The 4 Best Sites for Remodeling Estimates

  • 01 of 05

    You Just Want To Know How Much It Will Cost...

    Natural Maple Slab Cabinets In Contemporary Kitchen
    Natural Maple Slab Cabinets In Contemporary Kitchen. © Kraftmaid

    Want to find remodel costs? Good luck. You can take the convoluted route: bring in the contractor, go through the back-and-forth rigmarole, waste hours of your life, and hey - maybe even pay him $75-$100 for his time.

    Why doesn't anyone online have the sheer guts to issue remodel cost estimates? A handful do.  Here is a list of my favorite cost-estimating sites (as well as, ahem, links to my own remodeling cost estimates).  This list has recently been updated.

  • 02 of 05 Honest and Getting Better All the Time

    CostHelper. CostHelper

    Rating (1-5):  5

    I have no idea where these people came from. As a home renovation writer, I try to see everything. But obviously I've failed, because CostHelper mysteriously sprung onto the scene out of nowhere. They estimate remodeling costs for popular projects like vinyl siding, replacement windows, and decks. Helpful too are the real-world remodel costs submitted by readers.

    Update:  CostHelper hasn't lost its ethical core.  I do wish that they would bring the site up to date, as many of the reader-supplied estimates are seriously old.

    Helpful or Scammy?

    Helpful. In a world of janky, spammy websites professing to "help" homeowners nail down remodeling costs, CostHelper actually has a vague scent of a Consumer Reports in the making. True, they run Google AdSense ads in the margins--but that's about it, and don't most sites anyway?

  • 03 of 05

    DIY or Not?

    Rating (1-5):  3

    Another surprise. In fact, I found not through conventional search engine channels but through the back door--a YouTube about pedestal sinks. But what a delightful surprise. combines hard data with personal experience to come up with good estimates of remodeling costs for all the big-name projects (roofing, etc.), as well as unique projects like installing a mail slot or installing a porch lantern.

    Update:  DIY Or Not is getting seriously out of date.  For example, estimates for a very basic project, installing your own toilet, are 2 years old.   Estimates for an even more basic task, repairing a toilet, are 3 years old. Still, I like their compact estimates.  Adjust up about 3% for every year their estimates are out of date.

    Helpful or Scammy?

    Helpful. This site is not hard-selling you on anything (just some discreet ads on the side). I especially like the prominent box that summarizes remodel costs and can even be adjusted for your locality.

  • 04 of 05

    About Home Renovations

    About Home Renovations
    About Home Renovations. ©

    Rating (1-5):  2.5 to 3

    Yes, I am reviewing my own site!  While I would love to rate my site 5 stars in terms of cost estimates, I must rate it a bit less than three.  This is due to the fact that estimates are not comprehensive across all home improvement categories.  Some estimate guides I'm quite proud of, like the annually updated Kitchen Countertop Guide.  Others need to be updated.

    Update:  Improving all the time.

    Helpful or Scammy?

    Helpful, of course!

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Means Residential Repair & Remodeling Costs Guide

    Means Residential Repair & Remodeling Costs Guide
    Means Residential Repair & Remodeling Costs Guide. Reed

    Rating (1-5):  1

    The Means Guide is a classic. It helps you accurately nail down your remodel cost and adjust for your specific locality. It's wonderful. Except for one problem.

    Means does have a website called Means Cost Works, but forget about it: they don't want you there. It's more geared to construction professionals who don't flinch at paying sky-high subscription fees.

    My recommendation: get it from the library.

    Update:  Means does have one book that is reasonably priced, Interior Home Improvement Costs, that is appropriate for the residential consumer market.  Otherwise, they are still geared more for building professionals.

    Helpful or Scammy?

    Print: helpful. Online: Not helpful.