How much is it going to cost? Renovation budget expectations

renovation budget expectations

How much is it going to cost? Renovation budget expectations

When it comes to budgets for a renovation, there are SO many factors and variables.  The best place, and first place, to start is to have a design plan in place.  Once the design plan is in place, obtaining quotes from the trades will be easy.  So what kind of renovation budget expectations should you have?

Renovation Budget Expectations

When my painter was working in my basement he asked me how much our renovation was.

When we were renovating our basement, Rick kept asking me,

Are we still on budget?  Have you gone over the budget?

While there were times I could have hit him over the head, his questions were valid.  So how did things break down for our renovation and how did I manage the renovation budget expectations with Rick?

**Please note: I kept every receipt for this development to show Rick exactly where the money was spent and how it all worked out.  For this blog, I have rounded up to the nearest dollar.**

Getting Ready for the Reno

While most people don’t even factor this in, if there is something in your space where you are going to renovate, that ‘stuff’ needs to be removed.  For our basement, we had sports equipment, seasonal items (Christmas, Spring), and all of my decorating things.  We also had a tall cabinet with board games and card games, some older camping things as well as all of our travel paraphilia.  Suitcases, travel bags, backpacks, etc.

If you know me well, I hate clutter and I’m a huge believer in getting rid of crap that we don’t use or need.  The older I get, the less I want – but the stuff I want needs to be quality!

I was ruthless in getting our basement ready to renovate.  I went through all of our things are created 3 piles:

  • keep
  • donate
  • dump

It was during this time that Rick was working out of town from Monday to Thursday night.  I knew he was tired, I knew he hates to pack and move, so I hired a moving company to do the following:

  • move the ‘keep’ pile of boxes up to my office which is where they stayed during the renovation,
  • remove the dump and donate items.

While it took me one weekend to sort, pack and label everything, it took the moving company all of 2 hours to empty our basement!  Let me just say that it was WELL worth it!

Renovation budget expectations: plan on some money being spent on boxes, tape, etc. to pack up and move out your items.

COST: $500

Framing and Rough Ins

As you know, we had a design plan in place that I wanted Rick to follow. Included in our basement development was going to also be a bedroom.  We needed to ensure our window met egress code.  Knowing that our daughter was going to be moving down there, the first thing we had done was enlarge our window.  Once the window was installed, it was full steam ahead with all of the framing, followed by the electrical rough-in and plumbing rough-ins.


While the interior walls went smoothly, there was one exterior wall that caused a hiccup in our development.  Although we never changed the width of an existing window (we only went taller), when the city came for the framing inspection, our window failed.  I’m not going to lie, I was pissed.  The reason we didn’t go wider was to not have an engineer be involved.  Since the window ‘failed’, we had to get an engineer, we had to do the work he suggested (which might I add he didn’t think it needed to be done as the width of the window never changed), and then have the window re-inspected.

COST: $3645

EXTRA COSTS for engineer and work on the window/wall: $2380


Electrical Rough-Ins

Knowing that our basement was going to have the ceiling drywalled, there were some electrical items that we changed from our main floor renovation.  We had some electrical moved to ensure that all access panels would be located in our storage/laundry room.  I will say that I didn’t skimp with electrical in our basement.  It was in our plan for our basement to NOT look like a man-cave.  That being said, we do have a number of switches, outlets, and dimmers located throughout the basement. The cost below does not include any of the switches and outlets that Legrand so graciously provided me.

renovation budget expectations

The BEST light switches out there! 

COST: $5800

Plumbing Rough-Ins

When we built our home, we had a bathroom roughed in.  Although it was roughed in (which certainly helped), the design of the bathroom called for some minor work on the cement floor.

COST: $1275

Renovation budget expectations: Plumbing and electrical are typically bigger budget hits with older homes.



Let me just say that if I ever touch another piece of drywall, it will be too soon.  While I love to swing a hammer during the framing stage, love installing items, I detest drywalling!  While we saved money hanging the drywall, I hated every minute of it!

We did hire someone to do the mud and tape (thank goodness!)  We also hired my painter to paint the ceilings, walls and spray all of the trim work and interior doors.

COST: $6000


We used LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) in our bathroom and our laundry room/storage room) and installed it ourselves.  For the remainder of our basement, we have carpet.

renovation budget expectations

Luxury Vinyl Plank in the bathroom

COST: $5500

Dry Bar and Fireplace

We chose to have a dry bar instead of a wet bar for one significant reason: the cost to run a drain to that part of our basement was not a good ROI (return of investment).  To have a small bar sink/faucet was going to cost a significant amount of money so the decision was to have a dry bar area instead.  We chose to keep our house consistent and use the same cabinets we used in our kitchen renovation.  I also made the decision to include a microwave as the media area will be for viewing sports and movies and my whole family loves popcorn.  So yes – a $700 microwave was installed just for popcorn (and this is most likely the only thing Rick doesn’t know – how much the microwave was)! We are also having quartz counters installed (still yet to be installed) as well as I’m using shiplap for the backsplash.

renovation budget expectations

Our finished dry bar

We also chose to go with an electric fireplace.  Quite honestly, it’s more for ambiance than for heat and we already have 2 gas fireplaces in our home.  I wanted a more modern look for the basement so the electrical fireplace was what we went with.

renovation budget expectations

In progress shot of the fireplace wall

COST: $6100


When we renovated our main floor, we had our existing handrail sprayed with paint.  I always hated how dated the handrail was, so when I was getting the quote to do the basement I had them include the main floor leading to our upstairs as well. As such, the handrail was a bit higher than what I had budgeted – but it was well worth it!  They are waiting to be painted.

COST: $1500

Bathroom Fixtures

In our bathroom downstairs we installed the following:

  • Floating vanity
  • Maax U-tile Shower
  • Storage Cabinet
  • New Toilet
  • One new faucet
  • New lighting

COST: $4300

Interior Fixtures

We kept everything consistent in our basement with what we did on our main floor.  As such, the doors, baseboards, and casings are all the same.  I did change the door handles as I really don’t like what I used on our main floor (shhh…don’t tell Rick as those will slowly change out) 😉    Abby and I had a lot of fun picking out lighting for the bathroom and her bedroom.

COST: $1995

Renovation budget expectations: Finishing materials can range from the very budget conscious to the extravagant.  While selecting finishings like lighting, bathroom fixtures, etc. deals can be found!

Tools/Materials Needed

Every time Rick and I headed to Lowes (as I have a Contractor account with them), there seemed to be a new tool that landed in the cart.  As I mentioned at the start of this blog, I kept every receipt!  I was very clear with Rick (and I’m sure some of you can just hear me), that those tools were going to be added to this budget!  So please note, while the amount listed below does include a new laser level (which he just HAD to have), a new saw, and some other damn tools we clearly don’t need, the other  materials were things like:

  • drywall utility knives
  • items to hang drywall
  • Ramboard to protect our hardwood on the main floor
  • nails
  • screws, etc.

COST: $2380

Renovation budget expectations: If you are doing the work yourself, you will need the correct tools to get the job done.

Other Fees

As you know, we didn’t start our renovation with a timeline and we chose to use Waste Management Bagster and use it, fill it, and then have it removed right away.  We did not want a dumpster bin sitting on our driveway the entire time.

COST: $500


Typically when I work with clients, there really isn’t money in the budget to do a full decorating job.  With our basement, I wanted to ensure that it was finished with furniture.  We have ordered custom furniture to fit our space and our needs and I have had a ball picking out decor items.  And while there still may be a few things (here and there), we are mostly done.

COST: $14,745.00

renovation budget expectations

Our mostly finished space

Renovation budget expectations: As I mentioned above, most people do not include this in their budget.  If you are thinking of decorating your space, ensure to add a good dollar figure here to finish it off.

Renovation Budget Expectations

I’m going to go back to the original question that my painter had asked me

How much was your renovation?

Here is the low-down:

Without decorating: $41,775

With decorating: $55,920.00

I do wish to add the following: Rick and I did most of the work ourselves.  The only things we did not do were:

  • drywall mud/tape
  • paint
  • lay the carpet
  • install the quartz

I also want to add that all of the pricing is my Interior Designer pricing.  None of this pricing is retail.

If you do not wish to do the work yourself, you are most likely looking to add at least another $20,000 – $25,000+ depending on where you live and what you don’t want to do.

 What should my renovation budget expectations be?

When we started talking about renovating our basement, Rick thought we could do it for around $20,000.  While I choked down my water (ok – maybe it was a beer), I told him that was not reasonable with what we wanted to do.  And while we certainly could have renovated our basement for $20,000, it would be looking very differently!  So my tips for all of you considering a renovation are this:

  • Plan out your space first to see what it is that you truly wish to have for your space.
  • Start creating a list of what kind of things you would like to go into your space.  Are you looking at bathroom faucets that are $750 each and you’re hoping to get them for $100?  Totally not realistic.  I really encourage you to start paying attention to prices.
  • Obtain quotes for the work that needs to be done. Show the trades/general contractor/project manager your space and have them bid on your project. I am going to add here that you should also not be only looking at the figure.  Make sure you are comparing apples to apples if you are receiving multiple bids.
  • You may need to decide to either change your plans and scale back OR wait another year or two to get the dream space you are hoping for.

It is very common to have champagne dreams and a beer budget.  It really is.  Can we work with your budget to get you the space you desire?  Of course, we can.  It just may need a few tweaks and adjustments to get the job done!

Thinking of a renovation and don’t know where to start?  Download my FREE guide to help you get started! 


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