Remodeling a kitchen can be a satisfying, yet challenging, home renovation. A new kitchen can update your home, make it more functional, and increase the resale value. With so many options for remodeling, it can be easy to overspend on a kitchen remodel project. Every homeowner that wants to renovate their kitchen must consider their kitchen remodeling budget.

How Much Should I Budget for a Kitchen Remodel?

There is no set range of what a new kitchen costs, as it varies depending on location and materials chosen. For example, a kitchen remodel in the Midwest will be considerably cheaper than one in New York City.  According to HomeAdvisor, the average for a major kitchen remodel is $34,962 for a midrange kitchen. A small renovation can cost as little as $4000 and a high-end one can be well over $50,000.

The homeowner’s budget should be based not only on what they can afford, but also on what they hope to recoup when they sell the house (if they plan to do so within five years). With so many choices for a kitchen remodel, it can be difficult to stay within the budget. But homeowners should try to stick as closely to the budget as possible. Home renovation experts do recommend allotting 20% of your budget for unexpected surprises that arise, such as electric that needs to be upgraded to code.

When kept to a budget within the house’s value, a kitchen renovation can yield around a 70% return on investment upon selling. This does depend on features and materials chosen. One of the biggest mistakes is to spend more on the kitchen remodel than what the value of the home can support.  For this type of renovation, designing a kitchen that will appeal to the majority of buyers will result in a better ROI. 

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends budgeting 15-20% of the value of home for a kitchen remodel. Otherwise, you will be putting too much into the renovation without getting the appropriate return. For example, for a $250,000 home, the kitchen remodeling budget should be within $37,000-$50,000. 

The homeowner may have a wish list with all of the desired upgrades and finding alternatives within budget is possible.  It will take some research. Some remodelers find that creating a spreadsheet with wants and must-haves is helpful.

Budget Research

In order to come up with a realistic number, the homeowner should research what is available.  The first step is taking the measurements of the kitchen so an accurate amount can be calculated. There are many online resources, as well as magazines and showrooms that can give an idea of the desired style, as well as the cost.

One way to stick to an overall budget is to choose two or three options for cabinets, countertops, flooring, and appliances.  This gives the homeowner flexibility within the budget to play around with options. For example, if a certain flooring costs more than budgeted originally, there may be room to save cost with the appliances to balance out the cost and stay within the allotted budget.

The more research the homeowner does prior to the renovation, the greater chance to stay within the kitchen remodel budget. Last-minute changes can up the cost of the kitchen if the homeowner is not mindful.

During the research process, the homeowner should ask the following questions about the kitchen remodel:

  • How much kitchen is needed?
  • What works in the current kitchen?
  • What does not work in the current kitchen?
  • How does the kitchen function?
  • Will the kitchen be used often for cooking?  If so, a professional grade oven and range might be a consideration.
  • Will the kitchen be used by a large family?  If so, a large refrigerator and plenty of storage should be considered.
  • Will the kitchen be used for entertaining?  A built-in bar and large island with seating are possibilities.

Thinking about how the area will be used will help to determine the function and design of the kitchen.  Whether or not the homeowner is renovating for their own use or to resell will also influence budget and design choices.

What to Include in a Kitchen Remodel Budget

The following list of items should be accounted for when remodeling a kitchen. The NKBA recommends the following percentages per item:

kitchen remodeling budget
  • Labor/installation-17%
  • Cabinets/hardware-29%
  • Appliances-14%
  • Countertops-10%
  • Flooring-7%
  • Lighting-5%
  • Walls and Ceiling-5%
  • Doors and Windows-4%
  • Faucets and Plumbing-4%
  • Design-4%
  • Other-1%

These percentages will obviously differ per renovation but having an estimate of what to spend per item is helpful. The homeowner’s preferences will also dictate the percentage breakdown.

Installation

There are a variety of people that will work together to complete a kitchen remodel.  A full-scale renovation will involve a general contractor, cabinet installer, plumber, electrician, and perhaps a designer.  Since an entire remodel is a lengthy process, the work of all of these will need to be coordinated. Some homeowners might be tempted to cut costs here and do some of the work themselves, but that will most likely result in a longer renovation process.

Cabinets and Hardware

Since kitchen cabinets take up a large amount of space in the kitchen, they dictate the style of the entire kitchen and remain a main component of the home’s value. Cabinets that meet the functional needs of the kitchen as well as the aesthetics will add to the value of the kitchen. A quality cabinet can last for more than 20 years, and have more functionality now than cabinets of old. Regardless of the kitchen’s size, cabinets can make the most of the space within the room.

Ready-to-Assemble (RTA) cabinets are an option that can save homeowners money in their kitchen remodel budget as opposed to custom cabinetry. RTA cabinets are made of quality materials that are durable enough to withstand wear. Many homeowners find that these cabinets give them the style and quality they want, without spending the entire remodel budget on cabinets alone.

The hardware for the cabinet needs to be updated as well. Tip:  Brass hardware can give a custom, more expensive look to your kitchen.  All of the metals in the kitchen do not need to match so the hardware can be a different color from the faucet, for instance.

Appliances

photo: AJ Madison

Appliances come in a range of prices and should be considered in conjunction with the cabinets as the two will make up a large portion of kitchen remodel budgets.  The homeowner needs to consider that a refrigerator will need to be replaced in about 15 years, while a cooktop range will last longer. If using a dishwasher is part of the homeowner’s daily routine, then spend the money on a quality one that will last.  For those owners who are looking to sell their house soon, stainless steel is the most popular choice among buyers.

Countertops

In addition to the cabinets, the countertops are the first noticeable difference in a kitchen remodel. Countertop selection should take into consideration maintenance and durability, as well as design.  For those that cook often, or have a family, a solid countertop piece will be easier to keep clean.

There are a variety of materials that can be used for countertops that add style to the kitchen.  The chosen material should depend on the budget. A quartz countertop costs considerably more than a laminate one, but it will add value to the kitchen renovation. There are many options that can be a focal point in the kitchen without breaking the bank. The same goes for backsplashes.

Flooring

photo: DIY Network

Hardwood, laminate, vinyl, tile….there are many great flooring choices to match the kitchen’s style and homeowner’s budget. The flooring in a kitchen often gets a lot of use.  For those on a tighter budget, porcelain tile is a good choice because it does not chip or crack easily and is a good value for the money.  By choosing a classic style, such as white subway tile or natural stone, the kitchen will not look outdated in a few years. For continuous flow, install the same flooring throughout the house, such as hardwood.

Lighting

A lighting plan can create an outstanding kitchen remodel.  Many older homes only have a small window over the sink and one or two ceiling lights, which does not provide nearly enough light in a room. Modern fixtures will update the lighting in any kitchen. Dimmer switches will help to control the lighting throughout the day.

Undercabinet LED task lighting, pendant fixtures, and recessed lighted are nice additions to an older kitchen. Eco-friendly options will save money and last longer. If the kitchen does not have any natural light, the lighting will play an important role so the room is not too dim.  

Walls, Ceilings, Doors, and Windows

During a kitchen renovation, walls and ceilings are usually in need of a new coat of paint. Since the kitchen gets a lot of use, the walls usually dirty quickly and will benefit from a fresh coat of paint.  Most homeowners can do it themselves, but depending on the difficulty, may need to be handled by a professional. 

Any outdated windows or doors should be replaced to increase the insulation and save on energy costs. This is especially true in older homes.  The trim around the doors and windows will also look refreshed with a new paint job. 

Faucets and Plumbing

Depending on the age of the kitchen, there may be the need for some plumbing rework. There may be a need to move, repair, or replace plumbing. Older homes might have worn out pipes and drains that need to be updated. Replacing an older sink, faucet and fixtures with more modern ones is not a large expense but can make a difference in a kitchen remodel.  A single basin or drop-in sink with a built-in soap dispenser are nice features to have.

Design

gray-shaker-kitchen-cabinets-new-remodel-4

The design of the kitchen is important to make sure that it is functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Hiring a designer might be necessary for a completely overhaul but can be expensive. A free design service can help buyers get started and give options they might not have previously considered.

A kitchen renovation should reflect the homeowner’s lifestyle as well as their cooking needs, space and storage needs. Many homeowners wonder how much to budget for a kitchen remodel but doing research and creating a plan (and sticking to it!) for the kitchen renovation will help keep from overspending.

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