a man with a sledgehammer doing demolition on a home

Should You Gut Your House?

Updated June 8, 2021 . AmFam Team

For the avid DIYer, perhaps nothing is more exciting than home remodeling. Restoring this, fixing that — the projects are limitless. But what if a fixer-upper turns out to be a little more than bargained for? Let’s explore the topic a little further, specifically the costs associated with gutting a house and the key factors you’ll need to know before you get started.

How much does it cost to gut a house?

Gutting a house can be a costly endeavor with many unexpected expenses depending on the age and integrity of the wiring, plumbing and structure of the home. According to nearly 1,800 homeowners surveyed, the average cost of gutting a house ranged from $2,000 to $6,000, all the way up to $20,000 in some cases, with locale and scope playing significant roles in cost.* Every project is different and your cost will reflect labor, the extent of the project and materials removed. For instance, if you have an older home with lead paint or asbestos, you will incur additional charges for materials removal and disposal.

For the most accurate estimation, it’s recommended to contact a demolition professional to assess the property you plan to gut.

What's the cost breakdown of gutting a house?

Let’s take a closer look at gut renovation cost per square foot to help make the picture a little clearer. Depending on the route you go, for instance commercial demolition or a more DIY approach, interior demolition can usually range from $2 to $8 per square foot. Typically, the cost of gutting a house and remodeling is mostly related to labor and materials disposal, however, commercial demolition brings crucial expertise, including building code and construction requirements. These factors add to the total cost per square foot.

When deciding how much to gut a house, it’s also important to consider plumbing, wiring and structure in the cost. Each space will present itself with unique considerations Bathrooms can be one of the highest costs with a range of $500 to $2,300 for demolition. That’s between $13 and $60 per square foot, depending on the size and condition of your bathroom and plumbing. Kitchens typically see costs in the range of $3 to $18 per square foot, totaling around $500 to $3,000 for a demolition.

Below is a table that details the price tag of each room, including bedrooms and basements, based on average space.


Cost per square foot

Total cost

$13 – $60 (based on 38 sq. ft.)
$500 – $2,300
$3 – $18 (based on 162 sq. ft.)
$500 – $3,000
$4 – $9 (based on 132 sq. ft.)
$500 – $1,200
$.30 – $4 (based on 1,000 sq. ft.)
$300 – $4,000

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Buying a New House vs Gutting and Renovating

If you have a vision for the perfect home, right where you are, the choice may be clear for a remodel. Perhaps you find that you want a fresh start but aren’t yet committed to a costly remodel. Let’s work together to explore some pros and cons of both.

What are the pros and cons of gutting and remodeling?

Cost considerations are to be expected with the decision to remodel or move. The average medium home remodel ranges from $40,000 – $75,000 — a figure factoring bathroom and kitchen enhancements along with affordable appliances and upgrades.**


  • Get exactly what you want
  • Flexible financing options
  • No need to move


  • Surprise expenses
  • Remodeling is a lot of work
  • You aren’t guaranteed a return on investment

Should I buy a new house?

What many home buyers overlook are the costs associated with selling a house. According to Zillow, the average closing cost for sellers can range from $17,000 – $22,000. For some, the process of selling, buying and moving into a new location can be exhausting. The turnkey option of an already finished home in living condition, ready to move right in, may be preferred.


  • Start fresh
  • Reassess your needs
  • Avoid the mess
  • Relocation, if you could use some change


  • Moving can be expensive
  • Fewer customization options
  • Moving can be a hassle
  • Relocation, if you love where you live

Should You Move or Remodel?

The choice to move or remodel isn't an easy one, and it certainly isn't one to make alone. Let us help you with further reading on the pros and cons of moving and remodeling

Insurance When Gutting a House

Whew! Here we are — you’ve decided you want to move forward with gutting and remodeling your house. Great! Now, are you properly insured for it? Don’t fret if you haven’t considered adding home renovation insurance. We happen to know a thing or two about home renovation insurance.

Will my homeowners insurance cover remodeling and renovation?

Not necessarily. Your specific policy may not cover dwelling under renovation, vacant home or contractors insurance —important add-ons to protect the vision of your dream home. The simplest example could be that your newly remodeled or renovated home has now increased in value. Does your policy cover the full amount after construction? It’s important that you discuss your current policy with an agent to ensure your home is fully insured.

Am I covered during construction?

Dwelling under renovation coverage may be necessary to cover your construction materials and foundation.

Let’s say you relocate during the construction and the unexpected happens. If you have vacant home insurance, your damages are typically covered. Should the unforeseen occur with a contractor you hire, or a subcontractor hired for you, it’s important that you have record of their insurance coverage. Contractors insurance should be provided to you by the contractor so that you’ll know you’re both covered.

With any decision you make, we’ll be there to help you through it. Get in touch with an American Family Insurance agent today to discuss the right homeowners insurance options for your project.

* Cost data based on nearly 1,800 members surveyed through Homeadvisor (Opens in a new tab)

** Cost data based on a Realtor.com article (Opens in a new tab) published in 2020. 

This information represents only a brief description of coverages, is not part of your policy, and is not a promise or guarantee of coverage. If there is any conflict between this information and your policy, the provisions of the policy will prevail. Insurance policy terms and conditions may apply. Exclusions may apply to policies, endorsements, or riders. Coverage may vary by state and may be subject to change. Some products are not available in every state. Please read your policy and contact your agent for assistance. Add disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available. We do not make any guarantees or promise any results based on this information.

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