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

    © Kraftmaid

    Do you 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 the person $75–$100 for his or her time.

    Why doesn't anyone online have the sheer guts to issue remodel cost estimates? A handful do. Here is a list of four cost-estimating sites. This list has recently been updated.

  • 02 of 05

    CostHelper, Inc.

    CostHelper landing page.
    CostHelper

    Rating (15): 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, Inc. mysteriously sprung onto the scene out of nowhere. It estimates remodeling costs for popular projects such as vinyl siding, replacement windows, and decks. The real-world remodel costs submitted by readers are helpful.

    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

    Do It Yourself or Not

    DIYorNot.com landing page.
    DIYorNot.com

    Rating (15): 3

    Another surprise. In fact, I found Do It Yourself or Not through conventional search engine channels but through the back door—a YouTube about pedestal sinks. But what a delightful surprise.

    This site 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 such as installing a mail slot or porch lantern.

    Update: Do It Yourself or Not is getting seriously out of date. For example, estimates for a very basic project, installing your own toilet, are two years old. Estimates for an even more basic task, repairing a toilet, are three years old. Still, I like their compact estimates. Adjust up about 3% for every year its estimates are out of date.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 website
    © About.com

    Rating (15): 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, such as 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

    RSMean

    RSMean landing page

    RSMean

    Rating (15): 1

    The RSMean 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.

    It has a website called Means Cost Works but forget about it. It doesn'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: RSMean does have one book that is reasonably priced, "Interior Home Improvement Costs," that is appropriate for the residential consumer market. Otherwise, it is still geared more for building professionals.

    Helpful or Scammy?

    Print: helpful. Online: Not helpful.