1. Do Your Homework. Before you hit the stores, surf the Web. Magazines, retail stores,and the Internet offer a wealth of information, so get a handle on your renovation by comparing features and prices. Check product reviews on numerous sites, including Consumer Reports. A research-fueld plan also limits the chances that unexpected costs will blow your budget.
2. Think About How You Cook. For example, if you rarely cook and live on take-out and frozen pizza, a top-of-the-line range is probably not necessary. Consider what groceries you always have on hand, and make sure the refrigerator will accommdate months of frozen dinners, has adjustable shelves, or a water and ice dispenser.
3. Don't Let Resale Potential Determine Your Purchases. By updating your kitchen or bath you will likely recoup some of your investment when you sell your home. You won't, however, increase that potential by trying to guess which dishwasher your home's future owner will prefer. Instead, you'll end up choosing so generically that your kitchen or bath won't feel like your own. Or, you'll waste money on fancy equipment and features you don't need.
4. Don't Be Afraid to Mix and Match. There is no rule that says all appliances or fixtures need to be from the same manufacturer. With similar finishes, mix and match appliances to get the best combination of features in your kitchen to suit your cooking and food storage needs.
5. Recognize What Determines Price Differences. For appliances the main differences come in styling and the number of features. And, of course, quality accounts for price differences. Before you shop, make a list of features you want and those that are must-haves, plus which ones you're willing to pay more to have.
6. Identify the Must-Have Features. When you're shopping, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of all the latest and greatest technology and feature. When each upgrade seems to cost so little more than the previous one, you may not realize how quickly they add up. It's wise to make an exploratory shopping trip to check out features, on models in your price range, then go home and do some research.
7. Be Ready to Negotiate. Always try to negotiate. Go into a purchase with the top dollar you're willing to pay in mind, plus your ideal price. You won't know if you don't ask, and the worst thing that will happen is the sales person will say no. Remember, if you're buying more than one appliance, you have more power and be sure to remind the salesperson of this.
8. Count on Additional Costs. Installation by a professional, plus new hoses, tubes, or bases can significantly add to the total cost of new appliances. For example, installation for a new washing machine, plus new plumbing tubes can add $200 or more on top of the price of the appliance.
9. Think About How Each Selection Affects the Next, and Measure Twice. You may want, and could put to good use, a larger oven, for example. But if its size requires cabinetry and countertop reconfigurations, you'll be launching into a bigger and more expensive project. Also, measure your space for the appliance two or three times. Once an appliance is ordered, they can be hard to return. Avoid an unpleasant surprise on delivery day.
10. Avoid Overbuying. It may seem as though buying the most deluxe model or style will help you avoid having to replace it as your needs change, but you may regret your purchases before then. A refrigerator with a large freezer, for example, costs more initially than a standard size, and it's more expensive to operate. Plus, it needs to be at least half filled to work properly.
11. Look for Package Deals. You may qualify for a builder's or remodeler's discount if you purchase several appliances from the same supplier. It doesn't hurt to simpply ask: How can I cut my total bill? Also, keep an eye out for holiday sales and sign up for email lists to save the most.
12. Check with a Professional. Whether a few hours of consultation or overseeing an entire kitchen remodeling project, a designer can help you match your preferences with the design of your kitchen or bath. You'll save yourself some headaches and heartaches by finding out up front, for example, that a commercial-style range needs to be placed along an outside wall for ease in venting or that the washer and dryer pair you like isn't stackable.