How Much to Renovate?


I can’t remember if I’ve asked a question like this before but I’m seriously curious to know how much it would cost to renovate a home like this one. Let’s not say top of the line but not a crappy job either. What are we talking about, $100,000? $200,000? More?

17 Comment

  • I’d say somewhere at least $150,000. that’s assuming everything needs to be done – plumbing, electrical, roof, hvac, windows, floors, framing, drywall, finishes, appliances, etc.

  • Doesn’t that sign on the front door indicate this building’s supposed to be renovated through the Home Again initiative (or whatever it’s currently called)? Seems like a lot of similar vacant properties have had those signs on them for quite some time but have seen nada in terms of renovation… One at 9th and T was announced by Graham last year as being given the go ahead but has seen nothing since that time. Has home again stalled out?

  • And I’d guess 200k for this one, given that it’s 4 stories…

  • How much is that thing going for, as-is?

  • definitely in the $150 to 200k range

  • I’d guess $200K, given that we spent $60K on some really basic repairs (new kitchen, some plumbing work) on our 1400 square foot house.

  • thats easily 400k.

    $100/ft is a nothing renovation.

  • Anonbuildingpro is right. I was looking into doing a full rebuild of a shell in CH and came to the conclusion that $110/ft was a bare minimum — and that’s with a good amount of friend labor.

  • And that is probably why a good number of “Home Again” projects have stalled. It’s a great idea in theory, but most people don’t have the skills to tackle a full-on shell renovation if they’ve never done any type of renovation work before. It is very easy to get fleeced by unscrupulous contractors who promise to get it done cheap and then screw up. True story—a woman in my old neighborhood of Petworth/16th Street heights bought a “gut job” for $150,000. She took out a $241,000 mortgage—so she was lowballing the renovation costs to start by thinking it would only take $91K to do a full renovation. She hires an incompetent design/build firm who draw “dreamhouse” plans (raise the attic roof, relocate the baths, kitchen and stairs, dig out the basement to create rental unit—a really expensive renovation). She has to fire them because they can’t get the work done. Money from first loan is gone. Housing market is booming. She refinances. Gets new loan at $340,000, so now she has another $100K to work with, but has unbuildable plans and a gutted house. Cannot find qualified contractor to do work because competent contractors do not want to deal with the mess for the money she has. Is now seven years from original purchase. House still vacant, still unlivable, only now—b/c of downturn in market—would be impossible to sell the house in its condition for even $340K.

    Paying a contractor to do the house in PoP’s picture would be $225K minimum for a bare-bones renovation job. Probably closer to $300K to $350K to get good quality windows, flooring, air conditioning, and anything above builder-grade kitchen and bath.

  • we can’t ever get jobs with ‘first timers’ because we tell them the truth and then they run away screaming.

    its the people that have done it before that understand what things really cost

  • 200k easy.

    800 square foot house has already cost me clost to 100k.

    and it’s not ‘top quality’, it’s just getting the thing solid and to code.

    if you want to really do things right, you’re looking at close to 400k for that specimen.

  • my gut reno including all new plumbing, wiring, roof, systems, (for a homestead house I got in the lottery so it had been vacant for several years) was three floors (2 units) and 2100 square feet. It cost approx. 175k to do in 2000-2002. I hired a contracter (Shelterline: same one doing the triangle buiding on florida ave, 11th st. near the grill) as an unexperienced 24 year old making about 24k per year and luckily got a good bank and contractor (who was very slow but oh well). So what I had to cut out: paint job (8 years later STILL doing trim but couldn’t stomach the 16k price at the time) new windows for the back of the house, my dream bath- although my small one used the most expensive materials I could afford.
    I disagree that people can’t do this kind of thing. Of course it’s difficult but the Homestead Housing Program (which was cut out in 2000- thanks Williams) had a 14 year history of putting low income citizens in vacant houses and having them renovate/bring them up to code. It changed my life and hundreds of others in this city. I think the home again program is different in that the people renovating are essentially flippers. You put a lot more thought and effort it its going to be your home (I was required to live in it for at least 5 years to qualify and am going on a decade).
    with contracting prices going down again, I bet you would be looking at 200-300k with no major structural changes.

  • This house is on my block, and it’s the last vacant shell there. It doesn’t belong to Home Again – but to New Columbia Land Trust, who has owned it for probably more than a decade. They owned about 6 in a three block radius, all sitting vacant and derelict for years, but the new tax on vacant property seems to have gotten them moving, because they have fixed two of them in my immediate two block radius in the last six months. The yellow house down the block from this one was just completed.

    New Columbia needs to get off their a$$es and fix this one up too – the last eyesore on an otherwise beautiful block!

  • Depends on the renovation and how hi-end you want it but it is usually save to assume $150 – 250/sq. ft. for a renovation because once you open the walls, particularly in an old house you have no idea whats behind them and their condition could mean extensive structural work just to get to code.

    As a conservative estimate lets say the house is 2000 sq. ft so that would be $300,000 to $500,000.

  • I work for a contractor, here’s a general rule of thumb for you figure $100k per floor if it’s just a shell or a complete gut-out

  • These houses are huge, too. Most were built without true foundations, and have been exposed for decades to the elements. Every system has to be replaced, and often a new foundation has to be put in beneath the house. And, they’re located in a historic neighborhoods. So, budget $400,000 for the G.C., plus funds for your architect and bank interest. At least a half-million bucks.

    As an affordable housing strategy, these numbers don’t add up. Which is why they end up as high end luxury housing after rehab.

  • The building could be rehabed into 4 condo units. Cost about $100-125 per sq ft. That is just hard costs (construction). There is still soft costs, such as permits, insurance, interest, etc. From purchase to sale of all four units, it would take about 12-18 months (depending on the market). So I would put aside at least half mill to make this work, not including the purchase price. But it is harder to rehab because of the bank lending constraints (not as easy as just showing your id and the bank giving you free money, like a few years back).
    But with the right people, it could be a decent project. Problem is, the owner of the building doesn’t look like they are going to sell it (or rehab it themselves) anytime soon. Sad…

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