If you are like me, you are not a Handy Andy around the house. Although my wife and I have recently remodeled our kitchen, How to Remodel your Kitchen for Dummies is a little above my reading level.
When my wife said she wanted to remodel the kitchen, something in my brain clicked, and I realized that she had casually been dropping hints here and there about wanting a new kitchen. Our discussion went something like this:
“How much will all this cost?” I asked.
“I figured we can do it for under $10,000. It will look nice and add value to the house.” She smiled as she pulled out House Beautiful and Southern Living magazines. I knew I was in trouble. She pointed out the cabinetry, windows, countertop, sink and lighting fixtures on her wish list.
“Did you hit the Powerball or something?”
The cost of a kitchen
The average cost of a midrange kitchen remodel in the York region is $22,345 and $65,225 for a major kitchen remodel, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. They are worth the investment, though, because you will get about 70 percent of the cost back in added value to your home.
It may seem like a lot of money, but bear in mind that renovations involve replacing and updating a lot of items, including cabinets and hardware, lighting, sink and faucet, countertops, backsplash, table, window treatments, and possibly big-ticket items like the dishwasher, stove, oven and refrigerator. It can add up.
The best way to get a hold of those rising costs and bring the total down under $10,000 is to focus on your “must have” list instead of your “would like” list.
Our contractor showed us some samples and offered suggestions before sending us to talk with the pros to look at the various options and pick out what we wanted. After about 14 trips to Hanover, we had a general idea of what we wanted and what it would cost.
The pros at R.G. Miller, Home Depot, and Lowe’s walked us through the process and made the selection process easy (despite some anxiety). It was a lot easier than looking at samples in books and trying to visualize it all together.
The whole remodeling process takes about four to six weeks, and the installation cost is about one-third of the cost of the materials. The process doesn’t have to be painful. Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor his or her opinion.
Darryl Krom, the kitchen designer at R.G. Miller in Hanover, worked at Lowe’s for 23 years before moving to his current position.
“I’m here to help the customer get their ‘dream kitchen,’ so I ask them questions about their budget, the size of their kitchen, the colors they want and the style they want. If I’m lucky, they have measurements of their kitchen. If they don’t, I do a ‘what if” drawing on the computer. I offer them options of what they can do given their budget. I don’t try to sway them one way or another. My job is to educate them. The better informed they are, the happier they’ll be. Our best advertising is a satisfied customer. We can work with their contractor if they have one, and if they don’t, we can refer them to one.”
Cindy Wilson, a kitchen designer at Home Depot, had a background in interior design before becoming a kitchen designer.
“The kitchen is the heart of the home and I love helping customers design their dream kitchen,” she said. Wilson added that it would be helpful if homeowners had a photo of their existing kitchen when they came in so she can get an idea of the lighting and spacing. She walks clients through the process and creates a 3-D PowerPoint presentation to show them how their new kitchen will look.
George Young at Lowe’s suggested having measurements for walls, windows, cabinets, ceilings and obstacles like tables or an island before they head to the store so the kitchen designer can have a better idea of what the homeowner wants. He suggested checking the internet and home improvement magazines to get an idea of the different styles available. He noted that some customers break down the remodeling into smaller projects that can be done over a longer period rather than having everything done at once.
Based on their suggestions, and after talking with our contractor, we decided on the following upgrades:
- Antique original cabinets; add new hardware ($1,000)
- Ceiling light ($200)
- Recessed lighting over the stove and sink ($180)
- Stainless-steel sink $200 and stainless-steel faucet ($175)
- Granite countertop and matching island table ($3,000)
- Subway tile backsplash ($300)
- Paint ($60)
- Window blinds ($175)
The total job cost was just over $8,000 (labor and installation was $3,000). Our new kitchen had a lighter, airier, look, and we got a lot of compliments about the upgrade.
What We Learned
Besides having a new kitchen, my wife and I now have a better understanding of the remodeling process:
Have a budget and a plan for the project before you start — and stick to it. Prioritize your choices. It’s usually the add-ons that jack up the cost. Know how you’re going to finance the project, and add in a “fudge factor” as a cushion in case there are overages (20 percent is the experts’ recommendation). Add miscellaneous costs (like eating out) if your kitchen will be out of commission for the duration.
For most kitchen remodeling jobs, the cost percentage breakdown is:
- Cabinets: 35 percent
- Appliances: 20 percent
- Windows: 10 percent
- Fixtures: 5 percent
- Fittings: 3 percent
- Miscellaneous items: 7 percent
- Labor and installation: 20 percent (this can go higher)
Work with a kitchen designer. They’re pros, and your happiness is their goal as well as their best advertising. If you tell them your budget is $10,000, they will give you the best bang for your buck.
Have all your ducks in a row. Decide on all your choices before you start the work.
Cabinets are a big expense. Sometimes all they need is a coat of paint and new hardware. A light color (along with some under cabinet lighting) can go a long way in making a small kitchen look larger and more welcoming.
Moving existing plumbing, gas, or electrical lines can get expensive. Don’t move them if you don’t have to.
You may find remnants at a granite supply yard for a fraction of the cost of the premium grades. Your contractor may also tell you where you can find discounted appliances, or check out a Habitat for Humanity ReStore (like the one in Chambersburg) or other bargain outlets.
Refinishing or refurbishing floors is a good option to replacing them.
Consider doing some of the work yourself. There is a certain amount of satisfaction to doing some of the work yourself, such as painting or tearing out old cabinets that you’re replacing.