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  • The Time & Cost breakdown of our Master Suite Renovation

    Many designers and design bloggers, like myself, are working SUPER hard to to unveil the true cost of home renovations. The misperception of renovation costs is becoming a major issue in the design world and I feel compelled to help rectify this!

    I don’t watch home makeover shows because they’re just so far from the truth and it’s actually not entertaining to me. (However I am PUMPED for Orlando’s show!). I 100% believe home renovation should be accessible to anyone, and hopefully the more truth we spread regarding how much our renovations actually cost, the better informed people will be to budget for their own projects.

    Today I am sharing the breakdown the time and cost of our master suite renovation, since some of the aspects of our project may not pertain to everyone. I also think it makes a lot of sense when viewing a project this way.


    We broke ground our master suite project late April 2018 and finished everything early November 2018. We were lucky and didn’t experience any significant delays in our project.  Definitely the most common delays in renovations are caused by permitting and shipping lead times.

    (I should also mention, we spent a month prior to the start of the project getting bids from different foundation companies, which I excluded from this timeline.)

    Foundation: 2 months

    Fixing the foundation included removing the load bearing wall, installation of new beam, jacking up the foundation 2″, and awaiting inspections (read more about the foundation project here)

    Bathroom: 1 month

    Mid-way through the master suite renovation we decided to add the bathroom onto the scope of the project. The time spent included demo-ing the old bathroom, framing out new bathroom, running new plumbing & electrical, laying drywall, and installation of the pocket door. Our bathroom is currently unfinished as we re-set our budget since I QUIT! Don’t worry though, we have 2 other bathrooms in the house! (read more about the kitchen plans here)

    Ceiling: 1.5 month

    The ceiling turned out even better than I imagined. Our contractor started by removing the old painted beams and resurfacing them through a planer machine. He ran all new electrical and installed new drywall. Then he installed the Metrie shiplap paneling before placing the newly resurfaced beams back up into the ceiling.  (read more about the ceiling here)

    Flooring: 1.5 months

    Prepping the floors took more time than laying the actual flooring if you can believe it!  The concrete had to be sanding down to remove any imperfections and create a smooth surface. We had to test for moisture, then spent time determining the layout of the floor boards. Once the boards and layout were set, installing the flooring. (read more about the flooring here)

    The foundation part of the project was done by a local foundation company with 3 guys working at our site the entire time. The rest of our project was executed by a solo contractor who is essentially a magician! I still don’t know how he got those beams up onto the ceiling by himself! Ultimately the ceiling and flooring parts of the project should have taken less time but our contractor was split between our project and another client’s project.

    Vaulted ceiling, white shiplap ceiling paneling, master suite renovation


    Renovating our master suite has officially become the most expensive project under our belts. No two projects are the same and ours was special since we had to lift the foundation of our master suite by 2.5″, yet our project should give you an idea what each piece of a project like this may cost. *I should also mention we live in the San Francisco Bay Area and renovation costs are at a premium due to our location.

    • Foundation: $21,500
    • Load Bearing Wall: $4,000
    • Flooring:
      • (hardwood, 400 sqft): $5,400
      • (supplies): $1,000
      • (labor): $4,000
    • Ceiling & Electrical (labor & materials): $9,500
    • Bathroom (labor, electrical, plumbing & framing materials): $7,000
    • Painting & Staining: $1.800
    • Total: $54,200

    Fixing the foundation was the most expensive part of the project at 40% of the budget. Everything related to the floors including labor, supplies, and materials was the second most expensive part of the project, totaling almost 20%.  The foundation cost was the only kick-to-the-gut in terms of budget spend since the outcome feels so intangible, but we are happy we did the right thing for the house.  We feel safe, the house feels sturdy, and this room isn’t going anywhere!

    So tell me! Is any of this information surprising to you? Do you feel the same way as I do and want to see more honesty on televised renovations?

        1. I’m in my late 60’s. Have 35 yr in real estate. We renovated 3 houses. Built one new. Remodeled a condo. Now a full reno is coming up. We’re on third architect because they are incapable of getting a design in even close to budget. I am always always thankful for this clarity. I cried uncle midway thru remodel 2. Then hired help. 2 of these Remodels included basement apartments. More advice. Do not manage your own income property Hire cleaning and hire management. And keep writing. Thanks

    1. Yay! Congrats on the space and kudos on pulling back the curtain. I did something similar for my last ORC. As a designer by profession, it was so frustrating to see clients think they could do a kitchen renovation for $15k. That math just doesn’t work!

    2. Love these honest posts. It’s why bloggers keep me coming back…Instagram is pretty but knowing the time, energy and resources it takes to get that picture makes it so much more real. Kudos!

    3. Great blog! I adore the Gaines on Fixer Upper but that show has so many people soooo confused on the real costs that it takes to rehab and design an entire home. I design homes as well and can tell you that for brand new plumbing in a brand new home you’d be looking at no less than 13k on a 2000 square foot home and another 13k (easily) for electrical. I watch these home on HGTV and they show entire home being built and designed with 50/60k budget. Not happening in Chicago folks….. great blog!

      1. Thank you Jane! and EXACTLY! It’s unreasonable to spread such false information to such a broad viewership. It would be better if they were more specific with the budget or maybe didn’t talk about cost at all!

    4. Hi Brittany! Thanks for this informative post. I’m super curious as to why the foundation needed to be lifted. Also, was it only for the master bedroom that it cost that much? Did that include the bathroom, too? Also, which contractor did you go with? Thanks!

      1. You can read more about our foundation here:
        The back corner was slipping due to poor drainage, and it would have been risky to remove a load bearing wall and do all this remodel without fixing the foundation. Say the foundation dropped even more, it would cause major issues with any new work done. The foundation is now fixed forever, is now sitting on bedrock which is what you want your house to be resting on. Feel free to read the other 3 mosts about the progress of this space! all linked within the blog post. Thanks!

    5. This is amazing! Thank you for sharing the breakdown! My husband and I would like to add on a master suite + bathroom to our 2bd, 1bath house and we’ve received quotes up to $200k. I know every situation/home is different but this makes it feel that it is possible to make it work for under that. We live in the LA area so I can’t imagine its too different from the Bay Area regarding price! This gives me hope that we have more homework to do!

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