What To Know When Remodeling Your Home In San Diego


Whether you want to remodel your San Diego home for your own enjoyment or to get top dollar in a red-hot market, you’re in the right place.

Below, we’ll explore everything from calculating the costs of a remodel, to the best parts of a home to focus on remodeling first. 

Let’s dive right in by answering a question you might be asking to decide whether you even want to remodel in the first place!

“Is Now Really A Good Time For A Home Remodeling In San Diego?”

The truth is, the answer to this question is a moving target.

We’ll cover several things you must consider that will reveal why in just a moment. However, if your main concern is San Diego’s real estate market, then your timing couldn’t be better.

At the time of writing, home prices in San Diego are soaring at their fastest rate in nearly seven years. In fact prices in “America’s Finest City,” are increasing fastest in the United States, second only to Phoenix.

To put this into perspective, recent data from Redfin in June 2021 found home prices in San Diego sitting 24.3% higher than last year. The average cost hovered around $801,000.

The next obvious question:

“How Much Is Remodeling A Home In San Diego Going To Cost Me?”

As hinted at before, there are a few things you must know when calculating the cost of a remodel:

  • What part(s) of you’re home are being remodeled
  • Whether it’s “busy season” for contractors
  • Where material prices are currently sitting
  • How long your remodel will take vs. an ever-changing economy, etc.

Before we dive into a couple of room-specific costs for remodeling in San Diego below, lets touch briefly on the pandemic shakeup.

Interest in home remodeling has surged over the last year or so. This, along with the pandemic shaking up the economy and supply chains, has sent the cost of materials through the roof.

Plus, a lot of contracting companies are in desperate need of skilled labor. The same is true for the trucking industry, which has had a short supply of drivers.

It’s a perfect storm of conditions that could mean a not-so-perfect path for renovating and remodeling. Not just in San Diego. Lumber and other building material prices are up across the board.

(No pun intended!)

From April 2020 to April 2021, the cost of lumber alone skyrocketed 375%.

That’s a recent estimate of $1,372 per one-thousand feet worth of board(s).

Iron and steel are up another 15.6% in 2021.

Even concrete has gone up.

So is it worth it right now? Depending on your situation, it could be. 

Let’s take a look.

Calculating The ROI Of Remodeling A Home In San Diego

On top of an ever-changing economy, you’ll have some other things to consider.

For example, the time value of money and “opportunity cost” that might come with remodeling.

Depending on how long a remodel might take and the current cost of materials, it might make more sense to invest your money elsewhere for now. 

The same goes for considering current interest rates if taking out a construction loan.

At the end of the day, your money is a tool. 

And you know your short- and long-term goals, and financial situation, better than anyone.

Tax Advantages Of Home Remodels In San Diego

Part of calculating your ROI is factoring in what sort of tax benefits you can take advantage of in San Diego.

A few examples at the time of writing (always consult your local tax professional first):

  • A credit (up to $500) on 10% of the cost of energy-efficiency upgrades
  • A home office deduction (generally $5 per square foot for 300 sq ft. or less)
  • The Renewable Energy Efficiency Property Credit for up to 30% of costs, etc.

With all the above in mind, what areas should you focus on to boost your home’s appreciation in value the most?

The Best Areas Of A Home To Remodel

Hands down,  kitchen remodels are the best starting point in any home’s remodel.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in North County, on the beach, downtown in San Diego, or the desert.

After all, most people consider a kitchen the “heart of the home,” right?

Below is a full list of top priorities, each with their average cost and ROI based on 2021 data from the Cost vs. Value Report.

Kitchen Remodels

The return on investment for kitchen remodels in San Diego is respectably high. 

All of the numbers below are exclusively from recent kitchen remodeling in San Diego.

Minor kitchen remodels (midrange quality) – Average cost of $29,060 / average ROI of 81.4%.

Major kitchen remodels (midrange quality) – Average cost of $82,152 / average ROI of 61.9%.

Major kitchen remodeling (upscale quality) – Average cost of $161,232 / average ROI of 58.3%

Specific item costs can widely vary. For example, most cabinets fall within a range of $4,000-$13,000.

Master Bathroom

Master bathroom remodels (in San Diego and beyond) generally rank among the top three types of remodeling projects.

How much it will run you of course depends on style and quality, as well as whether your remodeling project is on an existing bathroom or creating a new one.

Bathroom remodel (midrange) – $28,679 / average ROI of 65.1%.

Bathroom addition (midrange) – $68,268 / average ROI of 56.1%.

Bathroom remodel (upscale) – $85,752 / average ROI 58.8%.

Bathroom addition (upscale) – $120,372 / average ROI of 61.0%

Again, these numbers are averages and exclusive to bathroom remodels in the San Diego area.

Other Key Areas Worth Remodeling

Curb Appeal – First impressions matter and “the curb” is where they’re made for your home. A fresh coat of external paint, a well-maintained lawn, a dash of extra landscaping.

These can all do wonders to subtly “wow” potential buyers and set the stage for a higher asking price.

Energy Efficiency Upgrades – Attic insulation, upgrading older appliances, energy-efficient lighting, low-flow showerheads—there are plenty to pick from!

Entryway – Consider this a “second first impression”. Step outside for a moment and really soak in what the entry area of your home looks like.

Got a walking path in need of repair? Perhaps a new door is in order? 

Other – adding a touch of lighting, a new mat, plants, replacing your mailbox, or even a pool.

The Four “Levels” Of Home Remodel Projects

Maybe you’re a DIY dynamo or prefer to keep things safe and simple. Well, there’s always something for anyone when remodeling.

Soft remodels: Grab a bucket of paint and go to town changing or touching up the walls. 

Other ideas would be upgrading knobs and fixtures, or letting your inner interior designer run wild with new decor!

Light remodels: Get a little more adventurous and upgrade flooring, counters, showers, etc.

Hard remodels: Hard remodels are where contactors start coming into the picture the most. Moving walls, tackling a full remodel like the kitchen or bathroom we talked about, and more.

Heavy remodels: These include foundation repairs/replacement, room additions, putting on a new roof, or fully gutting a home to remodel from the ground up.

There is More To A Home’s Appreciation Than Remodeling

There are several types of appreciation.

Most of what we’ve talked about here is known as manual or “forced” appreciation. 

Just as it sounds, this is when you manually make changes or repairs to increase your home’s value.

The other types?

Economic Appreciation –  An example, when a home’s value goes up, based on its local market, that’s economic appreciation.

Strategic Positioning – Ever hear of “The Whole Foods Effect”?

It refers to a phenomenon where certain grocery stores (most notably Whole Foods and Wegmans) can boost nearby property values. 

And it’s also a perfect example of “strategic positioning”.

Other examples of strategic positioning that can add value: proximity to other amenities/popular stores, school district ranking, tax rates, etc.

The Best Step To Take When Remodeling

Asking your local agent(s) gives you access to what is easily the #1 source with “boots on the ground” in San Diego.

Your agent can give you priceless insights into the features and amenities that are in high demand, what’s selling, popular colors, and trends, and more.

That way, you have a clear vision of what home remodeling projects work best for San Diego’s specific housing market – contact us today!

Home remodels don’t happen overnight, however, we encourage you to bookmark this post for future reference and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!


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