There is an old saying that perception is reality. Unfortunately, when it comes to home remodeling projects, the reality is often not what a homeowner wants to hear.

One misperception many homeowners have is the actual cost of a remodeling project.

“People may know what they want to do with a kitchen remodel but they often don’t have an idea of the cost or their own budget,” said Brad Upton of Dillman and Upton in Rochester, (248) 651-9411, “That’s why we like them to understand all the options and costs for a project and actually help them establish a budget.”

Whether you are remodeling a kitchen or putting in new windows, just understanding the difference in levels and quality of products can help to better understand what things cost.

“You can put vinyl windows in a house for $5,000 or purchase Anderson E-Series windows for $25,000, and obviously there is a big difference in the look and quality as well as the cost,” Upton said. “The same goes for a kitchen remodel, where adding high-end appliances can drastically change the cost.”

Joe Aiello of Pine Building, (248) 539-9600,, said people don’t think about the added labor costs of remodeling when they have to tear out and gut a home before they can put in the new elements.

“People also don’t understand that the recent changes in the state building code adds costs to a project, but some contractors will give the customer a low price just to get the job and then later tell them the project will actually cost more because of the new code,” Aiello said. “I provide a bid that includes the costs of building to meet code, so the homeowner knows exactly what it will really cost from the start.”

Both Upton and Aiello agree that the remodeling shows on TV contribute to the consumer’s skewed perspective.

“My pet peeve is when people have watched one of those house-flipping shows and where they do a complete remodel for $20,000, but reality TV does not mean you get a reality price for remodeling,” Upton said. “In my experience, most people think a project will cost 50 percent less than what it really costs.”

“What people forget when they watch those shows is that the price of the project does not include any profit for the contractor, because the TV show is paying the builders for their time,” Aiello added. “In the real world, a contractor will have to add in their cost of labor to the price of the job.”

The second part of home remodeling reality is the time it takes to complete a project.

“Many city building departments have experienced layoffs, so it can take up to eight weeks just to get a building permit,” Aiello said. “And that comes after the blueprints are drawn up for the project and approved by the homeowner, so that adds additional time before we can even start.”

Upton added that customers also have to factor in the time it takes to order some products for a remodeling project.

“If you order windows or kitchen cabinets it could take four or five weeks to get them, but then you also have to schedule the contractor to do the tear out and installation so that can add a few more weeks depending on how busy they are,” he said.

And while ordering the products takes time, Upton said you also need to factor in the time it takes for a customer to make a decision on which products to choose.”

“If you want a new composite deck, there are 28 different deck tops and 12 different railings” he said. “There are so many choices that it can take customers a while to figure out what they want, and that of course means it takes longer to complete the project.”

While it is nice to be an optimist for most things in life, when it comes to a remodeling project it is better to be a realist. That way you won’t be shocked to find out halfway through the project that it will cost way more than you thought or take way longer to complete.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536, from between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.

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