Budgeting for a Kitchen Remodel
Find out what’s available in the market today by visiting showrooms, reading magazines, checking out trade shows and searching online resources. Dream up your wish list, then revise that into a “reality list” with price tags.
It’s a good idea to choose Plan A and Plan B options for appliances, countertops, tile–just about everything. If you keep a running list of alternatives, a designer can add or delete items to meet your budget. If you can stay flexible about the final choices, you’ll have maneuvering space if unexpected costs arise, such as replacing rotted lumber or non-code-compliant electrical wiring.
The more research you do before making decisions, the less likely you are to change your mind. And those last-minute change orders can really pump up the cost of your kitchen project if you aren’t careful.
Most times, unless there is an unforeseen structural, plumbing or electrical problem, material and finish changes are the biggest cause of cost overruns. And those costs are controlled mostly by the homeowner. Beware: Last-minute design changes or an incomplete design at the onset of the renovation guarantees cost overruns.
For example, cabinets that are estimated in a paint-grade maple and changed at the last minute to rustic cherry will add a huge cost to the budget. Same goes for deciding to include eight drawers in your island rather than two, or adding recessed puck lights under wall cabinets instead of a simple light strip.
Don’t wait until later to plan your backsplash. Tile is not just tile. The size, pattern and material all impact installation cost.
There is no substitute for good planning. Here are six reminders to help keep costs in check.
- Have a wish list & a must list.
- Have a Plan B.
- Research costs ahead of time.
- Avoid last-minute changes.
- Set limits and stick to them.
- Plan for overages.
Set limits. How much can you really spend on this kitchen? You can have a wish list, but the important thing is to be honest (with your contractor), and a project can be value engineered to fit your budget. Get an idea of where your money goes so you can plan appropriately.
Depending on the scale of your project, you can plan to spend between 6 and 10 percent of your home value for the best return-on-investment. If a house is worth $1 million and you put in a $50,000 kitchen, it probably isn’t good enough. On the other hand, if you drop $60,000 on a kitchen for a $300,000 home, you’re doing it for love–not the money you’ll get back when you sell.
Expect the unexpected. You never know what you’ll find during demolition. Homes constructed in the 1970s and earlier can contain lead or asbestos. Testing and removal can cost thousands. A home built 50 or more years ago could require electrical upgrades in the kitchen to support new appliances and lighting. Plan for a contingency of about 10 to 20 percent to cover hidden conditions, substitutions and other surprises. The unexpected will cost more than you think.