Kitchen and bathroom remodel costs

Question regarding house remodeling: We recently bought a house in the East Bay and would like to update the kitchen and bathrooms before moving in. We wouldn't be moving walls or changing wiring/plumbing but require significant updates. We reached out to an architect that a family member used in SF who gave us estimates that were $75000 for the kitchen and $20000/each for the two bathrooms. Meanwhile, our realtor mentioned that he knows some good contractors that can get all of this work done for less than $50,000. There seems to be such a big difference between these two estimates that we are not sure what the average rates in the Bay Area are. We would like to have some modern updates done but do not have too big of a budget and so I have two questions for the group:

- What is the cost of an average kitchen or bathroom remodel in the Bay Area?
- Does anyone have an architect that they can recommend?

Thanks so much for your help in this regard

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You can try Houzz to see if they have statistics on average costs.  The bigger issue is finding people to do the work - most of my contractors have stopped answering the phone for new inquiries, they are just too slammed.  

As for bathrooms, we recently completed one bathroom remodel and are working on bathroom number two.  Your cost will completely depend on (1) whether you are comfortable serving as the general contractor for the job (usually requires being present on a daily basis, knowing who to hire, and lining them up so there aren't any horrific gaps in the timing), (2) what is actually behind your walls, and (3) how fancy your finishes are.  Do you want radiant floor heating?  Do you want a name brand toilet?  Do you want a rain shower head and a hand held shower?  Do you want the exposed plumbing look? 

Our recent master bath remodel cost around $25k.  I lined up the contractors myself (plumber, electric, tile, shower glass, wallpaper) and sourced all the materials myself (usually at contractor discounts).  Our tile was fancy-ish, our sink/shower fixtures were middle of the road, and the medicine cabinet and lights were on the cheaper end.  We did remove a tub to create a walk-in shower.  But the big unknown expense was 2 days of subfloor and framing repair since the previous owners decided not to use a waterproof backer in the shower.  You never know what you're going to find once you start demo...

For our second bath, we're using same contractors and keeping the sink and tub.  We are getting a new tile shower surround, tile floor, toilet, and sconce.  We also needed to replace some old galvanized pipe with copper.  All-in will be about $10-12k.

Also, I wouldn't assume that you can avoid plumbing and/or electrical work.  Unless you are keeping the sink, toilet, tub/shower, and all lights exactly the same, plumbing and electrical are almost always needed on some level.  It is also worth it to correct any code issues while you have the walls open.

I did a very superficial kitchen remodel a few years ago for about $20k.  New wood floors, new sink, resurfaced and painted existing cabinets, new quartz countertops from Home Depot, new can lights and pendants, and new range and fridge from Sears.  Backsplash was wainscoting (tile would have added another $3-4k).  My understanding is that the code has changed to the point where it is basically impossible to avoid new electrical updates on a kitchen remodel.   If you can avoid new cabinet work, then you will be able to keep the budget low-ish.

I'm not sure if an architect is required if you are not moving walls?  Perhaps you mean a kitchen designer?  Either way, you're probably looking at $3-5k for that person, easy.

Hi - we remodeled two bathrooms and our kitchen before we moved in two years ago for roughly 50k total. We did a very minimal kitchen update though - painted cabinets and kept everything in the same place but swapped all the tiles, appliances and countertops. We removed a wall as well.

Bathrooms were more extensive remodels, though we kept everything mostly in the same place, which kept the cost down. I also purchased a lot of the supplies myself (tiles, countertops) to save on upcharges.  

Good luck!

Hello. I don't have recommendations for the area, but I would recommend reading this book first, or something similar:

Remodel Without Going Bonkers or Broke
By Jim Molinelli

I am planning a remodel in the next year and feel so much more confident about what to expect, and from who (architect vs contractor vs design build companies) after reading it. It's quick.

Good luck

In general, it's hard to get good estimates for these types of work. You'll get different numbers from different people. I would use $300 per square foot as a starting point, which means using builder grade cabinets, tiles, and accessories. Using an architect will add to that cost, using a general contractor to oversee the project will also add to the cost. If your house is an older house, you might find unexpected things once you open up the walls, like old electrical wires or things that are not up to code, that you probably want to update, again, adding to your construction cost. Are you keeping the current kitchen appliances or getting new ones? Those alone can cost anywhere from $5k to $50k if you are looking at top of the line. Do you want tiles for the back-splash? You can get $3 per square foot tiles or $150 per square foot tiles. I think it's more important to set a budget up front and design your renovation based on those numbers than knowing what the average cost is because everyone has different tastes and budgets. 

I am in the middle of doing an addition and the architect I used was Gary Meyer at (415) 860-6223. He's easy to work with, good communicator and very knowledgeable with Oakland permit process. 

The difference in cost often comes down to finishes and how skilled the contractor is, in my experience. $75K for a kitchen and $20K per bath sounds about right (possibly even a little low for the baths, but depends on how much you are doing--the less you move and the more you stay within the footprint of the existing space, the cheaper it is). We did our small, modest kitchen seven years ago during the recession and DIYed much of it and still spent $35K when all was said and done; we didn't get any quotes from general contractors for less than $60K and one was $100K (!!!) I can't imagine you can do a kitchen for $50K in today's market unless you are not moving anything and believe most of your systems are already to code or close to it so it's mostly cosmetic. (You need to bring the whole kitchen up to current code when you renovate, so sometimes that triggers electrical or HVAC work that you had not planned to do.) That said, it can't hurt to call your realtor's contractors and see what they have to offer. Good luck!

The architect is right, the realtor is wrong. I have remodeled 2 houses extensively over the last 16 years, and just finished a few months ago. In today’s market in the Bay Area, 75k for a kitchen and 20k for a bathroom is actually on the lower end for good quality work with a good contractor.  Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms to remodel. 50k for all of the work you described will, in my opinion, get you a bad contractor and sub-quality work. It will cost you close to 50k just for all the appliances, new cabinets, countertop and flooring in the kitchen plus the flooring/tile/toilets/etc in the two bathrooms. 

Really appreciate all your feedback and comments. This has been super helpful.