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Leading Remodeling Contractor Gives an Inside Look at Remodeling Cost

So, are you considering a home renovation? Do you wish you had some better information about the possible remodeling cost of the project? Are you wondering how to avoid the potential pitfalls of renovating your home?

Well, you are in luck. In this blog, I’m going to interview Jim Meystedt, owner of one of Nashville’s premier remodeling companies. I’ll be asking him some questions that I think you, as a potential remodeling client, might want to know. 

Interviewer: Jim, for most people, the cost of the project is a primary issue. What can you say about remodeling coststhat could help our readers?

Jim: I’m glad you led with that question. Many folks considering a renovation to their home are “first timers.” That is, they’ve never embarked on a remodeling project. Or they attempt to gather remodeling cost information from “home improvement” shows on television.  Unfortunately, nearly all these programs totally misrepresent the true process of remodeling a home. They advertise much lower costs than are possible and have unrealistic timelines for completion.  I’ve also found that various websites providing “typical local contractor costs,” also greatly underestimate the costs for renovations.

In remodeling, like with many other purchases, you most often “get what you pay for.”  When the requested scope of work for a project doesn’t properly match the budget, then a client must find a contractor willing to perform the work substantially below the “market price.”  This can be risky.

Interviewer:  If homeowners do secure a contractor willing to perform the work “at a really great price,” what can they do to minimize their risk?

Jim:  I’d start with asking the remodeling company or contractor if they are licensed by the State.  If so, ask them for a copy of this license.  In Tennessee, there are two primary licenses available for remodelers: 

  • Home Improvement License—valid for projects up to $25,000. These licenses are ideal for handymen who tackle smaller projects around the home that don’t require permits (drywall, painting, trim, flooring).  
  • General Contractors’ License—requires passing two State-issued tests and providing proof of financial stability. This license allows the individual or company to obtain permits for projects under state and local inspections.

A contractor offering a below-market price, may not be properly licensed for the project. So he may not request permits on the project. And most importantly, electrical, and plumbing work may not be performed by properly licensed individuals or companies. In addition, the contractor may be tempted to maximize his profit by using inferior materials or by taking shortcuts in quality.

I would also require the Contractor to provide a very detailed scope of work. This eliminates any ambiguity regarding materials used or processes followed during the project.  With a detailed proposal in hand, homeowners should ask questions to compare the work offered with that of other contractors under consideration.

Interviewer: Can you provide an example of a realistic budget for a particular home renovation project?

Jim:  Yes, kitchen renovations are a great example for this illustration.  Of course, not all kitchens are created equal in terms of size and desired features. But I tell my clients to expect a starting price of $60,000 for most projects. However, it’s not unusual for me to encounter a potential client with an unrealistic budget of half of that amount.  

Interviewer:  So, is it possible to obtain a “complete” kitchen remodel for $30,000 or less?

Jim:  I would caution the homeowner to perform the due diligence I mentioned before. A bid of $30,000 is a bid “well-below the market price.” 

I would encourage any homeowner considering a kitchen remodel to compare the cost of the project to the cost of purchasing a new vehicle.  It is not uncommon these days to find a non-luxury vehicle priced at or above $75,000.  The value of the auto begins depreciating the day you drive it off the lot. But a newly renovated kitchen is most often an asset that appreciates, driving up the value of one’s home. So, in my opinion, spending money on a high-quality kitchen renovation is nearly always a sound investment.

Interviewer:  Do you find that clients also have the same problem with an unrealistic expected cost for bathroom renovations?

Jim:  Yes, I do.  And like kitchens, bathrooms typically bring an additional value to the home—not to mention, a pleasurable aesthetic. Clients typically underestimate the cost of a guest bath, especially since it is a smaller space. But there is a great deal of workmanship that a quality contractor provides that dictates the cost for the project. Homeowners should expect to spend north of $35,000 for a quality guest bath renovation. For a master bathroom, they should expect to spend $10-15,000 more for a complete remodel.

Interviewer:  After getting several bids, how should a homeowner select a contractor for the project?

Jim:  While price is important, I would not use it as the only or even primary criteria for this decision.  Considering the investment being made, it is critical to have great confidence in the ownership of the remodeling company.  Most projects will encounter a few bumps along the way. So it’s vitally important for homeowners to work with a company they trust to stand behind their work.  I would always require a meeting with the company owner. Additionally, I suggest the homeowner read online reviews and speak with a couple of past clients.

Request a Meeting

Jim is the owner of Reliant Group Construction, and he is happy to meet with you. Use the online form to send him a request for a quote.