2015 True Cost Report & Homeowner Insights

By HomeAdvisor

Updated January 20, 2021

2015 True Cost Report

When deciding whether to ditch the hammer and hire a professional for a home project, homeowners unfailingly ask themselves: “What’s it going to cost?” HomeAdvisor helps answer that question with True Cost Guide – a searchable database that gives homeowners an idea of what they can expect to pay for projects in their area.

What’s in this Report:

  1. Key Insights
  2. Project Trends & Cost Data
  3. Appendix
  4. Download the PDF
  5. View the Interactive Infographic

How does HomeAdvisor know how much projects cost? We’ve collected project details – including cost, duration and other considerations — from over one million homeowners for more than five years. And we’ve turned the information we’ve received into a robust tool housing cost information for over 350 project categories — a byproduct of which is unique insight into how homeowners research project-related expenses.

HomeAdvisor appreciates that our findings are too valuable to keep to ourselves. So, we’ve compiled the wealth of information we’ve collected through True Cost Guide — as well as through our website and a homeowner survey — into the 2015 True Cost Guide Report.

“What the report uncovered is homeowners want a better way to research home project costs,” said HomeAdvisor’s CEO Chris Terrill. “More than a third of homeowners don’t know how much it will cost to hire a professional for home projects and 68 percent of homeowners are concerned about overpaying without a reliable source for cost information.”

The purpose of the True Cost Report is two-fold:

  1. To help people understand the struggles homeowners face in planning and budgeting for home projects; and
  1. To provide cost comparisons and trend data for more than 50 common home projects at the local and national level.

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Key Insights:

homeowner insights infographic

1. Women Worry More Than Men

More than two thirds of homeowners are concerned about overpaying as a consequence of not having reliable cost information. Women are particularly anxious about overpaying; 75 percent of women are concerned about finding a reliable cost source, compared to 60 percent of men.

types of projects men women search for

2. Cost Matters – Especially to Millennials

Almost half of all homeowners will put projects off or attempt to complete them on their own when reliable cost information is unavailable. More than any other age group, Millennials attempt to complete projects themselves when they think hiring a professional is too expensive (64 percent) or put a project off when they don’t know how much it will cost (52 percent).


3. Cost Research Determines To DIY or Hire a Guy

Almost a third of homeowners research project costs to understand if they received a reasonable bid. A quarter of homeowners research project costs to help with budgeting, and nearly 20 percent use the research to help them decide if they should complete the project DIY.

why research project costs

4. Financial Freedom Supports Continued Demand

The majority of homeowners paid for home improvement projects using their checking or savings account in 2014, while a minority used project financing. The demand for home projects remains solid for 2015. 82 percent of homeowners indicated spending the same or more on maintenance projects, and 67 percent of homeowners plan to spend the same or more on improvement projects, this year as compared to the last twelve months.


5. Homeowners Hire More for Maintenance, But Spend More for Improvements

In 2014, homeowners submitted four times as many service requests for home maintenance as they submitted for home improvement. However, at an average cost of $3,100, homeowners spent six times more on home improvement projects than they spent on maintenance, which averaged $500 per project.

how did you fund your last home project?

6. Home Projects are Top of Mind on Mondays

Homeowners most frequently visit True Cost Guide for cost information at the start of the workweek. Homeowners spend, on average, three minutes on each project page reviewing cost information.


7. Suspicion of Professional Estimates is Founded

Nearly one half of homeowners distrust professional estimates and assume they will pay more. This suspicion is seemingly founded, as 35 percent of homeowners report paying more than originally quoted for projects.


8. Homeowners Underestimate Project Costs

When homeowners were surveyed about the project costs for 20 common home projects, the majority of homeowners who incorrectly estimated a project price, guessed less than the actual project cost.


9. Septic Tanks and Installing a Sprinkler System Most Viewed Tasks

Over the last 12 months, homeowners most frequently viewed True Cost Guide pages related to installing and cleaning a septic tank. Homeowners also frequently viewed the price of hiring a land surveyorbuilding an addition, and installing a sprinkler system. When surveyed, less than a third of homeowners know how much it costs to install a sprinkler system.

Install a sprinkler system cost chart
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Project Trends and Cost Data:

Data from HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide and service requests submitted through HomeAdvisor.com reveals current trends for popular home projects, including the cities in which the projects are most and least expensive to hire a professional to complete.

1) National Cost Comparison for Kitchen Remodeling

The cost of remodeling a kitchen will vary depending on the size of the room, the quality of the appliances and materials used, and whether homeowners change the layout of the room.

Kitchen remodeling cost trends

2) National Cost Comparison for Bathroom Remodeling

The cost of remodeling a bathroom depends on the size of the room, the materials used, and the amenities upgraded (i.e., bathtub, cabinets, countertops, flooring, sink, and shower).

Bathroom remodeling cost trends

3) National Cost Comparison for Exterior Home Painting

The size of the project is the largest factor determining the cost of painting a home exterior, as it impacts how much paint, time and labor will be required to complete the job.

Exterior painting cost trends

To view project costs for more than 50 additional projects, visit the True Cost Report infographic.

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This report was compiled based on data from HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide, as well as data from HomeAdvisor.com and a survey conducted on behalf of HomeAdvisor through Hanover Research.

  • HomeAdvisor project data is based on the number of service requests submitted through HomeAdvisor.com from March 1, 2014-March 1, 2015.
  • Project cost data is based on project cost information submitted through HomeAdvisor.com from April 4, 2008-March 1, 2015.
  • The survey was conducted by Hanover Research on behalf of HomeAdvisor among 367 homeowners, age 25 or older, from February 2-4, 2015. Survey respondents were chosen based on their involvement in purchasing decisions related to home maintenance and improvement projects, as well as their openness to hiring a professional. Data pertains to projects completed in the last 12 months.

You can download the PDF of the True Cost Report here.

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