Are you planning to remodel your kitchen, but not sure where to start? One of the most daunting parts of starting a kitchen remodel is setting a budget and sticking to it. Just what should you prioritize? In this article, we’ll review how to best plan for your remodel, set a budget, and find places to save.
Start by prioritizing what’s important to the remodel
First, you need to decide what kind of kitchen you want at the end of the project. If you’re trying to design your dream kitchen and every single feature it would have, then you’ll need to either compromise your vision or adjust your budget accordingly. In contrast, if you’re just looking for a kitchen remodel that adds value and functionality, start by prioritizing what adds the most value and curb appeal to your home and then work your way down from there.
New kitchen countertops and cabinets should be near the very top of your list. For many prospective buyers, counters and cabinets are the remodel. No matter what you do to the floors, floorplan, backsplash, or appliances, outdated countertops and worn cabinets are going to be a major problem. Even though this is typically the most expensive aspect of the remodel—about 39% of most people’s remodeling budget is spent on countertop and cabinet materials alone—it’s also the most important.
Potential layout changes are another typical crossroads for many homeowners. “Open kitchens” are incredibly popular right now, and there’s no question that removing interior walls can make your new kitchen more vibrant and add value. However, layout changes may either be cost-prohibitive or outright impossible, such as in cases where the interior wall has critical supports. Consult with a local remodeler in your area to get a feel for your options, but remember: an open kitchen, while ideal, is not the end-all, be-all of a successful kitchen remodel for many homes.
Select high-quality materials and hire the right people
Never try to slim down your remodeling budget by buying cheap, low-grade materials or hiring unqualified installers. This can go bad very quickly. Low-quality materials—especially countertops and cabinets—just do not last or stand up to the regular wear-and-tear homeowners put on them. Even if you’re planning on listing your home the day after the remodel is complete, poor craftsmanship or installation will be apparent to the buyer.
Similarly, hiring non-professionals to install counters, cabinets, or floors—or, worse, handle electrical and plumbing work—introduces incredible risk into the project while saving you relatively little money. Only hire certified and recommended contractors who have prior experience with kitchen remodeling projects. There’s no substitute for true expertise during installation.
Save by spreading out the timeline and tackling parts of the remodel yourself
Okay, so where do you save money? First, consider breaking your kitchen remodeling project into phases and tackling each in succession, saving and budgeting for each phase independently. For example, have new floors, counters, and cabinets installed first, then move onto adding backsplash and lighting, and finally replacing your old appliances. While this prolonged remodel may not be conducive to someone looking to flip a home fast, it’s a good way for homeowners to pace their spending on the remodel while still making forward momentum.
We also recommend dividing everything in the project into two distinct buckets. The first are tasks that require a professional: moving pipes, installing wires, adding the cabinets and countertops, and—depending on your familiarity with the work and access to equipment—tiling the floor. The second category contains the things you can do yourself: adding backsplash tile, moving in new appliances, installing lights, painting the kitchen walls, and more. This not only helps you save money, but can also help you better estimate what your project labor costs will be upfront.
As it turns out, there’s plenty of other ways to save on your kitchen project. Be sure to check out this informative infographic. It contains even more tips for cutting remodeling costs, as well as a breakdown of where the average remodeler spends their budget: