Is 2020 Even a Good Time to Do a Home Remodel?

We write this same blog every year—and for good reason! Often homeowners have no idea what a remodel is going to cost. After all, if you haven’t done one recently—or ever!—it’s hard to pull a number out of thin air and the information you find online can be unrealistic. Worse yet, television shows do not reflect reality and are very misleading. No, we can’t actually renovate your kitchen in 30 minutes, and there are no corporate sponsors paying for advertising to help defray the costs!

For the past thirty years, the editors of Remodeling Magazine have compiled data from across the country to create estimates of what home remodeling projects cost in each market—in our case, Greater Boston. They use the data to produce the Cost vs. Value Report”  which we have found to be pretty accurate.

So let’s take a look at two of the most popular home remodeling projects locally—kitchens and bathrooms—and how much they would cost according to the 2020 report.


Let’s start in the bathroom. According to the report, the average bathroom remodel (not an addition, but a remodel of an existing space) costs between $27K and $82K in the Boston area. In our experience a cosmetic bathroom upgrade generally starts at around $30K and that’s using simple subway tile and basic fixtures. Changing the layout (i.e., moving pipes) and upgrading fixtures and tiles can increase that to the upper end of the range. Want to add a heated floor? That is a great upgrade that will add to your costs, but probably be worth it in the long run. After all, walking on warm tile is a small luxury worth splurging on. Every homeowner has an idea of where they’d like to splurge versus save.


According to the report, the average kitchen remodel ranges from $79K to $157K as you go from midrange to upscale; this is up about $2K over 2019. Our kitchen projects typically fall in the bottom two thirds of that range, which is enough to include quartz countertops, wood floors, an island, and an eye-catching tile backsplash.

Keep in mind that these are averages. It’s important when setting your budget to be honest with yourself about whether your taste and requirements are, in fact, above average and then to plan accordingly. For example, a midrange kitchen includes laminate countertops, but our clients typically want stone or quartz. Another cost factor that is sometimes overlooked is the cost of removing one or more walls (and adding structural support) to create an open floor plan.

Reasons to Remodel

There are many reasons to remodel your home despite the cost. At the top of the list is the value that a remodel brings to you and your family by creating a more functional space and a design style that makes you happy. We always advise people not to remodel with the idea of resale (unless they really are planning to sell quickly). If you’re going to spend the money, it’s important that you and your family love the result. We want our clients to maximize their own enjoyment of the project above all else.

That being said, it’s true that remodeling can add significant value to your home. The Cost vs. Value Report will also give you an idea of the estimated resale value and percentage of the cost you may recoup if you sell your home. It’s helpful to know what your investment may be worth.

Of course, there are many unknown factors these days. Coronavirus has thrown a lot of uncertainly into the mix. For example, the housing market was already tight, and there may be even more pressure on the market when people feel safer about moving. A tight housing market increases prices and may create an even greater return on the investment.

When to Remodel

You may also be asking yourself if this is the best time to consider a remodel. At steveworks, we have been very strict about maintaining quarantine. Although construction is considered essential, we shut down field operations on March 20. Our health and the health of our clients is the priority. However, we are still working. After all, it takes at least a month or two of planning and design work before construction can even begin. So if you are considering a remodel, this may be the perfect time to call and discuss the possibilities.

When we do get back to working in people’s homes, it won’t be business as usual. We’re carefully considering what field work will look like in the coming months. Certainly additional cleaning and sanitizing will be at the forefront. We’ll also be using smaller crews and making sure the number of people working in a home at one time is extremely limited. We plan on scheduling our trade partners—plumbing, heating, tile etc.—to work in homes one at a time in order to limit exposure.

We’ll be writing more about our “Corona Plans” in the weeks to come. As you know, the situation is evolving and we want to make sure that, when it’s safe to return to working in homes, we have the most up-to-date information and guidelines. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch to talk about your remodeling ideas!