Remodeling a kitchen is a big job if you want it done right. And the cost of a top-drawer kitchen renovation may shock when you first see a quote! But getting your kitchen completely revamped involves a lot of materials and labor, and when it comes to this most-used room in your home, you get what you pay for. Let’s explore what’s involved in a kitchen renovation.
Labor will be roughly 20% of your renovation costs. Make sure that you spend this money wisely to get the right people for the job! Then you need to choose the best possible materials that your budget can accommodate.
You may decide to skip this step in the renovation process, but don’t be too quick to do so. A trained designer has the experience to know what will work in your space, and, more importantly, what won’t. The upfront cost of paying a professional to plot out your new kitchen can pay for itself as the renovation continues.
Nothing dates a kitchen faster than old cabinets. And you’ve got lots of options when it comes to replacing them. Yes, you can buy stock cabinets at the big-box store, and certainly many people go this route. However, if you want or need something that’s a little different, you may find it better to have cabinets custom-made for your space. That way, you’ve got a much wider selection of sizes, styles and finishes available to you. And as a bonus, you won’t see your exact cabinets when you walk into everyone else’s house!
Look for furniture-grade plywood for the cabinet boxes, and preferably solid hardwood doors and drawer fronts. That way you’re guaranteed that your new cabinets will be strong and stay looking good for many years. Expect to spend 30% of your budget on cabinets.
Electrical work is another area where pros make sense. You’re going to have some complicated wiring in a kitchen, including GFCI outlets and dedicated circuits for appliances such as the dishwasher and stove.
And what about those new appliances? You have so many choices! Let alone choosing between gas and electric for your stove, you have to consider the space available for your refrigerator and where to put the microwave. Do you want it as part of the range hood above your cooking surface, or installed separately, perhaps near a snack zone? You can spend more than $10,000 on a custom range like an Aga, or settle for a standard 30-inch electric stove. Again, it’s about what your budget can bear and where your personal priorities lie. This alone can count for up to 20% of your total budget.
Every kitchen needs plumbing, and it’s best to leave this job to the pros. There’s nothing more irritating than completing a job and then finding your new floors or cabinets damaged by a persistent leak. Especially if you’re moving existing fixtures like sinks and dishwashers, or installing a water line to your icemaker for the first time, hiring a professional plumber can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
You might feel up to installing your own backsplash, but once you factor in the cost of equipment as well as the materials, you might be farther ahead to get a professional in. Most countertop surfaces need to be fabricated and installed by professionals. Unless you’re going for a basic Formica over chipboard counter, the weight and size of granite, solid-surface or marble countertops require professional cutters and installers. Expect the backsplash and countertop to account for around 10% of your budget.
And how do you make sure that all of these pros are doing their job up to standards and on time? The key member of your renovation team is the general contractor. Find someone who has great references from previous clients, and let them oversee the whole process.
For $12,000- $20,000, you can get a facelift rather than a full renovation. You might replace or paint cabinet doors, change out your handles, and install new countertops and flooring without going for the most expensive options- possibly a solid surface countertop rather than granite, for instance. Maybe you can swap out some old appliances, but maintain the existing layout rather than ripping everything out.
Many homeowners will opt for a renovation from $29,000-$64,000. Within that range, depending on the size of your kitchen, you could replace cabinets, countertops, flooring and appliances, as well as updating lighting. You could add an island at the same time that you replace cabinets, but still maintain the basic layout.
Or maybe you want the deluxe kitchen of your dreams! You can easily spend more than $100,000 to totally redo your existing kitchen. Maybe you need to build out to extend the size, or just rip out everything and start from scratch with a whole new floorplan. You can get custom cabinets, high-end countertops, and hand-made tiles for your backsplash. Your new refrigerator might be a big industrial-size model, or you might opt for several smaller components spread out around your kitchen, such as refrigerated drawers in the island to make snack preparation more convenient.
In the end, you have to decide how much you can afford, and what you want to do with that money. If looks are the most important factor, focus your spending on the cabinets and countertops. But maybe you’re a passionate amateur cook and the quality of your stove is paramount- make compromises elsewhere in the kitchen.
Work with your professional partners, especially your designer and general contractor, to figure out how you can get the most for your money without compromising quality or safety. Your kitchen is not just an investment in the value of your home, but a major factor in the enjoyment you get out of it- it’s worth spending some money to get that right.
Jeff Ebersole established Ebersole Remodeling in 2013.