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This is How to Know What a Kitchen Remodel Should Cost

If you’ve been thinking about remodeling your kitchen, you’ll want to have a rough idea of how much it will cost. Knowing what to expect before you start the sizeable undertaking of a kitchen remodel will help temper your expectations, allow you to budget accordingly, and mitigate sticker shock.

Determining the cost of a kitchen remodel can vary based on several factors. These factors include the price and quality of your materials, the geographic location of the job, the size of your remodel, if you’re changing layouts, and whether it’s a complete gutting or surface-level change. 

Knowing the factors that can affect the price should only be the beginning of your journey. Continue reading for a more detailed look at how these factors affect the cost and get a more thorough look at what you can expect to pay. 

What a Kitchen Remodel Should Cost 

 

If you are doing a complete remodel of your kitchen, you can expect to pay more than $50,000. 

Location is the largest factor for figuring out what a kitchen remodel should cost. Unfortunately, identical products and services don’t cost the same throughout the country. Anywhere the cost of living is higher, you can expect that your remodel is going to be more expensive. 

It can be easy to find misleading information online about what prices you can expect to pay for something like a kitchen remodel. Remodeling shows on HGTV only perpetuate this confusion. 

You should always keep in mind the cost of living where you live. The cost of remodeling is bound to mirror this number. 

A great resource to look at is this cost vs. value report, which shows the nationwide prices that you can expect to pay for various projects. The valuation report will give you a much more realistic view of what you can expect to pay based on your location. 

 

For example, an upscale complete kitchen remodel in the large West Coast cities can cost around $150,000.

Contracting the Remodel

 

Finding a trustworthy contractor that will walk you through every aspect of your remodel is essential. They will be able to set a budget for your project, use their existing contacts, which can save you money, and use showrooms to help you find reliable products to fit your needs.

There are usually two methods of bidding that a contractor will use. 

The first will be more of a comprehensive bid that has labor and materials coupled together. The labor price won’t change, and the contractor will provide an allowance for materials. 

This allowance is your contractor’s estimate after talking to you about what materials should cost for each part of the job. You will be required to pay the difference if you want higher quality products than what’s included in the  bid. 

The second method of bidding for a contractor is to offer only labor. It will be up to the customer to provide all materials.  

 

Aspects of Your Kitchen Remodel

 

Below is a list of the different aspects that go into a kitchen remodel and what you can generally expect to pay for materials and labor.

Permits

 

Before starting any construction project, your contractor should be getting the necessary permits to proceed in compliance with local regulations. 

Your contractor will go to the local permitting office to figure out exactly what permits you will need for your job. In most places, each of these will require a permit: 

  • Plumbing, 
  • Electrical, 
  • Structural changes
  • Layout. 

 

The cost of these required permits is usually minimal. Failure to obtain these permits can lead to fines and “stop work” notices. 

 

Demolition

Anyone who has watched even a small amount of HGTV knows about the infamous demo days. These are those gratifying days where a show’s host throws around a sledgehammer, demolishing everything in sight.

While every kitchen remodel will include demolition, a skilled contractor should take much more care in your home.

For homeowners looking to keep certain aspects of their kitchen intact, careful demolition is especially crucial. 

Say, for instance, you’re merely refacing your cabinets instead of replacing them altogether. A skilled contractor will take care when removing the existing countertops, so they limit the chance of damaging the cabinets. 

Not everything always goes to plan in a kitchen remodel, however. Things can get damaged even when your contractor has taken the proper precautions. You’ll want to make sure you’ve set aside extra money for unexpected damages. 

Surprises are bound to happen. That’s just part of construction.

Structural changes

 

Your contractor or designer will work with you in finding a kitchen design that fits your lifestyle. In some cases, you’ll be keeping the same layout you currently have and just update the features. In others, you will be developing an entirely different plan that may include some structural changes. 

Many times structural changes will require hiring an architect to create architectural plans and that can add an additional cost to your project.

  

Plumbing

 

Plumbers charge $60 – $200+ per hour of their services. Depending on what tasks they are completing or if they are providing materials, there may be additional costs. 

There are two stages of a typical plumbing job on a kitchen remodel: 

  • Rough-in, and 
  • Finish. 

These stages take place at separate times. Rough-in towards the beginning of the kitchen remodel and finishing at the end. 

Rough-in plumbing is every plumbing feature that is happening inside the walls. Tasks such as running pipes and connecting drain and water lines are all installed during the rough-in stage. 

After completing the required rough-in for the kitchen remodel, the plumber will come back once every other trade has completed their work to do the finish plumbing

The finish stage is exactly what it sounds like, finishing. Plumbers will connect their fixtures to sinks and appliances, and caulk around the plumbing to provide a tight seal. 

If you have gas appliances, plumbers will also hook up the gas line. In some areas, however, the gas company can insist on completing this step.

 

Electrical

 

Prices will vary based on location and any additional materials, but you can expect to pay $50-$120 per hour. 

Similar to plumbing, electricians work in multiple stages: 

  • Rough wiring and 
  • Finish. 

The studs will be exposed if you’re doing a complete gutting of your kitchen or reconfiguring the layout. Electricians prefer to perform the rough-in stage for the wiring when walls are open.

During the rough-in stage, an electrician can relocate outlets and add new wiring, or even update your wiring if your kitchen wiring isn’t up to date and doesn’t meet code. 

Do not worry if your electrician tells you your wiring is grandfathered and won’t be changed. At that point (s)he will also tell you that if you update your grandfathered kitchen wiring, you will most likely be required to update the wiring in the entire house.

The finishing stage for an electrician involves installing switches and fixtures as well as connecting electronic aspects of appliances. 

Aesthetic Elements of a Kitchen Remodel

 

Cabinets

 

Cabinets can make up a substantial portion of your kitchen remodeling budget. In some instances, up to 40% of your total remodel budget. A high-quality set of kitchen cabinets generally starts at $500 per linear foot

The price can increase based on the cabinet construction, wood species, design, and accessories. 

Once a layout for your cabinets is determined, your contractor/designer will figure out your needs from your cabinets. They will walk you through different performance aspects that you can expect from various types of wood species and constructions to fit something that will match your lifestyle. 

The design showroom that you visit will show you the seemingly endless features and options that can go into a cabinet selection. After you’ve made all of your cabinet selections, your cabinet designer should provide you with a rendering of the cabinets.

Labor prices can vary based on whether you purchase semi-custom or custom cabinets. Semi-custom cabinets are typically charged by the box, with trim pieces and knobs charged separately. Custom cabinets will incur additional material and installation costs. 

 

Countertops

 

Solid surface countertops are the most popular choice for kitchens. These can include granite, quartz, and other natural stones like marble. You can expect a higher quality solid surface countertop to cost $100+ per sq. ft. Fabricators typically lump materials and labor into one price for this process. 

Some things to keep in mind when selecting your material for your kitchen:

  • Granite
    • Naturally porous, and will need to be sealed yearly
    • The final product may differ from the sample. Picking your slab is the only way to ensure you get what you’re expecting (sometimes this isn’t allowed)
    • Heat resistant
    • Durable product – scratch resistant
  • Quartz 
    • Non-porous (won’t need to be sealed)
    • Stain-resistant (Not stain proof)
    • Won’t harbor bacteria or viruses
    • Slabs consistent with samples
  • Marble/other natural stones
    • Softer material
    • Naturally porous
    • Usually more expensive but offers beautiful designs (Important to pick slab to know what you’ll be receiving)

You will have the option to choose an edge design for your solid surface selection. Just remember that the more intricate the design, the more expensive and susceptible to chipping it will be. 

Painting 

 

Painting is one of the least expensive features of a kitchen remodel, but one that can make a massive difference in the outcome of your project.

You can expect to pay $2.50 – $4.00 per sq. ft. to have your kitchen painted, plus the price of the paint. 

Your contractor will detail out to you the prep work that is involved before the painting begins. The number of coats that they paint and some of the detail work, such as trim, will be an additional cost, which they will discuss at the outset of your project.

Flooring

 

Pricing for flooring can vary dramatically based on what material you choose. Typically, in terms of materials, homeowners can expect to shop from two categories, hard surface, and tile. 

Hard surface flooring includes hardwood, both engineered and solid, and a product called Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP). 

  • Hardwood 
    • Natural product
    • Engineered or Solid
    • Install Methods: Direct Glue, Floated, or Nailed/Stapled
    • More labor-intensive, more expensive install
  • LVP
    • 100% waterproof
    • Install methods: Direct Glue or Click
    • Quicker, less expensive installation

LVP installation will cost you much less than hardwood. Typically, 3.00+ dollars less per sq. ft. 

For a lot of customers, durability is the most critical factor when selecting a hardwood. Keep in mind that you’ll likely be paying a premium for this added strength. 

Labor prices can increase for extremely hard wood species as you may need to pre-drill the boards before nailing. 

Another type of flooring that you may be thinking about is tile. Ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone are all types of tile you may consider. Ceramic and porcelain tiles have more consistent patterns and are easier to maintain. Natural stone tiles will need to be sealed and are generally more expensive. 

Prices for tile installation start at $10.00 per sq. ft. Contractors will typically charge extra for larger tiles and more intricate patterns. 

Tempering expectations is essential when it comes to flooring. 

With older homes, in particular, it can be difficult to match new flooring to any existing areas that are adjoining the kitchen. In this case, your contractor/showroom designer will help you find options that will coordinate well. 

Pro Tip: It is often better to pick a flooring option that is drastically different but coordinates with the adjoining areas. Choosing something close, but not an exact match, can be noticeable and off-putting. 

Backsplash

 

The price of a backsplash is wide-ranging, depending on the material you choose. 

If you choose to use the same backsplash as your countertop material, then the solid surface fabricator would install it. The fabricator would include the cost of the backsplash with the price for the counters. 

Having the same backsplash as your counters has become a popular choice recently, but it also isn’t an inexpensive option. 

The price would be the same price per sq. ft. as the counters with the additional cost for the fabricators of having to cut around the electrical outlets. 

Generally, a less expensive option is to use some kind of tile. An installer would charge $10+ per sq. ft. to install the backsplash material

The tile options that are available for material are extensive. Something classic like a subway tile is a timeless look and a less expensive option as opposed to an intricate mosaic. Materials like glass or ceramic are ordinarily cheaper than natural materials such as marble. 

Pro Tip: Glass has less cleaning maintenance for a backsplash than a natural stone, which is more likely to absorb any kitchen spills or splatters. 

 

Appliances

 

Appliances can make up a significant part of the kitchen remodel budget.

You may think that this would be more of a personal choice, but you should also involve a contracting remodeler. It is essential to do this because certain appliance specifications will affect the framing, electrical, plumbing, and cabinets. 

Make your appliance selections before you pick your cabinets. The measurements, as well as the integration of the appliances, are crucial factors that your cabinet designer must consider. 

Your contractor will also be able to add helpful suggestions for some of the items that will make your kitchen more functional. 

A Note on Pricing

 

All the numbers provided are estimates. Final pricing will depend on the specifics of each individual’s job, where in the country it’s taking place, and the economy in your local market. 

 

Set Aside Money for Emergencies or Unexpected Surprises

 

It is always a smart idea when going into a remodel of any kind that you set aside money for any unexpected occurrences.

A contractor can only estimate what they believe a job will cost. Once walls are opened up, they can run into issues that they couldn’t anticipate that can add additional cost to the customer. 

You will find that contractors will usually put stipulations into their contracts that outline that there may be additional costs when unexpected instances occur. 

 

Cost vs. Investment

 

As stated throughout, many factors can determine how much you should expect to pay for a kitchen remodel. 

The geographic location of your job will undoubtedly be the most significant factor in how much money you will need to invest in your remodel. 

The price of your remodel will always mirror the cost of living and the cost of labor in your area. 

Remember that in finding a contractor, you are paying for the quality of the final product in your kitchen. The least expensive option is usually the least costly because they are cutting corners. At the end of the project, you will most likely notice the reason that the inexpensive contractor was such a bargain. 

Remodeling your kitchen is just another way to say investing in your home. For that investment to show the returns that you are expecting, you need quality work provided

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