Jason Schneider

To help homeowners research remodeling projects, the Washtenaw Remodelers Council surveyed its members and posted estimates for 12 popular projects in the Ann Arbor, Mich., area on its website.

For example, in 2009, a minor remodel of a 200-square-foot kitchen that includes, among other features, refinishing 30 linear feet of cabinetry and adding new doors, new laminate countertops, flooring, and an oven and a cooktop is listed at a cost range of $16,950 to $24,500; a new master suite over a crawlspace is $76,800 to $102,900.

“Homeowners do not understand costs, especially if they have never remodeled before,” says council CEO Maureen Sloan. “It gives homeowners a ballpark idea. If they see the information before contacting a remodeler, they will not have sticker shock. The range of costs demonstrates the challenge of pricing a remodeling project.”

The current WRC estimates are based on a survey of its 90 members in 2005. Members were asked to use construction contracts to calculate the estimates, which exclude any design fees. The council dropped the highest and lowest cost in each category and averaged the remaining estimates. Each year, the council updates the 2005 estimates by factoring in the inflation rate to provide current information.

Price ranges are explained by telling home­owners that it is difficult to arrive at a single cost per square foot for projects due to variables including:

  • Design complexities
  • Scheduling and clean-up considerations
  • Availability and skill of labor and subs
  • Cost/availability of special or customized materials
  • Building code requirements
  • Safety and environmental issues
  • Site accessibility

The council’s website has a member directory, and Sloan says that leads from the site and from council headquarters are strong and qualified: “If a homeowner is looking for quality, they will call the association. Not too many people calling here are shopping price.”
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.