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Is it cheaper to knock down and rebuild or renovate your house?

Renovating versus Rebuilding: A Complete Guide


Refurbishing (or renovating) is one of the most exciting ways to renovate. It’s all the fun and glory of shopping without the dust and hideous expense of a rebuild. Kitchens and bathrooms can be transformed into something magazine-worthy by replacing old and worn fittings.Here’s what you need to know as you contemplate renovating versus rebuilding in Chicago.


Bedrooms come up a treat with freshly painted walls and living areas can be made to look more modern with new window treatments or floor coverings. Yep, by the end of this guide, you will realize that renovation versus rebuilding in Chicago has a lot going for it.

Renovating versus Rebuilding in Chicago

By the end of this guide, you will realize that renovation versus rebuilding in Chicago has a lot going for it

What Does True Renovating Mean?

A true refurbishment means leaving the structures of the room as they are and replacing the accoutrements—the fittings, paintwork, skirtings and floorcoverings. A refurb leaves the ceilings, wall structures, floor structures, electrical wiring and plumbing intact. It is more like a redecoration than a renovation.

Renovating vsersus rebuilding in chicago

It’s up to you what you want to spend on a refurb

The sky is the limit with a refurb you can spend a lot of money, but you can also do it on a tight budget. For example, a cast-iron bathtub might cost $8500 while a plastic tub might cost around $150.You will pay the same amount of money to install and fit either bathtub, but the cast-iron one might last 10 times longer. It may also be out of fashion within five years. It’s up to you what you want to spend on a refurb but don’t forget that budget is still a prime consideration.

The Rules of Refurb

While it’s always best to refurbish rather than rebuild (your stress levels will thank you), there is no point spending money on a refurb when the property is screaming out for structural renovation.

Refurbishing a poorly laid-out room or one that really needs the walls re-plastered or the ceilings replaced is a waste of money. You will only have to rip up your expensive refurbishments to fix the underlying structures later—ouch, that will hurt the overdraft.

Remodeling versus renovating in chicago

ou need to assess what you want to do and how much money you have to spend

Naturally, the rules of renovation planning apply here. You need to assess what you want to do and how much money you have to spend. So, just like you did in the last chapter for maintenance and repairs, you need to do a room assessment and plan how you want to approach the refurb.

Renovating versus Rebuilding in Chicago

Many factors are considered when deciding to renovate or build a new house. Whereas renovation takes a shorter time. Building takes more time and more resources. However, it depends with circumstances leading to either renovating or bringing down the old home and constructing a new house. Some of factors considered are cost, time & change.

Should you renovate?

Value: once a house is renovated it appreciates its value immediately, if the owner would wish to sell it in future, this is an added advantage. It would fetch more money and even attract potential buyers thus selling it to the highest bidder.

renovating cersus rebuilding in Chicago

Remember your renovation mission statement.

Locality: Living in a place for some time gives someone a sense of belonging. Accesssibility to facilities will not change.

Beauty: Someone is able to spruce up house features as she/he pleases.

Space:  Depending on how big the house is, you can partition the lager spaces hence creating more rooms.

Challenges: The extent of renovation might increase due to structural defects.

Movement disturbance:  to create room for renovation, there has to be relocation from one room to the other.

Getting the refurbishing sequence right

You can easily minimize the cost of refurbishment if you spend loads of time planning. Once you have planned the elements you need for a refurbishment, it is easier to shop for cheaper materials, get competitive quotes for labor and choose the finishes and fittings you would like. Planning gives you the freedom to choose cheaper options—but only if you have time up your sleeve to exercise those options.

Desires and Budgets

Remember your renovation mission statement. Also, remember your budget. Don’t forget that your bank manager/mother/partner will want to kill you if you spend more than you can afford. Refurbishing is more expensive than plain old maintenance and repairs so you need to get a handle on costs before you start.

  1. First things first. Create a floor plan and work out how many square meters need renovating, then use a guide to costs to get a rough estimate.
  2. Estimate. Assess the materials you need to buy and the labor you need to hire to get a more accurate costing. You can also ask tradespeople and suppliers to give you quotes on jobs.
  3. Final budget. Work out exactly what materials you need and their costs, and how much you will pay for labor.
  4. Estimate. Work out how much time you will need to spend on getting quotes, overseeing suppliers, donating labor.

Refurbishing and your time

The longer you can take to refurbish a room, the cheaper it will be. Time gives you the luxury of shopping around for cheaper tradespeople and materials. It might also enable you to do some components of the job yourself—like stripping out and rubbish removal or painting.

A long time period could also make it easy for you to project-manage the job and schedule the plumber, tiler, electrician and painter yourself rather than paying a builder to oversee the renovation. If time is of the essence and you can’t go without a proper kitchen for three months, it is worth spending the money on a builder. Or you can employ a kitchen or bathroom company to do the renovations in a timely manner for a fixed price (just make sure you check reputations before you sign any contracts).

Two easy ways to renovate

renovating versus rebuilding in chicago

You can move and do everything at once or do it room by room

Move out and do everything at once

Pros: Can be quick and relatively cheap and painless, which adds to the gratification.

Cons: If costs or schedules blow out, it is more frustrating. Finding suitable rental accommodation can be painful.

Do it room-by-room

Pros: Less pressure and disruption to life. You can also get a better handle on costs; if the bathroom blows out, you can save on the bedroom.

Cons: Slowly, slowly it can drive you insane. You might also pay more in call-out fees for tradespeople, as well as find it more difficult to buy materials in bulk.

The Most Valuable Rooms to Refurbish

Common wisdom suggests bathrooms and kitchens are the best rooms to refurbish for the resale value of a property, but this doesn’t necessarily hold true. Louis

Christopher, a property owner from Arlington Heights, says buyers need to know that new kitchens and bathrooms actually depreciate over time. ‘Renovations just for the sake of renovations don’t really add any value,’ Louis says. ‘Most people would rather pay more money for simple things like a double garage or an entertainment deck—features that really add to the lifestyle value of a house.’

The most common renovations are

  • New kitchens and bathrooms
  • Second storey additions
  • Ground floor extensions
  • Garages and decking

The most common trends buyers are looking for in homes relate to ease of lifestyle outdoor entertaining areas, open-plan living with the kitchen as the hub of the house, luxury bathrooms for pampering, rooms to capture views or outlooks. So refurbishing rooms that offer to improve the lifestyle value of a house is probably the most valuable thing you can do.

Outdoor Refurbishing

It is probably fair to assume that opening a small lounge room to the outdoors by installing glass doors will be more valuable than just upgrading a kitchen. But if you have a squalid outdoor bathroom and still decide that installing glass doors to open up the lounge room to the outdoors is a more valuable move, then you need your head read.

The only accurate way to get an idea of the most valuable rooms to renovate is speak to your local real estate agents about what is selling in your area and which features potential buyers are demanding. In some suburbs, an in-ground swimming pool is a great asset to a property; in others it is considered a drawback due to high maintenance and ongoing costs. Get to know what works in your local area, and refurbish your rooms according to the demands of the local real estate market.

What experts say

Real estate agent Debbie Saunders, who specializes in selling prime Chicago real estate, says refurbishments that are clean, simple and uncluttered have the most market appeal. ‘People are more attracted to white tiles in the bathroom than tiles with three colors. They want simplicity,’ she says.

renovate versus rebuilding in chicago

Expert advise is by far the most useful input while exploring renovation costs and ideas

The key to refurbishment and spending your money to best effect is to work within the current layouts of rooms, especially the kitchen and bathroom. If you don’t need to move services like plumbing and electricity then your main costs will be stripping out, buying new fixtures and fittings, retiling and painting which will be kinder to your budget.

However, if the design of a room or the structure is fundamentally flawed, forget the refurb and save up for a rebuild. Don’t waste money on cosmetic work for crap rooms which will always be crap.

Refining Your Refurbishment Plan

With the confusion over the many tasks and trades involved in a refurbishment, it makes sense to use some revised planners to help keep your thoughts and budgets on track. Try filling in the following blank planners to summarize the planning steps you have already been through.


Rebuilding is the last resort, the worst type of renovation. It is expensive, time consuming and very dirty—do not do it unless you really have to. There is no way you can rebuild cheaply or without inconvenience—you will need to engage a range of professionals and very possibly move out of the property while work is being done.

rebuilding versus renovating in chicago

A newly rebuilt home











For the purpose of this guide, rebuilding means:

  • Moving doors
  • Moving windows
  • Removing walls
  • Removing floors
  • Replacing structures such as roof supports, walls, footings or decks
  • Rewiring electricals
  • Replacing old plumbing
  • Demolishing structures.

If a property has any of the following faults, it will probably need rebuilding, at least partially.

Crumbling Walls

Brick walls that are close to the sea or very old may have crumbling mortar or rusted arch bars. You can repair crumbling walls if the extent is not that great. In some instances, however, it is cheaper to demolish and reconstruct.

Failed plumbing

Old clay plumbing pipes are often cracked and broken; even 20-year-old homes can have leaky or blocked pipes or inadequate stormwater drainage. In many older structures, the only way to replace the plumbing is to break open the wall cavities. But if you’re lucky the pipes are more accessible. Perhaps only requiring a bit of digging. Sub-floor areas allow easier plumbing renewal.

Old electrical wiring

You should consider replacing wiring that is more than 30 years old. However, if you insulated the wires well and hid the insulation within brick walls, you are safe. You also have to have good quality sockets and switches. If this is the case, you can consider not replacing the wiring system. All this is for your own safety more than anything else.

Extensive rotting or decay of brick or timber structures

If your building is poorly maintained, refurbishing is necessary. This is to maintain the structural integrty of the building. For example, they shake when you push the walls or the floor is unsound. Sometimes a structural engineer can restore and repair the area.

Inadequate roofing and roof supports

You can fix leaking roofs. There is no need of removing the whole roofing system. However, the timber supports for a roof can rot or be damaged by termites, and in these cases you have to rebuild them.

Wide-reaching termite damage

When termites damage the supporting beams and bearers of a building, the only option is to exterminate the pests and rebuild the damage.

Demolishing To Rebuild

A growing trend is the ‘knock it down and rebuild’ market, where people demolish an existing house and build a well-priced new home on the same site. This is extremely cost effective, especially in areas where land is in short supply.

It is cheaper to build project homes. This is because builders can buy materials in bulk, saving on cost.

Most brick-veneer project homes can be built for $900–1300 per square meter. This price does not include demolition of the existing home (site costs), landscaping or fencing. Take a good look at your renovation estimate. It might be more cost-effective to build a new home.

What about apartments?

Just like houses, apartments have design features that are worth refurbishing. It goes without saying that individual apartment owners cannot renovate an entire building. That is the responsibility of the collective owners (the body corporate, the executive committee, the owners’ corporation). You can, however, make some improvements to your apartment.

What History Has to Say

There were two major booms in apartment construction in Chicago the 1930s Art Deco era and the 1960s.When upgrading the interior of these apartments; it is well worth retaining some of their original features. These include:

Art Deco – Patterned ceilings, leadlight windows, curved windows, glass doors, timber windows, timber floors, timber skirtings and picture rails, original plaster cornices, original tiles and light fittings.

1960s These are often maligned as brick bunkers, but many have excellent solid brick and concrete construction, simple room decoration (no cornices, minimal skirtings), parquetry floors, and sometimes interesting laminex or tile finishes.

What about Chicago?

Apartment styles vary across Chicago, but generally more modern apartments are not as well constructed as earlier styles. Apartment construction is booming but it’s important to note that not all constructions are alike. The very best modern apartments offer a view or outlook. The poor alternative being staring at a brick wall or another apartment block.

Renovating versus Rebuilding in Chicago

DIY plans come in handy while deliberating on renovating instead of rebuilding

They also have good natural light and ventilation, often with open plan living and dining spaces that connect to a small balcony or courtyard. Poorer-quality apartments have no solid walls, minimal floor space (to maximize developers’ profits) and low ceiling heights. Sure, a modern apartment with stone bench tops and stainless steel appliances looks like it will never need renovating, but in another five or ten years those fittings may start to look dated.

Repair and Maintenance

Maintenance is the easiest way to renovate—it is the cheapest and most cost-effective way to make a property seem like new again. There are essentially two

Types of maintenance:

Scrub-up maintenance – This is the maintenance you do not make periodically. Scrub0-up maintenance contributes to the permanent look of the house.

Regular maintenance – These are the boring drudgerous tasks you need to undertake on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to keep the property looking neat and tidy.

And finally

Maintenance is intrinsic to a property’s value. A well maintained and clean kitchen or bathroom can seem just as valuable to a potential purchaser as a renovated kitchen or bathroom. Qualified professionals will tell you that a well-maintained and tidy property is more appealing than a renovated but poorly maintained property. While debating renovation versus rebuilding in Chicago, the tiniest bit of information could make a huge difference.

While many renovators rush to put in new kitchens and bathrooms, falsely believing it will ‘add value’ to their property, they forget the mantra of maintenance. Maintenance will pay you back ten-fold if you invest your time in it.

For more insight and advise on whether to renovate or buy altogether, you can contact us for comprehensive and personal consultation.






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Porch Remodeling Ideas for Chicago – Ultimate Guide

Porch Renovation Ideas for Chicago – Ultimate Guide

The porch is one of the trickiest places to renovate for good reasons. You are split between making it beautiful and sustainable. It is a possibility that can invest a whole lot of your time and resources but still not get value for money. You will need a porch that can withstand adverse weather. While thinking of renovating, you will of course consider some factors. Weather patterns in your area will be your first consideration. Your budget will also determine the extent of the renovation. The following feature is a complete guide of all the options you will need to explore before renovating. But first, check out these porch renovation ideas for Chicago.

The most renovation-sensitive components of the porch


Experiment with different types of lights available. You will need sustainable lighting to take you through every season. The lights should complement your paint work. Halogen bulbs bring an essence of warmth, style and color. Fluorescent lamps are the best if you decide on bright colors like shades of white and cream. You can also install lighting that you can easily adjust according to preference. Try and keep everything adjustable.

porch renovation ideas for chicago

Warm white halogen porch lights


porch renovation tips for chicago

If you have young ones around, do not install ceramic, they will get hurt













Tiling your steps makes it easier to clean, but can be hard to maintain. If you have young ones around, do not install ceramic, they will get hurt. Consider wooden steps. Depending on your budget, you can make the steps stand out by using inexpensive material like cement. However, for a truly amazing finish, ceramic steps are the most ideal. If you live in the countryside, renovate the steps with easy to clean material. The steps are easily neglected, but if you do things right, they will most certainly stand out.


The space above should also compliment the paint work you will use. More likely than not, you will suspend something from the ceiling. It is important to consider this before installing the ceiling. This is where expert advice from your designer or architect comes on handy. You could suspend potted plants, lamps or even a fan. Durable ceiling will take you through the year effortlessly. Concrete ceilings are a terrible idea. The ceiling is permanent so you will need to invest in a durable ceiling that can withstand adverse weather.


porch renovation tips for chicago

The size of the porch will determine the size of the swing(s)

The porch is a great relaxation area. Good old traditional swings provide a sense of tranquility when you need some time alone. However, you might need to rethink the painting and type of material you will use while installing the swings. You could build your own swing from scratch or install a ready-made one. The swing should complement the furniture you will install. You could then add style and comfort by adding cushions with the same color and design as the furniture around. The size of the porch will determine the size of the swing(s)


porch renovation tips for chicago

You can install permanent furniture or temporary ones you can replace at your own convenience

This is perhaps the most complicated of the renovation process. However, if you do it right, you will enjoy what you see. The weather is your most important factor before coming to material and design. Install weather-proof furniture if rain or snow makes its way through the sitting area. You can install permanent furniture or temporary ones you can replace at your own convenience. The color of the furniture should be something close to the wall furniture. That goes without saying. A key reminder; since the patio is outdoors, keep things inexpensive if you travel a lot.


Porch lamp renovation ideas for Chicago

Depending on the theme of your renovation exercise, you could go modern or vintage

Install lamps that you can easily replace in the future. Depending on the theme of your renovation exercise, you could go modern or vintage. It would be weird to install vintage lamps in a modern home. The vice versa is also true. The color of the bulbs is also a consideration if you are installing totally new lamps. Ikea sells amazing lamp designs but you can also get some unique outdoor lamps at your local convenience store.


It is obvious that the siding would be similar to the one the house is built with. However, while renovating, you can take down the existing one and install a totally new one. Depending on preference, wooden sidings are the best but would require insulation for the cold season. There are several types of sidings you can use, depending on your preference. This might be a big project if you are taking down the existing one and that is where we come in. we can advise you on the best way to approach this step of the renovation process.


Painting your porch is by far the most exciting of the whole renovation process. You get to experiment with so many different colors and themes. Even the more exciting is the fact that you can do it all by yourself. To paint correctly, start by setting a theme. A theme will be your guide to everything including furniture, the ceiling and floor. It would be advisable to use oil based paint. It’s glossier than water-based paint. It’s also easier to clean. You can browse catalogs or consult an expert if you are not sure.


porch renovation ideas for chicago

There are tens of inexpensive roofing types and patterns to consider before settling on one.











Light roofing is recommended for the front pouch. You can choose the pattern of the roof and what material to use. There are tens of inexpensive roofing types and patterns to consider before settling on one. Furniture can transform the look of your porch. Even if the porch is old, appropriate furniture can make the porch area an awe for your family and visitors.

How Renovations Affect the Value of a Property

A renovation will hold its value if it creates a property which will be in high demand but is of limited supply in the local area. A renovation will also hold its value if it complements the style and integrity of the original property. Even the most ungainly looking house or apartment will have some style and design features that are worth retaining, complementing or improving—these usually relate to the proportions and style of the original property.

Renovators in the 1970s would have laughed if someone said that open fireplaces would become a valued feature of a Victorian house: fireplaces were routinely boarded up to make rooms easier to furnish and seem larger, a desired lifestyle amenity at the time. Now, those houses with boarded-up fireplaces are worth less money than similar properties which still have their original features.

Retain the house’s original features

Without getting into an extended heritage debate, it is important to retain valuable ‘original features’ in a property rather than destroying them to create something new. These original features are integral to the long-term value of a property as they cannot be easily re-created and therefore are in limited supply.

This in turn means demand for original features cannot be easily met, so the price of properties with original features becomes higher. Even properties built in the 1960s and 1970s will have features worth retaining. It is important to understand the intrinsic design features of each property before embarking on a refurbishment which could destroy its future value.

Generally, alterations and additions to a property should be in a similar form and use similar materials to the original structure; it is worth retaining the roofline and the look of the house from the street.

Questions to ask before renovating the outdoor area

  • What activities do we use the area for?
  • How frequently will you use it?
  • Are the garden beds and garden paths in the right places?
  • Is the entertaining area large enough for our needs?
  • Is there room for the herb garden/flower garden/plants we would like?
  • Does it add to the street appeal of the house?
  • What about maintenance?
  • Are the sympathetic to the house and street scape?
  • The mailbox, is it in a secure and obvious position?
  • Are the plantings sympathetic to the house?

Porch Renovation Cost Analysis

There are so many materials and types of labor involved in renovation. There are literally thousands of combinations of materials and trades which can be used on just one property. Professional estimators can work out the costs of a job for you, which is useful if you’re doing a big renovation as an owner-builder.

However, most of us have to make some estimates ourselves—and don’t know where to begin. The list below is not exhaustive, but is a good place to start for most renovation jobs. You would need to order some materials weeks in advance.You can order others at the hardware store when need arises. Simply fill out the lines that apply to you and add new materials to the list as required.

When is the best time to schedule renovations?

There are some basic rules of programming or scheduling renovations. All builders and project managers break down a renovation into the smaller jobs that need completing. They schedule the small jobs and, based on their extensive experience at understanding trades and material deliveries, that’s how they can efficiently program an entire project.

porch renovation ideas for chicago

You need to schedule a renovation hen most convenient for you

Renovations, especially those coordinated by people without extensive experience in the building industry cannot be scheduled as effectively as the building of a new home. It is a fact of life that a tiler might be held up for two days on another job, delaying your job by two days and then delaying every other job further down the schedule. There’s not much you can do about this accept that it may happen.

It’s all about scheduling

Working out a schedule for your renovation gives you direction. It maximizes time-efficiency and minimizes cost, chaos and stress. A schedule means that you don’t need to keep calling out tradespeople for small jobs. You can book a mason to do several things at once or you can book two or three for the same day (but ONLY if all the tradespeople agree!).

A schedule means that you will be without a kitchen or bathroom or home for as minimal a period as possible. However, you must be realistic about how much can be achieved in a timeframe and you have to develop some understanding of subcontractors and the tasks involved. For example, the plumber should be booked to install bathroom taps, vanity unit and shower taps on the same day that the kitchen needs new taps installed, but BOTH rooms need to be at the right building stage for the plumber to come in. Or, if you’re painting the lounge room, paint the dining room or hallway as well, so that the time preparing rooms, cleaning brushes and getting paint in your hair is minimized.

A few Pointers before Concluding

Before starting on any kind of building work in your home or business, you need to know exactly what your objectives are, the resources that are available to you and how you are going to achieve those objectives.

You also need to consider whether or not your ideas are practical and achievable within your anticipated timescales. Do remember that the planning of any work, whether it is on a large or small scale, takes time and patience. The scale of the project will obviously dictate the amount of time it will be necessary to spend on the planning.

Don’t ignore the details

If you think that your project is too small to warrant the time spent on reading all of the content and issues in this article read it anyway. You may be surprised how some of the bigger issues can be scaled down to help in the smaller projects.

If you have little or no knowledge about the technical aspects related to your project or the logistical problems that building work involves, you will need to contact an architect or specialist designer, depending on your requirements. For example, any work that involves alterations to internal or external walls will require the advice of experienced people.

What Architects Will Do for You

While builders and contractors will have had experience in carrying out the work, it is important that you satisfy yourself in the first place as to whether structural calculations and drawings will be required.

Architects, engineers and designers will also know what is required to obtain planning permission (if needed) and building regulation approval. If the architect has submitted drawings, calculations and any other information to the local authority in order to obtain planning approval/consent, there may also be additional disbursement costs that you will be liable for.

Before engaging in any type of contract, it is worth getting estimates first. Architects and designers are market-led and in boom times may have many months’ work booked in advance. They will therefore have the upper hand when negotiating fees, so be patient and shop around.

And finally

It’s hardly surprising that renovation can easily turn to disaster. Little jobs make up a renovation process. Painting, polishing, plumbing, removing, demolishing, rewiring, rebuilding. It’s enough to send even the most organized person into a tailspin. Successful renovating is all about planning. And it’s all about fully preparing yourself for the financial and logistical burdens of improving a property.

It’s about feeling in control because you are in control. It’s about spending to your budget because you understand every task and job that you will be paying for. Most importantly, it’s about navigating the minefield that is renovating in Chicago. In a way that’s easy, simple and fun (although I can’t promise it will be quick or cheap!).








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Cost of Gutting a House and Remodeling in Chicago: A Professional Analysis

 The Cost Of Renovation Analyzed

the cost of renovation in chicago

Most people focus on the financial part of the cost of renovation.

More likely than not, your renovation endeavors are hindered by your ability to fund your ideas. Truth be told, you need cash to renovate. It even gets tougher by the day with the rising cost of hardware. Everything starts with a plan. Everything else is secondary. With a plan you can outlay everything from start to finish. The cost of renovation in Chicago can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be.


Most people focus on the financial part of the cost of renovation. They tend to forget other aspects that in the end will amount to costs. By the end of this analysis, you will be able to know the true meaning of the cost of renovation.

The five rules of renovation planning

  1. Set your desired outcome according to your time and money. Decide what you want. A totally slick pad or just a nice kitchen to work in? If you want a slick pad but only have $5000 to spend, then you’ll need to prioritize how you will accomplish it all.
  2. Survey the scene by creating a floor plan. Plan an attack and THEN act. Use the planners and tables before you embark on any dust-inducing action. It’s the old tradesman’s rule of measure twice, cut once. Plan hard, renovate sanely.
  3. If the hardest job isn’t finished first, don’t waste your time or money on other things. Don’t paint a room until you’ve replaced the rotten architraves. And don’t waste five hours scrubbing an old bath if you plan on replacing it in three months’ time. Well, unless you have five hours to spare and really want to . . .
  4. Always, always, always choose the easiest method of renovating to your desired outcome. It will save you time, it will save you money and it will save your sanity. Don’t go overboard just for the sake of it.
  5. Make maintenance a mantra: Don’t undo all your good work by forgetting the little things that devalue a property and take hours to fix. Look after your property and your renovation work—that way you won’t have to revisit the process again for a long time.

The Cost Of Renovation in Chicago

The cost of your time

the cost of renovation in chicago

Overseeing a renovation is time-consuming.

Overseeing a renovation is time-consuming. Even if you choose to outsource everything and leave it in the hands of capable professionals. For example, if you earn $60 000 a year for a 40-hour a week job, the time you give to your employer is worth around $32 an hour. Even the buck starts here. 11 employing professionals to organize and complete your renovation will take at least 20 hours of your time.

The cost of stress

renovating in chicago

If you are a person who hates stress, then the cost might be higher than you think.

If you fail to follow a plan or method when renovating, things will go wrong. Costs will blow out. You will fight with your partner, or your bank manager, or anyone who comes near you. If you are the type of person who can handle pressure, then the cost of stress may be negligible to you. If you are a person who hates stress, then the cost is high.

The cost of chaos

If you renovate a kitchen, how do you plan to cook meals each night? Your bathroom is inaccessible for three weeks, where will you shower and how much will it cost to rent a Port-a-loo? What if anyone in the family is asthmatic, they cannot live within coo-ee of a dusty renovation. What might these things cost you in terms of money and lifestyle?

the cost of renovating in chicago

where will you stay? Will you have to rent temporary accommodation?

The cost of temporary relocation

If you need to move out for a refurbishment or a rebuild, where will you stay? Will you have to rent temporary accommodation? What are the costs?

Working Out What You Can Afford

Most normal people don’t have unlimited funds or savings which allow them to spend all that they want on their desired renovation. It’s hard enough just buying a property, let alone finding more money to fix it up.

Yes, when you read magazines and watch TV it does seem that renovators are quite happy to splash out $200 000 to put the charm back into their little shack, but most mere mortals do not have access to that kind of cash without hitting the redraw button on their mortgage account.

renovating in chicago

you need to carefully consider your budget before you start taking down ceilings











That means you need to carefully consider your budget before you start taking down ceilings and opening your own can of renovation worms. Nowadays, flexible mortgage arrangements mean it’s relatively easy to borrow extra money against your property to finance renovations.

While banks make this sound very simple, the catch is that you must have a reasonable portion of equity in your home to make this work. If you have less than 20 per cent equity in your home and think that you should borrow some more money to renovate, you need a smack on the hand! Do not even consider borrowing money to renovate until you own a good stake in your home.

The other hideous problem with borrowing to renovate is that interest rates can rise over time, and the borrowed renovation money can end up costing you a lot more than you originally thought. That means a $50 000 renovation on today’s money will cost you $110 848 over 25 years at 7.5 per cent interest, but if interest rates increased to 10 per cent in three years’ time, that same renovation would cost you $136 305 over 25 years.

The Art of Guessing Estimates

Guesstimating costs can be difficult for people who have little experience with building. There are building industry publications that outline all material and labor costs for building and renovation; they are updated every six months.

architecture costs in chicago

‘We have people getting prices from builders and the quotes can vary by as much as 150 per cent,’

Professional developers, architects and builders use these guides to keep up to date with costs, but it is unlikely that home renovators would be able to access labor and materials at the ‘trade’ prices unless they are tradespeople. These publications are published by quantity surveying firms Cordells and Rawlinsons and can be bought from specialist building bookstores.

Robert Caulfield, managing director of Archicentre, says renovation costs can be scientifically worked out with ‘costs guides’, but the ultimate price can still vary markedly. Archicentre specializes in offering affordable architectural services for home renovators. ‘We have people getting prices from builders and the quotes can vary by as much as 150 per cent,’ he says.

Some common retail material costs

  • Plasterboard sheet $20–30
  • PVC pipe 3 m $60–70
  • Concrete $10–12 for 40 kg
  • Some common labor costs
  • Electrician $40–55 per hour
  • Plumber $40–55 per hour
  • Bricklayer $35–55 per hour

The industry publications also show regional differences in prices. Some cities have higher demand for trades and material but restricted supply; others do not.

Research suggests that Chicago has the highest variation in renovation costs, with some suburbs reporting renovation costs of $3500 per square meter. Most cities have similar costs for building project homes, but there can be huge variations in renovation costs depending on the type of housing, the accessibility of the site and the access to materials and labor.

What Determines Property Values in Chicago?

Every suburb and every property within that suburb has a unique set of conditions that create the value—or potential selling price—of the property. Regardless of actual prices, properties always hold a value in relation to other properties. I call this the ‘totem pole’ value of a property, and whether prices are booming or busting, properties always stay true to their totem pole value.

chicago renovation cost analysis

You will need to work out the value of your property on the local totem pole











A house that is worth 10 per cent more than the house down the road will always be 10 per cent more valuable, whether the house is worth $2 million or $200 000.You will need to work out the value of your property on the local totem pole, as it can give a more accurate reflection of how much you are really investing in a renovation.

There are just two components of a property’s value:

The land value (this can often be worked out as a rough price per square metre). The improved land value (the value of the house, fences, outbuildings, landscaping and other ‘improvements’ to the land). There are loads and loads of factors that influence the land value and improved land value of a property, and these vary from city to city.These factors essentially the real value of renovating relate to supply (how many properties are on the market) and demand (how many buyers there are for that property).The market factors that influence supply and

Demand can include:

  • Population growth
  • Employment
  • Availability of finance
  • Land-release policies (Are government authorities in the area willing to lease land?)
  • Local council planning policies (can you build more apartments in the area?)
  • Factors which reduce supply include national parks, natural coastlines and strict
  • Council controls.
  • The quality of the property will also influence its value; these factors can
  • Include:
  • Proximity to places of employment (ever since the industrial revolution, there
  • Has been demand for properties close to workplaces)
  • Proximity to shops and transport (people have to eat, people have to get out
  • And about)
  • Style of housing—Californian bungalows, federation houses and Victorian
  • Houses are rarer than modern project homes, and often command higher prices
  • Than newly built homes in the same area
  • Views—water views are especially valuable, but views of parks, golf courses, city
  • Other sought after factors include the skyline and bushland
  • Position—is the property in a good street, is it overlooked by adjoining houses,
  • Is it next to a factory, etc.
  • Lifestyle features of a property, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

It is important to note that the lifestyle features of a property are only one of six things that influence the perception of quality—that means that renovation might not always be the ‘value adder’ that you think.

So How Do I Work Out The Value Of Renovating?

I have a personal theory of renovating to add value, based on the ‘totem pole’ of property value. Every property is unique. Therefore worth a different price, it is impossible to compare an unrenovated house in a street with a renovated house around the corner on a larger block of land. But my totem pole theory helps to assess the true value of a property.

cost analysis chicago

Every property is unique











You can consult us. Professionals can help you determine the true value of your house. That said, you will need to follow your local property market, actually inspect the properties that are similar to yours and work out the price ranges in your suburb or district.

Lastly, remember the kitchen renovation can be easy and at the same time hard. Gather as enough information as possible before you start renovating. It’s interesting how just simple tips can make your renovation exercise hassle-free.

While Budgeting for Renovation, Follow These Three Simple Steps

If there is one thing this book will emphasize, it is this: plan, plan, plan. If you double the time spent planning, you will half your renovation time. You will also avoid all the stress, hassle, and hell of renovation that seasoned property-improvers talk about. The most important place to start planning is with your money.

There are very few ways that normal, everyday people who work full-time jobs to service a mortgage can renovate cheaply. Sure, you could take annual leave to do some laboring with your builder or paint a few rooms, but is that really the way you want to spend your holidays? It is one of those lifestyle-television myths that renovations are easy to do yourself for minimal cost.

The only way to save money is to undertake as little structural or refurbishment work as possible. Remember, time, labor and materials are the three costs of renovation. The lower the price, the lower the quality of materials and the more time some DIY-er has had to put into it.

If you cannot afford the minimal range of a renovation, then you simply cannot afford to refurbish or rebuild. You will, however, be able to put in some elbow grease and a few dollars at the local hardware store to spruce up your property.

Let me explain this better

Jerri was interested in buying a unit which had an asking price of $299 000. This was immediately recognized as a ‘bargain’ since all other units in the area were priced between $300 000 and $360 000. Jerri knew the unit was cheaper because it was in poor condition—there was a mysterious lump on the kitchen floor and the bathroom was pokey and unrenovated.

Tenants had been living in the unit and it had not been cleaned properly for years. Similar units that had been well maintained were selling for at least $25 000 more. This unit had a lovely outlook opposite a park but was in a bigger block than Jerri would have liked.

He, an owner-occupier, knew that investors would be turned off by such a big renovation job, so she made an offer of $290 000, knowing she would need to spend $20 000 to take the unit to the higher end of the price range for local units. He will never change the size of the unit block, but the excellent position and outlook will remain as permanent features and therefore entice other buyers. Jerri realized that she had an opportunity to buy a unit on the lower-priced section of the totem pole that renovation could take to the midprice range.

What does this mean?

Unlike Jerri, most people mistakenly think they can take a lower-priced property and turn it into an upper-priced property by virtue of their wonderful renovation. This, of which they also delude themselves into thinking they can do for virtually no cost with their own marvelous DIY skills).That is bulldust.

You need to understand that it is extremely difficult to make lots of money by renovating to turn a lower-priced property into an upper-priced property. It might be even more difficult to take an upper-priced property and extend what the market will currently pay for it. It is much easier and more realistic to make money by turning a lower priced property into a middle-priced one. You could also turn a mid-priced property into an upper-priced one. The totem pole behaves in certain ways, regardless of whether the market is growing, declining or flat.

Here are some basic rules about the value of renovating a property:

  1. Location – a renovation process will not raise the market price of a property if it’s location determines it’s price.
  2. Structural condition – Renovating the structural condition of a home could raise it’s market value. However, you should be careful not to overspend as renovating does not always guarantee this.
  3. Standards – While the standards of a house could raise its price significantly, raising the standards of each room might not reflect as significantly in the final price of the house. By standards I mean, for example, making the house a luxury home.
  4. Suburbia – If the property is in good condition and in the best position in a high-demand suburb, the renovation could stretch the market to pay more.

And finally

I believe that the more money you spend on renovating a property, the more difficult it is to recoup the money. However, in high-demand locations like the inner city or beach suburbs, where supply is short, an expensive renovation that makes your property stand out from the crowd and creates buyer demand can give excellent returns.

To renovate for profit is a lofty goal that requires thorough knowledge of the renovation local real estate market, real estate cycles, building costs, and project management.

Renovating your own home, however, is a different story. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to consult with us.