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What to figure in when you’re figuring out your budget

What’s the most important step in your remodel?

Is it choosing the materials?  The design?  The contractor? No, it’s figuring out your budget. It’s not sexy.  It’s not as fun as going through Pinterest or Houzz looking for colors and styles you like. Or daydreaming about demolishing your kitchen and how much better everything will be with a new kitchen.  It can be disheartening to see how much things really cost and how many things you have to take into account and pay for.

So how much will it cost?

There’s an old contactor saying, “How long is a piece of string?”  It all depends on your scope of work.  A direct replacement of cabinets, countertops, and backsplash will cost significantly less than removing load-bearing walls or an addition.  Moving and updating plumbing, electrical and hvac isn’t cheap. How much did you pay for your last car?  How long did you have it for?  A kitchen if done right will last 20+ years.  Its used every day,  increases the value of your home, and, hopefully, the value of your home will increase with time.  Your car’s value goes down as soon as you drive it off the lot. The  National Kitchen and Bath Association guideline for budgeting is 5-15% if the value of your home.  Of this 30% is cabinets- your biggest materials expense, 30% is labor and 30% is everything else-appliances, countertop, lighting, flooring, etc.  This is only a guideline, but it certainly puts things in perspective.  If you’re going through the expense and hassle of a gut job you want a good return on investment.  Spend too little and it may not be worth the future problems that come with low end materials and labor.  Spend too much and you may price yourself out of your house.  On the other hand – if you plan on being in the house til they carry you out do whatever you want! So lets take a look at a what that breaks down to using the median home sales price for December 2017 on Ycharts.com.  They have the median price as $246,800 so lets round it up to $250,000.  If we take the 5% budget we  get approx. a total budget of $12,500 out of which $4,167 would go to cabinets, $4,167 would go to labor and the rest covers everything else. Things such as appliances, flooring, countertop, sink and faucet.  If we take the 15% we get a total budget of $37,500 into which $12,500 goes into cabinets, $12,500 goes into labor and the rest covers everything else. Please note- These examples don’t take into account a contingency amount to set aside incase termites, mold, asbestos, rot, plumbing or electrical, or bad building practices of prior owners surprise you when the walls and floor are opened up.  I’ve seen minimums of 10% contingency allocations, but suggest 15-20% in an older house.  There’s something hidden in the walls and it usually isn’t bearer bonds.

What’s on the shopping list?

First the things you Pinned-

  • cabinets– including moldings and accessories that improve functionality like roll-outs, cutlery divider, and trashcan pull out
  • hardware– knobs and pulls for the cabinets and hardware for windows and doors.  Hinges and drawer slides should come with the cabinets, but don’t forget the hinges on the room doors.  Speaking of which-
  • new doors and windows
  • appliances– fridge, stove, cooktop, wall oven,  microwave- either cabinet, drawer, countertop or hood, dishwasher, hood, wine or beverage fridge, and any other else that may get built in.  Decide on these early as you must have the dimensions to start your layout.  Changing from a 36″ LG French door fridge to a Sub Zero will cause a redesign and if the cabinets are already purchased can be expensive!
  • lighting- ambient, task, decorative, recessed, pendants, under/over cabinet and toekick.
  • countertop
  • flooring
  • sinks, faucets, garbage disposal, hot water dispenser, filter 
  • backsplash
  • paint or wall covering
  • window treatments
  • furniture– new chairs or table

Now the stuff you won’t see-

  • labor- contractor and trades-electrician, plumber, carpenter, painter, hvac-, kitchen designer, remediation, etc.  Make sure to know exactly in writing the scope of work quoted.  This doesn’t take into account your contingency money that you set aside.
  • construction supplies– from pipes to wire, insulation to sheetrock, hvac and thin set.  These should be included in your contractors quote along with the scope of work ( see labor cost)
  • sales tax
  • demolition– including disposal fees
  • permits and inspection fees– don’t skip this!  If you ever want to sell your house and you did work without the required permits and inspections you may be ripping everything out and redoing it even if it was done correctly.  Check your town’s website for info.
  • insurance– check with your carrier.  If a worker gets injured at your house and his employer doesn’t have workmans’ comp or is underinsured you are paying for it.  For a long time.  So get coverage for the duration of your construction.
  • Lexus Nexus– for about $10 you can run a check to see if your contractor has been to court by any of his clients.  As with the insurance, better safe than sorry.
  • temporary kitchen– where are you setting it up and do you need any supplies for it?
  • meals out

It’s a lot to think about!

Feel like your head’s going to explode?  There is a lot to take in and I’m sure that over time you’ll add to this list. Everything hinges on your budget- from the materials to the scope of work.  You can save money on one material to spend on another.  You can diy some of the labor or be your own general contractor (which would be a full time job during the reno).  Opt for a range instead of cooktop and wall ovens or get industrial looking appliances not Wolf.  Just remember it’s the things you don’t see that may have the most impact down the road.  The quality of the work and the materials will impact you more than the color or doorstyle of your cabinets.  Take it slowly and get the design, the materials and the trades right and you will enjoy your kitchen for years. To get an idea of the costs of kitchen renovations in your area click here to get to Homewyse’s cost estimator by zip code.    
 
 

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