2023 Old House Renovation Prices, Options, Pros & Cons

Typical Cost of a Remodeling Project Average: $3,780 - $14,300
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Breathing new life into an old property that’s a little worse for wear can be an ideal project to transform into a dream home.

While the idea of investing into a fixer-upper may be exciting, the work and finances involved in an old house remodel are no small feat.

However, putting your stamp on essentially a blank canvas can offer plenty of rewards, including an impressive uplift in value.

How Much Does It Cost To Renovate A House?

The national average cost to renovate an old house is $47,926.

The typical cost to renovate an old house falls between $17,910 and $78,094, with low-end to high-end prices ranging between $3,200 and $160,000.

National Average Cost $47,926
Typical Cost $17,910 – $78,094
Low-End to High-End Cost $3,200 – $160,000

The cost of property renovation depends on various factors, and the old house remodel project’s scale is significant. The amount of work required depends on the state of the property and the desired outcome.

For example, renovating a well-maintained 200-year-old house could cost less than an unkept 50 or 100-year-old house.

The cost of materials used and the property’s location also affect the total price tag.

Average House Renovation Cost By Home Size

Another critical variable in the overall old house renovation cost is the size of your home.

The price can range from $10 to $60 per square foot.

However, estimates can go up to approximately $150 per square foot if you use high-end materials and appliances.

Average Renovation Cost by House Size  
Per Square Foot $10 – $60
Per Square Foot Using High-End Material $10 – $150

Average House Remodel Cost By Room

The rooms in your home can be split into two categories: dry and wet rooms.

Dry rooms are bedrooms and living spaces that require flooring and painting.

If there is a fireplace, a new fireplace installation can range between $900 and $3,700.

Wet rooms are rooms with water running to them, like your bathrooms, kitchen, or utility rooms. They’ll typically use more of the renovation budget than a dry room.

Here is a cost breakdown with the average price range for renovations by room.

Average Price Range for Renovations by Room  
Bathroom $3,000 – $25,000
Office or Workspace $5,000+
Living Space $5,000 – $10,000
Accessory Dwelling Unit $3,000 – $30,000
Bedroom $10,000 – $15,000
Guesthouse $15,000 – $30,000
Utility Room $6,000+

Did you know? A common mistake made by homeowners undertaking renovation projects is making too many changes along the way. Changes that appear simple may need a lot of work and add to the overall cost.

How Do You Start Renovating An Old House?

If you’re unsure where or how to start renovation on an old house, here are some tips on the most critical areas to handle before signing contracts.

Assess the Project’s Potential

Not all renovations will be right for your house, and some will be too much of a financial burden or involve too much work.

During the assessment phase, it’s essential to understand the potential amount of work required with a surveyor who can identify issues with the old property.

When accessing the old house’s renovation potential, ask the following questions:

  • Is there potential to extend?
  • Do the neighboring houses have renovations similar to what you have in mind?
  • Is the property in a suitable location for you?
  • How much of the work will be structural versus decorative?
  • Is it currently safe to access?

If the old house is unsafe, an exterior inspection will highlight the significant repairs and give you an idea of the renovation charges involved.

Look Into the Property’s History

For many people, one of the main attractions of renovating an old house is the potential to incorporate the original features that may still be in place. This will add charm and character to the old building.

If the old house has survived years of possible neglect, it could be immersed in history like period features, etc.

Get as much information about the old house as possible from previous owners and old photographs. Knowing its historical significance is vital as it could affect everything from materials to interior design.

In addition, old buildings with a protected status will need permission from the local planning authority.

Visualize and Plan

Every successful renovation project requires a plan.

How do you envision the rooms to look? Walk around the house and make notes and sketches, if possible.

There are also 3D interior design applications to help design a room.

To make better use of each room of the old house, you’ll need to consider space limitations.

Think about the old house features you want to keep and those you’ll eliminate. This information helps develop your budget.

Will it be a do-it-yourself (DIY) project, or will you be hiring an architect and contractor? Perhaps it’s a combination of both.

Another significant consideration is improving energy efficiency and ensuring the old house is weathertight, which can be discussed with a professional.

Make a Comprehensive Budgeting Plan

Developing a well-thought-out budget is crucial if you intend to renovate your old house on a budget.

In addition to purchasing the property and regular renovation costs, the additional fees to consider include:

  • Property tax
  • Professional fees
  • Legal costs
  • Contingency fund

Other things to think about in the planning stage include:

  • Renovation insurance
  • Tax credit or grant eligibility
  • Secure planning permission
  • Organize waste removal

Pro Tip: Beware of unknown costs. Working on a fixer-upper means dealing with unknown expenses. You may need to pay fees to get the property working again, such as reconnecting the water supply, so consider factoring these into your budget.

How Can I Update An Old House Cheaply?

With an old house renovation, every little expenditure can quickly mount up. Therefore, a comprehensive plan can help prevent your budget from going bust.

Here are a few other ways to help control your budget and save money.

Consider Retaining as Much as Possible

If possible, try to hold on to the old house’s original fixtures and fittings.

For example, consider keeping the kitchen sink and toilet in their original positions to help save on re-plumbing costs.

Use Recycled Material

One of the many challenges of old house restorations is sourcing specific hardware and replacements required to keep the home as authentic as possible. Where feasible, using recycled materials can help you save money.

Increase Efficiency by Reorganizing

Knocking down walls in an old house is not always required to create additional space.

Instead, consider reorganizing for the most efficiency. For example, shelves can be replaced with pull-out drawers for extra storage.

Do Some of the Work Yourself

While demolishing may not be the most expensive cost, if possible, doing some or all of it yourself will save on paying a contractor.

However, sticking to exterior demolition is the safest bet unless you have experience in other areas.

Consider Similar Products

Instead of high-end products and materials, invest in lookalikes. For example, you can swap mahogany floors for a eucalyptus hybrid like “Lyptus” that looks similar in grain and texture.

Create Natural Light

You can save money by trying a light tube to funnel natural light from the roof instead of installing new windows.

Did you know? Smart homes will be a big part of future home improvement. The global smart home market was predicted to be worth approximately $535.5 billion in 2022.

Tax Credits, Historic Resources That Aid Home Restorations

Another way to save money is through tax credits. Your old house may be eligible for significant tax credits at the federal and state level.

Historic Tax Credit (HTC)

The federal historic rehabilitation tax credit program is indirect federal funding to finance the renovation of historic buildings with a 20% tax credit for qualified expenditure.

Although the process involved in applying for historic tax credits is detailed and somewhat time-consuming, it can be worthwhile.

You can apply if you’re considering using a historic property to produce income for a minimum of five years. Once the five years are up, you can move in.

The agency that runs the program, the National Park Service (NPS), advises on eligibility for the credit. They say that if a section of your property is used for business, the restoration fees on that portion may qualify for credit.

203(K) Rehab Mortgage Insurance

This insurance can help finance the purchase or refinancing and renovation costs via a single mortgage.

In other words, it can be used to fund the restoration of your existing property.

The amount of rehabilitation covered may range from relatively minor to exceeding $5,000.

Types of improvements that are covered under Section 203(k) include:

  • Changes to improve the appearance and eliminate obsolescence
  • Structural alterations and reconstruction
  • Improvements and modernization to the home’s function
  • Making energy conservation improvements
  • Replacing or reconditioning plumbing; installing a well or septic system

New York State Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Tax Credit

If your historic home is in a particular landmarked historic district, you can get a tax credit for up to 20% of the total rehabilitation costs, with a maximum of $50,000.

This credit applies to qualifying single-family homes, condos, and co-ops.

Did you know? In the U.S, most houses require improvement and remodeling since around 80% are at least 20 years old. And more than 50% of homes in the U.S were built before 1980.

Precautions Necessary With An Old House Remodel

Renovating an older house can pose unique challenges.

Historic properties and homes built 40 years ago may also contain problems such as outdated electrical systems, chemical-laden materials, and weak roof systems.

Sometimes these issues occur due to changes in standards and construction codes or old age. However, if you’re considering renovating an old home, here are some important trouble spots to consider and how you can work around them.

Spread mold and mildew

Older homes are more likely to have moisture problems that you can eliminate. Mold can typically be removed using hydrogen peroxide or a bleach solution.

Toxic walls

Older homes may contain dangerous substances unknown at the construction time.

You can test for toxic chemicals like asbestos yourself, but you’ll need to call a professional to remove it.

An unstable foundation

As properties grow older, the foundation is more likely to become damaged. An epoxy sealer can repair a small crack of 1/4 inch or smaller, but a professional should resolve gaps larger than 1/2 inch.

Is It Worth It To Renovate An Old House?

Many people may agree that old houses are worth buying and renovating.

However, renovating an old house does come with problems, both big and small. And the work involved can cost a small fortune.

On the flip side, old houses are built stronger and thus last longer than today’s modern builds.

The old houses also look more elegant. In addition, many handcrafted and custom features not used nowadays make these builds unique.

There are several advantages to renovating an old house. The main advantage is its exciting potential to discover charming original features.

And when a project is carried out well, it can increase the old house’s value significantly.

Here are some pros and cons of renovating an old house.


  • Overall you are likely to pay less when renovating an old property compared to a new build, whether you hire contractors or not.
  • Old homes are generally built better. You may need to upgrade the water and electrical systems, but the building is usually structurally sound.
  • Old houses offer character often lost in newer builds. They include quirky features like intricate woodwork, some of which can be retained.
  • A combination of modernity and history offers a highly desirable and comfortable living space.


  • Many older properties can contain toxins. The paints and the roof, in particular, can contain lead and asbestos. The professional touch required to fix this adds to the overall costs.
  • Older properties aren’t typically cookie-cutter. Therefore, you’ll need to prepare for the unexpected, which can result in more time and money.
  • The end cost of a renovation project can be way higher than expected. A new roof, electrical and water work, foundation, and HVAC installation all add up.

House Renovation Does Not Need To Be Expensive

Breathing new life into a new rundown property can be a personally and financially rewarding experience.

However, the cost can develop considerably depending on the amount of work required, the size of the property, and the materials and appliances used.

Ways to keep costs down include keeping original fixtures and fittings where possible, DIYing where appropriate, and looking into your eligibility for financial support.

About Leo Bender

Leo has been a contractor since 2003, specializing in: roofing, siding, general contracting (GC) and residential remodeling. Leo is also a Certified HVAC, Oil & Gas Heating Technician/Installer. In addition to roofing and remodeling, Leo is passionate about Solar, green building and energy conservation, so a lot of my time and energy goes to installing energy efficient heating and cooling systems.

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