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Kitchen Remodeling: Cost Effective Tips

Updated on February 5, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

image:SXC credit:e-master
image:SXC credit:e-master

If you are planning kitchen remodeling, cost effective tips can make a difference in the outcome of your project.

Kitchen remodeling can be an overwhelming thought to many people. The cost can be enormous, the work can seem never ending, and there is always the question of what you can do yourself and what you should leave to a good contractor.

With some thought and research remodeling a kitchen can be a smooth transition from “blah” to “ta dah!”. You may even find that you can do more of the work yourself than you thought you could. There are some questions you should ask yourself and decisions that you need to make before you ever get started. Doing so will make your kitchen remodeling project much easier with fewer surprises.

Determine Your Budget

This always has to be the starting point. If you have $30,000.00 to spend on a remodeling project you will have to be less careful than if you only have $5,000.00 to spend on your kitchen remodel. There are some things you should think about:

Home Value:What is the value of your home? You don't want to put a $50,000.00 kitchen in a $60,000.00 home. Determine if it is cost effective to do a full remodel or if you should consider sprucing it up and then selling your home for a more updated one with a kitchen you like better.

Are You Planning to Move? If you are planning a move within the next couple of years you may want to just do a minimal remodel and forgo your dream kitchen until after you are settled in the new house. Do only what you need to do to give it a seller's edge.

Debt: Will you need to go in debt? Debt is not a great thing to have. It is better by far to save up the money and pay cash for your remodel, or pay as you go than to get into overwhelming debt for a pretty kitchen. There are numerous ways to keep the cost of kitchen remodeling down, you just need to think outside the box.

If you are planning on going into debt for your remodel there are several ways you can do it.

  • Traditional store credit is the most expensive but usually the quickest and easiest to get.
  • Home Equity Loan is a loan against the equity you have in your home. The interest rates are usually quite low and depending on how much equity you have you may be able to get quite a lot of money.
  • Refinance your home. At this writing interest rates on mortgages and refinances are low. You may be able to refinance for a higher value, get cash back for your remodel, and pay a similar payment to what you are paying now.

Remember to allow ten to fifteen percent extra in your budget for unexpected things that happen during the course of remodeling.

Assess Your Needs

After you have your budget in mind you need to list what your needs are. Do you cook a lot? Will you need a larger stove than normal? A double oven? Remember that a remodel is something you usually plan to live with long term. When considering what your needs are think ahead to how your family will be in five or ten years.

  • Try to plan for the future as well as the present.
  • Will you need an office area in the kitchen to write bills and grocery lists?
  • How much pantry and storage space will work best for you?
  • Are there any health issues that might mean you will need a universal kitchen plan to allow for wheelchairs or other helps?
  • If you have a cement slab type foundation and you will be in the kitchen on your feet a lot you will want to plan a very padded flooring to reduce leg and joint pain.

List Your Wants

Everyone has a different idea about what will make the perfect kitchen. It is wise to get the whole family involved in this.

  • Do you have younger children that use the microwave but are too short for an over the stove model?
  • Do you need to plan to have it built in to a lower cabinet?
  • Do you cook together as a family? You will need more space than the single cook, as well as preparation centers.

If there are special items and materials that are important to you then you should list them.

  • Are you interested in sustainable, eco-friendly materials?
  • Certain surfaces?
  • A certain type of cabinet?

List all of these items in this area of your notes. Be sure to make note of the things that are most important to you and the things that you would like but aren't really necessary. If you have to cut some things to keep the costs down you will want to cut the items that are the least important.

List Your Abilities

You, of all people, know what you can do realistically. If you have never picked up a hammer in your life you probably are going to need more professional help that someone who has built things before. Here is a breakdown of the expertise and jobs that are required in a kitchen remodel.

Little Experience- assuming you can follow instruction and have a good how-to book:

  • Painting
  • Tiling counters or back-splashes (you will need a class, usually free at Home Depot)
  • Changing a simple light fixture
  • Putting up wall paper border
  • Putting up open shelves
  • Wallpapering
  • Adding wainscoting or a chair rail
  • Laying peel and stick tile, snap in hardwood flooring, tile, etc.
  • Replacing a sink or faucet

Moderate Experience- assuming you have worked with tools, power tools, and other building materials:

  • All of the above
  • Installing cabinetry
  • Changing a more difficult light fixture
  • Adding ceiling fans

Things to Leave to A Contractor:

  • Wiring
  • Plumbing
  • Attaching gas stoves, etc.
  • Changing, adding, or removing walls and spaces
  • Anything you are not comfortable with

Little Ways to Save Big Bucks

There are a lot of ways you can save even more on your kitchen remodeling project. Consider:

  • Use CraigsList to find gently used building supplies and appliances
  • Use eBay
  • See if there is a Habitat for Humanity store near you. They often have leftover building materials at low cost.
  • If you know someone who has building experience ask them to do some of the work you can't and do something for them in trade.
  • Utilize free classes offered by many local home improvement stores on the weekends.
  • Check out local architectural salvage places
  • Check out the dent and scratched section of appliance stores.
  • If you are going to buy several appliances talk to the store manager and ask for a discount.

You can save big money on your kitchen remodeling project by thinking and planning ahead, and utilizing a variety of sources to get what you need.


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    • profile image

      Toronto Home Renovations 6 years ago

      Yopu are right, Kitchen remodeling can be an overwhelming thought to many people. The cost can be enormous, the work can seem never ending, and there is always the question of what you can do yourself and what you should leave to a good contractor.

      Toronto Home Renovations

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      We are house hunting and the number of homes that need a kitchen lift are amazing. Very well done Hub!

    • profile image

      Jim Dee 7 years ago

      Very Nice Hub. Very informative

    • Morris Streak profile image

      Morris Streak 8 years ago from UK

      Very thorough list of things to consider. Anyone planning a kitchen remake can print this and read it over and over. Great stuff. I'm into home improvement myself.

    • profile image

      Kitchen designs 8 years ago

      Very informative content. I can see you put a lot of thought and hard work into creating your hub. Hope it pays of for you.

      Regards Julian

    • Kevin Peter profile image

      Kevin Peter 8 years ago from Global Citizen

      Dont leave these things to A Contractor ,then it will be not with in your budget ,