How Much Does a Kitchen Remodel Cost? A Guide To Budgeting for a Kitchen Remodel

Photo: depositphotos.com Typical Range: $13,333 to $37,681 National Average: $25,499 In many homes, the kitchen

Photo: depositphotos.com

  • Typical Range: $13,333 to $37,681
  • National Average: $25,499

In many homes, the kitchen is a hive of daily activity: Many homeowners and families spend a good chunk of their day there, cooking, eating, chatting, packing lunches, and so on. Out of necessity, kitchens also have long-wearing fixtures and finishes, so in the busyness of everyday life, it’s easy not to notice that a kitchen is slowly aging—until something cracks, breaks, or is suddenly so dingy that kitchen remodeling is necessary. A bright, fresh kitchen can make time spent in your home feel better, even if it’s a simple refresh. But how much does a kitchen remodel cost? Kitchen remodels are large projects and can have significant budgets, with a typical range of $13,333 to $37,681, so it’s important to really think through the possibilities before making a plan, purchasing materials, and hiring a contractor. These steps can help you decide what scale of kitchen remodel you need and determine a budget that is reasonable to get the kitchen you want while maximizing your return on investment.

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What’s the Difference Between a Kitchen Remodel and a Kitchen Renovation?

Difference Between a Kitchen Remodel and a Kitchen Renovation

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When researching kitchen remodeling or kitchen renovation costs, homeowners will run across several terms whose meanings seem the same, similar—or downright confusing. If you’re planning to work with a contractor, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re asking for by clarifying the lingo of the kitchen project.

Remodel vs. Renovation

So what is the difference? This is a tricky question. The two terms are often used interchangeably by salespeople and contractors. Technically, a renovation is a project that returns a space to a new state: A renovation is a project that restores a space to look like new, 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 it can involve moving the plumbing and electrical connections in a room. However, the dictionary definition doesn’t matter as much as the definition used by contractors a homeowner may interview prior to hiring. Rather than assuming that you and the contractor are on the same page, it’s best to clarify exactly what you mean by “renovation” or “remodel” and check that the contractor has the same idea. Laying everything out on the table right at the beginning prevents confusion (and potentially unexpected costs) later in the project.

Expanding

Expansion goes a step beyond renovation or remodeling. This type of project includes reframing a space, removing walls, and increasing the overall footprint of a kitchen. Often, an expansion involves combining a disused formal dining space with a smaller kitchen to create a more expansive cooking, eating, and gathering space that is more suited to the family’s lifestyle, or incorporating a kitchen into a great room for a more open plan. Expanding a space comes with a higher price tag because of all of the plumbing, electrical, and framing work that is involved.

Factors in Calculating Kitchen Remodel Cost

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Factors in Calculating Kitchen Remodel Cost

Kitchen remodels cost between $75 and $250 per square foot, on average. This seems like a wide spread, and it is: The range of prices on different qualities of materials is significant. This range is a powerful tool as you budget. If you know what your overall maximum budget is and allow a percentage to cover unexpected surprises, you can tailor the choices you make as you select materials for each of the following factors to fit that budget. Dreaming of a granite countertop? Chances are you can have one—but it may mean choosing lower-grade cabinetry or shopping for reduced-price lighting.

Installation and Labor

Installation and labor costs for a kitchen remodel average out to between $3,500 and $6,000, accounting for 15 to 20 percent of the total project budget. This is a negotiable cost, depending on what work a homeowner may be able to complete themselves and whether the contractor is open to reducing the fee in exchange for the help.

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Doors and Windows

Doors and windows are another variable cost factor, depending on the configuration of the kitchen. In general, they can account for about 4 percent of the budget, or about $920 on average. In a kitchen that opens to a deck, this will be a larger portion of the budget, while in an open-plan kitchen with no windows or just a small one, it may be less.

Countertops

Approximately 10 percent of a kitchen remodel budget can be planned to go toward the countertops. The national average places that dollar figure around $2,300, but the cost will depend on the homeowner’s choices of material (natural stone, for example, will be significantly more expensive per square foot than laminate) and on the total square footage of countertop in the kitchen layout. Custom edge routing, honing of natural stone, and the shape and number of cuts will also affect the price of the countertop. As it is one of the most eye-catching and often-used features in a kitchen, the countertop is an area where homeowners often choose to splurge on higher-end material, but if there are other priorities in the remodel, a lower-grade choice can help save money.

Flooring

As with countertops, there are myriad material options in kitchen flooring. Sheet vinyl and vinyl tile, linoleum, and laminate flooring are, in general, the least expensive options, and modern versions of these materials are quite durable and attractive. Ceramic tile and wood, followed by natural stone, are more expensive, and alternative flooring options such as cork and concrete provide additional choices. The selection of flooring will depend on both design preferences, durability requirements, and how the homeowner uses the kitchen. For example, vinyl floors are an easy-care option and resilient option for families who often let children empty glasses out of a dishwasher; using concrete or ceramic floors is more likely to result in broken dishes. Natural wood is beautiful and durable, but it won’t wear well for homeowners with dogs. Flooring is expected to make up about 7 percent of the total budget, or approximately $1,610.

Lighting

Lighting is a factor that homeowners often underestimate when building a plan and budget. Kitchens have multiple lighting requirements, and while a pretty fixture in the ceiling and a pendant over the sink are helpful for adding ambient lighting, the real workhorses of the kitchen lighting scheme are the task lights: lighting focused on the spot where the cook stands to chop vegetables, over the stove, or illuminating the eating area. It’s advised to have the lighting plan fill about 5 percent of the planned budget, or approximately $1,150.

Walls and Ceiling

Refreshing the existing walls and ceiling with paint or wallpaper is an option in any kitchen remodel, but sometimes new materials provide extra benefits that make them worth replacing. New fire- and moisture-resistant drywall can add safety features, while paneling or tongue-in-groove ceilings can change the feel of a kitchen. About 5 percent of the budget will usually go to the walls and ceiling, which translates into an average of $1,150.

Faucets and Plumbing

If the layout of the kitchen remains largely the same, plumbing costs will be minimal, as the water and gas lines can remain in place. Changing up the look will increase the material and labor costs for plumbing to the higher end of the range. New faucets are a way to brighten and change the tone of the kitchen for relatively minimal cost. About 4 percent of the budget should be dedicated to faucets and plumbing, or about $920, unless major pipe rerouting is involved, in which case this percentage will be significantly higher.

Cabinetry and Hardware

The largest portion of the kitchen remodel budget usually goes to cabinetry and hardware. As the most visible and substantial feature of the kitchen design, cabinetry will often determine the style, color palette, and level of detail the rest of the kitchen will require. Therefore, 29 percent of the budget, an average of $6,670, will typically go to the cabinets and hardware. However, homeowners who choose custom cabinetry or those who plan for more cabinetry than the average amount will see that budget go up; salvage or home improvement store stock cabinets can cost much less. Cabinet hardware is often a shocking expense for remodelers who haven’t purchased it before. Many remodelers are surprised by how many knobs and handles are necessary and by how much such a small piece of a large project can cost. Remember that the hardware is what takes the brunt of everyday use, and price out the cost of quality hardware you like before setting a final budget: It’s not an incidental cost.

Appliances

At the heart of the kitchen are the appliances: refrigerator, oven and cooktop or range, dishwasher, and microwave, and potentially a ventilation hood. Often, remodelers look to reuse some existing appliances, which is a great option if the appliances are reasonably new. If, however, some need replacement, it’s worth noting that the best appliance deals usually come as a package: The more appliances purchased together, the greater the overall savings. This approach may mean a higher up-front cost, but in the long run, it will offer significant savings. Appliances are available in a wide range of finishes (stainless steel, black stainless steel, black, white, and others) and an even wider spectrum of quality. A low-budget electric range may not offer as many heat settings as a professional-grade six-burner gas stove, but both will get the job done, so the homeowner’s personal style and priorities will dictate whether the appliances are a place to splurge or save. In most cases, the appliances comprise about 14 percent of the total budget, or around $3,220, but again, that number can be skewed by luxury options.

Kitchen Size

The square footage of the kitchen affects all of the numbers in the budget. Larger spaces require more drywall, more flooring, more paint, and more cabinets. A small kitchen that is less than 70 square feet will cost, on average, between $5,000 and $20,000, while a larger kitchen measuring in at 200 square feet or more can easily shoot upward of $60,000, because a space that large is likely in a larger home furnished with more luxurious finishes, so it’s likely the design choices will be made to match the existing level of quality.

Geographical Location

There can be significant differences in the cost of materials and labor depending on where you live. The West Coast, and California in particular, has the distinction of having some of the highest average costs to remodel a kitchen. Major cities also tend to skew higher in cost, while smaller cities have a lower overall cost. If you live in an area where costs are higher across the board, it’s especially important to get more than one estimate for your job and negotiate labor costs as much as possible while respecting the contractor’s skills.

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Additional Costs and Considerations

Once you’ve made the big decisions about the fun parts of a kitchen remodel—the parts you can see—you’ll still need to factor in the unseen network of pipes and wires that make the kitchen run, along with the cost of the services of someone to help plan that network efficiently.

Design Fees

If you can imagine the kitchen you’re dreaming of perfectly in your mind and are able to translate it onto paper, that’s great, and it will save a fair amount of time and money. However, it’s still a good idea to hire a professional kitchen designer to help draw up a formal plan, confirm your measurements, and help identify the small but critical items you may have missed. The average kitchen designer will make up about 4 percent of your budget. This can be even less if you use the services of a certified in-house designer at a home improvement store, whose services may be folded into the cost of the cabinets and appliances or an installation fee and will stay comfortably in the range of $100 to $800. This cost can skyrocket if you hire a certified professional to work on-site, where the expense can jump to $3,500 to $18,500; this fee should include 3-D renderings of the project, assistance with and sampling of material and color selections, project coordination with contractors and suppliers, and ongoing support throughout the entire remodel.

Plumbing

Basic fixture installation costs should not be a huge component of the budget; a simple faucet installation averages from $150 to $300, and a sink installation can cost between $200 and $500. A general contractor can perform these installations, or they may even be tasks a homeowner with basic plumbing know-how can tackle to save a bit of money. If, however, the remodel includes a change in the floor plan or moving the plumbing lines, the cost is likely to climb—installing new pipes will require a plumber (about $1,100) and most likely a permit (up to $800), elevating costs further.

Electrical

Electricians charge approximately $50 to $100 an hour for labor, and if the electrical work is handled as part of the demolition process of the existing kitchen, it’s not a huge job. If the remodel is already well underway when the homeowner realizes that the electrical service needs to be upgraded to accommodate the new, larger refrigerator, or that wires need to be moved, outlets need to be added or upgraded, and permits need to be acquired, the costs to tear out finished work to replace wiring and added expense of rush jobs can be unexpectedly significant. Ideally, hire an electrician at the beginning of the process to advise and coordinate with the contractor from the start.

Gas Lines

Moving gas lines is not a small expense, running $200 to $800 on average. Permits, inspections, and qualified plumbers will add to the overall cost. If the location of the oven or cooktop is only shifting a bit, the flexible tubing on a gas line may mean you don’t need to actually move the supply line. If the appliances are being fully relocated, plan ahead to move the lines prior to installing flooring or drywall.

Do I Need a Kitchen Remodel

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Kitchen Remodel Cost: Do I Need a Kitchen Remodel?

Some of these numbers are big—some kitchen remodels may require financing or saving before taking the plunge. You may be wondering whether it’s worth it to remodel the kitchen at all. Beyond the appeal of designing the kitchen you’ve always wanted and making necessary repairs, there are other significant and long-term benefits to remodeling the kitchen.

Increased Home Value

Kitchen remodels provide one of the best returns on investment of any home improvement project. Experts estimate that a quality remodel can recoup between 57 and 78 percent of the project cost by increasing the value of the home. Unless the purpose of the remodel is to put the house on the market immediately (in which case it’s key to look at what kind of upgrades would best suit that purpose), it’s sensible to choose products and materials that you’re comfortable living with and be confident that your investment will pay off if you do eventually decide to sell. The best way to maximize the increase in home value is to work with a contractor or design professional who can guide your choices to maximize their impact.

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Increased Functionality

Many older kitchens were designed with one cook in mind, while in many households today there may be several people congregating in the kitchen at once. Adding work spaces, dedicated storage for appliances, and creative spaces for appliances that are used daily can reduce the time spent preparing and cleaning up meals and allow for better use of shared space.

Modernized Appearance

If your kitchen was very trendy when it was last decorated, it probably feels like it has a date stamp on it, and if it’s not a popular trend, you might be anxious to update. A remodel is an opportunity to bring the kitchen into a more contemporary style and to choose to work with today’s trends or choose a timeless, classic look that will age well.

Improved Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Older appliances use far more water, gas, and electricity than they really need. Energy-efficient models will lower utility bills and are kinder to the planet, as are many of the sustainable options for flooring, countertops, and cabinetry.

Improved Safety

Adding ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets to a kitchen reduces the likelihood of electrical shocks in a place where water and electricity are often side by side. Many older kitchens are not up to current codes, so updating and acquiring the necessary permits to modernize the safety of the kitchen will both increase the safety of your home and increase the home’s value. A kitchen remodel also offers an opportunity to reconfigure the storage to be more efficient, reducing the number of sharp items on the counter and providing good lighting for tasks involving knives and hot pans.

Kitchen Remodel Cost : DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

If you’re a handy homeowner and have the know-how to remodel the kitchen yourself (or act as your own general contractor), a basic kitchen remodel that doesn’t include structural modifications or permitting can be a DIY job. This can save money on labor or leave more space in the budget to put toward higher-quality materials. The personal satisfaction of working and eating every day in a kitchen that you crafted with your own hands is a great feeling, and doing the work yourself allows for timeline flexibility. Having the opportunity to work slowly and make some decisions as you go or being able to pause entirely if there’s uncertainty about the plan before going forward is a luxury that isn’t available when teams of subcontractors are lined up to get the job done ASAP.

That said, a larger job that requires structural changes or significant shift in the location of plumbing or electrical feed is trickier to manage, even for a homeowner skilled at DIY. A basic kitchen remodel takes your time, which has a cost, and your energy, which is also valuable. The possibility that you’ll need to bring in a contractor mid-job to handle a challenge that your DIY skills can’t address can result in completed work being torn out or budgets soaring past their stop point. And there’s always the possibility that you’ll irreparably damage your home—or yourself. Working with a carefully chosen contractor buys you access to professional resources and suppliers (which can save both hassle and money), assures you of polished results, and results in a job completed more quickly. Of course there’s the possibility of conflicts with your contractor, but asking the right questions and checking references before hiring should alleviate the likelihood of that happening.

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How to Save Money on Kitchen Remodel Costs

Many of the money-saving opportunities are in the selections you’ll make during planning—deciding on economy-, middle-, or luxury-grade materials, choosing higher- or lower-end appliances, and negotiating with contractors or suppliers. There are some other ways to economize and get the most out of your budget.

  • If feasible, maintain the footprint of the existing kitchen as much as possible, which will save on building costs and plumbing and electrical work.
  • If you have the skills to perform some of the labor yourself, such as demolition, basic plumbing, cabinet installation, or painting, negotiate with the contractor to see if the labor costs can be reduced in exchange for your work.
  • Choose stock cabinets instead of custom. Unless you have an odd space to fill, custom will almost always be more expensive.
  • Ask about refacing the cabinets instead of replacing them. If you’re happy with the layout of the cabinets and want to upgrade the appearance, this can be a significant cost savings.
  • Shop, shop, and shop some more: Hunt down lower costs on everything from flooring to light fixtures and cabinet pulls by looking in specialty shops, salvage stores, online sale sites, and local resale shops.
  • Choose a budget and stick to it. If a particular component is important enough to spend more than you anticipated on it, decide where else you can sacrifice to stay within the budget.
  • Plan for contingencies. If you’re opening up the walls, there’s always a potential that you’ll find something that unexpectedly needs repair or replacement. Discuss those possibilities with your contractor and include them in the budget—as much as $3,000 to $5,000.

Questions to Ask About Kitchen Remodel Cost

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Questions to Ask Potential Contractors About Kitchen Remodel Cost

A general contractor that you trust can be an invaluable partner in the remodeling process, helping you keep everything in perspective and keeping much of the stress off your plate. To choose the right contractor, ask friends, relatives, and neighbors for recommendations, ask the contractor for references, actually call the references, and hire the contractor whose style and manner you feel most comfortable with. Remember, this is someone who will be spending a lot of time in your home, so your comfort with the contractor is important. Before getting started, make sure you have answers to the following questions:

  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • Who hires the subcontractors? Will I have a say in those decisions?
  • Does the contract include material costs and permit costs, or are those itemized separately?
  • What is the down payment? Is it negotiable? What is the payment structure after the down payment?
  • What is the anticipated timeline for the project? What might change the timeline?
  • Will I be able to remain in the house for the duration of the project?
  • Do you have photographs of work you’ve done on a kitchen remodel near me?
  • Can you provide contact information for references nearby?
  • What challenges do you foresee in my project? How will those be handled?
  • Do you work with multiple suppliers and brands of appliances, cabinets, and flooring, or are the options limited to specific companies with which you’re affiliated?

FAQs

Kitchen remodels are exciting, but they can also be a little scary (so many decisions!) and overwhelming. Budgeting thoughtfully and deciding on your priorities, along with working with carefully chosen professionals, should make the process smoother. To help you get started as you plan your project, here are some questions that remodelers often ask as they’re just beginning the process.

Q. How much should I budget for kitchen remodel?

The first decision you’ll need to make before you create a budget is the degree of remodel you plan to do. A reasonable budget for a minor remodel using quality but economical materials will be between $10,000 and $15,000, but it may require you to do some of the work yourself. A midrange remodel, including higher-grade materials and more help from professionals, could be budgeted between $15,000 and $30,000, while a major remodel with high-end appliances, custom cabinetry, and luxury finishes can stretch beyond $30,000.

Q. How much does it cost to replace kitchen cabinets?

In an average kitchen remodel, replacing the cabinets costs between $2,000 and $8,000. The cabinets on their own can run between $5 and $1,500 per linear foot, plus installation. The cabinet grade you select and the linear footage of cabinets in the kitchen will affect the total cost.

Q. What is the most expensive part of kitchen remodel?

In general, the cabinets and their hardware are the most expensive component of a kitchen remodel. They account for approximately 29 percent of the overall budget. There are options to make this less expensive: Assembling a collection of stock cabinets and adding molding can be less expensive than custom or semi-custom work, and refacing the existing cabinets can vastly reduce the cost. To an extent, the most expensive element of a kitchen remodel is what you choose to prioritize; custom natural stone countertops can eclipse the cost of basic cabinetry if that’s where you’ve chosen to push the budget.

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