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What Is and Isn’t Included in a Remodeling Estimate

Just one of the many benefits of being a design-build firm is that we’re able to walk our clients step by step through the design-build process. This helps make remodeling estimates and costs more predictable, both for us and for our clients. 

This financial transparency is something we’re proud of, and something we think is important to maintain in the industry as a whole. That’s why we’re here to break down what exactly is included in remodeling estimates, as well as what isn’t. 

What’s Included in a Remodeling Estimate? 

A remodeling estimate is the most basic type of financial project assessment. It might not include all the details you’ll eventually need to know, but it can help you make an informed decision while doing a preliminary comparison between a number of firms and contractors

These are the main elements of a remodeling project that are included in that estimate: 

  • Demolition — If your remodeling project requires tearing down walls, fixtures, or major structures - those associated costs are generally included in the remodeling estimate. 

  • Labor — This includes the costs associated with all contractors and subcontractors working on your project (builders, engineers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, etc.).

  • Materials & Selections — Whether it be roofing, flooring, countertops, or lighting fixtures, all the materials and selections you choose should be included in the remodeling estimate. 

6 Things That Aren’t Included in a Remodeling Estimate

When we present remodeling estimates to our clients, the question inevitably arises: “So what isn’t included in this number?” 

It’s a good question, and an important one for us to answer honestly. The last thing we want to do is confuse anyone with conflicting expectations. It’s important for our clients to know what they need to budget for outside of what they’ll be paying us for the principal design and building work. 

Below is a list of home remodeling elements that aren’t included in a standard remodeling estimate, and why. While there might be some variation in this list from contractor to contractor, we’ve found that most of them follow a similar quoting methodology. 

1. Appliances

Appliances are typically excluded from remodeling estimates. This includes kitchen appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens, as well as other household appliances like washing machines and dryers. 


Appliances are left out for two reasons. First, they can usually be installed much quicker (and therefore more affordably) by the store from which they were bought. Second, the individual appliance warranties are often voided when installed by someone other than the provider. 

2. Furniture

This is a tricky one because the term “furniture” is a bit broad. Sometimes things like built-in benches and storage cabinets are fundamental to the structure and design of the remodel, and therefore included in the remodeling estimate. Other times, they aren’t. 


It’s also important to note that some custom built-in furniture can be swapped out for other pieces of furniture from a furniture supplier at a lower cost. Depending upon your priorities and space requirements, often times custom solutions can be well worth the extra investment.

All that said, it’s critical that you are clear with your builder about which furniture is and isn’t included in your remodeling estimate. That way you can make the most informed decisions about how and where to spend your money. 

3. Decorations

Draperies, area rugs, window treatments, and other decorative elements are not usually included in a remodeling estimate. There is a rare exception where a window treatment may be part of a specific architectural detail, but for the most part, these items are left to you to round out the finishing touches. 


4. Landscaping

Most contractors and design-build firms specialize in exactly that: designing and building. This specialization leaves some areas unattended to, and landscaping is one that’s outside of their wheelhouse. 

CAN02312 Exterior EveningWhile most contractors and design-build firms don’t include landscaping in their remodeling estimates, they do often have good connections in the industry. They may be able to steer you toward a landscaping company that provides great service and meshes well with their designing and building processes. 

5. Alternate Housing

Construction is a messy business! Living in your home through a renovation can be loud, dusty, and a big inconvenience to your peace of mind and mental wellbeing. Having a home away from home while construction is underway can save you from some pretty big headaches. Unfortunately, it’s an additional cost that’s not covered in the remodeling estimate. 

6. Design Services


This one is unique to our remodeling estimates, quotes, and proposals here at Meadowlark. 

Some firms roll design service costs into their contract price with their customers; we do not. We keep our design fees separate from the main remodeling estimate so that you can be aware of exactly how much money is being put into that portion of the project. We bill it independently so we can better control design costs and adjust the design process to match your investment comfort level. 

7. Unexpected Costs

Unfortunately, there are often unexpected costs that arise during remodeling projects. Things like unforeseen structural changes, increased utility bills, removing asbestos or lead, and bringing your home “up to code” can throw you for a loop financially — but not if you’re prepared for them. 

As long as you’re aware unexpected costs may arise beforehand, you can try to put a little extra money aside to cover them. If you don’t end up spending it, that’s a bonus! 

planning-1At Meadowlark, we do our very best to help our clients prepare for all the costs of remodeling. We try to minimize surprises and avoid cost overruns, but we’re also there to help you navigate when something does pop up. 

Interested in Getting a Remodeling Estimate from Meadowlark? Let’s Talk!

At Meadowlark, we know the importance of creating a solid budget and sticking to it. Whatever your project scope may be, we’ll be crystal clear about what is and — often more importantly — what is not included in your remodeling estimate. That way, you can have a heightened sense of financial stability throughout the process. 

If you’re ready to start on a remodeling project, let’s talk! We’d love to get a better understanding of your remodeling wishes. You can reach out via phone call or online contact form.


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