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10 Tips to Budget For Your Kitchen Remodel

Creating a budget for your kitchen remodel will help you plan accordingly. You will know precisely what your allowance is for cabinets, appliances, or countertops. That way, when you go shopping, you can keep your allowance in mind and dismiss products and materials right away that would blow your budget.

Of course, it’s ok to splurge on an item or two but be conscious of how you spend your money and keep your budget spreadsheet updated at all times to not run into bad surprises later. As a rule of thumb, invest in decent cabinetry rather than expensive appliances. The reason, you can’t exchange your cabinets easily once countertops and appliances are installed and your kitchen will most likely last for 15-20 years or more. You can however, replace appliances at any time.

Budget realistically. When planning your new kitchen, make sure you plan your budget realistically. There’re three types of kitchen remodels: a basic, mid-range, or high-end kitchen remodel. Which one are you planning for? There might be a gap between your vision and the reality you want to spend on a remodel, so make sure you do some research upfront to be able to plan accordingly and know what to tell potential designers and contractors when they ask about your budget.

Built in a buffer. When you’re budgeting any remodeling project, it’s a smart idea to add a buffer for your project of at least 20 percent of your estimated project cost because most projects end up costing more than initially planned. Even with an agreed-on project price, there will be an “unforeseen conditions” clause in the agreement. So, if something happens that could not have been expected before work started, the client may have to pay for an extra to complete the job. That might seem like overly generous protection for the contractor, but it’s likely to be something no one could have expected like broken or old pipes behind walls, a termite infestation, or dry rot. Sometimes contractors can fix these problems without additional time or money; other times they can’t. Another reason for a money reserve is that you might decide to splurge on a particular item, such as the fridge or that beautiful cooking range.

Financing. Decide how you want to pay for your project, money from your home equity loan, a private loan, maybe refinancing, or your savings? If you’re getting a loan for your kitchen remodel, you can deduct the remodeling loan's interest from your taxes. Do your homework to see which option makes the most sense for you.

Consult a kitchen designer. Although a kitchen designer charges a fee, they are well worth their money. An experienced interior designer will save you a lot of headaches by guiding you through the project step-by-step, as well as saving you a tremendous amount of time and most likely money too. They will also help you keep your budget on track if desired. Designers know where to shop for all products and materials you’ll need for your project and usually get vendors' discounts. Another service many designers offer is to be on-site during construction to ensure your project gets done how you envisioned it in the planning stage. A designer’s level of involvement and guidance can range from a one-time meeting to get you started, a phone or email consultation, to ongoing project consultation. Discuss the various options with your designer.

Think of reuse. Think of ways to reuse what you already have. Is there an appliance that’s still working well and looks nice so it can be reused for your new kitchen? Are your cabinets still in good shape? If so, think about keeping these items in place and putting in new countertops, flooring, or hardware, assuming your current kitchen's layout and size works well for you. Even if you change your layout or increase the size of your kitchen you might be able to reuse some of your appliances which will save you a lot of money right there.

Spend time on planning. I can’t say it enough, but the better you plan in advance, the smoother your project will go. Even seemingly small details, such as the placement of electrical outlets or the island sink, need to be addressed ahead of time to prevent change orders and costly mistakes during construction. Also, if you don’t have your material or product selections made and items on hand when needed, your contractor may charge you for additional trips or extended project time due to missing items you were suppose to supply.

Educate yourself. Once you know the extent of your kitchen remodel, get an idea of the actual budget by visiting kitchen showrooms, home improvement centers, and check out websites for pricing. Focus your research on big-ticket items such as cabinets, countertops, appliances, and plumbing fixtures. Total costs for these items give you a ballpark material budget. However, that is not the total cost of the project. When you add design, planning, labor, and installation costs, you could end up spending twice what you paid for materials. This of course also depends on your project location. Alternatively, have your kitchen designer put together a budget/ allowance sheet for you that’ll help you plan.

Avoid making changes. After you sign off on the plans and hired a contractor, too many changes might become expensive. That’s why it’s important that you take your time upfront planning your kitchen remodel in as much detail as you can to get it right the first time. Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor if you want to change something, just be aware that there shouldn’t be too many changes once construction started to avoid extra charges for change orders.

Obtain quotes. Ask for detailed estimates from contractors. Make sure they meet with you at your home to evaluate the project. I recommend getting at least three different estimates for your project, so you get a clear idea of the cost. Make sure all estimates include exactly the same scope of work, so you’ll be able to compare the quotes apple to apple. Ideally, you or your kitchen designer can write a scope of work for your project you can give to each contractor for bidding. It is very hard to compare proposals when one contractor e.g., includes all materials in his bid while the other only includes the labor cost and has you provide all materials. Compare incoming estimates very carefully and get all questions answered before signing an agreement.

Budget breakdown. From my experience, kitchen remodeling costs vary greatly depending on what is most important to the customer and in which state or area your project is located. If professional-grade appliances are a must-have for your new kitchen, then you may spend more money on those. If you are extending your kitchen or structural work is involved, labor costs will go up and you’ll also encounter fees for drafting plans, structural calculations and drawings. In order to plan accordingly, create a budget for all products and materials you plan on providing. Then, add the estimated project cost provided in the contractor bid. This combined will provide you with your overall project cost. If you plan to work with a kitchen designer, add their fee to the budget. Remember, although they charge a fee, they will save you a lot of time, money, and headache. Money well spent.

I hope these 10 tips will help you to create a realistic budget for your kitchen remodel. If you need help or guidance, feel free to contact me anytime.

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