Have you ever seen the movie The Money Pit? In this 1980’s hit film, actors Tom Hanks and Shelley Long are charmed by a realtor into buying a fixer-upper mansion for a fraction of its value. But once they turn the key and walk in, everything begins to fall apart. The plumbing is full of some nasty muck, the electrical system causes a fire, and the repair work drags out for months until the couple is out of money and patience.

The movie is hysterical, but in real life that situation is anything but funny. Kitchen renovations allow us to personalize our homes in a way that harkens to the unique dynamics of the people who live there – which is us, with our families. But for every option you have when renovating, there is an equal and opposite challenge that can burn you in the end.

Here are some tips to help you keep from getting burned while renovating your family’s kitchen.

1. Know your neighborhood.

If you live in a high-end community, then putting bare basics into your kitchen remodel will come back to haunt you if you ever decide to put your home on the market. At the same time, it does not make sense to install a high-end kitchen in a community that does not reflect that, because while high-end materials make your home more desirable, they do little for the actual value.

2. Know your home’s architectural style.

Do you live in an adorable bungalow built for two? If so then you probably want to avoid renovating your kitchen to have a sleek space filled with ultra-modern details. Stick with the basic architectural style of your home when remodeling and work with it. Working against that style means spending more money and time than you likely have budgeted.

3. Keep up with the popular trends.

Granite countertops? Hardwood cabinets? What are the latest trends? Find out because it might help you save money. For example, you might find eco-friendly materials that cost less, or appliances with energy star ratings that will help lower your utility bills which saves money in the months and years to come.

4. Don’t move the plumbing.

If possible keep the plumbing where it is and work around the existing location of your sink and stove. Moving plumbing is one of the biggest expenses in renovating, and if you can save in this area of the budget by leaving things where they are, then do it. It just gives you more money to spend in other areas later.

5. Consider re-facing your existing cabinets.

If your existing cabinets are hardwood and they are in good working condition, then why would you go and replace all the frames? That’s one of the most expensive line items in a kitchen remodeling budget. Add new drawers and drawer fronts. Or see about having the surface of the wood laminated. Either option will give you an entire new look without spending your whole budget on one part of the job, leaving you to spend a little extra on sturdy hardware (like knobs and drawer pulls) that suit the architectural style of your family’s home.

6. Make sure your appliances match.

This is a big one, especially if there is ever a chance that you will put your home on the market at some point in the future. Stick with the same brand name if possible. Have you seen the bargain priced appliances for sale these days? They mimic the look of high-end models for a fraction of the high-dollar price tag, and they often carry appliances that you can buy in matching sets. Not only that, but also having the same look carried throughout your kitchen will help you enjoy the space more.

When you renovate your kitchen, what you really want at the end of the day is a wow factor. You want people to come into your home and say, “Wow! I love your kitchen!” If you haven’t started the job yet, then go through some kitchen samples online while keeping these tips in mind. Make lists of things you want, and things you don’t want. Collect fabric samples and paint chips.

The more research and legwork you do ahead of time, the less likely you are to get burned on a kitchen remodeling job that becomes a huge money pit. The people you hire to do the work won’t take kindly to a know-it-all approach from a homeowner, but they will appreciate the time you save everyone by knowing what you want, and more importantly knowing whether it fits into your family’s budget.

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