Why Does It Cost So Much to Renovate in the Bay Area?

If you have ever looked into renovating your home in the Bay Area, then you probably know it comes with a certain price tag. However, what that price tag includes and why it’s so high are different questions, ones that we’re getting to the bottom of today.

Together, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • What is most likely to increase your renovation investment?
  • Why is it more expensive to renovate in the Bay Area?
  • What can you do to invest wisely in your renovation?

So, pour a glass of your favorite vintage, pull up a chair, and let’s dive in….

  rustic traditional dining room dual chandelier exposed beam walnut table arched doorways bay area renovation

Mediterranean dining room created by Douglah Designs


What is Most Likely to Impact Your Renovation Investment?

1. Structural Changes

Any time your project involves more than cosmetic construction, it is going to require a higher investment. That goes double if you hope to move walls. Changing your floor plan means bringing in a structural engineer to determine which walls are load-bearing and, if necessary, distribute that load to the walls that are staying put. This involves an extra person and far more labor, so your investment will increase.

2. Custom Finishes

“Finishes” refers to the types of materials you choose for your home, such as a marble floor installation, unique cabinetry, waterjet tile, etc. While there are many options available at a variety of price points, truly custom finishes create a more elevated look and make your home one-of-a-kind. 

Naturally, you’ll see an increased investment whenever custom finishes are involved, which goes toward the experts employing their craft on your behalf and any exclusive, high-quality materials themselves.

3. Unique Features

Speaking of one-of-a-kind, the materials you choose aren’t the only way to get a bespoke space. Features like custom built-ins, a steam shower, heated flooring, or even a two-story, floor-to-ceiling fireplace can transform a room in your home into a livable experience. No surprises here, this involves greater labor, materials, time, and of course, funds to achieve.

4. Gourmet Appliances

If you thought that shopping for furniture was the most exciting part of the renovation process, wait until you shop for appliances! The next-level coffee makers, the powerful gas ranges with sous vide capabilities, the massive fridges, and induction cooktops. 

Keep in mind… if gourmet appliances are on your wish list, you could be looking at a starting price of $25,000, which could get up to $50,000. However, if you love to cook or entertain in the kitchen, these might just fuel your wildest culinary dreams. 

modern contemporary kitchen black white bay area vertical tile floating shelves

Contemporary kitchen created by Douglah Designs


Why is it More Expensive to Renovate in the Bay Area?

We’ve officially arrived at the question of the hour… why is it so pricey to renovate in the Bay Area? Is it because everything is more expensive here, or is there another reason that follows some actual logic? 

Surprisingly, yes, there is some logic to this answer. It all comes down to people and materials…

1. Your Trades Live Here, Too

As we all know, the Bay Area is infamous for its high cost of living… and the people working on your renovation live here in the Bay Area, too! This little detail means that they must make a living wage to be able to live here and commute to your project month after month until it’s complete. (And as service providers, we need to pay our employees a livable wage — something we are proud and happy to do.) 

2. Labor Supply is Low, Demand is High

Those of us in the industry have seen labor supply numbers dwindle year after year (decade after decade) as fewer young people go into the trades. More and more people are deciding to go to college and pursue a career in the high-tech industry (understandably, look where we are). However, this means that labor supply is low and demand is high… which naturally leads to a higher price point for services rendered.

3. Demand for Materials is Through the Roof

If we look at materials, we see a similar situation at play, except this time, high demand isn’t necessarily a result of scarcity (though we have seen materials/appliances back-ordered left and right during the pandemic). 

When it comes to materials, high demand is the result of a densely populated area competing for resources. This situation means manufacturers can set their prices higher than they would in other parts of the country. The same applies to shipping rates!

So… what can you do about all of this?

elegant principal bathroom spa inspired chandelier tub dual vanity douglah designs

Spa-inspired bathroom created by Douglah Designs


What Can You Do to Invest Wisely in Your Renovation?

The best way to invest wisely in your renovation is to hire experts who genuinely know what they’re doing and have vast experience in the field. You’re probably thinking, “hiring the best people is only going to increase my investment”. 

True, but hear me out. Hiring professionals with vast experience means…

1. Expert Budgeting

An expert knows how to allocate funds strategically towards spaces and features, stretching your budget where possible, and investing in materials that raise your home value for real ROI. 

2. Experienced Project Management

We help you execute your renovation as efficiently as possible, avoiding problems before they start, and save you a ton of time and stress (time is money).  In fact, you don’t even have to be on-site every day. We’ll oversee everything for you from start to finish. 

3. Professional Design 

Does a professional design really save you money? Absolutely! Not only do we get your vision right the first time, but we also design for your lifestyle. We take the time to understand your wants and needs, and once we do, we may be able to propose creative, cost-effective solutions you might not have even considered. 

All 3 benefits listed above are exactly what we do at Douglah Designs. We offer an end-to-end, all-inclusive Design-Shop-Build service with a 15-Step Project Management system. This system is precisely why we complete 95% of our projects on-budget and on-schedule. No small feat.

So overall, experienced professionals do cost more, but I would argue that they save you a lot more, too — on money, time, and all the grey hairs that will sprout up trying to navigate and manage the project yourself.

If you’re ready to hand over the reins to a trustworthy team and create a home filled with pride and relaxation, why not book a no-strings-attached Discovery Call with us? Let’s chat and see if we’re right for each other.

Leila Douglah