is another cost-influencing factor. Homeowners investing in intelligent systems for lighting, security, and energy efficiency incur upfront expenses for smart devices and their installation. However, these investments are often seen as long-term cost savings through improved energy management.
Sustainability, while commendable, can impact costs due to the higher initial expense of recycled or eco-friendly materials. Additionally, adopting green construction practices may involve specialized expertise, potentially affecting labor costs.
The emphasis on personalized touches also contributes to remodeling expenses. Custom solutions, bespoke furniture, and unique decor items may incur higher costs than mass-produced alternatives, reflecting the shift toward creating individualized, curated living spaces.
If you find yourself located in a neighborhood filled with starter homes, consider how large of a renovation you can take on before the home caps out in value. While it may technically still increase in value with more work put in, there are still only so many potential buyers who will pay for a home in that neighborhood.
For example, if the average home resale value in your area is $600,000 and you renovate your home to the point where it’s now worth $900,000, you might lose some money on the resale.
If you’re unhappy with your home for reasons like an undesirable school district or unpleasant neighbors, a remodel, unfortunately, will not help you. However, if you love your home for every possible reason you could love a house except for the fact that you need just one more bedroom, bathroom, or level, start the process of inquiring about a home renovation today.
When it comes to finding the best renovation contractor in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego – GreatBuildz is simplifying the contractor search. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish.
Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information: www.greatbuildz.com.
Check out the GreatBuildz Guide Blog for more construction tips and advice for any type of home remodeling project!