10 of the Hottest Home Upgrades — and What They Really Cost

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Couple plans house design
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Tempted to take down a wall, open up a space or otherwise give your home a facelift? Before you do, get an accurate picture of the cost. Don’t make it a money pit!

In a recent report, HomeAdvisor analyzed data gathered from surveying 1,012 homeowners to determine how much people expect to pay for remodeling projects and what the costs actually could be. According to their True Cost Report, some jobs could wind up costing four times as much as homeowners had thought.

Here are 10 of the most popular projects with dollar amounts for what homeowners anticipate spending on them and what they will most likely cost in the real world.

Bathroom remodel

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Anticipated cost: $2,406
Actual cost: $9,723

Shiny new tiles, modern fixtures, sleek vanities … homeowners can dream big about fixing up their bathrooms, but a quick consultation with a contractor usually will bring expectations back down to earth. As with kitchens, you can go really expensive or really affordable and — as with most home remodeling projects — labor costs likely will be the biggest expense.

Kitchen remodel

Newly remodeled kitchen
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Anticipated cost: $4,773
Actual cost: $22,134

Expenditures for a kitchen re-do can vary wildly, depending on the quality of cabinets, appliances and countertop you choose. Add in details such as sink fixtures, cabinet hardware and possibly new flooring, and what might have seemed like a fast and cheap project can rapidly rise into the five-digit range.

Adding a deck

Construction workers building a deck
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Anticipated cost: $2,930
Actual cost: $7,086

It’s one of the most attractive additions to enhance summer living, but there is more to it than nailing a bunch of planks together. Are you going cedar, redwood, pine or vinyl? How big is it? Do you want bench seating? Lights? All these decisions can make the cost of a deck skyrocket, but there’s also a lot of room to scale the project up or down, depending on what you can and want to invest.

Landscape installation

Man sits on deck in backyard.
Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

Anticipated cost: $1,188
Actual cost: $3,272

There are myriad ways to transform a bland yard into a stunning space: concrete patios, walkways, plantings, new fencing … the list is endless. A landscape redo can make outdoor living that much more enjoyable and enhance your chances of selling your home. But beware of the DIY — doing a fence, laying pavers and installing plants yourself can save a lot of money, but it can also look, well, DIY, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Exterior painting or staining

Person on ladder painting a house.
Haye Kesteloo / Shutterstock.com

Anticipated cost: $1,056
Actual cost: $2,770

A brand new paint job is one of the quickest ways to dramatically improve the look of a drab house. But be aware that painting the outside of a house is more involved than painting a room. Prepping will take much more time, and of course there’s a lot more surface area to paint. And all that will hike up a professional painter’s bill. But done right, this is a relatively small investment for a major improvement.

New flooring installation

Worker installs flooring
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Anticipated cost: $1,985
Actual cost: $2,863

There are many types of flooring, including hardwood, vinyl, laminate and tile, and also a dizzying array of colors and styles that can either keep this project within budget or break it wide open. Also be aware that laying down a new floor may also require extensive prep work, depending on the condition of the flooring surface, which could add several hours — and more expense — to a contractor’s bill.

Installing new countertops

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Anticipated cost: $1,703
Actual cost: $3,232

You can spend $12,000 on soapstone, or $2,000 on Corian — and a ton of options in between, including granite, quartz, even concrete. Of course, part of that cost depends on how much surface you have to cover. But the surface material is only part of the cost. Grouting, staining and other details will add to the expense. However, a brand-new countertop done right and within budget can be a fabulous addition to your kitchen, bathroom or bar.

New appliance installation

Movers install refrigerator
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Anticipated cost: $1,051
Actual cost: $189

Some stores will install some appliances at no charge, including refrigerators, microwaves and electric dryers. Other appliances, such as gas dryers, dishwashers and gas ranges, require more than just plugging them in. If the job requires a water or gas connection, then installation will likely cost extra.

Interior painting

Woman paints room
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Anticipated cost: $734
Actual cost: $1,744

Thankfully, adding a fresh coat to the inside of the house is a project most homeowners can do themselves. But if you have a lot of rooms to repaint, know that paint can be much more expensive than you might imagine. And all paints are not created equal. Lower-quality brands might cost $20 per gallon, but higher-end and designer-quality brands can cost as much as $100 per gallon.

Install a toilet

Plumber installing toilet
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Anticipated cost: $405
Actual cost: $370

Most homeowners won’t touch this job with a 10-foot plunger, but fortunately the cost of replacing a toilet can be very manageable. Separate from the cost of the toilet itself, a basic toilet installation probably won’t take more than two hours, and — barring any unforeseen issues — won’t give you sticker shock.

What’s your experience with home upgrades? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.