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Survey: Americans guess the cost of home remodeling projects

At Improvenet, it’s our job to know what home improvement projects cost. But for the average American, there are probably a lot of question marks… right? You’re about to find out! We partnered with renovation and design team Resist the Boring to put 1,000 people to the test by showing them before and after pictures of remodeled rooms, then asking them to guess the costs of materials and labor.

Check out the results below! If you scroll slowly enough, in most cases you can guess right along with people to test your own instincts.

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $4,700 $4,250
Labor $3,100 $1,500
Total $7,800 $5,750

Actual cost is 26% less

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $9,350 $12,050
Labor $5,325 $3,000
Total $14,675 $15,050

Actual cost is 3% more

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $3,350 $2,550
Labor $2,350 $2,000
Total $5,700 $4,550

Actual cost is 20% less

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $9,325 $15,500
Labor $5,350 $2,500
Total $14,675 $18,000

Actual cost is 23% more

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $4,100 $2,850
Labor $2,625 $1,500
Total $6,725 $4,350

Actual cost is 35% less

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $5,050 $4,250
Labor $3,250 $1,500
Total $8,300 $5,750

Actual cost is 31% less

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $6,225 $6,250
Labor $4,050 $3,000
Total $10,275 $9,250

Actual cost is 10% less

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $4,925 $7,800
Labor $3,100 $2,000
Total $8,025 $9,800

Actual cost is 22% more

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $2,250 $2,000
Labor $1,900 $1,500
Total $4,150 $3,500

Actual cost is 16% less

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $1,975 $650
Labor $1,275 $750
Total $3,250 $1,400

Actual cost is 57% less

Survey Says Actual Cost
Materials $2,900 $2,350
Labor $1,950 $1,750
Total $4,850 $4,100

Actual cost is 15% less

Results

On the whole, people proved quite good at guessing the total costs of home remodels! Across the 11 rooms featured, on average, the actual costs were 15% less than what was guessed. Breaking that down between materials and labor, there was a clear blindspot on the latter: actual labor costs were 36 percent lower on average. But the accuracy on materials was remarkable: actual costs were only two percent higher on average!

Guesses vs. Actual Costs
All rooms Actual cost 15% less
All rooms, materials only Actual cost 2% more
All rooms, labor only Actual cost 36% less
Kitchen Actual cost 13% more
Living rooms Actual cost 17% less
Bedrooms Actual cost 42% less
Bathrooms Actual cost 9% less

Methodology

In March 2019 we surveyed 1,000 people, showing them before and after pictures of home renovations completed in two separate homes by Resist the Boring, a renovation and design team based in Cincinnati, OH.

Survey respondents were asked to guess the costs of labor and materials, based on the transformations depicted in the pictures.

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