Plan and Pay for Your New Kitchen

These tips will help you plan and pay for your new kitchen.
Budget Basics

The project budget for your kitchen remodeling can help you navigate the dozens of decisions you'll have to make. Read, ask questions, make phone calls, surf the Internet, gather product literature, bug friends who've remodeled -- do everything you can to get informed. The more you know, the better you'll be able to make wise choices during the planning stages.

Budget Vs. Home Value
Kitchen with Maple Laminate Cabinets
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Go price shopping early in
the planning stages.

First, limit spending to about 15 percent of your home's value. Most real estate agents say that sellers can recoup close to 90 percent of kitchen remodeling costs, but the project will be a good investment only if the spending scale makes sense relative to the house's total worth.

Big Expenses

Second, figure that the cost of goods (appliances, countertops, cabinets, flooring, and so on) will add up to one-half to two-thirds of the total. Prices for these items are fairly easy to determine, so plug those figures into the budget early on. Earmark the remaining money for labor, design, and contracting services, permit fees, and so on.

If listing all the details seems difficult, stand in your existing kitchen and write down everything that's installed there: light fixtures, windows, molding, and so on. This won't prevent omissions, but it will make them less likely. Factor the age of your home into the equation as well. Some changes may require modifications or structural upgrades to an older house.

Get Early Estimates

To get a quick bead on typical costs for kitchen remodeling, go to where the action is. Visit appliance stores and home centers. Pester the sales staff with questions. Contact local kitchen design centers, and ask to see samples of work they've done in your price range. Not only can you see what your remodeling dollars will buy, you can assess the quality and value of their services before you spend a dime. Respect the worth of their time as professionals and don't misrepresent your intentions or abuse their helpfulness, but keep in mind that it's their job to sell, not yours to buy. If they convince you their services are valuable, then sign up.

Help Is Out There

Third, if the sheer number of choices overwhelms you, spend a little up front to bring in a design professional. This goes double if you're considering structural changes. Even a modest one-time consulting fee can get you valuable information about your options. Better still, a pro will be more likely to mention details that a homeowner might forget amid the big picture. You'll budget for countertops, certainly, but what about a new sink, faucet, and disposal? Does the ceramic tile you chose for the floor require cement-board underlayment?

These costs might stay hidden while you prepare a rough estimate, but they'll surface with a vengeance when you tally your final expenses. The time to get a range of opinions and advice is before the demolition crew shows up.

Continued on page 2:  Planning Tips



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