You’ve used Zillow to check on the estimated value of your house. (Confess. You know you have. Maybe even your neighbor’s house, too.)
Now you can visit Zillow to check the estimated cost of that kitchen or bathroom makeover you’ve been dreaming about. (Or, say, your neighbor’s new kitchen.)
Zillow, the most widely recognized of the online home value search tools, earlier this month introduced a new feature that estimates the cost of remodeling projects. Called Digs, it’s offered as a free app for the iPad, and online via the Web.
Digs uses a proprietary algorithm that factors in room size, materials and labor, including regional differences. Just visit Zillow.com, click on Digs and select a picture of a bathroom or kitchen that catches your eye. You’ll have plenty of images to choose from: In a Feb. 5 release announcing Digs, the company says it offers tens of thousands.
I’m not sure how accurate the estimates are.
It can be tricky to generalize about remodeling costs. When I’ve helped judge Charlotte remodeling contests, for instance, I’ve heard architects, designers and contractors debate the costs of projects we were reviewing. Did that $40,000 kitchen actually cost $40,000? Was it more? Or even less?
If the top local pros struggle, surely an app will, too.
Often contractors don’t discover expensive problems until they start pulling things apart. And remodeled spaces often are part of larger projects, for which room-by-room costs can be hard to nail down.
But Digs is fun, and you certainly will learn some important things about where your remodeling money goes.
The pictures are beautiful. They rival anything you’ll find on your other favorite home design sites and blogs. Click on a picture, and you’ll see a line-by-line breakdown of costs.
The estimate for one sleek, contemporary bathroom was $19,000. On the materials list, cabinets and flooring accounted for $1,900 each – or 10 percent each – of the total. The most expensive item was the $2,400 shower, followed by the $2,300 bathtub.
Smaller things – paint, lighting, the mirror – added up quickly. There’s an important lesson to learn from Digs.
Here’s another: While tile work can be expensive, the largest labor cost was for demolition. Total labor was $4,000 – and demolition accounted for a quarter of that.
I couldn’t resist and clicked on an $83,000 kitchen.
How do you spend that much on a kitchen? Start with appliances that cost $25,000 and add cabinets at almost $23,000.
The kitchen was 314 square feet and featured two marble-topped islands. Countertops were $6,000 and the backsplash estimate was $1,000.
Labor was $10,900. No, demolition wasn’t the most expensive item. That was only $1,300.
Installing all those cabinets cost $3,100.
Cabinets that cost as much as a new Camry don’t install themselves, you know.
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