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The Cost of Restaurant Renovations

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If you are trying to budget your restaurant renovation and you’re hoping to find some hard and fast rules for estimating the cost, I’ve got bad news for you.  The cost of restaurant renovations will vary widely depending on a number of factors including the size of the space, your design materials, the scope of the project, and even the cost of labour in your market.  So, instead of defining actual costs, let’s take a closer look at the elements of a renovation and how you might expect that to impact your budget.

Relevant Design and Equipment

The restaurant industry is highly competitive, and the reality is that it’s not just your food and service that will determine your success.  Especially in busy, urban centres, restaurants must be stylish.  If your restaurant features outdated décor, chances are you’re struggling to bring in clientele.  If you’re planning a restaurant renovation, you should first ask yourself how much updating needs to be done.  If you’re looking at a total makeover, costs are going to be higher.  For example, if you need to replace kitchen equipment, your budget will easily need to exceed $20,000.  However, if you’re making minor updates such as new lighting or paint, you can probably get by with a more conservative budget.

I always recommend that you hire a professional with restaurant design experience to help with renovations and remodels.  Just as the restaurant industry is competitive, it’s always changing.  A professional designer can help you make the best choices to remain relevant in your market.


When we’re talking about equipment, we’re talking about big bucks.  Refrigeration units run in the tens of thousands of dollars, installing gas lines will tally a few thousand more, just to give a couple examples.  You’ll also need to consider labour costs.  Hiring a general contractor is a great idea to ensure your project is finished on time and within a reasonable budget, but you’ll need to carefully consider those costs.  That being said, a good contractor will also have access to excellent tradespeople (plumbers, electricians, and painters to name a few), so working with a contractor can often save you money in the long run because the job will be done right the first time.

Budget for the Unexpected

It’s probably more the rule than the exception that renovations run over budget.  Sometimes you can’t prepare for every eventuality, so it’s always important to budget at least and extra 10 or 15% to cover the costs of the unexpected.  Even if you don’t end up needing the extra budget, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Ultimately, there are a lot of things to consider in your restaurant renovation.  Working with experienced renovation professionals can help you get an idea of the total costs before you begin your renovation.  Always start with a goal of your dream renovation, and then scale back as your budget requires.

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