What is the first step of a kitchen remodel?

This is what my architect friend asked me, while I sat sipping tea in her living room — trying to discuss my own kitchen remodel. Before I could answer, she said “The first step is to get a reality check for the kitchen remodel budget for the task.”  

After years of my involvement within the home improvement industry, I can’t reiterate how important this is. As it is, a kitchen remodel is one of the most expensive home improvement projects that you can take up. The last thing you want is to start one and not be able to finish it midway.

Consider this: The average cost of a high-end kitchen remodel can be more than $80,000. This of course doesn’t take into account the push you keep getting from the contractors, family members, or even friends to keep investing way above your budget. Other than the material, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical requirements too add considerably to the budget.

But in the end, it’s you, the homeowner who has the right to pull the strings where required. And if I may add, it is absolutely essential to use this authority. Otherwise, you run the risk of facing a financial crisis by the time you are through.

That said, considering the expense that kitchen remodeling may run into, we’ve tried to make it easier for you to budget the project with a few essential steps. We’re sure that you may have already mapped the steps for your kitchen remodel. However, these will help to curtail any unforeseen risks that you may have overlooked.


How Much Should You Budget For a Kitchen Remodel?

budget kitchen remodel

Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

There is no set budget for kitchen remodel costs, as it varies depending on location and materials chosen. For instance, a kitchen remodel in Virginia will be considerably cheaper than one in New York City.

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to remodel a kitchen is around $34,562 for a midrange kitchen. In contrast, a small renovation can cost as little as $5,000 and a high-end one can be well above $50,000.

You should base your budget on what you can afford and what you hope to recoup when you sell the house. With so many choices for a kitchen remodel, it can be tricky to stay within the budget. However, homeowners should try to stick as closely to the budget as possible.

Home remodeling experts recommend allotting at least 20 percent of your budget for surprises that arise, such as rotten pipes. When kept to a budget within the home’s value, a kitchen remodel can yield around a 70% return on investment when you sell. However, this depends on the features and materials you chose during remodel.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends budgeting 15 to 20 percent of the home’s value for a kitchen remodel. Contrarily, you will be putting much more into the renovation without getting the appropriate return. For instance, for a $250,000 house, the kitchen remodeling budget should stay within $35,000 to $45,000.

1. Decide and Supervise Your Budget

Finally, it is you who has the final say. In other words, you have a genuine stake in keeping the costs within your limits for your kitchen remodeling project.

This also includes your continually reminding the so-called secondary parties like the contractors and the like to stick to your stated budget.


2. Decide How Long You Plan to Live in the House

This is the second most important aspect that you need to consider. If you plan to move within a few years, consider the remodel as an investment that will pay off. In this situation, be mindful to focus on the particular updates that promise to bring back a decent ROI.

But if you plan to live in your house for a longer period, turn your attention to your comfort. In this case, you and your family are the priority. Plan your upgrades accordingly.

Also, consider the nature of your neighborhood and upgrade as per the overall standard of the people in the area. There’s no point in aiming for a high-end kitchen in a middle-class neighborhood. You’ll lose on your ROI in the long run.


3. Educate Yourself on the Kitchen Remodeling Costs

You must get a good idea of the basic cost breakdown involved in your kitchen remodeling project. It will empower you. To rephrase it, the beforehand knowledge of the costs will help you to prepare mentally for the final expenditure.

For instance, keep aside 20% to 40% of your budget to spend on kitchen cabinets and their installation. You may reserve 10% to 30% for affordable countertop materials and installation. Flooring/paint/drywall/framing asks for another 10% to 20%. Again, consider keeping aside around 10% to 20% for the appliances. Electrical work takes a good 10%, plumbing & appliance installation around 5% to 10 %, and HVAC & ducting work less than 5%. Also, be prepared to shell out less than 5% of your budget for the plumbing fixtures.

What’s interesting here is that despite the clear stats of the cost breakup, it’s recommended to prepare yourself for unexpected costs. Because besides the many upgrades that you may want to add while the project is on go, there’s another consideration. Different kitchens have different sizes. The bigger your kitchen, the higher will be the diverse costs involved. It’s better to play safe by getting an estimate from different resources and adding 10% to 15% for the on-the-way changes.


4. Set Your Priorities Straight

One of the important aspects that impact your renovation is what’s most important to you. Are you looking for new fixtures? Is changing the faucets amongst the top priorities or you can take this up some other time?

Maybe your cabinets are in a hopeless condition and you want to replace them at the earliest. In this case, your cabinets are going to top your list. And maybe those pendant lights can wait.

Decide what matters to you most. So, essentially, even if you go overboard, at least the topmost priorities are taken care of. The less important things may be indulged in later.


5. Be Clear on Your Payment Options

How do you plan to pay for the project?

There are a number of options available to choose from. For instance, you can apply for home equity loans. These are popularly the best and are even tax-deductible.

Other options include personal loans, refinancing, or even personal loans. It’s advised to compare the interest on different loans along with the loan origination fee.

Keep in mind that you’re expected to deposit a certain amount as well as arrange for the materials for your remodeling task. It implies that you need to have a clear idea of when you are likely to get the loan.


6. Make Arrangements for Your Accommodation

Be warned that you’re going to be without your kitchen for quite some time.

Meanwhile, you need a decent place to live while the renovation lasts. Factor in the cost of renting an apartment along with the moving fees.

On the other hand, if you insist on staying at home, get ready to face the mad onslaught of the dust and grime. In this situation, you may make a makeshift kitchen in either of the rooms or the open. You can have fun barbecuing at night!


7. Factor in the Cost of Eating Out

You don’t have much of an option except for ordering food or eating out while the task lasts. Remember to add this cost to the overall expenditure right at the start.


8. Prepare a Spreadsheet to Consult

Prepare a spreadsheet and write your intended budget clearly. Keep entering the spending on the sheet. This will help you to check yourself from going overboard if you find yourself exceeding the basic budget.


9. Try to DIY where Possible

Look for areas where you can lend a hand. Why not save money wherever possible? Jobs like taking off the cabinets, appliances, and kitchen flooring may be done yourself. Why pay for things you can do yourself?


10. Avoid Blowing your Budget

Make a plan and stick to it. Do not at any cost let yourself be carried away to add more than you can afford. It’s the foolproof mantra to blow a budget.

Remember being the author of your budget? Cling to it as if your life depends on it and you’ll sail through.



Kitchen remodeling is a tough decision as long unending permutations and combinations keep adding to it. Make a well- thought out budget and hang on to it till the end no matter what. And soon enough you’ll get to see the result of your efforts and that too sans any guilt pangs!

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