Ask a Contractor: How much to upgrade 1950s home?

AntennorabeforeQuestion: My husband and I are looking for a home in the San Fernando Valley and are finding a lot of 1950s-era homes in our price range that need some serious updating. Is there any rule of thumb we can use as a guide to estimating what these remodeling issues may cost?

I’m interested in approximate costs for the following:

— updating electrical — updating plumbing — new roof — installing central air

Answer: from Alon Toker of Mega Builders in Chatsworth:

A house from the 1950s would indeed need some upgrades! Here are some ballpark figures:

Electrical: While a rewire is not likely to be needed, a panel upgrade, additional lights and some additional dedicated lines are almost always needed. The range here might be $5,000 to $10,000.

Plumbing: Repiping the hot/cold water lines with copper (including the service line from the meter) is probably needed. Additionally, many homeowners opt to replace their water heater with a tankless unit. If you are also remodeling the bathrooms/kitchen you have a great opportunity to replace all in-wall faucets as well as the rest of the plumbing fixtures. This is a good thing given their age. The range here might be $6,000 to $12,000.

Roof: The roof probably has several layers on it that would need to be removed. It might also require new plywood sheathing. You will then need to decide between lower-cost composition shingles and higher-cost roof tiles. You are probably looking at $7,500 to $20,000.

Central air: Your range here will likely be between $8,000 and $15,000.

Good luck!

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