When Condo Remodeling Costs Higher than in House?


    We have written many articles about remodeling condo apartments as well as house renovations, but have never compared them against each other. On Point Remodeling shares our thoughts on which remodeling is more expensive and why.

    There are two sides to this discussion and in first we are comparing overall renovation with the most possible upgrades. Second comparison is what we like to call apples to apples. The idea is to analyze exactly the same services by contractors in condo and house.

    There is no doubt that every place is different and prices in condos will change for the same services depending on region, city, and even exact location. Same goes for the house as you expect that one day of electrical work and multimillion dollar home in Beverly Hills is going to be priced differently than similar work in small New Jersey townhome.

    House Remodeling is More Expensive

    On average there is more money spent nationally on regular house renovation than on condo apartment. The number is more than ten times higher and there are few explanations to this:

    Number of Properties – If you take into consideration all houses in America that were remodeled during last year and compare them to condos you will see that numbers are very different. Statistically speaking there are more houses in the country than apartments/condos.

    So if we base our information on annual money spent on renovations, this point helps us understand why there are more total expenses in house remodeling.

    Condos are Newer – Looking at history of housing and how it developed with years passing by, we see that condo apartments are relatively new constructions. Most of them have been built in centers of fast growing cities and vacation destinations to keep up with workforce and tourists.

    Because condos are not that old, there should not be too many things for remodeling. There are more outdated houses that require extensive remodeling and that are why house upgrade can be considered more expensive.

    Exterior Renovations – Condo apartments do not normally have exterior remodeling, unless you are the owner of entire building. This is never taken into consideration when discussing upgrading your unit and how much it will cost. In your house the lifespan is 20 – 40 years for windows, roof and exterior façade that costs tons to replace.

    Exterior renovations are very costly and time consuming. They increase overall budgets required for up keeping houses in good condition and push them over the line of condo apartment renos.

    Restrictions on Remodeling – In apartments there are many systems that are centralized and not allowed to be touched by unit owners or renters. This keeps it much simpler for contractors and home owners. Heating system, plumbing lines and exterior walls are kept untouched, and all there is left to remodel inside the condo are finishing stages like kitchen, bathrooms, flooring and lighting.

    Some buildings do allow bigger renovations that include structural changes and private heating systems, but overall these processes and costs are not calculated when upgrading condo apartment.

    Outside Work – living in the house is not as easy and cheap as condo, because you always need to work or spend money on outside upgrades. Landscaping is not going to take care of itself and all year round there is work to do outside of the house, be it simple grass cutting or replacing old fence on exterior of your property.

    You can spend hundreds of thousand dollars on expensive landscapes next to your house with luxury pools, beautiful decking and many more items that condo apartments do not have.

    When Condo Apartments Renovation Costs Higher

    apartment renovation more expensive
    Married couple calculating apartment renovation project

    Upgrading condo does not normally happen several times with the same owner. It gets renovated for the sale or after damage is made to unit, because moving no new unit is faster and easier.

    Bathroom Remodeling – In case you wanted to upgrade your bathroom with complete remodeling and wondering about approximate costs, you can easily expect your quotes to be at 50% more than in regular houses. And we are comparing complete renovation that includes demolition of all walls, tiles and building it again with new fixtures, vanities and tiles.

    While home bathroom remodel average at somewhere close to $10,000 for regular 3 piece bathroom, the same size and scope of work project will be $15,000.

    Kitchen Remodeling – We want to justify or point before we get attacked and thrown tomatoes at for saying that tiny kitchens in condo apartments are more expensive to replace than full home size new cabinets with countertop and all additional items. On Point Remodeling compares exactly the same size and type of kitchen that you would have in condo to be installed in house.

    New custom kitchen in condo apartment can cost 60% – 65% than in average house. For cheaper quality kitchens and prebuilt cabinets the cost difference should be only around 20%.

    Electrical and Plumbing Connections – Hiring single trades for specific work will have difference in price as well. They are aware of all the restrictions and complicated work procedure for work that needs to be done in condo apartment. There are not including in our comparison any heavy delivery like tubs and electrical fireplaces.

    The cost increase has to do with time restriction for work, all procedures for safety and sound, difficulty for transport or parking, and dealing with management. Condo licensed trades will charge you 10% – 30% more than in residential houses for the same work.

    Flooring and Carpentry – Although flooring and carpentry work may seem the same, it actually requires more effort to do it in apartments. First of all you have to carry up all the materials with saws and other equipment. This can take full day just delivering and preparing jobsite. Saw’s size and level of noise has to be adequate for building management.

    Cleaning and dust control is very crucial step for which you overpay in condos. In regular house you can just open windows and sweep entire job after everything is complete. The benefit of condos is cheaper materials and it does save some of the costs.

    Painting and Staining – Walls have to be painted and wood stained at the very end of remodeling process. In condo apartments this comes at higher price, because of 2 things. Time is a problem and with short workday hours and delays with access it becomes even worse. To speed up the process painter use material that dries faster and special fans to circulate the air and help the paint cure.

    The cost of materials is another factor. Paint and stain used in condo projects are primarily water based and does not have strong smells or toxins that would bother neighbors.

    DIY Projects Cost Comparison

    DIY costs renovating apartment
    Doing apartment renovation without contractor

    On Point Remodeling has done many tutorials on DIY Projects with explanation of work and materials required for the job. We do not see significant difference in cost for either of the properties. Materials are somewhere the same and because you are doing work by yourself there are no expenses for labor.

    Houses have more space to cover and condo apartments are inconvenient to work with, but you will spend the same amount of money on the work you do.

    Before Sale Touch Ups

    Preparing for sale condo is much easier and less expensive than house. Condo apartments are very simple and have neutral style. There is no structural or mechanical upgrade requirement when you sell the unit, while in the house many things behind the walls have to be corrected to attract potential buyers.

    Touch ups before sale in condo apartments should not exceed few thousand dollars with hired contractor and several hundred dollars if you do it yourself. In house expect this number to at least triple.

    Decoration Costs Difference in Condo and House

    To decorate house it takes more effort and money. Condo apartments with large windows scream open concept with less congested areas. You do not need much to decorate. Few pieces of art and plants can do the trick if you don’t count furniture. Even furniture should not be complicated and expensive.

    Houses on other hand have way more space that requires at least some sort of decoration to avoid looking completely empty. You can purchase decoration items through our website – See in Menu.


    To summarize this article and our research on costs involved in condo remodeling versus house renovation expenses we can see that overall costs and expenses are higher in houses due to larger sizes and more things to remodel inside and outside.

    However comparing exactly the same type of work will cost more in condo apartments because of complicated rules and access to the unit. Subscribe to our email list and receive updates on new articles that also include costs of specific remodeling processes and products for the job.

    Steven H.
    Steven H.
    General Contractor and Home Builder with over 20 years of experience. Write and Edit educational posts for several Remodeling Blogs. Specialize in trade management and technical construction details.