Home Remodeling

Build It | Tool Storage Shelf


In this edition of DIY Smarts, Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor build a tool storage shelf out of leftover lumber from other Build It projects.

Steps for building a tool storage shelf

Cut the plywood into 5 sheets until you can frame a cabinet to the desired dimensions, with one board as a divider. In this case, Tom cut the plywood to form a 3-foot x 4-foot x 1-foot cabinet.On the bottom shelf, measure and mark good locations for the fingers. Make them evenly spaced.Drill holes at the peak of each finger using a forstner bit to ensure it has a rounded edge. Tom advises putting a sacrificial board underneath the bottom shelf to prevent blowout, and another board on top to act as a straight edge to ensure each finger terminates at the same depth.To make the outside edges of the fingers round, take a cup and trace the curve on the board.Cut out the rest of the fingers using a jigsaw.Cut the dimensional lumber to size to act as shelves.Layout the shelves inside the box of the cabinet and determine their heights. Each shelf can be slightly different to accommodate specific tools you wanted stored in the shelf.Dado one side of two shelves at the same time to accept the ¼-inch plywood dividers. Add as many dados as you want dividers.Assemble the cabinet using wood screws. Since it’s just going in a garage, butt joints are fine. It will help to slide some of the ¼-inch dividers in place before screwing in the top and bottom of those shelves.Attach a back to the cabinet using any leftover plywood.


Tom built the tool storage cabinet out of leftover materials from previous Build It projects, including ¾-inch oak plywood, 1×12-inch select pine, and ¼-inch birch plywood. These can all be found at home centers and lumber yards if you don’t have enough material in your scrap pile.

To cut the boards to the correct dimensions, Tom used a TS 55 circular saw from Festool (www.festoolusa.com). He then secured everything together using GRK #9 2-inch multi-purpose screws from GRK Fasteners and some wood glue from Gorilla Glue.

The kit that Tom and Kevin referenced and used as inspiration for their tool storage organization was the M18 18V Cordless Combo Tool Kit by Milwaukee Tool.

Shop Tool Storage Cabinet Materials at The Home Depot

Shopping List:

5/8-inch plywood for cabinet¼-inch plywood for adjustable dividers1x10 or wider lumberCupWood screws(Available at The Home Depot


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Home Remodeling

How to Steam Clean an Oven


A gas oven in a modern kitchen.
Anthony Tieuli

Using steam power is a popular, chemical-free method for cleaning a host of household surfaces, but how well does it work on gunky oven interiors? Read on to find out.

Ugh! Few household chores elicit groans like cleaning the oven. Regular use of the appliance is bound to deposit grease on all inside surfaces, not to mention the occasional casserole or pie that bubbles over, causing clumps of baked-on crud. Between the hazardous chemicals in commercial oven cleaners (caustic soda, dichloromethane, and ethylene glycol possibly among them) and the major mess usually involved, it’s no surprise that this task is often deferred—indefinitely.

Those wishing for a fast, easy, non-toxic way to get it done may be considering steam cleaning, which has become a go-to technique for cleaning (and disinfecting) lots of household surfaces. So, can you effectively steam clean your oven? The answer is possibly—depending on the type of oven you have, the steam-cleaning method you use, and the amount of gunky buildup you’re contending with. Read on for three approaches to steam cleaning the oven.

If Your Oven Has a Steam-Clean Setting:

Modern ovens may have an automated steam-clean setting in addition to a self-cleaning function. Steam cleaning is generally intended for routine maintenance, with the self-cleaning mode (called pyrolytic cleaning, which uses very high heat to turn residue into ash) for tougher stuff.

Steam cleaning is much quicker and, because it uses lower heat, a safer alternative.

Each model will have its own steam-clean procedure, but basically, you will:Remove cookware, racks, and accessories, then wipe up any loose debris and grease.Pour about a cup of tap water into a reservoir or directly onto the bottom of the oven.Close the door, select the steam-clean setting and press “start.” The cycle takes between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on the model; the time may elapse on the oven’s digital display and signal when done.When the cycle is finished and the oven has cooled, open the door and wipe up any remaining moisture with a dry cloth or sponge.

If You Have a Handheld Steam Cleaner:

Handheld steam cleaners are useful for cleaning and disinfecting everything from curtains and upholstery to hard surfaces such as countertops. If your oven has no steam-clean function but you have a steam cleaner, you can use the device on your oven’s glass, metal, and enamel, employing the brush or scraper attachment on grease and baked-on crud.

Just remember that steam is hot! Be careful when using the device inside the oven, especially if reaching in toward the back wall.

To clean an oven with a handheld steam cleaner:

Remove racks and cookware. Fill the steam cleaner with distilled water (tap water can leave mineral deposits in the tank) and put on the brush or scraper attachment.Select the appropriate heat and pressure setting for your unit and turn it on. Wave the cleaner with the attachment back and forth across the interior surfaces. No need to press hard; let the vapor do the work.Use a clean, dry sponge or towel to wipe off grime, grease, and condensation as you go.

If You Don’t Have a Steam-Clean Setting or a Steam Cleaner:

No fancy steam-clean function or handy steam-cleaning device? You may still be able to harness steam power to clean your oven, especially if the grimy buildup isn’t too bad.

Even if you must ultimately resort to using a conventional product on stubborn stuff, steam cleaning first may enable you to speed through the nastier process. All it takes is a wide oven-safe pot or baking dish (a casserole dish is ideal), water, and distilled white vinegar.

To steam clean your oven:

Remove the racks, clean them separately, and replace one in the center of the oven.Prepare a cleaning solution of about a cup of vinegar and enough water to fill a casserole dish. Set the vessel on the oven rack and close the door.Turn the oven on to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and leave it on for between 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how greasy and grimy the oven is.Remove the casserole dish and allow the oven to cool. Then use a damp sponge or rag to wipe surfaces clean. Try a scrubber pad and a sprinkle of baking soda on stubborn spots if necessary.

Bottom line

Steam alone simply may not have the oomph to thoroughly clean tough, stuck-on stuff from the interior of your oven, but it can be a smart solution for removing light soils. Consider steam-cleaning with one of the methods described above if a lasagna or fruit cobbler should overflow onto the oven floor—or you prepare a dish known to give off grease, like roast chicken or that Thanksgiving turkey.

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Home Remodeling

2021 Cost Guide for a Home Remodel in Dallas

Sweeten’s guide to 2021 home remodeling costs in Dallas: kitchen, bath, whole home; plus outdoor deck & permit costs

Dallas is the ninth-largest city in the United States. It’s the headquarters for multiple Fortune 500 companies like American Airlines. There’s the Dallas Cowboys (as well as real cowboys!) And of course, there’s BBQ. Dallas is a thriving city and a great place to renovate your dream home. Sweeten‘s guide to 2021 Dallas remodeling costs provides a jumping-off point to get you on your way with estimates from Sweeten and the 2021 Cost vs Value Report

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free.

Developing a budget is your first step to your dream Dallas home. Sweeten contractors will want to sit down with you and inspect your home to reach an accurate number. 

Here’s a quick overview of budgets for some typical renovation projects:

Gut renovation: starting at $80—$100 per square foot (psf)
Budget kitchen remodel: starting at – $15,000 (for a 75-100 sf space) 
Mid-grade kitchen remodel: starting at $25,000—$30,000 (for a 75-100 sf space) 
High-end kitchen remodel: starting at $40,000 (for a 75-100 sf space) 
Budget bathroom remodel: starting at $8,000—$15,000 (for a 35-square-foot space) 
Mid-grade bathroom remodel: starting at $15,000—$25,000 (for a 35-square-foot space) 
High-end bathroom remodel and expansion: starting at $30,000 (for a 35-square-foot space) 
Deck composite: $19,000 or $60 psf
Wood deck: $13,000 or $40 psf
Keep in mind that every professional contractor will want to have a detailed conversation with you. They will also inspect your home before developing an estimate specific to your needs and wants.

Pro tip: Do not wait. The pandemic has caused a backlog in the supply of materials in many sectors. For homeowners interested in renovating, it’s smart to schedule and sign with a contractor to lock in your material prices. You’ll also want to book a start date on the contractor’s schedule. If you do wait, prices will only continue to go up and your material order starts at the back of a long queue.

With the lockdowns from covid, we saw companies cut production and manpower with the expectation that construction would slow down (which it did not),” Dallas-based Sweeten contractor Joel said, “and it took awhile to ramp up production.” With a large influx of people moving out of the coastal cities and into the South and Midwest, “there’s been an increase in housing demand making quality labor more expensive.” Overall, according to Sweeten contractor Kyle, who is also based in Dallas, Costs are going up in today’s current environment for: the whole home, the kitchen, and the bathroom.”

Dallas home remodeling costs per square foot

A total gut renovation in Dallas that brings your home down to its bare bones and remodels it to your liking, starts at $80—$100 psf. For a home that has budget finishes, this means materials such as laminate flooring and countertops, value-brand appliances, and basic tiles from big box stores like Home Depot. These scenarios, however, are dependant on the scope of work and existing conditions.

Although a gut renovation is a big project, consider doing it all at once to get you the best bang for your buck. You’ll also have your dream home much quicker than renovating room by room. 

As a guide, Joel advises clients to tie the price of their kitchen (or bathroom) renovation to the price of their home. You should only spend between 10 and 20 percent of the value “to really cap the budget at the return on investment,” Joel said. So for a $300,000 home, aim to spend between $30,000 and $60,000 on a bathroom or kitchen remodel, which will be a major slice of a gut renovation project. 

Before getting started, general contractor Kyle suggests homeowners research other recent remodels in the area to see what materials and appliances were used. This is important if you want to resell quickly so you don’t end up with a budget-level renovation in a high-end area or vice versa. If this is your forever home, then your personal taste is more important than whoever you might sell to years later.  

How much a Dallas kitchen remodel costs per square foot in 2021

A kitchen renovation in the budget range can start at $10,000 and reach $15,000. This would apply to a 75-100-square-foot room. To get a new kitchen at this price, it needs to be a rip-and-replace job, meaning a layout of the kitchen must stay the same with pipes and appliances remaining where they are. Cabinets are the highest ticket item in a kitchen budget, said Joel. To keep costs down, cabinets can be re-stained or re-painted. The next upgrade is pre-fab followed by semi-custom. Fully custom costs the most, he said.A mid-grade kitchen remodel in Dallas at the same square footage has costs starting at $25,000—$30,000. What does a mid-grade kitchen look like at this starting cost? The kitchen layout must remain the same as a rip-and-replace: swap your old oven for a new one and your old sink for a new sink. You can get a stainless steel sink with a single-lever faucet, laminate countertops, a built-in microwave, new appliances, custom lighting, and semi-custom cabinets. An island could also be added. Moving plumbing, gas, and electrical, reconfiguring the layout, or choosing custom features will increase the budget.
“A kitchen with upgraded material and selections, as well as special additions such pot fillers, custom-built islands, under cabinet lighting, etc. can drive up the cost to $50,000 and higher,” says Sweeten contractor Kyle.

For an upscale kitchen that is 75-100 square feet, labor costs and a refresh with select high-end materials such as marble or quartz countertops, imported backsplash tile, and high-quality fixtures start at $40,000
The upscale kitchens Kyle has worked on were budgeted from $50,000 and up. A big chunk of those budgets were custom-made cabinets as well as quartz countertops and expensive backsplashes. “Adding French doors or moving walls to create a larger kitchen” also brings up the price, Kyle said. As will above and below cabinet lighting, moving plumbing, and custom-built islands.

There are plenty of variables in most materials, according to Sweeten contractor Joel. For example, with quartz you can spend $2,000 or $7,000 depending upon the quality. “It just comes down to not overbuilding for your house,” Joel advised.

How much a Dallas bathroom remodel costs per square foot in 2021

At the budget level, expect a rip-and-replace bathroom with no behind-the-wall surprises to start at $8,000—$15,000. These are typically smaller master baths or guest bathrooms at 35 square feet. The layout will remain the same where plumbing doesn’t move, Kyle said. This budget won’t include any issues like leaks or mold discovered once the project begins. Materials will include a prefabricated vanity, ceramic tile, and fixtures from big-box stores.
In the Dallas area, a 35-square-foot mid-grade bathroom can start at $15,000—$25,000. The average cost for this price range remodel is about $22,866 or $653 psf with the same dimensions, according to the 2021 Cost vs Value Report. The key to a budget in this range is rip-and-replace. This means keeping the layout the same and swapping out an old toilet for a new one, an old vanity for a new one, etc. That way, no expensive plumbing work is needed.
You can install a new porcelain-on-steel bathtub, ceramic tiles, and a recessed medicine cabinet with built-in lighting. More than 55 percent of your budget can be recouped in the value the project adds to your home.  

For a high-end bathroom remodel and expansion, the cost can start at $30,000. This budget includes a three-piece bathroom (tub/shower combo, toilet, and sink) for a typical 5’ x 7’ space. The cost increases with features including a double vanity, creating a separate shower from the tub, specialty tile, a custom vanity, or a toilet with additional functions.
“Cost drivers are things like removing an existing tub or shower to install a new standalone tub,” said Sweeten contractor Kyle. It can also include building larger showers, moving walls to expand bathroom size, custom vanities, and frameless glass shower enclosure.

2021 costs to adding outdoor space to a Dallas-area home

Dallas is a city perfect for outdoor entertaining, whether it’s a crisp winter night in front of the fire pit or a cold beer paired with a hot summer evening. An outdoor area is often the cherry on top of a dream home remodel. It’s the project to really let your creative juices flow. There are endless options to make your outdoor area your own with extensive outdoor kitchens, gas fireplaces, fans and misting systems for cooling, custom lighting, and landscaping. 

A basic wooden deck will likely cost $49 psf or $15,678 for something in the 320 square foot range, according to the 2021 Cost Vs Value Report. A deck made from composite, a mix of wood product and plastic, will cost just under $20,857 for the same size or $65 psf. This material tends to last longer and requires less maintenance. 

2021 Dallas remodeling costs: Permits

Dallas is experiencing a lot of new building construction. This has resulted in a more rigorous approval process compared to approvals for existing homes. 

There are numerous cities and towns that make up Dallas. Each one has its own building department and its own fee structure for permits. Your Sweeten contractor will likely put an estimate in the budget for building permits, which will be determined by your end costs or square footage of your project.

The upmarket suburb of Highland Park bases building permit costs on square footage. The permit for a 200 square foot kitchen renovation costs $490, according to Highland Park’s calculator.  

In the city of Addison,building permit fees for a project with a budget between $2,000 and $25,000 will have a base cost of $115 with an additional $23 per $1,000 for estimated costs over $2,000. That means the permit for a $20,000 mid-grade bathroom remodel will cost $529

Building permit fees in Cedar Hill, southwest of the city’s center, are determined by square footage. There is a set fee of $400 for any renovation of less than 1,250 square feet. For each additional square foot over 1,250, the permit increases by $.60. After 2,500 square feet, it increases by $.40

Enjoy making your Dallas home your own. Understand the costs and find the right renovation team to bring your vision to life. Post your project on Sweeten and you’ll be one step closer to your home sweet home. 

©2021 Zonda Media, a Delaware corporation. Complete data from the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com.

Six steps on how to start your renovation and finding the right general contractor for your scope.

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

The post 2021 Cost Guide for a Home Remodel in Dallas appeared first on Sweeten.

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Home Remodeling

Sources of Radiation in Household Items


Many of us are unknowingly exposed to radioactive things everyday, here are 9 household materials and products that could be emitting low levels of radiation.

Exposure to radiation can be very harmful to you. It’s been fodder for sci-fi movies for decades, turning tiny tots into mutated henchmen (The Gamma People, 1956) and transforming a cowering homemaker into a giantess with a score to settle (Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, 1958).

The real-world risks of chronic high-level exposure are known to be equally dramatic—and deadly. But you may be surprised to learn that some of the materials and products sitting around your house could be emitting low levels of radiation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there’s no radiation exposure that doesn’t pose some risk—though the range of that risk is very wide.

9 Sources of Radiation in Your Home

With that in mind, you might be wondering, what household items give off radiation? This Old House has taken a fresh look at the everyday household objects that might just be unhealthier than you think. Here are nine possible radiation sources that could be under your roof right now and some links to further information about test for radiation in your home.

1. Radon Seeping Into The Basement

Person inspecting object in basement for radioactivity.
Photo by The Washington Post/Getty ImagesYour basement isn’t just an entry point for water leaks and marauding mice. It can also be contaminated with an oft-overlooked radioactive gas known as radon. Found in houses both new and old, the colorless, odorless gas is formed by the decay of uranium, an element found in rock within the earth. If present in the soil surrounding your house, it can seep in through porous building materials and cracks in the foundation.

According to experts, nearly one out of every 15 houses in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated levels of radon, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Learn about testing your home for radon here.

2. Granite Countertops Could Emit Low Levels of Radiation

Granite countertop that may emit radiation and radon.
Photo by Muffy KibbeyMining stone for countertops may unearth some potentially scary radioactivity as well. Granite countertops are known to emit radiation and radon, albeit at very low levels, as they can contain naturally occurring uranium and other radioactive elements, such as thorium.

To see if granite countertops are affecting your home’s radon levels, contact the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists or visit the Marble Institute of America’s website.

3. Check for Radioactive Elements in Ceramics

Colorful ceramic mugs lined up in a row.
Photo by Bob Bird/Getty ImagesThat cool retro china you picked up at your neighbor’s garage sale might have some not-so-savory attributes. Up until about the 1960s, the radioactive elements uranium, thorium, and potassium-40 were used in glazes for tile, pottery, and other widely available ceramics. Perhaps the best-known variety is Fiestaware from the Homer Laughlin China Company, which once used uranium oxides to create its bright red-orange dinnerware.

4. Drinking Glasses That Contain Uranium

Glowing green drinking glasses containing uranium.
The perfect (potentially terrifying) pairing for radioactive dinnerware? Uranium-tainted glassware. Since the early 19th century and up until the 1970s, glassmakers widely used uranium to color glasses a transparent yellow or yellow-green. The glassware was often referred to as canary glass or Vaseline glass, and had a tendency to emit low levels of radiation for many years after being manufactured.

To see if your old glassware possibly contains uranium, hold it up to a black light in a dark room. If the glass glows a greenish color, you might want to start sipping from something else.

5. Glow in the Dark Clocks or Watches With Radium in the Paint

A wrist watch with a glowing minute hand.
Photo by David Seed Photography/Getty ImagesYou may recall the story of 17-year-old Eagle Scout David Hahn, who, in 1995, almost managed to build a nuclear reactor in the backyard shed of his mother’s Michigan home. The story made headlines when local authorities got wind of the operation, triggering a federal response. The EPA was soon called in to clean up the home’s backyard as a Superfund site. Turns out that among the many places from which Hahn had gathered his radioactive material was household clocks.

For decades, watch and clock makers used paint with radium, a highly radioactive substance, to create luminous, glow-in-the-dark dials and hands for clocks and watches. The common practice of coating watch dials and clock faces with radium, which has a half-life of 1,600 years, ended in the 1970s. These days, most glowing watches use a radioactive isotope of hydrogen called tritium or the radioactive element promethium, which have a half-life of roughly 12 and 3 years, respectively.

6. Old Box Shaped Television May Emit X-Ray Radiation

Older, box-shaped televisions that contain a cathode ray tube have the potential to emit low levels of x-ray radiation. If you have this type of TV, experts advise sitting a distance of at least 2 to 3 feet from the screen to limit exposure.

7. Cigarettes Smoke Emitting Radioactive Material

Cigarettes in an ash tray.
Photo by Photo and Co/Getty ImagesThe health risks associated with cigarette smoking are widely known. But did you know tobacco plants can accumulate radioactive minerals—including radium, lead-210 and polonium-210—from certain fertilizers? Cigarette smoke containing radioactive material can be inhaled by smokers and nonsmokers, in the form of second-hand smoke.

8. Tritium in Emergency Exit Signs

Sign collectors be warned: Many self-illuminating emergency “Exit” signs commonly found in office buildings and malls contain tritium, a radioactive gas. If they are tampered with or broken, they could release harmful radioactive gas.

9. Phosphate-Based Fertilizer Leaving Traces of Radium in Vegetables

Person putting fertilizer on plants.
Photo by Tom Payne/AlamyPhosphorous is an essential nutrient for plants and a common ingredient in many fertilizers. However, the processing of phosphate rock to make phosphate-based fertilizer may leave radium (Ra-226) in the end product. The levels of Ra-226 vary depending upon the type of fertilizer blend and the origin of the phosphate rock, and can appear in vegetables grown with it.

To read more about potential sources of radiation, and how to test for radiation in your home check out two sites on the topic:

EPA Radiation ProtectionEPA Radtown Learning Resources

Home Remodeling

How To Remove Wallpaper Border


Wallpaper Removal

Do you have an outdated wallpaper border that you want to remove? Read this step-by-step guide to learn how to easily remove wallpaper borders from your walls.

Removing wallpaper border can be tricky, whether you’re removing it from a painted wall or a wallpapered one.

Either way, to remove it without damaging the underlying walls or wallpaper, you’ll need to take your time. Below we’ve laid out the steps for the best way to remove wallpaper borders—without damaging your walls in the process.

How to Remove Wallpaper Border

Most wallpaper borders are easy to remove, especially those manufactured in relatively recently. The main tools it generally takes are a putty knife and some perseverance to lift the decorative accent and remove it without too much trouble.

Tools You’ll Need

Plastic sheet or drop cloth
Wallpaper scraper or putty knifeSpray bottleBucketFabric softenerSponge
Heat gun or wallpaper steamer>Chemical wallpaper removerWallpaper scoring tool
Orbital sander with 40-60 grit paper

Steps for Removing Wallpaper Border:

Move furniture and other items into the middle of the room and cover with a plastic sheet or drop cloth.With a wallpaper scraper or putty knife, locate a seam and lift a bottom corner of the wallpaper border.Once a large enough section is peeled back with the knife, slowly peel the paper away by hand, applying steady and even pressure so it doesn’t tear. For areas that resist, slide the knife or scraper under the paper as you pull to loosen the glue’s grip.Once all the adhesive has been removed, wipe the area with a clean sponge and hot soapy water (dish soap will work), making sure you’ve removed all the residue, and allow it to dry.

Other Ways to Remove Wallpaper Border

If the border doesn’t come off easily or keeps tearing, leaving you to chip peel off pieces off bit by bit, step up the removal process with the following methods.

Warm Water and a Putty Knife

Fill a spray bottle with warm-to-hot water. Spray the wallpaper so that it absorbs the water, but not so much that you damage any underlying wallpaper. Allow the water to penetrate the border, about ten minutes. This will loosen the glue and allow the paper and backing to be removed with less resistance.Using the same method as above, insert the putty knife under an edge and pull the paper back, using the putty knife to assist where necessary. For stubborn spots, spray more warm water, wait a few minutes, and tackle the area again.

Fabric Softener and Water

Mix equal parts water and fabric softener in a spray bottle, shake and spray onto the wallpaper.Allow the solution to penetrate the border for 5-10 minutes before attempting to scrape it off with a putty knife or scraper. For an eco-friendly solution, use white vinegar instead of fabric softener, and follow the same steps as above.

Heat Gun or Wallpaper Steamer

For a hard-to-remove wallpaper border on a painted wall, apply high heat from a wallpaper steamer or heat gun (a hairdryer may work in a pinch). Once the border’s been heated enough to melt the glue, use your scraper to peel it back.If using a steamer or heat gun, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and wear protective gloves, clothing, and safety goggles—steamers drip hot water and heat guns can burn skin easily.Do not use a heat gun or steamer for a border that’s adhered to wallpaper you’re trying to salvage—the heat may also melt the glue of the wallpaper, causing it to bubble and pull away from the wall.

Chemical Wallpaper Remover

If the paper still resists, enlist the help of a wallpaper removal product, following the directions on the label.

For a particularly stubborn wallpaper border, you can score the paper every 6 to 12 inches with a wallpaper scoring tool before applying the remover. A scoring tool makes tiny holes in the paper you only need a little bit of pressure; if you press too hard, you’ll damage your wall. Allowing the solution to penetrate the backing will make the border’s removal easier. Then, using the same method detailed above, lift the paper with the putty knife to remove as much of the paper as possible in large chunks. If you need to, apply additional remover for stuck-on parts, waiting an additional 5 minutes for the remover to penetrate the glue.

Orbital Sander

For super-stuck-on wallpaper border pieces, an orbital sander with 40-60 grit paper can sand away the top layer. Once the top layer is removed, spray down the remaining backing with warm water, wait a few minutes for the glue to loosen, and remove the border remnants with your putty knife.Removing wallpaper border while trying to salvage the wallpaper underneath: In an ideal world, the wallpaper border will easily peel off, without pulling the wallpaper up along with it. If it is proving to be stubborn, any other method has the potential to damage the wallpaper you are trying to save. And, depending on how much sunlight the room receives, the wallpaper under the border may be darker than the rest of the wallpaper It’s best to determine if it is worth your time and effort to try and save the wallpaper.

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Home Remodeling

What to Do When Your Sewer Backs Up


Getty Images/iStockphoto

When it comes to bad things like a sewer backup, it’s always smarter to be prepared. Read on for a few tips for handling a sewer backup.

You don’t need an article to tell you that a sewer backup is no joke. But, old houses, increased rain, and lack of maintenance can suddenly experience sewage backing up into their homes.

If this happens to you, you’ll need to take measures to fix it immediately to avoid further issues and emergencies.

Get Regular Sewer Inspections

The first step in how to manage a sewer backup is to not have one. Some plumbing companies offer an annual inspection program where they will scope and clean your existing drains. Among other things, grease can build up and harden in the pipes over time. But with a yearly inspection, minor obstructions like grease buildup can typically be water jetted away.

Another problem the scope may find is a broken or cracked pipe. The older the house, the more likely the drain stacks are cast iron and they can fill over time, crack, or—worse—be cracked or breached by tree roots or heavy equipment in the yard.

Long story short, an inspection is inexpensive compared to a repair.

What to Do When a Sewer Backup Happens

There are two types of “sewage”—that which goes down the toilet (and subsequently the sewer drain) and that which comes from exterior sources like a storm sewer.

No matter which type of backup you experience, don’t go in there unprepared.

If you have effluent (liquid waste) in your home, the first step is to call a plumbing or restoration company that has drain specialists on staff. If you’ve already had a drain inspection, you’ll presumably have a number in your contacts and won’t be calling all over town looking for the right person, while one of the nastiest jobs in plumbing soaks into every crack and crevice in your basement. So, a yearly inspection may well pay off twice.

While some companies say not to go into the affected area at all, others say you can go in, as long as you do so wearing protective clothing like rubber boots. Remember, the electric may still be energized and you don’t want to step into liquid while it is—so make sure to trip the breaker at the panel to de-energize the room before entering.

Sewer Drain Versus Storm Drain

A sewer drain and a storm sewer are two different things and sometimes older houses have both. And while it is commonly held that a sewer drain backs up largely because there is a blockage or break in the sewer line, some homes have floor drains attached to the storm sewer system. That water can back up into the house in a flooding rain because the city sewer is overwhelmed.

While that water won’t be by any means clean and may well have stuff in it that can make you sick, it can be handled carefully and evacuated from the home quickly and may not require a plumber. Rubber boots, a respirator (at the very least a dust mask), and a protective suit are all recommended.

One approach is a wet-dry vac. If you have a few inches of water from a storm sewer—or other inundation, like water coming in under a door—in your basement, a wet-dry vac can be used to suck up a little at a time. The water can be poured out into the sewer drain via a shower or utility sink. Just a few inches of water is a LOT and may take more than 40-50 fills of the vac.

Another approach is to buy a submersible utility pump. Place it in the lowest spot of your basement, run a garden hose out the window and let it work. Both of these, of course, run on electricity—so the utmost caution should be taken.

How to Dry Out After a Backup

Next is to make a plan to get everything that’s wet dry. Carpet, drywall, and your things. Depending on the flood, what needs to be done to get everything dry will vary, but whatever’s wet needs to be made dry again. Open the windows if possible and buy or rent a floor fan.

How Much Does Sewer Repair Cost?

Give your insurance agent a call and see what they cover and what they don’t. There are third-party companies that specialize in insuring house systems, and that may make sense for you as appliances like water heaters and stoves age just as drains do.

When it comes to bad things like a sewer backup, it’s always smarter to be prepared, even if it’s a headache to write a check to ensure a system that virtually all of the modernity takes for granted.

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Home Remodeling

How To Paint Laminate Countertops


A paintbrush, blue tape, and sanding blocks sit on a beige laminate countertop.
Dana Schiffman

Skip the kitchen design center and head to the paint department for a totally new look for your laminate countertops.

Replacing countertops isn’t a whole lot of fun. First, it’s expensive: A new granite countertop can cost as much as $100 per square foot. Then, factor in removing the old countertops without damaging the cabinets, and the stakes are even higher.

Finally, the disruption a big kitchen reno can cause is typically a massive headache. But, there’s good news: You can avoid the expense and inconvenience and still achieve a new look—if you know how to paint laminate countertops.

Can You Paint Laminate Counters?

Laminate counters are absolutely a candidate for a paint-based makeover.

Most homeowners believe they have two choices: rip out their counters and start fresh or live with what they have. But there’s a third option that’s often best. They can learn how to paint their laminate countertops to achieve an entirely new and improved look. All it takes is a bit of research, some prep work, and the right tools and materials.

How To Paint Laminate Countertops

Painting laminate kitchen countertops is well within the capabilities of a DIY-savvy homeowner. This section will cover everything you need to know for a new laminate countertop look.

Tools and materials

You’ll need several items, but most are fairly affordable, and you may even have a few on hand already:

Contact cement Medium-grit sandpaperSanding block
Palm sander (optional)
Small paint roller and roller covers>Paint tray, fitted with liner, plus extra linersPaintbrushRagMineral spiritsPainter’s tape1 gallon latex-based primer1 gallon latex-based paint1 gallon topcoat sealer

Step 1: Prepare the surface

Laminate countertops are smooth from the factory, so they aren’t a great surface for priming or painting—at least initially.

Give the primer and paint something to grab onto by scratching the countertop’s surface with medium-grit sandpaper (220 is usually sufficient). A palm sander is optional and will speed up the process, but you’ll need the sanding block for the corners and backsplash. The goal is not to sand through the laminate but just to scratch it up. Once sufficiently scratched, use a rag and some mineral spirits to clean the dust from the surface. Be sure to check for any areas you might’ve missed and give them a quick scuffing as well.Also, take note of sections of laminate separating from the particle board underneath and repair them with some contact cement.

Step 2: Apply painter’s tape

Once the mineral spirits have dried, move on to taping along the countertop’s edges. Be sure to tape anything directly adjacent to the counter, such as the sink, cabinets, refrigerator, stove, and wall.

Steps 3: Prime the laminate countertops

With everything taped, you can begin priming the counter.

Start by pouring some primer into the paint tray, then, with a back-and-forth motion, use the roller to apply it to the laminate counter. Be sure to overlap each previous pass by a few inches to ensure you’re maintaining a wet edge.When you get to the inside corners and the edges, be sure to switch to the paintbrush. It’s best to brush the primer onto the counter while the rolled primer is still wet, as it will dry with a more consistent, flat texture. Always allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 4: Prepare for paint

While the primer is drying, you can start preparing for paint.

Pour any remaining primer back into the can, discard the tray liner, and place a new liner in the tray. Throw out the roller cover and clean the paintbrush with soap and water (mineral spirits also work well).

Step 5: Paint the laminate countertops

You can start painting the countertops as soon as the primer is completely dry.

Mix and pour some paint into the paint tray and use a fresh paint roller cover to apply it to the laminate countertop. Be sure to overlap each stroke to ensure you’re maintaining a wet edge. Again, switch to the brush when you reach inside corners, the sink, the backsplash, or other hard-to-reach areas.Most laminate counters will require a second coat, so repeat the process once the first coat dries. After the second coat, clean the paintbrush and replace the tray liner and roller cover.

Step 6: Apply the topcoat

The final step in painting laminate kitchen countertops is to protect the painted surface with a water-based topcoat, also known as a clear coat. This layer will protect the paint from water and other sources of damage.

Applying the topcoat is very similar to the priming and painting process. The only difference is that the clear coat can be difficult to see, so take your time. Be sure to overlap each roller stroke to ensure a wet edge, and use the brush to cover the corners, edges, and other areas. A second coat is highly recommended, but luckily, latex-based topcoats dry quickly.And, with that final layer of topcoat dry, you’ve given a fresh new look to an old laminate countertop. The painted surface is durable, but not quite as resistant to water and scratches as the laminate, so be sure to wipe up spills quickly and avoid scratching the paint as much as possible.

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Home Remodeling

A Renovation Refresh for 3 Colonial-Style Kitchens

These classic Colonial kitchen renovations show interiors ready for modern-day life

yonkers colonial house
Above) The 1919 Colonial of Sweeten homeowners Amanda and Cory

The quaintness of Colonial-style homes is undeniable. Usually marked by two or three stories and brick or wood facades, these dwellings are traditionally found on the east coast. They are typically characterized by a simple almost minimalist shape. The floor plan keeps the kitchen and dining room on the first floor with bedrooms on the second. And while some have open-concept layouts, it is more common to see separation between rooms. They are also easy to remodel by adding on to the side or back.

Here, we look at three Colonial kitchen renovations by Sweeten—examples of their older interiors redone to bring in modern style and conveniences.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free.

Bringing a Tudor Colonial into the next century

blue gray kitchen
Built in 1912, Nilda and Brian’s Tudor Colonial in Westchester County, NY, desperately needed a remodel. The 4,400-square-foot home featured a kitchen that was last updated almost 60 years ago. It was time for a change. “The floor was three inches off-level,” says Nilda. “You could peek through the floor to the basement.” 

backyard entry
The couple hired a Sweeten contractor for the remodel. To honor the historic style, they maintained some separation between the kitchen and the other living spaces. New cabinets, flooring, and lighting updated the look. They also opened up the back wall to install a patio door. 

They kept a traditional feel by opting for Shaker cabinets in a modern gray color. The butler’s pantry also keeps the turn-of-the-century vibe but with a contemporary twist.

Colonial Revival home gets rejuvenated

Fiske Terrace, Brooklyn, is a quiet enclave built at the turn of the 20th century. Interestingly, the Flatbush neighborhood is filled with Colonial Revival homes. So when Nydia and Jonathan bought their 3,240-square-foot home in 2012, they decided to renovate. But at the time, they put off the larger renovation of the outdated kitchen. 

Brooklyn kitchen, renovation, remodel
Eventually, they turned to Sweeten to find the right contractor for their old-home renovation. They wanted to take advantage of the natural light the house afforded. However, like in many other Colonial home renovations, the small windows blocked out the light. As a solution, they replaced them with white-framed ones. In addition, they updated the kitchen with gray-blue cabinets and brushed gold accents. These design choices make the aesthetic modern yet still warm and inviting. The bonus? The exposed brick from the chimney area brings even more character.

From challenged to Colonial charming 

drip dishware collection

Dated salmon-colored Formica didn’t stop Amanda and Cory from buying their 1919 Colonial home. For a while, they actually found it charming. However, they knew eventually it needed to be renovated. They hired a Sweeten contractor to update the kitchen to accommodate their family’s needs. 

On their list of goals was creating a better flow of traffic and light. A challenge of renovating Colonial homes is their notorious separation of rooms. The main entrance to the kitchen by way of the dining room was too narrow. As a result, it isolated the kitchen. But taking down the wall felt disrespectful to the house’s character, so instead, they simply widened and centered it.  

old house kitchen

Like a lot of Colonials, there was some asymmetry in the house. One example was the sheetrock box-beam in the kitchen. They assumed it encased something hard to move, so they left it. However, they fixed the problem by giving it a matching beam which created symmetry. 

“Our new space makes us feel happy,” says Amanda. “It feels so harmonious with the rest of our beautiful old Colonial home.”


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

The post A Renovation Refresh for 3 Colonial-Style Kitchens appeared first on Sweeten.

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Home Remodeling

2021 Costs for Home Renovation in Chicago

Sweeten’s guide to Chicago remodeling costs in 2021, including kitchen, bath, and whole-home (plus outdoor budgets and permit tips!)

chicago remodel
Above) Remodel bySweeten general contractor ChristinaPhoto: Chicago Home Photos

The budgeting step can be nerve-wracking for first-time Chicago renovators. You’ve finally moved on from daydreaming to starting a remodel of your home. Start by gathering some basic details: know what you can actually afford, and plan to add a small reserve on top of that. The materials you want to use also factor in, as well as how much work will be done. Plus, everything that isn’t visible—the infrastructure—will impact your costs. This can be a lot to keep track of, especially if this is your first time renovating.

Fortunately, Sweeten has done some of the legwork in this guide to Chicago remodeling costs. This guide focuses on some of the major remodeling categories: whole house remodels, kitchen, bath, additions—as well as permits. You can use these details to create an accurate budget for a Chicago-area renovation.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free.

Here’s a breakdown of typical starting costs (including labor and materials) gathered from Sweeten contractors and the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report

Full-home renovation: From $100 per square foot (psf) Budget bath remodel: $15,000—$20,000 (based on 35 sq ft)Mid-grade bath remodel: $21,000 (based on 35 sq ft)High-end bath remodel: $28,500 (based on 35 sq ft)Budget kitchen remodel: $22,000  (based on a 100 sq ft)Mid-grade kitchen remodel: $30,000 (based on 100 sq ft)High-end kitchen remodel: $37,500 (based on 100 sq ft)Basement remodel: $40,000—$75,000

Keep in mind that every professional contractor will want to have a detailed conversation with you. They will also inspect your home before developing an estimate specific to your needs and wants.

Pro tip: Do not wait. The pandemic has caused a backlog in the supply of materials in many sectors. For homeowners interested in renovating, it’s smart to schedule and sign with a contractor to lock in your material prices. You’ll also want to book a start date on the contractor’s schedule. If you do wait, prices will only continue to go up and your material order starts at the back of a long queue.

Chicago remodeling costs per square foot

Gut renovation vs. non-gut renovation

Gutting a home pretty much means starting from scratch. You’ll take everything down to the studs or framework, and/or you’ll knock down walls. Because it’s more intricate, a gut job starts at the higher end of the $100 to $200 psf range. By contrast, a remodel of the space within existing walls will be at the lower end. For example, remodeling a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom condo may range from $50,000 to $70,000, while a gut reno likely will exceed $100,000. This work usually involves running new plumbing pipes and wiring, moving doorways, and possibly installing new flooring.

Costs for a full home gut renovation start at $100 per square foot. Take note: this scope of work is extensive! Expect demo, framing, insulation and drywall, wiring, plumbing, heating/cooling systems, millwork, paint, flooring, tile, light fixtures, electronics, and all finishes. (This excludes appliances, which can significantly increase costs, depending on how high-end they are.) According to Chicago-basedSweeten contractor Ryan, “A whole-house renovation—say, 3,000 square feet—would cost $200,000, at the low end, and start at $400,000 at the high end. It all depends on the materials chosen.”

Wet rooms—connected to a water supply, such as bathrooms or kitchens—typically start at $250 psf. In the city, bathrooms in condos or co-ops can be as small as 30 square feet. However, in freestanding homes, they are typically larger than 5’ x 8’.  High-end renovations that are fully custom with luxury materials can cost upwards of $700 per square foot. Architectural design and drawings, demolition, construction, materials, fixtures, lighting, and finishes are included in the fee.

Contractors may build in overage fees to their estimates. This allows for the unexpectedwhich definitely can happento be covered. Overages are usually 10-15% of the project cost. (Sweeten recommends that the renovator reserve at least 10-15% above the bid as well). Don’t let the numbers shock you, though: the beauty ofusing a general contractor is that it’s one-stop shopping. Working with a contractor covers pretty much all the trades required for the job. This spares you the work of hiring individual tradesmen to complete the various aspects of your project. 

Chicago-basedSweeten contractor Brad recommends being realistic about how much you can spend. “You can’t buy a $100,000 ring on a $5,000 budget. Nail down your contractor first; they know pricing. And add 15 percent for unexpected conditions.”

verage cost of a kitchen remodel in Chicago

Budget kitchen renovation costs

A typical starting point is $22,000 based on a 100-square-foot kitchen. According to the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, the average is $31,004 for 200 square feet. This translates to stock cabinets, hardware, and countertops, plus swapping outdated appliances with newer and more energy-efficient models.

Mid-grade kitchen renovation costs

Sweeten has found that a 100-square-foot space at this finish level can start at $30,000. For a kitchen at 200 square feet, expect to pay an average of $81,820, according to the Cost vs. Value Report. This includes custom lighting, updating 30 linear feet of semi-custom wood cabinets, new countertops, a 3′ x 5′ island, double-tub stainless steel sink with single-lever faucet, garbage disposal, built-in dishwasher, energy-efficient range, vented hood, built-in microwave, dishwasher, and new flooring.

High-end kitchen costs

Based on what Sweeten has seen, expect starting costs to be $37,500 for a 100-square-foot room at this finish level. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, a kitchen at 200 square feet starts at $160,000Expect top-flight custom cabinets with interior detailing like partitioned drawers, pullout shelves, pop up and down storage, stone, quartz, or porcelain countertops, stone or imported tile backsplash. Also included are custom lights, under-cabinet lighting, hardwood, stone or porcelain flooring, and typical high-end appliances.

Sweeten contractor Ryan has seen kitchens cost $50,000 for a gut remodel, and at the high end, closer to $100,000. “Those figures,” he says, “can vary greatly, as some cabinetry alone might cost $80,000

verage bathroom remodel costs in Chicago

Budget bathroom costs

A starting point can be $15,000—$20,000 for a 35-square-foot-space with budget-friendly finishes from big box stores like Walmart, Home Depot, Menards, and Lowe’s. As this is a wet space, plumbing, electrical insulation, and exhausts, as well as correcting misaligned walls and floors will be part of the job.

Mid-grade bathroom

For a 35-square-foot space, a remodel will start at $21,000. According to 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, $27,570 is the average cost for this type of project. This includes a recessed medicine cabinet, standard toilet, solid-surface vanity counter, and a porcelain tub.

High-end bathroom

The typical cost at this finish level starts at $28,500 for 35-square-feet. The 2021 Cost vs. Value Report cites an average of $82,838 for a high-end renovation, based on a bathroom over 200 square feet. Features at this level include new ductwork, radiant heated floors, custom cabinetry, separate shower, freestanding tub, and custom lighting.

Costs for a master suite addition

Mid-grade master suite addition costs

Estimated costs are around $452 psf or $177,273 for a 24′ x 16′ space, including double vanity, freestanding tub, separate shower, walk-in closet, dressing area, according to 2021 Cost vs. Value Report. Whether it’s a ground-level addition, a basement remodel, or a second-floor addition, accessing rough-ins for plumbing will vary and affect pricing.

High-end master suite addition costs

For a 32′ x 20′ master suite with a separate sitting area and large master bath over a crawl space, costs are around $553 psf or $359,232, according to 2021 Cost vs. Value Report. This kind of project includes custom shelving, built-in storage, as well as a walk-in closet and dressing area with windows.

Basement renovation costs in Chicago

A starting budget for a basement is around $100 psf. At the low end, the cost averages $40,000 and includes a bathroom with a shower. Flooring options can vary significantly, including laminate, vinyl, engineered wood, porcelain tile, or stained concrete. At the high end, a project for $75,000 may include a 5′ x 8′-foot bathroom with a shower, a wet bar, and flooring in an overall space measuring 20′ x 30′.

Costs for a basement renovation can be affected by multiple factors. Consider the existing condition of the space, if plumbing pipes need to be installed or moved, if new water service is required and if bracing needs to be done to eliminate structural supports in the middle of a space. Also take into consideration ceiling height, since Chicago basements are typically 8 feet or less, and as low as 6’7″. If you want to raise the ceiling, that requires digging out and underpinning the foundation. In addition, it’s necessary to assure the space is waterproof. A perimeter drain tile system is installed (repaired or extended). Connecting it to a sump pump also is important to consider, and this cost can start at around $2,500

Chicago remodeling costs for permits

The permit process for renovating varies from Chicago to its suburbs, with each of the village’s or town’s governing bodies determining requirements and fees. In Chicago, permits are obtained through the Building Department. The issue in common is safety and compliance with building codes.

In Winnetka, remodeling permits cost $30 per $1,000 of construction; new construction is $1.30 per square foot of new gross area. There also are permit fees for plumbing, electrical service ($9,800 for 200 amp service; $21,000 for 400 amp service), furnace, and AC as well as roofing and pools. In Hinsdale, the permit fee for remodeling is calculated on two percent of the value of construction.  In addition, expect to pay permit fees for demolition ($3,000

In Chicago, applications for building permits must include architectural drawings and names of all licensed contractors—plumbers, electricians, HVAC contractors (usually supplied by the general contractor). There is no one size fits all. But expect to pay between $1,500 and $2,000 minimally for a whole house remodel, major kitchen, and/or bath. The larger the project, the more the fee, ranging to as high as $10,000.

There’s also an Easy Permit Program for small projects that do not require architectural drawings (usually available the same day). There are nominal costs (a few hundred dollars for plumbing and electrical permits), which usually are pulled by those contractors.

©2021 Zonda Media, a Delaware corporation. Complete data from the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com.

Find expert Chicago general contractors near you

Post your project onSweeten and we’ll match you with multiple vetted general contractors to provide estimates for your renovation, thenhelp you evaluate the estimates. Sweeten also checks in with you until the project is completed. When you brainstorm with your general contractor to develop an accurate budget, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the dream space you’ve always craved.

Have a good handle onHOA (Homeowners Association) fees before you purchase your condo, co-op, or detached house.

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 on Sweeten

The post 2021 Costs for Home Renovation in Chicago appeared first on Sweeten.

Home Remodeling

2021 Cost Guide for a Home Remodel in Miami

The costs to remodel in Miami: Kitchen, bath, whole home, and outdoor, plus resale value and permit tips

modern home remodel in Miami
Whether you own a modern beach-side condo, an on-the-bay house, or a bungalow away from it all on a quiet street, the process of doing a remodel in Miami can be enjoyable—with a rewarding outcome. 

A budget is the start of any renovation, and every project is unique: from materials, adding value and lifestyle to your home, and working with the HOA.Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their project, offers this cost guide to remodeling in Miami to provide a jumping-off point to get you on your way. 

Remodeling costs per square foot in Miami

Here’s a breakdown of the typical costs to remodel in Miami, Florida. The costs are across five categories: full home, kitchen, bathroom, deck additions, and permits. These figures are compiled from Sweeten general contractors and Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value Report

Full home renovation:Starting at $100 – $250+ per square feet (psf)
Budget kitchen remodel: starting at $150 psf or $15,000 (based on 100 sq ft)
Mid-grade kitchen remodel: Starting at $325 psf or $32,500 (based on 100 sq ft)
High-end kitchen remodel: Staring at $650 psf or $65,000 (based on 100 sq ft)
Budget bathroom remodel: Starting at $300 psf or $10,500 (based on 35 sq ft)
Mid-grade bathroom remodel: Starting at $570 psf or $19,950 (based on 35 sq ft)
High-end bathroom remodel: Starting at $630 psf or $22,050 (based on 35 sq ft)
Basic wood deck addition: $40 psf or $13,000 (based on 325 sq ft)
Concrete patio addition with roof, electrical, plumbing, and a cooking area: $50,000
Keep in mind that every professional contractor will want to have a detailed conversation with you. They will also inspect your home before developing an estimate specific to your needs and wants.

Pro tip: Do not wait. The pandemic has caused a backlog in the supply of materials in many sectors. For homeowners interested in renovating, it’s smart to schedule and sign with a contractor to lock in your material prices. You’ll also want to book a start date on the contractor’s schedule. If you do wait, prices will only continue to go up and your material order starts at the back of a long queue.

How much does it cost to remodel a home in Miami?

If you’re renovating a house in the Miami area, expect costs to range from $100 to $250+ psf with $175 psf as the middle range for a full-scale remodel. If you’re aiming for a budget that is in the upper-middle-range, Miami-basedSweeten general contractor Adrian said you can expect to pay over $200,000 or about $200 psf. However, several elements affect this, like square footage, the state of the original home, and how expensive your tastes are. “It has all to do with the finishes,” Adrian said. By finishes, he means the elements you can see such as tiles, faucets, and kitchen countertops. With materials, plan to add to the timeline for installation and materials and labor costs. Using higher-end finishes will push your budget upwards by at least $50,000, he said. With the pandemic, material and labor costs have gone up due to higher demand. “There’s been a 20 percent in materials,” said Adrian.

The budget for renovating an apartment can be higher than house renovations. “If you’re doing a house, often you can work on the weekends,” said Adrian. In a condo, there are tight rules about when construction work can and can’t be done. These hours are put in place by thehomeowners association (HOA) for each building. Often, this means only working within an eight-hour or so window Monday to Friday. This extends the timeline of a project, thus increasing the budget. HOAs might also charge a condo owner a fee to remodel their apartment. 

Disposing of trash adds to the cost of condo renovations. With a house, a general contractor can park a dumpster out the front. For condo remodels, general contractors will likely hire a separate contractor to come and lug construction trash away. This involves negotiating tight hallways and elevators as well as timeframes given by the HOA.  

How much does it cost to remodel a kitchen in Miami?

A kitchen renovation in the budget value range can come in starting at $150 psf or $15,000 for a space measuring around 100 square feet, according to Hancen, a Sweeten general contractor in Miami. To get a new kitchen at this price, it needs to be a rip-and-replace job, meaning a layout of the kitchen must stay the same with pipes and appliances remaining where they are.
Homeowners should look at materials like pre-made shaker-style cabinets and appliances from big-box stores like Home Depot. “I’ve also noticed a trend for concrete countertops,” said Hancen. “These can be cheaper than quartz, but they take more to maintain,” adding that a sealant needs to be applied annually. 

For a mid-grade kitchen remodel in Miami, Sweeten has seen costs starting at $325 psf or $32,500 for a 100-square-foot room. According to the 2021 Cost Vs Value Report, a mid-range kitchen remodel costs on average $73,645. This works out to $368 psf for a 200-square foot space. Almost 54 percent of that cost is recouped in the value it adds to a home. The example kitchen the report gave was 200 square feet with laminate countertops, semi-custom wood cabinets, and a stainless steel sink with a standard single-lever faucet. It also contained a built-in microwave, dishwasher, and custom lighting. Other than the addition of a kitchen island, the layout, such as where the oven and dishwasher were installed, remained the same as the original design.
Sweeten general contractor Domenico, also servicing Miami, recently completed a kitchen renovation in this price range. It included a countertop made from Dekton, a stain-, scratch-, heat-, and UV-resistant material. The cabinets were custom with self-closing doors, which took $40,000 from the budget. The appliances were from GE. 

Sweeten has seen high-end kitchen renovations in Miami start at $650 psf or $65,000 for a 100-square-foot space. The 2021 Cost Vs Value Report quotes $145,718 for this finish level, adding the same amount of value to a home’s resale value—50 percent—as a mid-range kitchen remodel. This included custom cabinets, built-in sliding shelves, stone countertops, and imported ceramic or glass tile backsplashes. The appliances were also upgraded, including a commercial-grade cooktop and vent hood, plus designer faucets and a water filtration system.

How much does it cost to remodel a bathroom in Miami?

At the budget level, expect a solid rip-and-replace bathroom with no behind-the-wall surprises to come in starting at $10,500 for a 35-square-foot room. Contractor Hancen specializes in bathrooms for the Miami area. He has completed a very basic 50-square-foot bathroom for $300 psf, he said. However, this is contingent on the layout staying the same and having no issues like leaks or mold discovered once the project begins. If you’re after this price, stick to a prefabricated vanity and ceramic tiles, which come out to about $2 psf. When it comes to faucets, toilets, and bathtubs, the brand American Standard is a good example of affordable, quality products. “These are the most well-priced materials I’ve seen and the most popular,” said Hancen.
The next step up is a mid-grade bathroom renovation. Expect the starting costs for this finish level to be $570 psf or $19,950 based on a 35-square-foot space. According to the 2021 Cost Vs Value Report, the average cost for this type of bathroom remodel in Miami is about $22,567 and about $644 psf. The example bathroom the report gave was a 5’ x 7’ space and involved installing a new porcelain-on-steel bathtub, ceramic tiles, and a lit and recessed medicine cabinet. A renovation in this vein can add about $12,051 to a home’s value.
A high-end bathroom remodel in the Miami area starts at $630 psf or $22,050 for a 35-square-foot space. According to the 2021 Cost Vs Value Report, the average price in this category is around $70,286. For this budget, you could expand your bathroom to around 100 square feet and can 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 drawers, and wall cabinets.
The cost of tiles can add up. On a recent project, Domenico’s client picked out a tile that had the appearance of wood and cost $20 psf. Another client wanted a wave pattern created out of tiles. “It was more difficult to install adding to the labor costs,” he said. “Occasionally, breakages happen, so that also needs to be covered.” 

The good news is this is an investment with about 48 percent of the budget added to your home’s sale price. 

dding outdoor space to your home

In Florida, there is plenty of sun and enviable weather to take advantage of by renovating or adding an outdoor space to your home. Many Miami residents will use these spaces as an additional living space and even kitchen. 

For one project, Sweeten contractor Adrian added a 900 square foot patio to a house that had a budget of $50,000. “It was essentially another room to the house without the walls,” he said. It had a tiled roof supported by four columns, which was necessary so the structure could withstand a powerful hurricane. The flooring was Cuban tiles and there were fans and lighting so electrical work was required. According to the 2021 Cost Vs Value Report, a 16′ x 20′  wood deck costs $15,216 and $20,879 for a composite one in the Miami area. If you went for a simple wood deck in a simple linear pattern, you could recoup close to 67 percent of the budget in the bump it gives to your home value. For this price, you could get a built-in bench and planter with stairs and railings.

Permit costs in Miami

The cost of permits, from a typical building permit to electrical, mechanical, and plumbing permits, are calculated indifferent ways. Some permit costs are calculated by square footage. Some are calculated by the value of a project so an exact figure can take some time to figure out. That’s why general contractor Adrian puts an estimate in the initial budget. For example, with a $250,000 renovation, he puts a budget placeholder of $1,500 for the main building permit with an additional $500 each for plumbing, electrical and mechanical, if the project requires it. 

Miami-Dade county covers a huge amount of land and almost three million people. Each city—such as Miami South and Miami Lakes—in the county has a building official who issues permits for projects located within that city’s jurisdiction. Residential permits typically take 30 business days to process. 

These Miami remodeling costs are a launchpad so you can begin creating an initial budget. Sweeten’s Renovation Checklist is a downloadableroadmap to organize all of the moving parts of a renovation. (Don’t forget to include your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves”!)

©2021 Zonda Media, a Delaware corporation. Complete data from the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com.

Remodeling your home in Miami? Sweeten can help!

Post your project on Sweeten and we’ll match you with vetted local general contractors to provide estimates for your remodel in Miami, plus we’ll support you throughout your project duration. Meet with your contractor to develop an accurate budget, and you’ll be on your way to the home you’ve always wanted.

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 on Sweeten

The post 2021 Cost Guide for a Home Remodel in Miami appeared first on Sweeten.