Home remodeling is on America’s mind. When the pandemic forced us all indoors a few years ago, homeowners across the country set about renovating rooms, refurnishing spaces and trying their hand at DIY projects (perhaps for the first time ever). That trend didn’t go away; indeed, in 2023, home improvement spending in the U.S. is estimated to be some $157 billion more than in 2019. 

Even in the face of soaring costs and supply chain issues, homeowners are determined to give their houses a makeover, with over half of Americans planning to carry out a home improvement project by the end of 2023. But have you ever wondered how the cost of remodeling a home might differ across the country? And where in the U.S. a home renovation project might be completely unaffordable for the average local?

We at Frontdoor wondered, too, so we went in search of the most and least expensive cities in the country in which to remodel a home, using local construction and material costs as a guide.

What We Did

For each of the most populated cities in the U.S., we used Houzz.com’s home project planner to estimate the cost of remodeling the five main rooms of a house (living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and dining room) using professional contractors and budget-grade products and materials. To calculate how affordable a full house remodel would be in each location, we compared the estimated price of a local remodel to that city’s average household income (sourced from census.gov). 

Key Findings

  • The most expensive city to remodel a home is Naperville, Illinois ($100,975). Three other cities in the state rank among the most expensive, too. 
  • In contrast, it’s the least expensive to remodel in McAllen, Texas ($54,855). 
  • The least affordable city to remodel is Detroit, Michigan — it would cost the average local 220.94% of their annual income.
  • But Frisco, Texas, is the most affordable city (43.51%). Three other cities in Texas are also among the most affordable cities.

Naperville, Illinois, Is the Most Expensive City in the U.S. To Get a Home Remodeled

Spare a thought for homeowners with remodeling on their minds in Naperville, Illinois — based on the cost of materials and local contractors, it’ll cost them $100,975 to remodel their five main rooms. That’s more expensive than any other city in the country.

But this city isn’t the only one in Illinois where remodeling a home costs an eye-watering amount. Chicago comes next ($93,723), and Joliet ($92,493) and Elgin ($91,248) place highly, too. It’s likely that one factor is that Illinois is the second-most top-paying state for construction worker wages. In contrast, McAllen ($54,855) and two other Texas cities are among the least expensive cities.

Texas Is Home to Some of the Most Affordable Cities for Remodeling

Of course, what may be expensive to one person may be spare change to another. Our ranking below reveals the most and least affordable cities in which to remodel a house, based on the percentage of the average local’s annual salary needed to be spent on remodeling. Four Texas cities — led by Frisco (43.51%) — are among the most affordable overall, no doubt in part due to the availability of local materials (Texas is one of the top lumber-producing states, for example). 

Meanwhile, Detroit, Michigan, is the least affordable city in which to remodel a home (220.94%). Not only is Detroit the poorest city in America — likely pushing even smaller home improvements out of budget — but one study reveals that “in many Detroit neighborhoods, low property values are a barrier to financing home purchases and renovation … When the cost of renovation exceeds the resale value of the property, banks are reluctant to lend and many home buyers are reluctant to invest.”

Revealed: The Most and Least Expensive City in Every State for a Home Remodel

Our next map reveals the most expensive city in each state in which to remodel a house. Often, the top city is an area where the cost of living is generally high already — take New York City (where a remodel costs $86,700), for example, or Honolulu ($84,997) or San Francisco ($93,196).

Bellevue comes top in Washington, a city where remodeling a house will set the typical local back $75,144. Previously, an index created by Lawn Love ranked Bellevue as the 18th most expensive city in the U.S. in which to remodel a home based on metrics such as the cost of hiring contractors, the average age of houses and access to suppliers and builders. Jersey City — New Jersey’s most expensive city in which to remodel, at $88,935 — also came in at the pricier end of Lawn Love’s index.

Our map above reveals each state’s least expensive city in which to remodel a house. The top cities span from Baltimore in Maryland ($66,385), where the median age of a house is 94 years old, to McAllen, Texas ($54,855), where the cost of living is 20% lower than the national average. 

How Do Major Cities Compare on the Cost of Remodeling Each Room?

Whether you’re looking to update tired features or crave a more functional, value-adding layout, there are lots of reasons why people prioritize remodeling one room over another. Some rooms are just easier and cheaper than others — kitchens and bathrooms, for example, tend to be the most expensive rooms thanks to all the plumbing, appliances, fixtures and fittings. 

Our graphic below breaks down how the cost to remodel a specific room differs from one major city to another, revealing huge price disparities for the same room between locations.

For example, compared to the average national cost of remodeling a bathroom (around $11,945), the average bathroom makeover in San Antonio, Texas, is a steal at $9,545. In comparison, Chicagoans will spend just under $16,000. Meanwhile, in Houston, Texas, the average kitchen remodel carries a price tag of $25,865 — much cheaper than in New York City ($32,001). 

Factors that influence how much you’ll pay for a home remodel locally include contractor costs, the availability and cost of materials (like lumber) and building permit rates.

Fireplaces Rank Among the Most Expensive Features to Install

While some fixtures and fittings are the biggest expense of a room’s remodeling, others are a lot kinder on the wallet. Using typical construction costs as a guide, we’ve discovered the cheapest and most expensive features in each main room of the house. 

In the bathroom, the priciest feature to install is a tiled shower stall with a glass door, which carries a base cost of $3,333. By comparison, the least expensive are wall-mounted light fixtures, at just $86. Light fixtures are actually the cheapest feature of every room in the house but the kitchen, in which countertops for an island come top ($74). For a straightforward light fixture install, a skilled contractor might only take an hour or two to complete the job. 

In contrast, among the most expensive features to install are fireplaces in the dining room ($6,593) and living room ($6,588) and cabinetry in the kitchen ($3,776).

How to Save Money on a Home Renovation

Home renovations are expensive, but no matter where you are in the country, there are all sorts of ways you can save yourself potentially thousands of dollars in costs. Take a look at our top three tips below on how to save money when remodeling your home.

1. DIY what you can

When contractors can charge $35 per hour, it’s easy to see why carrying out a remodeling project yourself can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Whatever the task, you can learn plenty of basic skills and tips from YouTube videos and books, but making a DIY plan with the direct assistance of an expert will streamline your project and help you avoid costly (and potentially dangerous) mistakes. 

If throwing yourself into a remodeling project sounds scary, you should consider getting help from a specialist. With a Frontdoor membership, you can connect with local, vetted home repair experts, who will lend their advice on any renovation job you want to tackle. 

2. Shop around

Whatever the fixture or fitting, you can save lots of money on a renovation project just by shopping around for less expensive (but no less high-quality) alternatives. For example, homeowners looking to refresh their bathroom on a budget can look into PVC wall panels instead of pricey tiles. For new appliances, you can use price comparison websites like Klarna to make sure you’re getting the best product for your budget. 

You can also use our app to speak to a specialist for advice on what kind of materials you could look for instead of expensive, high-end options (and to check how to install them). 

3. Reuse and upcycle 

A surefire way to save money is by reusing what you already have around the house. Our research revealed that kitchen cabinetry is the most expensive feature to change in the kitchen, so why not save some money by giving your existing cabinets a makeover? Clear a day in your schedule to unscrew the cabinets, give them a lick of paint and upgrade the handles. 

If you’re looking for new furniture, take a look on Facebook Marketplace (or similar websites) and local thrift shops — you might find incredible pieces for a fraction of what they’d cost new. 

Open the Frontdoor

With the Frontdoor app, a better way to home repair is here. You can video chat with plumbing, electrical, appliance, HVAC and handyperson Experts in real-time for all your home repair needs. They’ll give you step-by-step guidance to complete the repair or help you find the right local Pro when in-home help is needed. Download the Frontdoor app today to start taking control of your home repair to-do list. Your first video chat is free!

Methodology & Sources

To determine the most and least expensive U.S. cities for home remodeling, we reviewed data on remodeling costs from Houzz in November 2023.

Cities were ranked based on the estimated construction costs of remodeling the main rooms of a home, which include the living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and dining room. Estimates are based on project costs for the smallest room settings with the lowest cost materials available on Houzz. Only cities that rank among the five largest in their state by population or that have at least 100,000 residents were considered.

Data used to calculate the affordability of remodeling — the estimated cost of a main room remodeling project as a percentage of median household income are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey.

Additional Sources

Brannon, M. (2023). The True Cost of Owning a Home (2023 Data). realestatewitch.com

U.S. Census Bureau. (2023). MEDIAN YEAR STRUCTURE BUILT. data.census.gov

U.S. Census Bureau. (2023). MEDIAN VALUE (DOLLARS). data.census.gov