2020 Cost Guide for a Home Remodel in Boston
The costs to remodel in Boston in 2020, including kitchen, bath, and whole-home (with basement budgets and permit tips!)
UPDATED: Read our 2022 Boston Kitchen Remodeling Costs and Bathroom Remodeling Costs
From brownstones to grand Victorians and Federals, all the way to modern apartments, Boston has it all, when it comes to homes. There’s a good reason for that. Boston is one of the oldest cities in America—circa 1630—and has cycled through many eras. If you’re planning to remodel your home and want to learn about the various costs to remodel in Boston, then Sweeten should be your first stop.
Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their projects, offers a general cost guide to get you started on your first step: your budget. However, to get an accurate figure for your project, a contractor will want to see the space in person.
Here’s a quick overview of budgets for some typical renovation projects:
- Gut renovation: Starting at around $100 psf (per square foot)
- Budget kitchen remodel: Starting at $15,000—$30,000
- Mid-grade kitchen remodel: Starting at $30,000
- High-end kitchen remodel: Starting at $65,000
- Budget bathroom remodel: Starting at $15,000—$18,000
- Mid-grade bathroom remodel: Starting at $27,000 or $770 psf
- High-end master bathroom remodel and reconfiguration: Starting at $50,000
- Basement: Starting at $25,000
How much a Boston remodel costs per square foot
A total gut renovation in Boston that brings your home down to its frame will likely start at around $100 psf. Doing it all at once will get you the best price per square foot.
With Boston predominantly older—in some cases very old—housing stock, gut renovations may be higher than elsewhere with newer homes. Depending on the area, your choice in finishes, and the condition of your home or apartment, this could reach $300 psf, according to Boston-based Sweeten contractor Taghi.
How much a Boston kitchen remodel costs per square foot
The typical renovation cost for a minor kitchen in Boston starts at $15,000 and goes up to $30,000.
- Mid-grade kitchen: For the Boston area, expect costs to start at $30,000. Remodeling‘s 2020 Cost Vs Value report puts the average mid-grade kitchen renovation cost around $80,000. This is about $10,000 above the national average and works out to be $400 psf. With a budget of this amount, you can remodel a 200-square-foot space with laminate countertops, semi-custom wood cabinets, and a stainless steel sink with a standard single-lever faucet. It also allows the addition of a built-in microwave, dishwasher, and custom lighting.
Other than adding a kitchen island, the layout, such as where the oven and dishwasher were installed, remained the same as the original design. Keeping your floor plan the same will be the biggest factor in keeping your budget down.
- High-end kitchen: High-end kitchen remodels can start at $65,000 while the Cost Vs Value report places the average around $155,000 for Boston. The cost per square foot is $775. This type of project can add more than half that amount—$85,000—to your home’s value. The scope at the budget range can consist of custom cabinets, built-in sliding shelves, stone countertops, and imported ceramic or glass tile backsplashes. The appliances were also kicked up a few notches to include a commercial-grade cooktop and vent hood. Designer faucets and a water filtration system were also part of the materials.
Cabinets are by far the biggest expense in a kitchen especially when they are custom made. According to Boston-based Sweeten contractor Jeff, one client chose to spend $35,000 on cabinets—almost half the whole budget—in an $80,000 renovation of a small kitchen.
Appliances are also a big factor in the budget if you decide to spend a large percentage here and save in other areas.
How much a Boston bathroom remodel costs per square foot
The typical home renovation cost for a budget bathroom in Boston starts at $15,000 and goes up to $18,000.
- Mid-grade bathroom: For Boston, the average cost of a mid-grade bathroom remodel is about $27,000 or $770 psf, according to the Cost Vs Value report. This budget could get you a remodeled 35-square-foot bathroom with a new porcelain-on-steel bathtub, ceramic tiles, and a recessed medicine cabinet with built-in lighting. A renovation of this level can add more than $16,000 to a home’s value, recouping close to 60 percent of the project’s cost.
- High-end master bathroom: Renovation costs start at $50,000 for a high-end master bath in Boston. According to Cost Vs Value, the average price is around $82,000 or $820 psf. You could afford to expand your existing bathroom from 35 square feet to around 100 square feet and play around with elements like a freestanding soaker tub and a shower with recessed shelves, a frameless glass enclosure, and body spray fixtures. You’re also likely to afford a double sink and double-mirror vanity with custom draws and wall cabinets.
Like all renovations, your budget comes down to your choices, said contractor Jeff. And sometimes those choices will have a ripple effect on the budget. Tiles can range from $2 psf at Home Depot or $100 psf for imported tile. The cost and timeline can increase if the tile chosen requires specialized installation such as Italian mosaic tile which one of Jeff’s clients ordered.
How much it costs to renovate a basement
A basement renovation starts at $25,000. The average cost is $88,000, the Cost Vs Value report found. The project for this budget includes a 20′ x 30′ main room and a 5′ x 8′ bathroom with a shower. The main room can contain a bar area as well as laminate flooring and insulation, a largely unseen but important part of the project to combat those wet, frosty winters. This example project works out to $137 psf.
That’s right in line with what Sweeten contactor Jeff estimates a basic basement—walls, drainage, and electrical—will cost for homes in the Boston area. The cost increases once you add a bathroom or a bar according to Jeff.
Building permit costs
For the City of Boston, which covers over 200 square miles around the city center, permits for a major residential remodel starts at $50. This increases by $10 for every $1,000 of the budget. There are additional charges for electrical and plumbing work.
If your home is in Norfolk County then you will need to check the township your home is located in. The county is made of dozens of small towns and each has its own building permit system. For example, in Dedham, a permit for additions, including decks, costs $10 per $1,000 of planned work. This would mean a $30,000 kitchen addition would attract a $300 permit.
Over in Cambridge, which is located in Middlesex County, a building permit costs $15 per $1,000 in the budget. So a permit for that same $30,000 kitchen addition would be $450 in Cambridge.
Whatever your renovation plans are in Boston, post your project to Sweeten and we’ll match you with fully-vetted general contractors. They can get you an estimate that is tailored to your project. Sweeten will even check in with you from project posting all the way to the punch list. Happy building!
Here’s what to know before renovating an old house from addition types and energy efficiency to floor plan improvements.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration, and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.
A typical Boston home renovation costs roughly $100 per square foot. To maximize savings, complete the entire project at once, rather than splitting it up over several years. However, with Boston’s historically old housing stock, gut renovation costs may be higher than elsewhere with newer homes. Depending on the area, the choice in finishes, and the condition of the home or apartment, costs may reach $300 psf.
In Boston, budget-level kitchen remodels cost $15,000—$30,000 on average. Mid-grade Boston kitchens can range in cost from $30,000—$80,000, or roughly $400 per square foot. Higher costs usually coincide with larger square footage, but the final costs will also depend on the finishes and level of work needed. A high-end Boston kitchen remodel will usually start at $75,000 and go up dramatically; for luxury remodels, expect prices near $832 per square foot.
Costs for a Boston bathroom remodel vary widely: budget-level bathrooms start in the $15,000-$18,000 range; while mid-range bathrooms start closer to $770 per square foot, or $27,000 for a 35 square foot space. High-end Boston bathrooms can easily cost $820 psf, or $50,000+ for a larger space (100 square feet) with premium materials.