Three Factors Affecting a Renovation Budget

by | Last updated Jun 17, 2023 | Apartment Renovations, Construction Practices, Renovations

New construction and renovation budgets are complicated matters. Many variables will affect the construction cost for a renovation. The easiest way to simplify this complex issue is to break it into three simple categories.

The three main factors affecting a renovation budget are the scope of work, the team you will hire, and what you purchase. The scope of work is how much work you are doing, the choice of contractors is directly related to quality, and the price of materials will vary. 

I am Jorge Fontan, an architect in New York and owner of NYC-based architecture firm Fontan Architecture. In this post, we will discuss what I identify as the three primary factors affecting a construction budget, specifically renovations.


Scope of Work

The scope of work is the first big decision when planning your renovation and figuring out your budget. You must have a game plan and decide how much work you want to do. Start by establishing the extent of the renovation and all work you want to perform. As an architect, I always begin each renovation project by discussing the scope of work with my clients. This discussion is the first step in every project. 

Let’s discuss a few examples of how the scope can affect your budget. A complete gut renovation will cost more than just partially renovating certain areas. Relocating plumbing and gas will cost more than leaving it in the same place. Refinishing an existing wood floor is typically much less than replacing it with a new floor. 

Also, the scope includes assessing the existing conditions and figuring out what needs to be replaced. The current conditions will vary and may bring some unfortunate surprises.

Renovation Plan - Scope of Work

Renovation Plan – Scope of Work


The Renovation Team Selection

Whom you work with is one of the most crucial decisions for a renovation, and it will significantly impact the cost. Some contractors charge more than others, and in my experience, it is for a good reason. Typically the lower-priced contractors are not doing such a great job. The most expensive contractors I have worked with have always been the best contractors I worked with.

The price range between different General Contractors will vary. Large contractors are usually more expensive than smaller GCs. Don’t think that all the contractors are providing the same service because they are not. Some have higher standards than others. You may want to do a high-end renovation and go with a luxury contractor. You may not care about luxury and prefer a more affordable GC.

The contractor’s quality will vary from company to company. You want to find someone who does the level of work you are looking for and meets your budget. 

Renovation Project Team

Renovation Project Team


What You Purchase

The materials and products that go into your renovation will have a massive impact on the final price for your renovation. For example, marble can be three times the price of porcelain tiles in many cases. I can get you wood floors for eight dollars a square foot, twenty dollars a square foot, or even forty dollars a square foot. A refrigerator can range from six hundred dollars to fifteen thousand.

The cost of products and materials you or your team purchase for your renovation can have a vast price range. This price range is an advantage because it is often where you can easily save money if you need to cut the budget. I want to point out that saving money often means a reduction in quality. The final budget may be more important to some people than others. We all have different tastes and budgets.

Mid to Upper Range Materials for a Bathroom Renovation

Mid to Upper Price Range Materials for a Bathroom Renovation



Renovation Budget Factors

Many variables will affect your renovation budget. All these different issues can generally be put into one of three categories scope of work, GC selection, and product & materials selection. Balancing the budgets on all three of these issues is how you come up with a final renovation budget. 

This post has been focused on hard costs for a renovation which is the largest part of the budget. Hard cost is an industry term for direct construction costs such as materials and GCs. Soft costs are another factor we did not discuss, which includes things such as your architect and permit fees. If you want to read more on the subject, we have another post reviewing Hard Costs and Soft Costs.

NYC Apartment Renovation

Completed NYC Apartment Renovation


Thank You for Reading Our Blog Post on the Three Factors for Renovation Budgets.

I hope this was helpful. Contact us at Fontan Architecture directly if you want to speak with an architect about a potential project.


Contact Fontan Architecture

Jorge Fontan

Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.