Home Improvement Payoff
April 01, 2019 | Suzanne Powers

Research Before you Renovate!

Have you ever thought you could make minor improvements to your home without the advice of a professional? Researching the cost to improve, build or remodel is crucial to have a good budget friendly success story. Let Suzanne Powers help you in your Home Improvement journey.
Research Before you Renovate!

Research Before you Renovate!

I blame HGTV!

The remodeling shows out-of-whack cost estimate for having buyers believe they can do a kitchen renovation for $10,000 is so grossly over exaggerated.

The cost of remodeling and how long it takes is much different than it appears on HGTV. Calculating the real cost of a remodeling project is very important in evaluating whether you should remodel or move altogether.

Property Brothers and Flipping Las Vegas had me rolling on the floor. I watch these shows when I can strictly for the entertainment factor. For our clients and customers though, when it comes to your renovation, it is not HGTV and there are some real pitfalls out there to be very cautious about before you begin to remodel.


The labor cost and quality of labor is the first thing to consider in a remodel.

Get a very good handle on how long your project will take to complete to keep labor costs in check. Cost overruns for changes can mean big dollars in labor and material costs. Create a schedule for the sub-contractors and have the remodeler sign off on the schedule. Make sure your draws are not being used to buy materials for other contracted jobs by the remodeler.

One of the scariest things we discovered in dealing with remodelers is how often the remodeling contractor would take a draw and use it for another project. Sometimes subs were not paid in a timely fashion which could have created liens against the property. Check the quality of the labor and remodeling contractor through reviews, references, and vendors.

• Interview at least 5 remodeling companies.

• Ask to see 3 of their most recent remodeling projects.

• Ask who are their subcontractors. Get all the subcontractor's contact information.

• Have a thorough checklist of questions before you sign anything.

• Talk to 3 current customers using them.

• C-Cap the remodeler to see if there are any outstanding judgments or liens or lawsuits.

• Consider having an independent third party be the project manager to keep everyone in check.


Not all materials are created equally. There is expensive tile and then there is REALLY expensive tile. I strongly suggest picking out all the materials in advance and pricing them out with the remodeler. Many remodelers up-charge clients for materials.

You may want to select your own fixtures, tile, baseboard, and light fixtures. Selecting the materials yourself and using the remodeler’s labor could save you a tremendous amount of money. You will have to read your contract closely to see what the remodeler will and will not allow. This portion of the remodeling contract should be strongly considered before you sign on the dotted line. Materials can outstrip labor quickly.

So what should you do?

Evaluate your options carefully. With the average sale price in Shorewood and Whitefish Bay between $200 and $235 a square foot, it may be much more economical to buy a new home for additional space than it is to add an addition at nearly $400 square foot.

Consider all your options carefully before you jump in. The location of your home and the surrounding neighborhood matter a lot when you are adding a $300,000 addition. Can your remodel hold up in your neighborhood? If you do not have recent sales to support the remodel, you should consider moving.

Many clients say: “Suzanne, we will live here forever.” I have heard that a lot, but life has a funny way of changing. The one constant is change and with that constant in all of our lives, luck favors the prepared.

Experience a seamless home selling and buying process with Powers Realty, Milwaukee’s trusted local experts for over 2 decades. Our tailored approach ensures optimal results. Contact me today to discuss your home needs.

Recent Blog Posts on Home Improvement Payoffs

Home Improvement Payoff

August 01, 2023 | Suzanne Powers

Staging: Elevating Your Listed Property with Powers Realty Group

Home Improvement Payoff

March 13, 2023 | Suzanne Powers

Advantages of a Pre-Listing Inspection

Powers Realty Group is a distinctive boutique real estate broker focused on the needs of customers delivering exceptional results. We are the trusted local experts. Call us at 414.870.7175 about buying or selling your home.