Home Renovation Costs: My $58,000 and Where I Spent It

*some of the photos below are courtesy of Redfin

How much does a home renovation cost? A lot.

I'm kidding.

The answer of course depends on how much work you do to the home, prices in your area, and how much of the work you do yourself (DIY) vs. hiring a contractor.

I can't give you a definitive answer on how much a home renovation costs,

BUT I can share with you my experience: how much I paid, what I got for the money, AND how much I've made on the home in the last three years since I purchased.

Intrigued? Let's go deep.

Before we get started, the money I've spent on my little fixer upper is split into two categories. The first is how much I spent from the 203k renovation loan budget during the initial renovation phase (from August – November 2013), the second line (if there is one), is how much I spent in the three years since.

There are a few rooms (mainly the downstairs bedrooms) that didn't receive much work so I didn't include them, but I have done at least a little work to every nook and cranny of this home in the last three years. Sometimes I still continue to tweak.

Related: What is a 203k Renovation Loan? Is it right for me?

When I first walked through my home a few years ago, there were a lot of things that as a novice, I didn't think needed fixing. When you live in a home everyday, especially when you start working there…it's really easy to get into the fixer upper mindset and keep making mental lists of everything that isn't just-so.

I've included all of it because (as with any investment) the money you spend impacts your investment's bottom line. I have tracked what I've spent, but the numbers aren't exact. I went back and looked at this expense category in my Learnvest software (It's FREE!) and could calculate broadly what I spent, but you know, three years later I'm not exactly sure what that $300.00 at Lowe's was for.

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Home Renovation Costs – Let's Go Room by Room



Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.21.12 AM

  • What I Spent: ~$25,000
  • What I Got: All new plumbing, electrical, HVAC and hot water heater for the house. New drywall in places, and refinishing of the home's original hardwood floors. New light fixtures for the home (and a few I got for free)
  • Money Spent Since 2013: $1800 on a brand new set of stairs up to the attic.




  • What I Spent: $7650
  • What I Got: New landscaping to help with drainage, new front steps, and a new retaining wall.
  • Money Spent Since 2013: $1200 on additional drainage work to front landscaping and to landscape the front with flowers when I was trying to sell the home with Redfin last Fall. , a cheap front door makeover that was only $15


Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.16.29 AM

  • What I Spent: $14,061
  • What I Got: New everything: appliances, sink, countertops, cabinets, and flooring.
  • Money Spent Since 2013: $584.63 on one side of backsplash in the kitchen (after I decided to upgrade from the Smart Tiles, window treatments….and changing the paint color…. twice.

Downstairs Bathroom

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.17.45 AM


  • What I Spent: $1200.00
  • What I Got: new shower tile and fixtures, new vanity and light fixture.
  • Money Spent Since 2013: $1400 on new flooring, new drywall and linen closet, new hardware on the walls and upgrading the faucet fixture.

Office & Sunporch

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.18.47 AM

  • Money Spent since 2013: Both rooms just got the paint treatment. It cost me $250 to give the sunporch a makeover and ~$100 + 2 years to finally get all of the office trim painted. 


Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.20.10 AM

  • What I Spent: $2500
  • What I Got: New laminate flooring, paint and light fixtures upstairs.
  • Money Since 2013: $1420.26 to convert former master closet back into a fourth bedroom, and to freshen up the bathroom (new mirror, light fixture, faucet, hardware and moving the attic access doors) when I was trying to sell the home. Otherwise, I haven't done much to this area, as I'm trying not to over build for my area.

Grand Total on All Renovations: The total for the 203k renovation was ~58,000 (which I wrote about in this post) + the $6,754.26 I've spent since 2013 makes me all in at $64,754.26.

So around $65,000 to renovate a home top to bottom.  Yikes.

Total Spent vs. Total Earned

But has it been a good investment? I definitely think so. Let's check out the numbers below.

Since I bought the home I've earned:

  • $40,000 in a state income tax credit (over three years) for rehabbing a historic property.
  • $3,000 each year of loan forgiveness for living in the home as my primary residence. This is part of the down payment assistance program I leveraged to get into the home for just $1800.00.
  • $16,410.77 from renting out bedrooms the last three years.
  • ~$60,000 increase in home equity.

For a total of $119,410.77 of money earned on the home, or $39,803.59 per year.

When I think about how I could've been renting this entire time instead of having my money make money, I know it was a good investment, despite all of the trouble it's been.

Related: 5 Reasons to Rent instead of Buy, 3 Tips if You're Thinking about Real Estate Investing


How much does a home renovation cost? The answer of course depends on many different factors, but here's what I spent renovating my 1940's home in Atlanta.

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  • Lin
    June 2, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Great job.

    Renovations can be amazingly rewarding yet full of headaches. It is unfortunate that the construction industry did not learn from the car industry and provided clear pricing. I saw the mykukun.com created a good one which is cool but we need the industry to adopt that same approach.

    As for equity, the general rule is that if it is visible to the plain eye, it will add equity. First impressions.

  • Giulia Lombardo
    May 28, 2016 at 5:11 am

    yes is true renovation cost depends from several factors and you did a good job, thaks for sharing!!!

  • Hannah Rounds
    May 26, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    That’s some pretty crazy good equity you’ve built. We’ve spent around 24K so far (maybe a shade less), and have probably increased equity by about $30-35K. We still have to finish the bathrooms and floorboard though. We think of our house as a future rental though, so we care much less about equity than about future rental values.

    • Lauren Bowling
      May 26, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      Get that mailbox money!!! I’d love to build rental income, but based on previous tests renting out rooms in this house, I’m not sure I have the personality to be a good landlord.

  • Vanessa
    May 25, 2016 at 8:48 am

    When I read the blog title, my first response was, “a lot”…so funny! We gutted our second floor down to the brick…it’s been an experience, to say the least, but it looks amazing now. The kitchen is next on the list, at least with gutting and adding insulation you can ensure the walls are square haha! We’re doing it all ourselves (with help from a few pro friends), it’s been taxing, but we’re in the “home stretch” so its nice.

    • Lauren Bowling
      May 25, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      The best part of a home renovation is when it’s over. 😉

  • Britt and the B's
    May 24, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Love the breakdown here – I am highly impressed by the downstairs bathroom remodel. I did mine a couple of years ago, and it cost WAY more than you spent. I guess that’s what you get for buying an older home where no measurements are standard anymore 😉

    One thing for people to consider, as well, when renovating/remodeling is the level of stress that comes with it. It all looks like rainbows and butterflies on HGTV, but real life can be much more like storm clouds and hornets. I had a breakdown at work one day in the middle of my remodel. Not my best moment.

    However, I am back on the wagon and will be tackling my kitchen this summer – any advice from your experience with renovating yours would be greatly appreciated!

    • Lauren Bowling
      May 25, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      I’d finally found a contractor who wasn’t charging me an arm and a leg. All we did with the second “phase” was the flooring and updating all the fixtures…and I saved money by repurposing those from another room so they all matched. Kitchen was so long ago and I didn’t know what i was doing I’m not sure I have much advice…but I do love a good farm sink.