A kitchen renovation is often a threefold affair: Think budget, durability and return on investment (ROI). And it requires detailed planning to get it right. Despite all the kitchen renovation horror stories you might have heard, $14 billion are spent on kitchen remodels and improvements each year. Why? Because they happen to be an investment for your property. And you will probably see a big part of the cost covered in the resale value of your home.
The secret ingredient for perfect kitchen renovations is not love, but rather, planning. If you carefully plan for your remodel, you reduce the dangers of budget overruns, delays, and every other remodeling beast you might have heard of. By carefully studying your available budget, researching material costs and hiring the right crew to do the job, you guarantee yourself a successful and painless kitchen renovation.
Planning your kitchen renovation
The first step towards remodeling your kitchen is determining what you like and dislike from your current space. You have to scrutinize every detail and come up with a kitchen wish list. What is it that you want out of this kitchen renovation? Is it more cabinet or storage space? Or a different layout? What key elements are you missing? Do you want to change appliances? Or do you think the lighting is off and would rather sacrifice some storage space to open up a window and let the sunlight in? Your kitchen wish list can go on forever, and in order to make it work, you need to prioritize those dreams. What is higher up on that list, the things you cannot possibly do without? Those are the ones you first want to tackle.
According to those needs, you will start your research on materials and prices. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) breaks down the cost of kitchen renovation as follows:
Cabinetry & Hardware 29%
Installation (Labor) 17%
Appliances & Ventilation 14%
Walls & Ceilings 5%
Design Fees 4%
Doors & Windows 4%
Faucets & Plumbing 4%
There's an important catch in this list. Notice that the biggest chunks of your kitchen renovation costs are due to materials. (Cabinetry, appliances, and countertops.) This actually means you have much more control over your cost of kitchen renovation. By doing an extensive research on materials, you can find very interesting alternatives to your wish list while respecting your budget.
How in-depth do I want to go?
Once you can identify the things that bother you about your space, you'll have an easier time determining what level of kitchen renovation you want to take on.
Typically, a small kitchen renovation will include a change in cosmetic things. Such as wall color, flooring, appliances, plumbing and lighting fixtures, and countertops. A moderate or standard kitchen renovation includes the cosmetic changes of a smaller remodeling but gets more labor-intensive. This type of renovation includes new cabinets, installing or moving electrical outlets, more in-depth lighting changes (such as swapping out that dated fluorescent fixture for pendant or can lighting), and some plumbing/electrical/HVAC work. Still, its moderate because the remodel is done within the confines of the original space.
A high-level kitchen renovation includes the cosmetic changes and characteristics of a moderate kitchen renovation, but with all the bells and whistles. This is the kind of renovation that you want to take on if you dislike everything about your space. From its finishes to its shape and size, you want to do an overhaul. Custom pieces and total wall removal are parts of this type of kitchen renovation. If this sounds like the kind of project for you, allot extra time for it, and be sure to discuss the timeline with your renovation professional before you begin.
How big is my space (and will it be increasing)?
Space is another important consideration when planning a kitchen remodel. Typically, if you want to add on to your kitchen, that comes at a price of about $95 per square foot for a one-story space (of course this varies by region). That's only for the added square footage; the level of finishes (flooring, etc.) and everything else you put in that space will determine the rest of the cost. If you're increasing the kitchen space by moving walls, and not adding to the overall square footage of your home, this cost does not apply.
You need to go back to that kitchen wish list and review how you will be using the space. This will determine the best possible kitchen layout for your needs. If you're an entertainer, you want to have space to pamper your guests. If your kitchen is the headquarters of your family, you might want to think about opening up space to a family room. A good technique is to determine workstations and functions and work around them.
What level of finishes do I want?
It's important to think about what's important to you, especially if you're trying to stay within a specific budget for your remodel. Things like granite countertops, high-end gas stoves with hood ranges, and the latest fridge will increase the overall cost of kitchen renovation project. Think about what you absolutely must have, and what things you could swap out for other options to stay within your budget. Oftentimes, similar styles with very different price tags can be found. These things may not be exactly the same as the originally desired object, but can be pretty close and cohesive with the rest of the design for your new kitchen.
We can't stop stressing how important planning is for a successful remodel. A clever idea is to grab that kitchen wish list, and after you have prioritized what you won't give up, start doing research on a plan B for your other items. This is extremely useful for kitchen renovation costs because you have an alternative ready if your first choice doesn't fall through. You won't have nasty afterthoughts about your second choice because you've already done your homework. Most importantly, you won't keep your contractor waiting on your decision and you won't feel pressured to make a rushed decision you'll later regret. Ask yourself, are you really the passionate chef that needs that Viking stove? Perhaps those custom made cabinets could be replaced by open shelves? Does that kitchen pendant have a cheaper cousin out there?
There are a million and one options to satisfy everyone's tastes and uses. But in order to find them, you need to have time. That is why drafting a backup plan is always a good idea when it comes to kitchen renovations. If the budget tides turn on you, you will be ready!
How should I prepare before I begin my kitchen renovation?
In addition to a list of likes/dislikes, and what things are the most important/which could be exchanged for other options, having a contingency budget in place can keep your project and your finances on track. Try to set aside an amount equivalent to about 20 percent of your total renovation cost as a contingency budget. This money will come in handy if hidden damages to your home are uncovered during the renovation project. Hidden damages can go from electrical, plumbing, pests, structural issues. You name it. You can never tell what terrors are hidden behind old walls. Otherwise, you could end up sacrificing things that you wanted in your new kitchen in order to deal with dry rot or a leak. Worse yet, your project could be put on hold, or you could end up going over your original budget.
This additional budget will also come in handy if you decide to submit a change order along the way.
Hiring the right professional for your kitchen renovation
Research doesn't stop when you have a perfect draft of what your dream kitchen will look like. After all, your dream is only as good as the guy who builds it. Installation expertise is worth gold. But how do you know? The first thing you need to do is to check a professional's permit data and references. This way, you will know if they are experienced and qualified for the job. You can check their permit history online, and you can go ahead and call your neighbor to see how they felt about a particular contractor. If you use Kukun's Pro Fact Sheets you can even see who's currently working in your neighborhood. Which makes it easier to know which contractor did your neighbor's kitchen. Without having to call your neighbor and ask!
Managing your kitchen renovation
While managing may not sound like a crucial part of your kitchen renovation project, it is actually crucial. Tasks and deadlines need to respected and kept in order to prevent delays. If you fall behind on your tile order, the materials will not arrive on time. Which means you will have to pay your crew, but the job won't get done. By properly managing these tasks and deadlines, you will execute a painless kitchen renovation. Delays are a primary cause for budget overruns, so you really need to watch out for this.
What you want to do, is to set up a schedule of tasks and deadlines. Furthermore, which tasks are interdependent? For example, I can't install the countertops if the cabinets have not arrived. What is your timetable? And beyond that, when do I need to order the materials to make sure they arrive on time? This is key for your kitchen renovation. You want to sit down with your contractor and set up a timetable and deliverables, so you can stay on time and on a budget.
If this is too much, you can always use Kukun's managing software. It will upload a calendar based on your project. Indicating deadlines and tasks. It will also send you and your contractor reminders of when tasks are due, so everyone is on the same page. Planning and organizing are key for a smooth kitchen renovation project.