Whether it’s a growing household with changing needs or dated décor in need of a refresh, there are many reasons homeowners might choose to renovate their kitchen. Like any big project, budgeting and planning before you start are key to creating a space you’ll love — with a price tag you can afford.
Budget for the Best Results
A spreadsheet can help organize your thoughts around what you want to do in each area and track estimated costs. Put labor and material prices for everything you’ll need on it, from countertops to cabinet pulls, including:
Flooring. Stone or hardwood can be expensive, especially with the labor costs added in, but high-quality porcelain or vinyl flooring can often achieve a similar look for less.
Cabinets. From custom-built to prefab bases and cabinets, there’s a wide range of price options. Extras like fancy moldings, inset doors, glass fronts and cabinet lights. You’ll also need cabinet hardware such as knobs.
Countertops. High-end marble or other precious stone countertops can be a luxurious, signature look. But entry-level granite or a laminate that’s a dead ringer for limestone or concrete can still make a great statement — and help you save some of your budget for that gas range you’ve always wanted.
Backsplash. Simple white subway tile is an affordable, classic look. But especially in smaller spaces, you might decide to splurge on glass or hand-painted ceramic tile to create a focal point right at eye level where people will notice it most.
Appliances. Refrigerators, ranges and dishwashers all offer varying levels of features depending on price point. Shop based on your wants and needs, which may not be all the bells and whistles. Pick features like Wi-Fi connectivity, touchscreens or a double oven that matter most to you and economize in other areas where you can.
Lighting and plumbing fixtures. Whether you’re placing pendants over a kitchen island, installing recessed cans, adding undercabinet lighting or hanging a chandelier in the breakfast nook, you may need a number of fixtures in your new kitchen. Compare prices online and shop ahead for the best deals. Ditto for your faucets and sink.
Paint and wallpaper. Whether you’re freshening your white walls or adding a bold color you want to include supplies and labor for “furnishing” your walls.
Décor. Once your kitchen is sparkling new, you may want to update your table, chairs, barstools, window treatments, artwork and accessories — so don’t forget to include these items in your budget.
Footprint. Keeping the location of your existing electric and plumbing the same will help you save overall. Moving water lines and extensive rewiring can add substantially to labor costs.
Permits and taxes. It’s not the most enjoyable part of the project to consider, but you’ll have permitting and inspection costs, and your property taxes may increase — so be sure to keep those expenses in mind as you plan your project.
Project management. Consider whether you might need expert help. Hiring a general contractor to manage all your subcontractors or an interior designer to help you make selections may seem like an unnecessary expense, but the biggest price tag can come from costly, but avoidable, mistakes. However, you should only take this level of project on if you’re experienced — and have at least a 15% to 20% contingency budget for handling the unexpected.
No matter the final cost of your kitchen renovation, deciding how to pay for it is a big part of the plan. No financing is always the cheapest financing, so the most economical way is to save up beforehand. If that’s not feasible, you can consider a HELOC loan, refinancing your mortgage if the fees and mortgage rate make sense — or even using credit cards, provided the interest rates are affordable.
It’s a good idea to consult with a financial professional to help assess your cash flow and savings targets so you can plan for the kitchen of your dreams without sacrificing your retirement security or other financial goals.