Cost of Remodeling a Kitchen – The Definitive Guide to Kitchen Renovation
According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report, an average major kitchen remodel would cost homeowners from $41,133 – $66,196.
I found these numbers surprising given that an average salary is still below $50,000, so I asked our network of hundreds of contractors, homeowners, and home renovation experts, how much a kitchen renovation costs?
The total cost varies based on the size, quality of the materials, the layout of the space and your budget. However, an average basic kitchen renovation can cost anywhere from $10,000 – $30,000. That’s a lot of money, isn’t it?
Even singing sensation Ed Sheeran asked recently in a live interview with BBC Radio 4 “Why are kitchen renovations so expensive, Mate…?” One key reason is that kitchens come with costly components like appliances, countertops, cabinets, plumbing, and light fixtures.
Another reason is the positive impact a good looking kitchen has on home values. But, do people really spend up to $66,196 on an average kitchen remodel? Keep reading to find out.
How much does a kitchen remodel cost?
Most kitchen renovations range from $8,000 – $30,000 depending on the quality of materials, whether you are replacing the cabinets, the countertop, the appliances, and whether you’re changing the kitchen layout.
The easiest way to find out what kitchen renovations costs is to list out each of the main components.
For example, depending on the location you live in, labor typically will cost anywhere from 20% to 30% of the entire kitchen remodel cost. Some complex designs would cost more, but most kitchen designs are fairly standard which means the contractor.
Here’s how it breaks down, on average:
If the appliances are in good condition then your overall costs decreases, or if the cabinets only need refinishing then.
So, you start with a wish list. You can later add or remove things, but this will help you to get to a correct estimate.
The best part about kitchen renovations is that the most visible things are the ones that make most of the cost. I’m talking here about appliances, countertop, cabinets, and so forth.
The things you do not see carry a minimal cost; unless of course, you want to redesign the layout which would mean redoing the plumbing and electrical work.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I need to replace the appliances?
Will the kitchen need new flooring?
Do the cabinets need to be refinished or replaced?
Do I like the layout of the current kitchen?
Once you have finished the wish list, find out what items cost, so that you can put a price tag beside each item on your list and come up with a budget. Having a kitchen renovation budget will help you avoid surprises.
Not only does size affect how much materials will be needed, but you’ll spend more on labor too. So the bigger the kitchen, the more it will cost to renovate it.
Quality of Materials
The quality of materials plays a big part in the cost of a kitchen renovation. For example, countertops range from inexpensive materials like laminate to high-end stainless steel used in gourmet kitchens. The same goes for cabinetry. Cabinet doors made of melamine (glued paper) costs about a quarter of the price as high-end materials.
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Is a Kitchen Renovation Worth it?
The best part about kitchen renovations is that the most visible changes are the ones that add the most value. I’m talking here about appliances, countertop, cabinets, and so forth. The things you do not see carry a minimal cost.
That’s important because highly visible renovation projects that improve the appeal net the biggest bang for your buck.
I once asked a contractor how much a new kitchen would cost me and he answered, “How much would you like to spend”?
I thought, that’s rude! But then I realized, the man has a point!
The amount you spend on a kitchen renovation depends on what your goals are and the amount of money you’d like to spend.
If you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, then spending $50,000 on a full renovation wouldn’t be smart.
That would result in about $25,000 of value loss because you’d likely recover only 50% of the amount invested. Actually, the more expensive the renovation is, the less value you get back.
For smaller projects where you invest say $10,000, you might be able to recover $8,000. That’s a recovery rate of 80% vs. 50% when you invest more than $50,000 on a kitchen remodel.
The subjective value of a kitchen renovation
Given its functionality and frequency of use, the kitchen is, quite rightfully, the heart and soul of your home. According to the National Association of Realtors 2019 report, 77% of homeowners who renovated their homes said they feel happier, and enjoy spending more time at home.
Kitchen Renovation On-a-Budget ($10,000 - $15,000)
Two years ago I had the kitchen at my home renovated and spent about $14,000; I replaced the cabinets ($7,000), changed the countertop (Quartz) $2,000, updated the backsplash $1,000, the sink/faucet ($500), plus labor $3,000, which included removing the items from the old kitchen and installing everything.
As you can tell, cabinets in this case presented about half of the entire cost.
So if you’re not updating the kitchen cabinets, there is plenty you can achieve with an on-a-budget kitchen renovation.
I did not update the appliances because they were in good condition, but if you need to replace those, there are a few options that will help you save on costs such as the following:
- Keep the cabinets, but change the cabinet doors & handles
New cabinets are a big part of the total kitchen remodel cost, but the part that matters in terms of appeal is the cabinet doors and handles.
You can save a big chunk of money by simply changing the doors and handles or refinishing with a new coat of cabinet paint.
- Update the sink and faucet, but keep the plumbing where it is Changing the location of things like the sink, or the dishwasher means hiring a plumber; also, moving electrical outlets, the refrigerator, or other appliances, would require rewiring electrical and maybe also damage to the drywall.
If you’re working with a tight budget, avoiding those costs will help you save money so that you can focus on the high-impact areas.
- Save on the countertop
Choose countertop type according to your budget. The main materials you can choose from are granite, engineered stone, quartz, or laminate. Engineered stone and quartz are cheaper than granite without compromising on the look, and style.
Average Kitchen Renovation Cost ($15,000 - $30,000)
A-mid range renovation is likely to cost you from $15,000 – $30,000. This includes new countertop, new cabinets, sink/faucets, new flooring. The higher end of this budget allows you to consider changing the layout to adapt to more modern lifestyles and that means updating the plumbing, some electrical work, and new appliances.
Naturally, the more changes you do to the layout and design, the closer you will be to the $30,000 threshold, but keep in mind that the final design will depend on the shape of your kitchen – U-shape, L-shape, or galley.
Warning! Even with a budget of $15,000 – $30,000 for your kitchen renovation, you will have to carefully plan each cost to prevent going beyond the amount you have budgeted or what you can afford.
Premium Kitchen Renovation Cost ($30,000 - $100,000)
I know, you might be thinking who would spend $100,000 on a kitchen remodel. I wondered that too, so I looked it up.
As it turns out, according to Remodelling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report, a major, gourmet kitchen remodel with custom cabinets, and built-in appliances could cost up to $126,000.
About 1 in 10 homeowners spend that much, but because the difference between $100,000 and $30,000 is so large, it pushes the average that Remodelling Magazine comes up with.
The maximum amount most homeowners should spend on a new kitchen is 5% of the home’s price. That means that to spend $100k on a kitchen remodel, you’d have to own a home that’s at least worth $2 million.
However, if your home is worth $900,000, using the same 5% factor, the maximum you should spend is $45,000.
Why 5%? Because any more than that would be like throwing money around. You won’t get it back when it’s time to resell the property.
What type of counter-tops can I buy?
Your best choice for a counter-top will depend on your lifestyle, whether you like to cook, entertain, or personal preferences. Here is a brief guide that will help you decide which type of counter-top you should choose for your next kitchen remodel.
Granite Kitchen Countertops
This is a premium natural stone. Even small spaces can get an elegant appeal with a granite countertop. The rarer colors are more expensive than commonly found ones.
Average cost: $3,500
Pros: People love the way granite looks so it will increase the home’s value. When properly sealed, granite can be a durable material.
Cons: Granite is expensive and you will need to hire a specialized contractor to install it. Granite requires sealing it regularly to prevent scratches.
Marble Kitchen Countertops
Like granite, marble is an elegant natural stone that needs no introduction. It is the countertop of choice by the rich and famous. It comes in various color variations which adds natural beauty to your kitchen.
Average cost: $4,500
Pros: This is an exceptionally beautiful stone that would turn any kitchen into a gorgeous space.
Cons: It can be expensive to maintain it and it tends to get stained.
Quartz Kitchen Countertops
Quartz countertops are engineered stone vs. natural stones like granite and marble. However, it is a great alternative because the look can be very similar to either granite or marble depending on the design of the stone.
Average cost: $2,500
Pros: Unlike natural stones like granite or marble, quartz countertops do not require annual sealing. The installation is cheaper than installing real stones.
Cons: It’s not real stone, but an engineered material made to look like natural stone.
Ceramic/Porcelain Kitchen Countertops
Ceramic countertops are gaining popularity because of the wide range of colors and designs that are available. You can order the design to look like any other material such as wood, marble, granite, and others.
Average cost: $1,500
Pros: This type of countertop is easy to clean and it is not affected by high temperatures; it is also available in a wide range of colors.
Cons: Ceramic tile countertops can crack relatively easily when you drop something heavy on it. Ceramic countertops are mostly used in washrooms.
Laminate Kitchen Countertops
Laminate countertops are plastic-coated synthetics type of materials. It is one of the most common and economical types of materials, and the countertop of choice by many homeowners because it’s affordability and ease of installation.
Average cost: $1,200
Pros: Laminate countertops are stain-resistant, heat-resistant, easy to clean, and affordable.
Cons: Easily damaged if you place a hot object over them, susceptible to developing cracks when in contact with sharp knives.
Average cost: $2,500
Pros: Environment-friendly, easy to clean, lends a unique touch to modern kitchens
Cons: Not very long-lasting, susceptible to burns
Average cost: $3,000
Pros: Durable, heat and stain-resistant
Cons: Require regular maintenance
“ Granite, marble, and other natural stones require a sealant to be applied to the stone every year. They look beautiful, but they are expensive.
If your budget allows Quartz provides a good option because it will give you a similar look as natural stones at a more affordable price, and no sealant is required. “
The price of your new countertop will fluctuate depending on the material and measurements.
Since countertops play a crucial role in the overall functionality of your kitchen, you should consider prioritizing the characteristics of the material, rather than focusing solely on its price and visual appeal.
Having said that, if you can have a countertop revamp rather than replace, you can do it for as little as one-tenth of the price.
Can I change the layout of my kitchen?
A kitchen renovation is a perfect time to rethink the layout, but it will also determine the scope and complexity of the remodel. There are five important elements to the kitchen, so keep these in mind when designing the layout.
The five zones are:
- The cooking zone
- The prep zone
- The storage zone
- The cleaning zone, and
- The waste disposal zone
A complete kitchen remodel addresses all the five components to give you the perfect kitchen. However, keep in mind that changing the layout will significantly increase the costs.
Moving the location of things like the sink, the dishwasher, the stove, or even the refrigerator might require relocating pipes and electrical sockets which means hiring an electrician and maybe a plumber too.
If you can stick to the original layout and structure of the kitchen, you’ll be able to minimize the renovation costs.
When working with a tight budget, even with the existing layout, you can make a big impact by updating the countertop and splash-back at the very minimum while giving your kitchen that wow factor.
How to Determine the Cost of Your Kitchen Renovation
To determine how much you will have to spend on giving your kitchen a makeover, ask yourself the following questions:
Are there any major damages (leaking pipes, blocked drains, broken cabinets, etc.) that need to be taken care of?
Do you wish to increase the storage space or install additional items like an extra sink and stovetop to make your kitchen more functional?
Do you want to redesign the kitchen around a particular theme?
This will help you plan things out properly. For instance, if you frequently encounter drain blockage, you know that the plumbing needs to be fixed, so you need to set aside a significant amount of money for repairing it.
If there are no major repairs required, and you are mostly doing it as a form of ‘investment’ that will yield fruitful results when it’s time to sell the property, here’s what you need to know.
Most real estate agents suggest that spending up to 10% of the property’s total value on a kitchen makeover is never a bad idea. So, if your entire space is worth $300,000, spending around $30,000 (if your budget allows) on kitchen renovation can set you up for lucrative deals in the future.
You’ll Be Eating Out More During the Kitchen Renovation
As a real estate agent, I own a few homes. The first time I went through a kitchen renovation, I was surprised the renovation can take a month or longer; during that time, you cannot use the kitchen, which means you’ll be eating out more.
That’ll be an extra expense you should also plan for.
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Should I buy new kitchen appliances?
New appliances account for about 20% of the total cost of a kitchen remodel. Brand new kitchen appliances will cost you somewhere between $4,000 and $8,000 depending on the brand name you select.
Keep in mind you don’t have to replace the appliances at the same time as the renovation. If you’re a saver like me, you know you have to shop around or wait to buy the appliances during a sale such as Black Friday or Boxing Day.
What I usually do is go online and find the cheapest price for the model I want. Then I go to the store I want to buy from and ask for a price match. Home Depot offers to beat by 10% any better price you find from a competing store. I got that deal more than once.
Look for Energy Star-rated appliances. Even if they cost slightly more, you will benefit from lower utility bills and you might qualify to receive rebates from your local government available for homeowners who but energy-efficient appliances.
Urgh! The costs keep adding up, so every saving opportunity counts! When you but more than one appliance from the same store, ask them to install the appliances for free, and please say NO to the extended warranty offer.
Unless you’re buying a very expensive appliance or a lemon, chance are an extended warranty will just be a waste of your money.
I recently bought dishwasher the person who installed it wanted to charge me for a disposal fee. That’s another no. Scrap metal recyclers would gladly pick up the appliances from your front lawn or building for free.
What to look for with kitchen cabinets
The cabinets will take up about 35% of most kitchen remodel budgets, so before committing to making the investment, think about factors such as how long you will stay in the home, or how much could the new cabinets increase the home’s price by.
Depending on whether or not the cabinets will be custom-made, the cost will be anywhere from $4,000 – $13,000, but there are plenty of more expensive options available.
Almost all kitchen cabinets are made from water-resistant MDF, so you should particularly focus on the look and design of the doors and handles.
Another important aspect is the drawers. There is nothing worse than drawers with flimsy bottoms; you’ll want to make sure the drawers you’re buying will be strong enough to hold the items you will store inside while maximizing an efficient use of every inch.
Cabinet Price List
Wood $5,000 – $25,000+
Wood Veneer $2,000 – $15,000+
Laminate $4,000 – $10,000
Acrylic $5,000 – $20,000
If you decide to keep your existing cabinets, upgrading the knobs, handles, and doors means you can give your cabinets a new appearance for a fraction of the cost of new cabinets.
Other Kitchen Remodel Components
Faucets and Plumbing
Compared to cabinetry costs, faucets and other plumbing fixtures don’t cost a fortune – thankfully!
- Installation (faucet): $200
- Installation (sink): $200
There’s no denying that hardwood floors take the beauty of any room to a whole new level and the kitchen is no exception.
Keep in mind that the kitchen is a high-traffic area, so the floor needs to be durable and easy to clean.
One of the most affordable options is laminate floors which would cost you about $3 – $4 per square foot, but if you’re working with a barebones budget a good old wash and shine would do the job just fine.
Digitalization of kitchen units
This is the age of digitalization. So, it’s only obvious why installing a home automation system is normally a part of the kitchen renovation starter pack. The cost of automating a kitchen typically falls around $2,100.
Other expenses that might be incurred in kitchen makeover include the cost of chairs/ stools (for seating arrangement around the kitchen island), and decorative items, like wall hangings and flower pots for the finishing touches.
How to pay for your kitchen the smart way
I am not a fan of getting a home equity loan, a line of credit or any other loan to do a kitchen renovation. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it.
I say this because as a real estate agent, I have seen many homeowners who got in debt and had to sell their property. It started with that kitchen renovation a few years back.
The way is to save up and do a budget. It’s worth buying the appliances, materials and other components using a credit card because the credit card adds another layer of protection in case something is wrong with what you purchase.
I hope this article gives you a detailed overview of the various costs and factors involved in a kitchen renovation.
Remember that kitchen renovations can be as cheap or expensive and you make it to be. The budget needed depends on the size, your needs and preferences, as well as how functional and luxurious you want your new kitchen to be.
As a rule of thumb, try to keep the kitchen renovation cost below 2% – 3% of the home’s price. If that’s not enough, and you plan to stay in the home for many years, you can push the cap to 5% of the home’s price, but no more.
Big purchases require careful planning. Start the process by downloading the kitchen renovation checklist available in this article, create a kitchen remodel budget and get started!
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