RENOVATION in Budapest is full of surprises.

Hello all. Let me start by saying that me and my wife purchased lovely apartment on Museum korut. We figured, we can paint it and rent it for around 100K just to cover common costs and keep it warm in the winter.
When we started pricing the job and hearing contractor's quotes we were unpleasantly surprised. T0 sand and paint walls and widows in 114 m2 apartment would cost from 1.6 to 1.8 mill HUF...we were told. More if we want invoice...
I need an input from the expats in Budapest: what is the order of prices for such repairs, do you know any reliable contractors? And last but not least, am I being taken for a fool or is the price I was quoted a realistic level of compensation in Budapest?
It seems to me that prices for renovation should be commensurable with overall price index , cost of living, average salaries not to mention very low RE prices. Am I wrong? Please advise.

It is a common mistake to assume that cost of living and "average salaries" need simply relate to renovation costs. It is often not always that simple. I know more than one expat who thought they got a real deal on a property, then their jaw drops after the purchase to find out the renovation costs. After all, that is often the reason the properties are up for sale -- the locals can not afford the renovations because they are often quite expense to properly renovate. You can do a cheap renovation, but often the "cheap" renovations last maybe five years before the paint starts to peel and the plaster is cracking and falling off. So in the end you will have to re-renovate and end up paying more.

Otherwise, there are too many unknown details and variables in your post so far to say one way or another regarding if the bid is "fair" or not.

But consider some of the following:

- All construction includes abroad prices for materials since most of it is imported. You should have received with your bid an itemized invoice of expected materials needed to do the job and their costs. If not, ask for one. This way you can see the cost of materials versus labor. If the contractor does not want to give you the materials list for any reason, walk away and get another contractor.

- The bid will be higher or lower at times simply because of the location of your property. More affluent, historical or unique neighborhoods will get a higher bid for no other reason than geography. Near the Museum for example.

- Foreign owners get a high bid as they are seen as having more money by default.

- The type of building to renovate and the quality of renovation you want: older buildings with ornate moldings will cost more to renovate. For example they may have a century of many layers of paint to blast off (which might have lead content which must be disposed of) -- this can add a lot to the cost.

- A Budapest based contractor will charge you more than one that comes from outside Budapest.

- Ask your contractor for references, that is other clients so you can check their final work for quality-versus-price comparisons.

- etc.

So is 1.6 Million Forint too much? Maybe. But maybe not. I have spent about that per meter rate for interior renovation (with invoice) and I found that a fair price for the level and quality of work I requested (which my contracts tells me is higher than what others normally expect -- so also consider that).

The price seems Huge!, you should ask more contractors before committed to one.

If you are in Budapest, make a list with the materials you need for let's say renovating one room. Go to Praktiker or Baumax and ask how much it will be. Then you will have a picture of the real cost of the renovation.

Girlie wrote:

make a list with the materials you need for let's say renovating one room. Go to Praktiker or Baumax and ask how much it will be. Then you will have a picture of the real cost of the renovation.

There is a difference between a simple sand and painting job (which is not really a renovation) versus a real renovation (which may include sand blasting, and a multitude of repairs).

A simple layer of paint can hide a multitude of sins, that will be even more expensive to fix later. Anyone who has done a real renovation knows the "uh-oh" moment from the contractor when they start to see behind the wall or under that paint (e.g. the window frame may be just held up with a dozen layers of paint and once removed the entire window may be declared in need of replacing -- that sort of thing happens all the time with older buildings).

Thus the issue basically comes down to my point 4 above --  what is the real quality of the "renovation" being planned and was that clear to the contractor? This is why one should always ask for that official itemized list of costs from the contractor to make sure everyone is on the same page.

I do know a thing or two about this topic.

Thank you for your replies. I appreciate it. I guess I need to come to Budapest and start construction business with illegal Ukranian crew. The mark up seems enormous. :)

I am starting to think that other services might be also price outliers. Has anyone dealt with furniture reupholstering or made to order furniture in Hungary?
What about picture framing, how expensive is that service?


I bought an apartment one year ago and renovated everything. We paid around 15 000 euros to a constructor who took down walls and built up new, new electricity, piping, new luxury bathroom ( most expensive thing in the whole apt), painting walls and new wood floor. He repaired the windows (put in new ones where they were cracked), renovated the door and all windows.

5000 euros for paint only is expensive, do you speak hungarian? We had a friend translating for us so we wouldnt get ripped off, foreign people always get a higher price! :) Our guy was into quality and not the cheapest one on the market...

Thanks Frida. Could you share the name of your contractor? Do you have before and after or just after pictures? I would love to see how your place turned out. I am looking at mostly cosmetic renovation right now, but down the road definitely would need new water-heating and kitchen/bathroom remodeling. I have Hungarian friends who can translate if needed.

My contractor not available any longer for apartment renovations, he only does big jobs now. We have not taken any pics after or before. I only have one from the real estate agent ad on my facebook … 5388_n.jpg

We had a really nice electrician here and re-wired the fuse box and put in an intercom, I can ask my boyfriend for the number if you need any stuff like that! He even speaks english and only does jobs with invoice (not common here!).

I see. Is this 'before' picture?
I am having another problem now, with my property manager who wants one month rent to be paid to him once a year plus 6% of that amount monthly. Could anyone recommend reliable English-speaking property  management company?

I'd appreciate it.

Try capitol real estate, there is Canadian Hungarian there (Oliver Kram, from memory), speaks fluent English.

I just bought I small house in Budakeszi and the peoples who worked there where very conscientious, they worked nicely, but I can't say a m2 price becuase they know to say  only if they see what they have to do. It is a good idea to go to shops to see how much cost the parket or the paint They came with me together to buy the things because I have no car. They told me they finish the work in 1 month and they did it :=)If they begin in one place the work they don't move from there only when they finished that. ( there are a lot of persons who start the work in more places and then never finish. )
Have a nice evening

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Did you ever find a contractor/painter? I am also from NY and we just bought an apartment in Budapest. We will be doing cosmetic changes this year as well (saving a bigger renovation for a year or two). I am very interested if you found a reliable painter.

Thank you,

If you are in NY and available to talk by phone, that would be great.

Hi Erzsébet !
By me just now are working good peoples and not to expensive. If you would like you can meet them You tell them what you would like and after they count and sent you the price on the internet
Have a nice evening

That seems like a lot of money to sand and paint walls and windows for that size flat.
I was quoted 4,956,473 forint VAT Extra for my 116m2 flat district2 by Mammoth Mall. This was for renovation of the flat, including new thermal windows and door. New hard wood floors, electrical, smooth all walls with mesh, plaster, paint. Remove kitchen wall and finish. Remove, expand and replace new bathroom wall almost doubling the size. Complete new heating system with all pipes and electrical wires hidden under floors and in walls. New tiles in kitchen and smaller bathroom.

You should shop around and get at least 3 quotes. I am a contractor myself and if I knew people only got one price I would charge double the amount too. Sounds awful but true.

Contractor: Attila Fried Address: 3rd Street Charles Saxon Home improvement 3630-253-3015 gave me that quote.


Please also note these "quotes" are not necessarily final, you might start getting price hikes and additions mid-renovation when the place looks the most devastated.

That is one of my worries. That is very common in Canada. We are going to start renovations soon at our Budapest flat. It is something we will need to deal with if it comes up.
I am a strong believer in paying a little extra for a good contractor and you should not run into too many problems or extras.
It is likely that I will make many changes as the renovation is in progress and that is where a contractor has the best opportunity to make money.
Will keep you posted.

karmank wrote:

I am a strong believer in paying a little extra for a good contractor

Amen to that. As I wrote at the link to my blog above:

There are two very important and fundamental relationships in a man's life that he should not take lightly nor rush into too quickly. He should look around with great care and diligence so as to ensure that the relationship and partner he chooses is a good match for his needs, wants and desires. These are a man's Wife and his General Contractor.

karmank - does Attila speak English or just Hungarian? Many thanks!

:D Do you know what Attila did to Rome? Is that the kind of renovation you desire? :)

Hi, can you give me contacts of those persons who can do the whole renovation?
and do you have pictures before/after?

What did you do in the end?
A typical paint job for such an apartment should cost you no more then 400.000 ft and also that is expensive.
i can help you get some workers if you still need help



If anyone could recommend a painter in Budapest (with some English), I'd really appreciate it!

i have a good guy and he speaks English
his name is Kornel - 06-20-362-7203

that's obviously TOO much.

They overcharge foreigners, that's why I suggest you find a Hungarian friend, who can call on your behalf without introducing you.
The price range will be other...


My husband is contractor also, but as i know that would be toooooooo much, and it is very hogh price... Just incase you need someone to see. Just PM me... Me also would start operating my own construction company soon..


I live in Budapest and I'm helping a friend who bought an apartment of 130 sqm and there are some renovations to do (wall and window repairs and painting, wood floor repairs...).
If anyone could recommend english speaker workers in Budapest for this kind of renovations?
It would be great to have an e-mail address of the company because my english is not so good and I would like to send some pictures of the apartment.

Thank you  :)


Hi leájou,

You can send the building plan or Pictures this email. [email protected] or call My husband András at 06304808405. He will be there in BP tomorrow, you can call and talk about it. He speak english too.

Léajou wrote:

If anyone could recommend english speaker workers in Budapest for this kind of renovations?

Did you check the directory here: … struction/

reseto7 - Consider having your husband add his business and contact information to the directory in the link I posted above.

Hi KLsallee,

Thanks for the response. I'll do it tonight coz I'm still on duty... And I can add mine as well. Thanks once again

I have bought a new apartment (well new to me) and only gotten a proper look at the state of the walls today. It seems that the furniture was hiding a massive amount of damage to the paint. The walls are all covered in cracks and a lot of them are very deep. I assume this means the walls need to be replastered as well as painted. Does anyone have any idea how much this would cost roughly? Also how long it would take? (I ask the time as I have to move out of my old apartment this week as the lease is up and I did not realise so much work needed to be done on the new place). The apartment is 92m2. I had hoped to be able to do the repainting myself but looking at the damage done a professional needs to take a look at it.

Ebb - Yes, a professional should look it over. But you can also do a little diagnosis yourself to see where you are in this issue.

First check the condition of the plaster. For example, if it is crumbly then the plaster needs to be replaced. Else if it seems still smooth and fairly solid then tap the walls with your knuckle. Especially around the cracks.

- If it sounds solid when you tap on the walls you may be able to just do a crack repair: sand paper the area, scrape out any loose debris in the larger crack with a tool, clean the surfaces, get some wall Spackle, fill in the cracks, let it dry, sand, then paint. The sanding job (lots of it) will mostly dictate how well the final surface looks after painting.

- If when you tap on the wall it sounds hollow, then the plaster is separated from the wall. It will eventually fall off (maybe next week, maybe not until the next decade). You can decide when you want to re-plaster. Plaster is not structural, so you can just decide how long you want the eyesore to exist until it is convenient for both you and your contractor (I have to schedule mine weeks if not months in advance -- unless he has a sudden day available and can come tomorrow (that is, it can be unpredictable when workers can fit in your project)). Re-plastering is dusty, especially during removal.

A complete wall re-plaster (not including the ceiling) will probably take 3 to 4 days (depending on how many layers of plaster they add -- 2 layers is common (base layer, then smooth layer) -- and it has to partially dry between layers). Worker costs vary. Somewhere within 7-10K HUF per day base rate per worker (I am assuming two workers at least will be needed), plus cost of material, transport (new plaster in and waste out), and other expense such as VAT.

Finally, if you want, you can also just hide the problem with wood paneling. It is not uncommon to see such paneling at waist or chest height in some interiors.

Hello everyone,

I see that my problem is not the only one!

I bought a house renovated in a city of artists and all contractors who came to me were an American with his bags of $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ and other mountain made ​​it clear that when that lon buy here must raque because there are only rich !

Just for plumbing I had to at least 10 quotes some more expensive than others with high rates in France . A friend advised me to make quotes and I was mad on me saying that prices in Hungary are not expensive , actually the prices are not expensive but it depends for whom ! Hungarian yes , abroad No!

It is killing the price it or break it , a plumber from the hand of a friend asked me 10000 for work he had done the same for home 700000 HUF and so on for all body trades . There was also one that made ​​all trades and a total renovation which actually costs 5/6 M asked me 20 M.

Or until I stumbled upon a mason who made ​​all trades , do not distinguish between foreign and Hungarian and when you look at its price it fell audience compared to other quotes you received !

Morality should really do a lot of quotes and can have the chance stumbled upon an honest craftsman or have the right address and not lose time!

The problem with Hungarian contractors are twofold. 1. Most of them are not professional builders, they just unemployed guys who are willing to do anything, so watch out for 'quality'. 2. The construction managers  are not professionals either , they are in any sort of business that comes their way today. They manage rental apartments and do some repairs but that does not give them the breadth of knowledge to do professional renovation, especially on a property that has been untouched since WWI.
I have had a few quotes made to me that were just stupid high. Needless to say they did not get work from me. My Hungarian friend told me that big part of the problem is that people have very short term objectives ,still, the left over of post-Soviet trauma. No one knows what tomorrow brings and so they try to maximize today's returns even if it means broken promises, disappointed customers etc.
If and when you find a company that has a long term plan to stay in construction business (mostly via referrals) only then you'll find a piece of mind.

MOHCTEP wrote:

The problem with Hungarian contractors are twofold. 1. Most of them are not professional builders, they just unemployed guys who are willing to do anything

Skilled laborers (plastering, masons, etc) in Hungary are required to have certificates showing they have training in their field. If you ask and they can not supply such certificates then simply walk away.

MOHCTEP wrote:

The construction managers  are not professionals either

Well, they actually, as weird as that seems, don't have to have any construction experience. Although they *should* be able to supply a list of past clients and work for you to check out before you even consider hiring them. The job of the general contract here is more to organize the work and supply the skilled laborers. If there is a control on the construction site, and a person doing mason work does not have the certificate to be a mason, the general contract is fined.

MOHCTEP wrote:

No one knows what tomorrow brings

The phrase I have heard used and accompanied with a shrug: "This work will outlive me".

That sounds expensive. We used these guys :

Was very pleased with them. Showed up on time and worked weekends to!

Kisalee thanks for the tip, I got a friend who has experience with this sort of thing in to look at it and it seems a lot of the apartment would need to be replastered. This is apparently a common issue with apartments in budapest, especially the older ones as who knows when they were last plastered so it seems I will have to live with the damage for now until I get the money together to fix the damage a room at a time. I was told wallpapering over it would be the cheapest method (I loathe the look of wallpaper but it may be a better fix for now) and last longer as it is debatable how long it would be until the fresh plaster started cracking again. I was informed that as the buildings move a lot due to small earthquakes, general settling of the building, the vibration from traffic and the underground etc etc there is no guarantee that the new plaster job would last 1 year or 100 years.

Hello Everyone,

I am new to the forum. (please read my profile)
Unfortunately it is not easy to find a trustworthy contractor/builder neither in Hungary nor abroad. There's a lot of contractors who's looking for easy money and try to take advantage of their customers, however there's a lot of highly skilled ones, as well. What I recommend if any of you looking forward for any kind of renovation, remodeling or building job do not rush. What I suggest every time to them is ask for 5 price calculation and throw away the cheapest and the most expensive straight away.
The remaining three should be similar.
always ask for a detailed quotation, including material, and job tasks separately, like:
Sanding:                        net price/sqm       VAT      Overall
Plastering in 3 layers:    net price/sqm       VAT      Overall
1st coat primer:             net price/sqm        VAT      Overall
1st coat paint:               net  price/sqm       VAT      Overall
2nd coat paint:               net price/sqm       VAT      Overall

If for any reason you want more/less job there's not gonna be an argument about the final price because of the detailed calculation.

Same for any kind of job, like drywalling, framing, 1st and 2nd fix carpentry, etc.
That is one of the most important part because if you compare the remaining three calculation first of all you can see if there's any difference between the material prices. (always ask for the used brand)
If some of them has low labour costs but higher material price from the same brand, then you caught a crook!

You should really be careful to choose the man who you do have to trust so compare the way they made the calculations, meet them in person and yeah, use your instinct, as well.

Yes you are wrong,i am a builder with 30yrs exp
example,you take your car in for a service,and the man says that will cost 50pounds,do you think wow that will take him two mins,thats expensive,no uou pay him for his experience,have a think about that the next time you get a price from a builder,his experience,not the fact that everyone else isn,t earning much in that country !