Breathing new life into an outdated or inefficient kitchen can be the smartest money a homeowner spends. Kitchen remodels deliver more bang for the buck than any other home project, offering 80-85 percent return on investment. When planning your kitchen redo, the first step is setting a budget.
Every remodeling project is unique, and costs vary depending on the homeowner's budget, tastes, and priorities (a minor redo can be $5,000, while an upscale overhaul can easily top $75,000). In general, however, materials account for 80 percent of the budget, while labor costs represent 20 percent. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), the largest expense in a kitchen remodel is cabinetry, which can account for about 30 percent. After labor, appliances are the next biggest expense, eating up about 15 percent of the budget. Countertops are about 10 percent, and flooring makes up 7 percent. The smallest expenses, at about 5 percent each, are lighting, plumbing fixtures, doors and windows, and walls and ceilings.
With products representing such a large percentage of the budget, a kitchen remodel allows homeowners to exert greater cost control than with perhaps any other remodeling project. When deciding where to scrimp and splurge, consider how you will use the kitchen. Is that built-in espresso machine or wine cooler really worth the price tag? Also, consider how long you will own the home. If you won't live with this kitchen forever, save your splurges for items popular among home buyers, such as stainless-steel appliances and granite countertops.
When budget is a top priority, it is wise to evaluate spending cuts based on where they will have the greatest impact on the bottom line. Choosing stock cabinetry rather than custom designs will likely make the biggest difference in your budget. For the greatest durability, choose cabinets with solid-wood doors, and then customize the basic boxes with paint or stain and trim and molding pieces. Even with these upgrades, stock cabinets can reduce an average budget by tens of thousands of dollars. Scrimping on countertops, on the other hand, may not be worth the trade-off. Stone countertops cost several times more than laminate yet, as a total percentage of the budget, the splurge is a relatively small increase in your total spending.
When getting estimates from kitchen remodeling contractors, require line-item descriptions of exactly how your money is being spent. This will help you determine the biggest expenses and where you can cut costs for the greatest impact.
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