It’s not what you think!

Many renovators and expert sources suggest that the size of your renovation is the biggest single determinant of cost. On the surface that makes some sense.

The bigger the space, the more materials you need. The more materials you need, the bigger the price tag.

However, in our experience, the size of your renovation is seldom the biggest single determinant of renovation cost.

A ‘large’ renovation, as determined by square feet, can actually cost much less than a smaller space. That’s because the type of materials and final finishes will be the real driver of cost. Here’s an example to illustrate.

Let’s say you are renovating a kitchen.

If you are passionate about cooking and want the very best range, cooktop, hood and cabinetry with lots of drawers, you may decide on the Chateau Series by La Cornue.

At the top of the list is the Grand Palais 180. Each Grand Palais is not only the ultimate cooking appliance; it is a work of art. And it’s also what Chef Gordon Ramsay uses.

Each Chateau range is meticulously assembled by a single craftsman who invests a minimum of 40 hours on a single range. Ranges, cooktops, and cabinetry are available in 30 enamel and metal finishes and 12 trims with multiple cooktop configurations.

For the discerning homeowner who aspires to Master Chef status and who wants a unique kitchen that makes a statement; the Grand Palais may be ideal.

It also starts at about $46K. While it is worth every penny; this is more than what many homeowners want to spend on their entire kitchen renovation!

Can you spend less on a cooking appliance? Of course.

You can pick up a 48-inch, 4 burner Gas Rangetop from Kitchen Aid for about $4K. For that you’ll get a Stainless Steel finish and four burners with two levels of gas flame that at full power will generate up to 20,000 BTUs for searing and stir frying.

And it will work great.

What’s the point?

Materials and finishes are what really drive the investment level and final cost of your renovation.

A small space with higher end or unique materials – such as countertops, lighting solutions, appliances, flooring, and other considerations – can easily cost more than a larger renovation with standard material and finish selections.

This is why you should be skeptical when you receive any quote for a renovation or new home that goes by square foot pricing and does not specify all materials by brand name and finish. If it doesn’t, chances are the quote isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.