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Atlanta Home Renovation Frequently Asked Questions

Planning a Home Improvement Project? We Can Help!
home renovation questions

If you are thinking about renovating your home in Atlanta, you probably have a million and one questions. Below are answers to many of the most common Atlanta home renovation questions that we hear from our clients.

How much do Atlanta Home renovations cost?
How long do home renovations take?
How can I pay for home renovations? Are home remodeling loans available?
Can I refinish just a small portion of my basement?
Are home renovations a good investment?
What home renovations add the most value to a home?
Can I save money by doing my own demolition?
What home renovations require a building permit?
What home renovation projects don’t require a building permit?
Why do cities and counties require building permits when remodeling a home?
Are inspections required during my home remodel?
Are home renovations tax deductible?
How often should I renovate my home?
How can I avoid being scammed by a remodeling contractor?

How much do Atlanta home renovations cost?

This is like asking “How much do cars cost?” Well, what make of car? New or used? What features does it have? The list of qualifying questions goes on and on.

The same type of qualifying questions apply to home renovation projects: What room or rooms are you renovating? What level of finish do you want (good, better, best)? Will you be replacing cabinets, flooring, siding, tile, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, appliances, etc. or re-using some or all of these? Are you going to be adding square footage to the house or working with the existing structure?

This is just the beginning of the countless questions that you have to answer to determine the cost of a remodeling job.

Here are some very general guidelines for renovation costs. These will vary depending on the cost of labor and on prevailing prices in your specific area.

Kitchen Remodel

Typical: $20,000+
Midrange: $68,000+
Upscale: $138,000+

Bathroom Remodel

Midrange Remodel: $21,000+
Upscale Remodel: $66,000+

Bathroom Addition

Midrange Addition: $49,000+
Upscale Addition: $89,000+

Bedroom Addition

Midrange: $133,000+
Upscale: $277,000+

Request our free Atlanta Remodeling Cost Guide by clicking here or get a free remodeling quote for your specific project.

How long do home renovations take?

Just like cost, the time needed to complete home remodeling work will vary greatly depending on the size of the job, availability of labor, availability of supplies, permitting speed in your area, and more.

Wait time before a job can start is the first timeframe to consider. Your remodeling contractor may have a backlog of work that prevents them from starting immediately. So you may have to wait several days or even weeks before they can begin work on your home.

Several time factors are beyond the control of your contractor. One is the time it takes to permit a job. If the government authority (usually your city or county) that regulates the building permits in your area has a backlog of permits to complete, your permit may take many days or weeks to approve and issue.

Availability of supplies also may impact the time it takes to finish your reno. Supplies include raw materials as well as components like windows or completed items such as appliances. For example, at the time of writing this article, supplies of windows are down dramatically due to Covid delays. However, at any given time, other factors such as tariffs on lumber or appliances may reduce availability (and drive up prices). Ultimately, supply availability may delay your project.

Once work begins, the time to complete the project will depend on how much work is being done, how efficiently the different parts of the job are scheduled and completed and how much time may be needed between parts of the job.

Refinishing floors, for example, may take several days because a layer of finish will go on, then it may need to dry for a day, then another layer of finish will go on, then it will need to dry, etc. Sometimes it appears that nothing is being done, but there is a necessary pause while something dries or sets. These pauses can be frustrating, but if your contractor informs you of those pauses, you’ll understand it and be prepared for them. Scheduling other work on your home in different parts of your home during those pauses is a great way to keep the job moving. Your contractor’s ability to schedule efficiently can dramatically affect the timeline of your job.

Here are some general timelines for various remodeling projects. Larger spaces typically take longer.

Permitting: 1-30 days (add this time to the times below to determine job length)
Hardwood Floor: 2-5 days
Kitchen: 2-6 weeks
Bathroom: 1-2 weeks
Bathroom (master suite): 2-3 weeks
Basement: 2-6 weeks
Painting (exterior): 2-4 days
Painting (interior room): 1-2 days per room
Siding: 2-5 days
Deck (repair): 2-3 days
Deck (replace): 5-14 days

How can I pay for home renovations? Are home remodeling loans available?

There are several ways to fund a renovation project. Of course, you can always pay cash if you have it. But if that isn’t an option, there are several loan options to pay for the work:

  • Refinance your mortgage
  • Home improvement loan (unsecured personal loan)
  • Home equity loan
  • Home equity line of credit (HELOC)
  • Government loan
  • Credit cards

Read more in-depth details on all six of these funding options here.

Can I refinish just a small portion of my basement?

Yes, you do not have to completely renovate your entire basement. If money is tight, or you just don’t need a full, finished basement consider doing just a partial basement finishing.

Are home renovations a good investment?

This is a loaded question! What is your definition of “a good investment”? The simple fact is that the majority of home renovation projects do not return 100% of your investment if and when you sell your home. Yes, they will raise the value of your home, but don’t expect to get all of your money back when you eventually sell.

You have to evaluate this type of investment more in terms of what you will personally get out of the upgrade to your home. How much more will you enjoy your kitchen with the new cabinets and appliances you want? Will the new deck you want to add give your family lots of great together time and leave you with amazing memories? Is a new walk-in shower going to make life easier and safer for your elderly mother? Is an updated bathroom going to help you to feel proud of your home when visitors come over?

Answers to these questions are qualitative, not quantitative. Is the quality of your life improved by investing in this home remodeling project? This is personal. Only you can decide the impact the investment will have on your life and the life of your family.

You buy a new car knowing that the moment you drive it off the lot, the value drops by thousands of dollars. But you make that purchase anyway because your life will (hopefully) improve by driving that new car. You’ll be safer, feel prouder, save gas, have more fun, have fewer breakdowns, etc. in your new car.

Now, there are some reasons why you would consider certain home renovations based on financial return on investment. For example, if you are planning to sell your home but you have a bathroom with water damage and signs of mold, you will probably want to get that repaired prior to selling. The reason is that damage to a home may reduce the amount you can ask for the home by more than you would pay to fix the problem. For example, if a damaged bathroom would reduce your home’s selling price by $10,000, but would cost only $8,000 to repair, that would be a great investment.

Contrast that with a bathroom that has become obsolete because it has features no one is looking for. The bathroom is still functional, but not trendy. If that hurts your selling price by $5,000 but would take $8,000 to upgrade, that would be a bad investment.

These computations aren’t always obvious and easy, and are based on some educated guess (perhaps with the help of your real estate agent), but you need to take the time to decide if you should spend the money.

What home renovations add the most value to a home?

So, we’ve just established the fact that most home renovations do not return more than 100% of your investment. What return on investment (ROI) can you expect from remodeling different parts of your home?

According to a survey of real estate professionals, the ROI ranges from a low of 51.6% on upscale bedroom additions to a high of 95.6% on manufactured stone veneer. The survey tracks 22 common remodeling projects and shows an average of 66.51% ROI.

One observation: The best ROI tends to be on lower cost renovation projects.

Can I save money by doing my own demolition?

Almost every TV show about home remodeling will show some portion at the beginning where there’s an apparent free-for-all demolition session. It may even look like fun! Smashing walls and cabinets and windows can be fun for a little while. But it is work and it can be dangerous.

If you are on a tight budget for your remodeling work, you may be wondering if doing your own demolition could save some money. After all, it doesn’t require much skill, right? “I can do that!” you say. Just swing a sledgehammer and remove stuff.

Yes, you could save a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars on a big job if you do your own demo. Just be very clear about what this entails. The TV shows make it look easy. They turn two days of work by a large crew into 30 seconds of screen time. You don’t see the prep work that came before the demolition. You don’t see the dusty mess that goes everywhere when you smash drywall. You don’t see the dumpster sitting in the yard and all the junk they have to remove from the site.

If you decide you want to do your own demolition, read this article about gutting a house. It provides helpful tips and a deeper understanding of how to complete demolition.

Because demolition doesn’t require skilled craftsmanship, it doesn’t cost that much to do it. So, while you can save money on your job doing your own demo, the majority of the cost for renovations will be for the skilled work that comes after the demolition.

What home renovations require a building permit?

Requirements vary depending on where your home is located and the permitting body in your area.

This is a list of work or projects that may require a permit. Check with your permit office or their website before starting work.

  • Demolition of some or all of a home
  • Home additions and renovation projects
  • Structural changes such as adding or removing walls
  • Fence installation/repair
  • Retaining walls
  • Window installation
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • HVAC installation/repair
  • Roofing/Re-roofing
  • New detached structures like garages and sheds
  • Tree removal

As a side note, you may need permission from your home owners association (HOA) to do any or all of these projects. While not an official governmental building permit, HOA permission may be necessary before you can do work on your home. Follow your HOA guidelines for obtaining permission or approval. Interior changes may not require permission, but exterior changes almost certainly will.

What home renovation projects don’t require a building permit?

Not every repair or renovation to your home requires a permit. These commonly do not:

  • Painting (interior or exterior)
  • New carpet or other flooring including hardwoods
  • Minor deck repairs
  • Minor plumbing repairs
  • Minor electrical repairs
  • New appliance installation (when they are simply plugged in)
  • Window replacement
  • New cabinets
  • New countertops
  • Driveway repairs
  • Landscaping

All of the above may or may not require a permit in your area. Check your permit office or their website before starting work.

Again, check with your HOA and get any necessary permissions before doing remodeling that would require their permission.

Why do cities and counties require building permits when remodeling a home?

Building permits are required by government authorities for a number of reason, the first of which is safety. By imposing a specific procedure for getting approval of home renovations, government building authorities are able to enforce certain building standards that ostensibly assure safety for occupants of a dwelling.

Construction must meet certain building codes. These building codes have evolved over time, often as a result of fires or other disasters that injured or killed people in those buildings. The codes also evolve as new processes and products change the very nature of building materials and structures.

Enforcing these codes is typically done by requiring inspections at specific milestones during a renovation. Inspections assure that the new construction meets the code requirements and that it will be safe for the future occupants.

Permits also allow the government to make sure the construction meets the aesthetic and zoning requirements of the area. For example, if a home is in an area zoned for residential use only, a permit application to convert a home into a business would almost certainly be denied.

And of course, permits are a source of income for the city or county that issues those permits.

Are inspections required during my home remodel?

When remodeling your home, inspections are often required as a part of the permitting and building process. The inspections may be conducted by government employees or independent third party inspectors. There is often a cost associated with each inspection. If your project fails an inspection, there may be a charge for each additional re-inspection.

A large renovation project may require multiple unique inspections. For example, a project would likely include a framing inspection, a drywall inspection, plumbing inspection, an electrical inspection, an insulation inspection, an HVAC/mechanical inspection, a final inspection and more depending on the specific requirements of your remodel.

Tax Implications of Home Renovations

We aren’t tax professionals, we’re remodeling professionals, so check with your CPA or accountant to verify how your particular situation is impacted by tax laws. Here, we specifically discuss the tax impact for United States taxpayers.

As with most of the questions in this FAQ, there are several nuanced answers to each question. As you might imagine, a tax question is no different. Taxes are complicated and they do have some impact in relation to home renovations. Let’s explore:

Are home renovations tax deductible?

The simple answer is “no.” If you do not use your home in the operation of a business, your home-related expenses are personal, and you can’t deduct those expenses on your taxes.

However, if your renovations are for areas of your home that will be used in the operation of a legitimate business, you can depreciate the renovation costs over a period of time, typically 27.5 years.

Repairs to a home office would normally be fully tax deductible for the tax year of the repair. A repair maintains the current state of a property. A renovation, on the other hand, increases the value of the property, and would be depreciated or deducted over a lengthy period of time, again, typically 27.5 years.

As mentioned previously, consult your CPA or accountant to determine how this would play out in your particular situation.

Cost Basis

All is not “lost” if you renovate your home but don’t have a home business. Renovation expenditures can reduce the tax you pay on any gains you may receive when selling your home in the future.

Here’s how that works: When you buy your house a Basis is established for the cost of your home. This Basis may be adjusted up or down for various reasons including money spent on renovations. This is your Adjusted Basis. When you sell your home, you will pay taxes on the difference between your selling price less your Adjusted Basis. For example, if you bought a house for $200,000 and later spent $50,000 on renovations, your Adjusted Basis is now $250,000. If you later sell the house for $275,000, you would pay tax on $275,000 – $250,000, or $25,000.

Interest on Loans

Very often, when you undertake a home renovation you also take out a loan to fund the project. Depending on how you get your renovation funding, the interest on the loan may be tax deductible.

According to IRS Publication 530, “Usually, you can deduct the entire part of your payment that is for mortgage interest if you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).”

This applies to a standard mortgage, plus it may also apply to a refi, home equity loan, or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Check with your CPA or accountant.

State and Local Real Estate Tax

This is an indirect impact on your taxes, but it can make a small difference.

Most states and local governments levy tax on real estate. This tax is deducible on your federal taxes. If you renovate your house and your real estate taxes are raised due to a new higher assessment of value, you will be able to indirectly deduct the cost of this tax increase. So, you will likely be paying more local real estate taxes, but at the same time, you will be able to deduct more on your federal taxes.

How often should I renovate my home?

The cycle of renovation in a home is measured in multiple years, if not decades. Some areas of a home, such as a bathroom or kitchen receive daily use by every member of a household. This wear and tear is one reason you will eventually need to renovate.

However, other reasons play a role in motivating homeowners to update their home. For one, trends change. The white cabinets everyone wanted last year suddenly fall out of fashion. The shiplap that was all the rage, eventually becomes reviled by some designers and the trend turns to something else.

Yet another reason people may decide to renovate is the change in their needs. Babies are born. Babies grow up and leave the nest. Homeowners retire and slow down, and eventually need safer stairs and bathrooms, or a master on the main level.

So how often should you renovate? The answer depends on where you are on the timeline of your life and your home’s life.

You don’t have to renovate your entire house. You can pick and choose the room or rooms that you want to update. If a bathroom no longer serves your needs because you need a walk-in shower as you get older, then consider updating that room. If your kitchen is too small to manage your growing family, consider adding an island to enlarge your counter space and cabinet space.

Is there some specific number of years between renovations that you must adhere to? No! The house will tell you when it needs updating. For example, bathrooms tend to develop water leaks and damage. You’ll know when it needs to be fixed. One day your kitchen will disappoint you because it “feels old.” The time to renovate may simply be when you decide you need a change.

Functional obsolescence is a term applied to homes or features of (usually) older homes where a design or feature becomes outdated and is no longer desirable. For example, a house with a single bathroom where the majority of houses in the area have three+ bathrooms may be functionally obsolete. Another example might be a house that is 1,200 square feet, while all the other homes on the street are 5,000 square feet. Upgrading or renovating either of the houses in these two examples is often considered cost prohibitive. In other words, no matter how much money you spend to correct the problem, you will never bring the house up to par with other houses in the area. 

Correcting functional obsolescence often requires starting over–tearing a house down and building a brand new house. Think of a two lane bridge on a road that needs to be widened to eight lanes. A bridge this small can’t possibly handle eight lanes of traffic. It is functionally obsolete and must be completely replaced with a modern eight-lane bridge.

You will need to consider if your home has functional obsolescence or if it is curable obsolescence. Consult with a real estate agent, architect or remodeling company (or all three) to get a sense of whether or not your home can be updated to a desirable state at a price that makes good financial sense.

How can I avoid being scammed by a remodeling contractor?

There are scammers in every field of endeavor. Contractors are no exception. In fact, some people might say there are more scammers in the remodeling business than many other types of businesses.

You can keep from being scammed by taking a few simple actions:

  • Get referrals from friends.
  • Carefully investigate the contractors to make sure they are legitimate.
  • Get clear contracts and warranties.
  • Carefully monitor the work as it is being done and discuss it with your contractor.

You can read a much more extensive article on how to avoid getting burned by bad renovations contractors.

We are ready to answer YOUR questions about renovating your home.

Call us today at 678-869-0041 or request a free remodeling quote online.

Schedule a free consultation where you can ask all your questions and get the answers you need to move forward on your kitchen, bathroom, basement, deck or other renovation project.