Reconstruction Cost Estimate (RCE)

A Reconstruction Cost Estimate (RCE) is a figure that approximates the cost of rebuilding your home in the case it gets completely destroyed.

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reconstruction cost estimate

A Reconstruction Cost Estimate (RCE) is a figure that insurance companies use to estimate the cost of rebuilding your home in the case it gets completely destroyed. 


What is a Reconstruction Cost Estimate (RCE)?

Before we get to RCE, we need to talk about your homeowners policy. The first component of your homeowners insurance coverage is Coverage A, or Dwelling Coverage. Dwelling coverage refers to the portion of your basic HO3 homeowners policy that covers your home’s physical structure.

This coverage protects the home you live in, plus any attached structures—an attached garage or deck, for example—if there’s physical damage from a wide variety of causes, aka open perils

When it comes to setting a Dwelling Coverage amount for your homeowners policy, you don’t want to choose the purchase price or current market value of your home. Your reconstruction costs should be the amount that it’d take to rebuild your home (as it was before it needed to be rebuilt – no upgrades!) That $ amount is your Reconstruction Cost Estimate, or RCE. 

The amount you choose for Dwelling Coverage, after all, is what your insurance company will be reimbursing you if you have to rebuild your home. By making sure your Dwelling Coverage amount is equal to your Reconstruction Cost Estimate, you won’t be left paying the difference out-of-pocket.

NOTE: For our purposes, the RCE should only take into account your house and any attached structures; you wouldn’t count the cost to repair other structures, such as a shed or pool cabin.

Isn’t the Reconstruction Cost Estimate the same as an appraisal?

Nope, the RCE is not the same as a home appraisal. A home appraisal calculates the current market value of your home and takes into consideration things like the condition of the home, property sales nearby, special features of the surrounding neighborhood, and other factors.

How is the RCE calculated?

When an insurance company calculates your home’s RCE, they look at a long list of features and data points to determine how much it would cost to rebuild your home. That list includes, but isn’t limited to, some of the following:

  • Building materials
  • Square footage
  • Year built 
  • Labor costs
  • Property fees
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Number of stories

Why is your RCE important?

Knowing your RCE will help you set the right Dwelling Coverage limits on your homeowners insurance, which will help you in the worst case scenario that you do need to rebuild your home from scratch. 

For example, let’s say your home has a RCE of $240,000 but you selected a limit of $200,000 in Coverage A on your homeowners insurance. If your home is destroyed after a covered peril like a windstorm or fire, you’d have to foot the remaining $40,000 bill yourself. To avoid that scenario, simply ensure that the Dwelling Coverage you choose is equal to or greater than your RCE.

Recently, reconstruction costs have been on the rise for a variety of reasons, so you might want to revisit the Coverage A on your policy. You can read more about this here


A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of the policies issued, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage may not be available in all states. Please note that statements about coverages, policy management, claims processes, Giveback, and customer support apply to policies underwritten by Lemonade Insurance Company or Metromile Insurance Company, a Lemonade company, sold by Lemonade Insurance Agency, LLC.  The statements do not apply to policies underwritten by other carriers.

Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.