Budget Basics: kitchen renovations costs
$25,000 is a good starting point for a basic kitchen – here’s how that plays out across materials and labor.
You have a fair amount of choice in deciding what to spend on some material aspects of a kitchen renovation, but there are other costs that are less obvious, labor-intensive, and tremendously critical to the work overall, no matter how high or low you go on materials.
Take a quick walk around your kitchen or any home appliance store and you can start to get a feel for the obvious costs of a kitchen renovation.
You can expect to spend under $800 or up to $3,000 (and well beyond) on each of your stove, fridge, and dishwasher selections. You can find basic sink options for under $200 and up to $2,500, and faucet fixtures for under $80 and up to $1,200.
You can keep costs under $3 per square foot for efficient and easy-to-clean subway, or go up to $35 (and beyond) for a higher-end tile, stone, or marble finish.
Similarly, you can limit countertop costs per square foot to under $10 for laminate counters, between $50 and $125 for some tile, wood, and recycled glass options, and between $100 to $300 (and beyond) for acrylic, stone, granite, and marble countertop options.
Hardware & Lighting
You will also need to choose hardware like cabinet pulls that can run as low as a few dollars a piece and lighting fixtures that can be had for $25 (for basic flush mounts) or run up to hundreds or thousands of dollars for decorative chandeliers or multiple statement pendants and under-cabinet lighting.
Cabinet materials also vary widely in quality and cost. You can spend between $600 and $2,000 per linear foot for cabinetry. MDF is the least expensive option, followed by veneer cabinets and wood veneer cabinets.
Cabinet interiors made of melamine can help keep costs down, while plywood cabinet interiors are the standard for more durable, solid cabinets. Cabinetry finishes also add to the cost; expect to pay around $6 per square foot for cabinets that are brush-painted, or $15 per square foot for cabinets that are spray-painted.
These choices are up to you, your budget, your aesthetic and functional preferences, and your desire for re-sale value in your home.
In contrast to the obvious and predictable costs, there are some mostly unavoidable behind-the-scenes investments to consider.
In the design stage, plan to work together with the experts you hire to create detailed drawings that account for all physical elements of the kitchen. Your drawings should cover layout, plumbing, cabinetry and counter specs, lighting, and appliances. You should also select your backsplash, flooring, sink, and hardware during the design phase.
The requirements of individual buildings can play a significant role in dictating design and budget needs.
In the site prep stage, significant behind-the-scenes labor is needed to ensure that your kitchen renovation maintains its value over time. Almost without exception, and especially in old buildings, your contractor will need to strip the walls and flooring to frame and level, respectively, before you attempt cabinet, tile, and counter installation.
This step is critical and labor intensive – the cost for this step can easily average $5,000. If your home is new or the sub-floor is concrete, leveling needs may be minimal, but otherwise, you probably need to account for floor leveling and new wall sheetrock or intensive plastering before any surface work can get going.
Exposing the existing conditions inside walls during this leveling and framing step will also allow your contractor to address plumbing or electrical issues before you hook up a brand new appliance. While these steps are labor- and cost-intensive, this work is critical for foundation alignment and infrastructure needed for the project.
Plumbing services alone can cost $2,000 to $3,500 (or higher) and plumbing permits may be required. If you’re adding outlets or doing electrical work, you may need an electrical permit. You may also need an asbestos inspection.
The installation stage is the third and final stage. While appliances are often installed by the store where you made the purchase (sometimes as a built-in cost and sometimes as an added delivery/installation fee), the craftsmanship involved in the installation of the cabinetry, counters, tile, and flooring varies in accordance with the size of your kitchen and the degree of customization you need to make all the pieces fit.
Changing the Layout
Dropping walls, moving gas lines, re-routing plumbing lines, and re-wiring electrical options automatically hit a cost threshold above the $25,000 you need for a basic kitchen gut. If you are considering that kind of transformative work, you’ll need architectural designs from a registered architect and you’ll need to plan for the cost of permits, thorough building approvals, high insurance coverage requirements, and more involved management from a general contractor overseeing the project. These “soft costs” – expenses critical to the success of the work but often invisible and unforeseen – can represent 15 – 35% of the renovation cost.
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