You can’t afford a complete kitchen redesign in one go? You can finish the job in five steps to save money (and still cook dinner during the down time).
Major kitchen remodels are among the most popular home modifications, but the cost of a remodeled cooking and gathering space can be rather high. According to The National Association Of Realtors’ “Remodeling Impact Report,” a complete remodel of a 210-square-foot kitchen costs $65,000 on average, and you’ll recoup 62 percent of that expenditure when you sell.
You’ll be glad you upgraded, despite the high cost. In fact, homeowners questioned for the “Report” rated their kitchen makeover a Joy Score of 10 — a grade based on how happy or content they were with it, with 10 being the best and 1 being the lowest.
If you can’t afford the entire redesign at once, break it down into these five stages to save money.
Stage 1: Begin with a comprehensive design plan.
Your plan should include the location of the refrigerator, the direction of cabinet doors, and whether or not you require a spice drawer.
Plan to reuse your existing walls and kitchen configuration to save time (and money) during tear-out and construction. You won’t have the added expense — or mess — of tearing out walls, and you won’t have to deal with plumbing and electrical systems that are mostly intact.
Hire a professional designer, such as an architect or a licensed kitchen designer, to ensure the specifics of your designs are complete, according to Joseph Feinberg, vice president of Allied Kitchen and Bath in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A professional designer will cost around 10% of the total project budget, but you’ll save a slew of headaches that will almost certainly cost as much — if not more — to fix. Plus, a pro is more likely to suggest clever solutions you hadn’t considered.
You can also seek design assistance from a major home improvement retailer for a small price. You will, however, be expected to buy some cabinets and appliances from that retailer.
- Cost: $5,800 for a professional designer (10 percent of total)
- Key strategies: Once you’ve decided on your plans, you can keep them until you’re ready to remodel.
- Duration: 3 to 6 months
Order the Cabinets, Appliances, and Lighting Fixtures in Stage Two.
The main investments in your kitchen remodeling project are cabinets and appliances. If you’re remodeling in stages, you may order them whenever the plans are finished and keep them in a garage (away from moisture) or a spare room until you’re ready to start installing them.
Keep in mind that your cabinets may take four to six weeks to arrive from the time you place your order.
If you can’t afford all new appliances right now, keep your old ones for the time being and intend to acquire either the same sizes or larger sizes and build your cabinets around them. You can replace appliances when your money allows in the future.
The same is true for your lighting fixtures: if you can live with your old ones for the time being, reusing them will save you money.
You’ll also need to choose flooring, which affects how and when cabinets are installed.
If your previous flooring runs underneath your cabinets, or if it butts up against the cabinet sides and toe kicks, you’ll need to know. If the flooring extends underneath, you’ll have more flexibility in terms of new cabinet layouts – just make sure the existing flooring covers any newly exposed floor areas. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Save money by keeping existing flooring. This works if your new cabinets have the same layout as your old ones, so they fit perfectly into the old flooring arrangement. Any new cabinet design will be good if the old flooring extends underneath your cabinets and covers the entire flooring space.
- For the time being, keep your old flooring and cover it or replace it later. This method works if your cabinet arrangement is identical to the old one.
If you want to cover or replace your old flooring in the future, keep in mind that your new flooring may boost the height of your floor, effectively lowering the height of your cabinets.
The difference is barely noticeable with thin new floor coverings like vinyl and linoleum. If you have thicker flooring, such as wood or tile, you may want to consider placing your new cabinets on shims to account for the change in floor height.
- Cost: Cabinets were $16,000 (27%) of the overall cost; appliances and lighting fixtures were $8,500 (15%) of the total cost; and vinyl flooring was $1,000. (2 percent of total)
- Important strategy: Keep and use outdated appliances, lighting fixtures, and flooring until you can afford to replace them.
- Time limit: 2–3 weeks
Stage 3: Demolish the kitchen and install new electrical and plumbing.
This is where the makeover becomes a shambles. Old cabinetry and appliances are removed, and new electrical lines may require opening up walls. During this stage, keep in close contact with your Houston kitchen remodeler so you can swiftly respond to questions and resolve any issues. Depending on the scope of the project, a big kitchen redesign can take anywhere from six to ten weeks.
Assemble meals by relocating the refrigerator, microwave, and toaster oven to a nearby room (laundry or garage). Feinberg recommends tackling this stage during the summer, when you can barbecue and eat outside with ease. This will limit the desire to dine out and help you keep your daily expenses under control.
- The cost of tearing out and installing new plumbing and electrical was $14,500. (25 percent of total)
- Key strategies include: Encourage your contractor to complete the demolition and installation of new systems as soon as possible. Build a temporary kitchen while the job is done. Work on this over the summer when you can grill and eat outside.
- Period of time: 6 to 10 weeks
Install cabinets, countertops, appliances, flooring, and fixtures in the fourth stage.
You should be able to get through this phase if you’ve done your homework and purchased important components ahead of time. You now have a (largely) completed kitchen.
The cost of a high-end countertop and backsplash might be substantial. Put down a temporary top, such as painted marine plywood or affordable laminate, if you can’t quite swing it. Upgrade to granite, tile, solid surface, or marble later.
- Price: $12,000 (21 percent of total)
- Important strategy: Install a low-cost countertop and update as you can.
- Time limit: 1–2 weeks
Phases of completion: If it’s necessary, upgrade.
Install a new countertop, replace the laminate flooring with tile or hardwood, or buy that new refrigerator you wanted but couldn’t afford during the makeover.