Homeowners periodically like to update their spaces to “keep up with the Joneses”, and they pay significant prices to do so. The U.S. remodeling industry is worth over a massive $110 billion and has grown by over 50% in the last decade. Remodeling skills are clearly very valuable and starting your own remodeling business can put those skills to work and help you to cash in on a piece of that multi-billion-dollar market.
It sounds easy but starting a remodeling business takes more than a hammer and nails. Hard work and business expertise will be your keys to success, and luckily this step-by-step guide has all the advice and insight to give you that expertise. The rest of the hard work is up to you!
$2,550 - $7,100
Time to build
0 – 3 months
$120,000 - $300,000 p.a.
$96,000 - $120,000 p.a.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Pros and cons
Starting a remodeling business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s the right path for you.
- Large Market – The big remodeling market is getting bigger
- Add Value – Help customers increase the value of their homes
- Flexible Hours – Schedule jobs on your time
- Backbreaking Work – Muscle required
- Difficult Customers – People are picky!
Remodeling Industry Trends
Industry size and growth
- Industry size – The US remodeling industry is worth a staggering $112 billion in 2022.
- Number of Businesses – There are 493,728 remodeling businesses in the U.S. as of 2022.
- Number of People Employed – There are 7.4 million people employed in the construction sector as a whole.
- Industry growth – The US remodeling industry has grown by over 50% in the last 10 years. Growth is projected to continue in 2022 as people continue to spend disposable income to make home improvements.
Trends and challenges
Some of the latest trends in home remodeling include:
- Millennials are entering the market, turning from do-it-yourself projects to professionals. One reason for this is that they are seeing pictures of projects on social media and are inspired to replicate them in their own homes, but lack the skills to do so.
- Wellness design is increasing in popularity, which includes installing things like installing steam ovens, spas, zen gardens, and touchless toilets.
Challenges also exist in the industry, which include:
- Supply chain issues are increasing the customer’s time waiting for materials causing delays for remodelers.
- Television shows and the abundance of DIY YouTube videos is making DIY the biggest competitor for remodelers.
Who works in remodeling?
- Gender – 74.6% of people who work in remodeling are men.
- Age – The average age of a remodeler is 46.8.
- Education – 33% of remodeling workers have a bachelor’s degree, 28% have a high school diploma, 19% have an associate’s degree, 10% have a diploma, and 10% have another degree.
How much does it cost to start a remodeling business?
Startup costs for a remodeling business range from $2,500 to $7,000. The main costs are for a website setup and tools. If you already have tools, your costs will be less. If you don’t have a vehicle to transport your tools and other materials, you’ll need to add in that cost.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your remodeling business, including:
- Hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, other hand tools
- Tile saw
- Power drill
- Miter saw
- Hammer drill
- Air nailers
How much can you earn from a remodeling business?
Bathrooms and kitchens are the most common remodeling jobs. The average bathroom costs about $10,000 and the average kitchen remodel costs $25,000. When you’re just starting out, your jobs will probably fall into the $10,000 range. Working with one laborer, your profit margin should be about 80%.
In your first year or two, you could run your business from home and so 12 jobs in a year, bringing in $120,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $96,000 in profit, assuming that 80% margin. As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 20 jobs a year that are at a higher price point of $15,000. At this stage, you would hire additional labor, reducing your profit margin to around 40%. With expected annual revenue of $300,000, you would make about $120,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a remodeling business. Your biggest challenges will be:
- Having the right skills or hiring skilled labor.
- Facing competition from established remodeling companies and big hardware stores like Home Depot.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a remodeling business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research remodeling businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a remodeler who specializes in tile.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry such as kitchen remodels. This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
Your services will depend on your skills or the labor that you can find. Your remodeling may involve:
- Cabinet installation
- Flooring installation
- Fixture and appliance installation
- Electrical work
- Wall tile installation
How much should you charge for remodeling services?
All of your prices should be broken down into all the tasks that are involved in the job. For example, for tile flooring, you’ll charge by the square foot. The average price for tile floor installation ranges from $14 – $21 per square foot. Your customer will typically pay for all materials. HomeWyse is a good resource for labor prices. Once you have a full crew you should aim for a profit margin of about 40%.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price point. Remember, the price you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will be homeowners who are typically a more established group. You can find them on Facebook or LinkedIn. You can also, however, partner with realtors to get referrals, and LinkedIn is a great place to connect with them.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low, and you’ll probably continue to do business this way. If you ever decide that you need an office, you can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “remodeler” or “remodeling”, boosts SEO
- Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider finding and hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to remodeling businesses.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your remodeling business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- Corporation – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose an LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your Articles of Organization and be on hand to answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online. It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank loans or SBA loans are probably the best options for funding a remodeling business, or you can just use personal funds since the startup costs are low.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a remodeling business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments. Depending on the type of work that you do and your state’s requirements you may need a contractor’s license. Check with your state to find out what is required.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as, health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level licenses and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties. If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account. Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your remodeling business as a sole proprietorship.
Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You can use industry-specific software, such as HCSS, PROCORE, or FieldWire, to help manage your projects, workflow, costs, billing, and scheduling.
Some of your business will come from the casual online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Quote Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your remodeling business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your remodeling business could be:
- Master tiling at affordable prices
- Luxury remodeling services for any room
- Top quality custom kitchens and baths
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events
- In-Person Sales – Offer your remodeling services to realtors
- Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal.
- Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
- Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Pay–per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
- Do a webinar – Share your remodeling expertise online with a video seminar
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a remodeling business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in remodeling for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in remodeling. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a remodeling business would include:
- Laborers – assist with tear out, other tasks
- Plumber – plumbing portions of jobs
- Electrical – light fixture installation, rewiring
- General Manager – scheduling, staff management, accounting, marketing
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
Who knew that remodeling was such a huge industry? Over $110 billion is an astounding number, and you can make good money by getting just a small chunk of it with your remodeling business. You can run your business from home and get started with little out-of-pocket cash.
All you need are tool skills and a willingness to get your hands dirty, you can build a lucrative company. Now that you’re a business expert, strap on that tool belt and get to work on launching your new remodeling business!
Remodeling Business FAQs
How much does it cost to start a remodeling company?
You can start a remodeling company for around $2,500 which includes building a website and acquiring tools. If you already have the tools, you can start for even less.
How much can I make from a remodeling business?
The average bathroom remodel costs about $10,000, so if you do just 10 bathrooms a year, your revenue will hit 6 figures. Even if you do smaller jobs, the money can add up.
Do I need a license to start a remodeling business?
You probably need a contractor’s license and other business licenses and permits at the state and local levels. Check with your local government for requirements, or visit MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance page.”
How do I price remodeling jobs?
You will need to break down your jobs into each task that you’ll be completing. For example, you’ll compute a price to tear out old items, install cabinets, install flooring (by square foot), paint, and do any other tasks. HomeWyse is a good resource to find average labor costs per task.