Kitchen remodels are said to be the best return on investment for homeowners, with a quality remodel recouping 57% – 78% of the cost by increasing the value of the home. But beware, these projects are no walk in the park! If you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen, you’ll want to consider how much money you can set aside for the project and what elements you can expect to spend on while you work your way toward the finish line. The scale of your remodel is entirely up to you, but whether you choose to keep it simple for $15,000 or go all-out with high-end finishes for $40,000, there are a lot of things to consider before you get out the sledgehammer.
Your kitchen is a hive of daily activity and if you’re like most homeowners, you spend a lot of your time in that space; cooking, eating, entertaining, packing lunches, socializing, etc. In the business of your everyday life, it can be easy to miss the signs of an aging kitchen, and a bright and airy refresh, can go a long way in increasing the value of your home and improving your daily life.
You may be wondering what the difference is between a renovation and a remodel. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they technically have different meanings so it’s important to understand what both mean.
A renovation is a project that returns a space to a new state; this usually entails restoring a space by cleaning up finishes, taking care of repairs, and sometimes replacing basic fixtures that have stopped functioning well.
A remodel is a larger project that often includes replacing flooring, walls, and ceilings, and can involve moving the plumbing and electrical connections in a room. While it isn’t necessary to memorize the dictionary definition of each term, it’s necessary to determine how your contractor defines each one so you can ensure that you’re on the same page when reviewing your project.
Factors In Calculating Kitchen Remodel Cost
There are a lot of factors to consider when calculating the cost of your kitchen remodel project. While your location (city and province) will have an impact on the total cost, it helps to know that the average kitchen remodel falls between $13,000 – $40,000.
On average, you’ll spend about 15% – 20% of your budget on labour and installation costs. Do keep in mind that these costs are negotiable and whether you encounter them may depend on your personal skill set and if you’re able to tackle any aspects of the job on your own without the need for hired help.
It’s safe to assume you should allot about 10% of your kitchen remodel budget for countertops. The final cost in this category will depend entirely on your choice of material being that some, like laminate, can cost significantly less per square foot than choosing a higher-end option like granite. The amount of countertop space you have to cover will also impact the overall cost so it’s important to calculate how many square feet of material you’ll need in advance so you can find the best suited options within your budget when shopping.
The appliances are the heart of the kitchen. If your current appliances are relatively new and in good shape, you may be able to avoid spending in this area, or spending only on the appliances that need replacing or upgrading. Typically, when buying appliances, the more you buy at once, the better your savings, so keep that in mind if you’re shopping around. You have a choice of many different styles and materials when it comes to kitchen appliances, and the ones you select will determine your overall cost. Your personal style and cooking priorities will likely determine which route you go when it comes to appliance needs. In most cases, this category accounts for about 14% of your overall budget, but that number can increase greatly depending on the level of luxury you’re aiming for in your space.
Doors And Windows
Depending on the configuration/layout of the kitchen, this cost can vary. In general, it’s likely you’ll spend about 4% of your budget on doors and windows, but keep in mind that the layout will determine the cost. If your kitchen opens out onto a deck, you’ll need to invest in new patio doors, which will add a lot more to the budget than if you’re working with an open floor plan kitchen with very few windows, if any.
When it comes to flooring, the cost can fluctuate in the same way as the countertops, being that there are so many different materials to choose from and every kitchen has a different layout and size. On average, you’ll spend about 7% of your budget on flooring. If you’re looking to save some money, you can opt for modernized versions of materials like vinyl tile, sheet vinyl, linoleum or laminate that help you cut back on cost but not on durability or style. Choosing a ceramic tile or wood is the next step up budget wise, with the most expensive choice being natural stone. Before choosing a flooring material, it’s important to consider how the kitchen is used, what level of durability is required and how your design preferences play into those options.
Walls And Ceilings
If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to add a fresh coat of paint to the walls and ceiling and call it a day. If you’re looking to do more, you may want to consider incorporating new materials like fire- and moisture-resistant drywall for safety, or paneling to add a new level of sophistication. Either way, plan to spend about 5% of your budget on walls and ceilings.
It’s advised to set aside about 5% of your remodel budget for lighting. While most homeowners tend to overlook the cost of lighting upgrades, they also overlook the value. How a space is lit sets the tone and ambiance. In a kitchen, task lighting can also be an important factor, so be sure to plan the layout before choosing where fixtures will go. This way you can map out eating and prep areas that need specific types of lighting factored into your design.
An average of 29% (the largest part of the kitchen remodel) tends to go toward cabinetry and hardware. As the most visible and substantial feature in any kitchen, the cabinets often determine the overall style and feel of the space, while also guiding the level of detail required in the rest of the kitchen. If you’re on a budget, you can opt for standard home improvement store options. If you’re looking for cabinetry that requires custom sizes/fits or you just need more cabinetry than the average kitchen, it’s safe to say the percentage of your investment in this category could increase substantially. Make sure you don’t overlook the cost of cabinet hardware as well, since the cost for new handles/knobs can often be a shocking revelation, especially when you have an excessive amount of cabinets to outfit. The hardware on your cabinetry will take most of the brunt of everyday use in your kitchen so make sure you choose wisely for long term durability and wear.
If you aren’t making any big changes with the kitchen layout, it’s likely that your costs for plumbing will be minimal since the water and gas lines can remain in the same place. If you plan to move the sink, shift the stove to a new spot and go with a gas option, you’re looking at a more significant cost in this category. If all you’re planning to do is replace your faucet and plumbing (without requiring any movement of locations) you will spend an average of 4% of your budget here. Keep in mind that if rerouting of the plumbing is required, this percentage could be a lot higher, so be sure to speak with your contractor in advance to learn more about the work and budget required if this aspect is necessary for your kitchen remodel.
How To Save Money During A Kitchen Remodel
There are a lot of ways you can save money when approaching a kitchen remodel, as long as you plan things out in advance and do your homework. Here are some simple ways to make your budget go further without compromising your personal style:
– If you can, keep the kitchen layout the same to avoid paying more to move plumbing, electrical and gas lines.
– Opt for stock cabinetry instead of something custom, unless you have a unique space that requires a custom-fit piece.
– Inquire about refacing the cabinets instead of ripping them all out and replacing them. If you’re happy with the layout and storage space as it is, refreshing the front may be all you need to do in order to make a big impact in your space.
– If you have the skills necessary to complete any of the labour on your own, you can negotiate with your contractor to determine your savings (in money and time) in advance.
– Take the time to shop around for fixtures, hardware and materials and don’t be afraid to look in places like salvage shops, thrift stores, estate sales, etc. to find what you need at a more affordable price.
– Plan in advance for any worst-case scenarios with your contractor so you know what to expect if a specific portion of the project sees you running into any issues. This way you can factor these unknowns into your budget and be prepared should anything arise.
Questions For Contractors During A Kitchen Remodel
Hiring a contractor you can trust will make undertaking a kitchen remodel a lot more manageable and lot less stressful. You’ll be spending a lot of time with this person so it’s important that you ask around with family/friends to see who comes recommended and why. Before you make the decision to hire a contractor, there are some important questions you should ask:
1. Are you licensed and insured?
2. Will I have any say in hiring subcontractors?
3. Does the contract include material and permit costs or are those separate?
4. What amount am I required to provide as a down payment? Is this negotiable? What is the structure for payment after the deposit is provided?
5. How long do you anticipate the project will take? Are there any factors that could change this timeline?
6. Am I able to continue living in the house during this project or will I need to make arrangements to stay elsewhere?
7. Do you have any photos of previous work you’ve done on kitchens in this neighbourhood/city?
8. Can you provide contact information for any nearby references?
9. Do you foresee any challenges with the project as I’ve outlined it? If so, how will they be handled?
10. Do you only work with specific suppliers or brands when it comes to materials and appliances or am I able to make my own choices?
Kitchen remodels can be very exciting projects, but they can also be stressful if they aren’t planned or executed properly. Avoid any unpleasant experiences by ensuring you and your contractor are on the same page and prepared to tackle all the items on your must-have list. Budget thoughtfully and be mindful of whom you bring in to work on the project, and you’ll wind up with a refreshed and revitalized kitchen that will not only add value to your life in the present, but also value to your home should you choose to sell in the future.