Table of Contents
- Introduction to Kitchen Remodeling
- Why Remodel Your Kitchen
- Questions to Ask Yourself Before Kitchen Remodeling
- Levels of Kitchen Remodeling Projects
- Budgeting a Kitchen Remodel
- How to Choose a Kitchen Remodeling Contractor
- The Kitchen Remodeling Process
- Kitchen Remodeling Ideas
Introduction to Kitchen Remodeling
As the heart of the home, there is no wonder the kitchen receives so much love and attention. Amongst a majority of homebuyers, the kitchen ranks as the most important room in the house. As a result, many homeowners look to kitchen remodeling as a way to increase the value of their homes before selling.
Of course, there are other reasons to remodel your kitchen if you’re not planning to sell. When the time comes to remodel your kitchen, or you’re considering right now, this guide will provide all the information you need. Our kitchen remodeling guide covers all of the following:
- Why homeowners choose to remodel their kitchen and why you should consider such a project
- How to prepare for kitchen remodeling and questions to ask yourself before searching for a contractor
- The different levels or scopes of kitchen remodeling projects and which is right for you
- How to budget a kitchen remodel and how to find the right contractor for the job
- The complete kitchen remodeling process and commonly asked questions
Why Remodel Your Kitchen
You likely have a reason if you’re considering a kitchen remodel already. Your kitchen is the focal point of your home, as it is with many others. When it fails to greet you inside to start cooking, it has fallen short of expectations. Many homeowners choose to remodel their kitchen before selling, while others do it to have a family-focused space in their home. Regardless, the benefits you receive from kitchen remodeling are significant.
Whatever your reasoning, the most common reason to remodel a kitchen includes:
- Preparing to sell
- Outdated kitchen
- Add space
- Add storage
- Increase cooking efficiency
- Change the style or aesthetics
- Create a space for the family
Preparing to Sell
A kitchen remodel is the best way to improve the attractiveness of your home before putting it on the market. Homebuyers are always looking for an updated, efficient, and beautiful kitchen to accompany their new home. When you’re looking to sell your home, consider a kitchen remodeling. According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report 2018, the average ROI for a major midrange kitchen remodel was 59%. Even minor kitchen remodeling projects were able to recoup up to 81% of their costs after selling. These numbers show that remodeling your kitchen before selling is viable and profitable.
Kitchens that haven’t been remodeled in more than ten years could use a cosmetic remodel at the very least. In other cases, it may need a complete rebuild. Old kitchens are riddled with problems: inefficient appliances, drab colors, poor layouts, dated styles, etc. All these issues make your kitchen less enjoyable, so many choose to bring their kitchens into the 21st century.
Adding space to your kitchen is a common reason to consider remodeling. A lack of space—whether square footage, countertop, or both—greatly reduces the enjoyment of cooking. It can feel more like a chore rather than a fun activity or hobby. Not to mention, a lack of space welcomes clutter. Little space to store appliances and utensils creates greater problems, which ties into our next point…
Little space restricts storage options for your kitchen. Storage is essential for pots, pans, dishes, utensils, ingredients, and a plethora of other kitchen items. Without it, these items end up on the counter, something small kitchens have very little of as well. In turn, clutter accumulates. Clutter prevents you from cooking efficiently and safely. These qualities are must-haves in any kitchen.
Improve Cooking Efficiency
Poor efficiency in a kitchen could be tethered to other issues (outdated appliances, lack of space, etc.), but it is often caused by the design or layout of your kitchen. Poor kitchen designs and layouts run rampant. Your kitchen should have what is called a “work triangle,” meaning your cooktop, sink, and refrigerator should be placed for an efficient work area. Without this triangle, the process of cooking is much less easy and enjoyable.
Change in Style or Aesthetics
It’s common for homeowners to remodel their kitchen because of the existing style or aesthetics. These types of kitchen remodels are often less extensive as they often require cosmetic changes. However, outdated kitchens suffer from this problem as well. Styles that were popular 30 years ago are not popular today. When changing styles, we recommend avoiding trends as they’ll eventually fall off.
Create a Space for the Family
When the kitchen is the heart of the home, gathering family and friends around for a homecooked meal should be easy. Unfortunately, not all kitchens are created equally. Creating an open-plan kitchen and dining room area is a great way to spend time with family and friends. If you don’t have room for a dining room, consider integrating seating into the kitchen with an island or breakfast nook. Regardless, the kitchen should be a place to enjoy good food and greater memories.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Kitchen Remodeling
Once you’re committed to remodeling your kitchen, there are some questions you must ask yourself. These questions will steer you in the right direction of knowing what you want in a kitchen remodel. Diving into a kitchen remodeling project without answering these questions can lead to a design you don’t like in the end or lacking features. With any home improvement, planning is a must. Use these questions to get started:
How do I use my kitchen right now?
Asking yourself this question will get you thinking about your cooking routine, movements in the kitchen, and activities you often do in the space. Do you often cook for the family? Does your family use the kitchen as a place to gather and eat dinner? How you use your kitchen will help you improve upon its layout. Next time you’re in the kitchen, think about how you’re using it and how it can change or improve.
What do I want in my future kitchen?
Are there kitchen features you’ve always wanted in your kitchen? Kitchen island? Pot filler? Spice cabinet? Walk-in pantry? Think of the features you want in your dream kitchen or features that will help you use the space. That way, you can better plan your design and budget.
What is my kitchen remodeling budget?
Speaking of budgets, that is your next task. Before you ever pick up the phone to call a remodeler, you must pin down your budget. There are several tools you can use online to calculate the cost of your kitchen remodels. The best rule of thumb for a remodeling budget of one room is to spend no more than ten to 15 percent of your home’s value. Additionally, ask yourself if you plan to pay out of pocket or finance a loan. Many contractors provide financing, so you’re always welcome to ask them for more details.
Will I live in my home during the kitchen remodeling project?
This question is important for the duration of your project. You certainly can stay in your home during a kitchen remodel, but there will be challenges. Where will you eat? Will you order take-out for all your food? Will you set up a designated cooking area outside or in another room? Knowing how you’ll eat at home and where you’ll eat helps reduce the stress of a kitchen remodel. Some choose to live with family or friends while the project is going on, while others stay in a hotel. It really comes down to your preferences.
Should I remodel my own kitchen or hire a contractor?
Choosing between a DIY kitchen remodel and a remodel from a contractor often passes through a homeowner’s mind. Our recommendation is to look at the scope or extent of your remodel.
Does your kitchen remodel feature a floor plan change? Does electrical and wiring need to be updated? Are you completely stripping your kitchen and building it from the ground up? If you answer yes to any of these, hire a contractor. These types of kitchen remodeling projects require a lot of expertise and skill, something you likely don’t have.
As for doing it yourself, cosmetic remodels are more appropriate. This means painting, refacing cabinets, replacing fixtures, installing tile, or updating appliances are all DIY-friendly. Anything related to the structure of the home or its internal workings (electrical and plumbing) should be left solely to the professionals.
Levels of Kitchen Remodeling Projects
There are three different levels of kitchen remodeling: cosmetic, traditional remodel, and rebuild. Determining which level of remodeling is right for your kitchen greater helps you pin down a design and budget. You likely have an idea of the project level your kitchen remodel needs, but learning about your options could give you a better perspective.
Cosmetic Kitchen Remodel
This level of remodeling is the most DIY-friendly because it only features cosmetic changes. You retain the existing layout of the kitchen and simply update the look. As we’ve discussed already, cosmetic projects are the best for homeowners looking to do the work themselves. You don’t have to DIY your cosmetic remodel, however. Contractors welcome all levels of kitchen remodeling. Most importantly, cosmetic kitchen remodeling doesn’t require a building permit and is relatively inexpensive.
Some common cosmetic updates to kitchens include:
- Cabinet refacing
- New appliances
- Fixture updates
The traditional kitchen remodel is what often comes to mind when mentioning a remodeling project. This level of remodeling involves changing the layout of the kitchen for more space, greater efficiency, and an improved style of aesthetic. Higher-quality materials are used, such as granite countertops or flooring. Instead of refacing or repainting your cabinets, they are most likely replaced in this type of remodel.
A traditional kitchen remodel may include:
- Installing custom cabinets
- High-end countertops (granite or marble)
- New kitchen layout
- More space and storage
- Specialty appliances (wine cooler, range stove, pot filler, etc.)
- New electrical and plumbing
Your last option is the most expensive kitchen remodeling option, and that’s to completely rebuild the kitchen. This level of remodeling involves gutting everything out of the kitchen and building it from the ground up. A rebuild often includes adding square footage, removing walls, or extending the kitchen’s square footage with a bump-out. More premium materials are used with a focus on everything having a specific purpose.
Rebuilding a new kitchen often involves:
- Transforming the kitchen from the ground up
- Extending the square footage of the kitchen
- Removing or moving walls
- Premium materials
- Custom storage solutions
Budgeting a Kitchen Remodel
After asking yourself questions about the project and determining the level of remodeling you need, you can finally lay out the plan for your budget. Budgeting isn’t the most enjoyable part of a remodel, but it’s necessary for achieving the goal you want without breaking the bank. Make sure you have at least some design ideas ready to help you calculate your expected budget. It will make the budget more accurate and leave fewer surprises for you to discover along the way.
There are a number of budgeting aspects we’ll cover:
- Average Kitchen Remodeling Cost
- Factors Affecting Costs
- Kitchen Remodeling Budget Breakdown
- How to Pay for a Kitchen Remodel
Average Kitchen Remodeling Cost
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to remodel a kitchen is $13,466 to $38,199. As you can see, this is a significant range, so it’s hard to base your own situation on this average. For many homeowners, the cost of their kitchen remodel will fall in this range. However, there are many who will not. With that said, let’s take a look at the factors that impact a kitchen remodeling project’s cost.
Factors Affecting Costs
Many factors will affect the cost of your kitchen remodeling project. You can do your best to eliminate some of these factors, but not all. The cost of kitchen remodeling is impacted by:
- Where you live
- The level of kitchen remodeling
- Types of features/appliances you desire
- Style you want
- Materials you choose
- Any structure or layout changes
- Contractor’s price
There are many kitchen remodeling calculators you can use online to help you find the price of your project. Most of them let you input a number of different factors, like the ones we listed above, to get you a semi-accurate price. We recommend using these and reaching out to multiple contractors for different quotes. That way, you can better understand your project’s cost.
Kitchen Remodeling Budget Breakdown
Breaking down your budget to see what money goes where can help you find places to cut costs. Some choose to DIY certain projects and then let contractors do the complicated work. Others will change their selection of materials or make sacrifices in the design where available. The choice is up to you.
Again, the percentages we are working with below are averages, so your project will likely look different. Nonetheless, this budget breakdown is a great resource to know where your money is going in a kitchen remodel.
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), you should be breaking up your kitchen remodeling budget as follows:
- Cabinets: 29%
- Installation: 17%
- Appliances: 14%
- Countertops: 10%
- Flooring: 7%
- Lighting: 5%
- Walls and Ceilings: 5%
- Design Fees: 4%
- Windows and Doors: 4%
- Plumbing: 4%
- Miscellaneous: 1%
Once you have your budget, put 25% of it to the side for unexpected expenses or costs. Not all remodeling projects go as planned, so make sure you have a safety net.
How to Pay for a Kitchen Remodel
You are not limited to a single option when it comes to paying for your kitchen remodel. There are several routes you can take, each suitable for various different situations homeowners often face.
You can pay for your kitchen remodel with the following methods:
- Cash or out of pocket savings
- Credit cards
- Home remodeling loans
- Home equity line of credit (HELOC)
- Home equity loans
- Cash-out refinance
Regardless of the method you choose, it requires time to consider and plan. Never jump into a loan option without weighing the risks and learning the risks.
How to Find the Right Kitchen Remodeling Contractor
You’re ready to start looking for a contractor after solidifying your budget and thinking of some design ideas. When looking for the right kitchen remodeling contractor, there are two ways to help: word of mouth and searching online.
Consulting friends and family for any contractors they used is a good way to start. Even in today’s digital world, word of mouth is still powerful in finding good businesses. If you don’t have anyone who’s used a worthy contractor in your area, start searching online. Browse the websites of the kitchen remodeling contractors that show up in your area, but don’t choose the first you click on. Or the second. Or the third.
Instead, you should meet with multiple contractors for multiple quotes or bids before you make a decision. This goes for word-of-mouth recommendations too. They shouldn’t be the only contractor you approach for your project. Why? You want to avoid a bad kitchen remodeling project. A majority of people who had a bad experience with a remodeling project didn’t seek out multiple bids from contractors.
You’ll better understand how much your kitchen remodel should cost by seeking multiple bids from contractors. Speaking to a single contractor only gives you one estimated price. If you had three or four, you could learn that one or two contractors are aiming too high or too low. Be wary of these outliers as both reveal red flags.
Of course, the price contractors quote you aren’t the only factors to consider when choosing. There are a handful of other traits to make a more confident decision.
References and Reviews
Every good kitchen remodeling contractor has a list of references for you to consult. References are past clients of the contractors who are willing to share their experience with potential clients. Often, the information will include a phone number and sometimes an address. Some references allow potential clients to come to see the work they completed. Although, that isn’t always the case. A phone call paired with before and after photos is usually enough information.
If you aren’t sure what to ask the references, try these:
- What kind of work was completed?
- Did the contractor stay on budget?
- Did the contractor complete the project within the estimated time frame?
- Were there any problems during the project? If so, how were they resolved?
- What was your experience like with their crew members or subcontractors?
- Did their team keep the job site clean or organized?
- How did you communicate with the contractor during the project?
- Do you have any advice for working with this contractor?
You’re welcome to ask other questions, but these are a great place to start.
After checking references, look at any online sentiment for the contractors you’re considering. Reviews are a great way to see the good and bad experiences of past clients. We recommend checking out platforms like Google Reviews, Yelp, HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, Houzz, and Thumbtack. Read both positive and negative reviews. With negative reviews, check to see if the project was similar to yours or if the issues they experienced were relevant to your situation.
Portfolio of Past Work
Looking over the past work of your contractor is one of the best ways to see if they’re capable of building your kitchen. Most contractors have portfolios or galleries on their websites. If they don’t, ask them to provide you with a portfolio in the consultation or meeting. When a contractor is hesitant to show you any work, that’s a red flag. Always look at previous work before moving forward with a contractor.
For your safety and best interest, it’s vital your contractor is licensed, insured, and bonded. At the very least, they should have a business license and, in some states or areas, a contractor’s license. Always consult the state and municipal laws you live in for more details. Some contractors display their license number on their website, but you may have to ask for it. Ask for copies of their license, insurance, and bonds upon meeting with them. Failure to provide these documents likely means they’re lacking the correct documentation. Avoid these businesses for any home improvement project you may have.
Years of Experience
The years of experience your contractor has is helpful to know as it gives you an idea of how well they can complete your project. While the business may not have decades of experience, the contractor or project manager overseeing your remodel might. This information could be displayed on their website, or you may have to ask them in person. Either way, years of experience should be factored into your decision-making.
Communicative and Transparent
Finally, the last traits you want to see in your kitchen remodeling contractor are being communicative and transparent. You should have access to your contractor at all times throughout the duration of your project. At the same time, they should continually update you on the project’s progress and any problems that may arise. Withholding information from you is a bad sign. It likely means they aren’t confident in their work and wish to keep you happy.
To determine if your contractor is communicative and transparent, look for these early signs:
- Upfront about price
- Provides an itemized list of costs
- Provides bid in a 24-48 hours
- Arrives promptly
- When a problem comes up, they tell you
- Discuss ways of getting in touch with them
- Encourages your input, questions, comments, concerns
The Kitchen Remodeling Process
You’ve selected your contractor, so it’s time to begin the long trek to a remodeled kitchen. The kitchen remodeling process can be long, depending on the scope of your project. However, each step helps your kitchen become the space you want and need. Depending on your level of remodeling, your process may look a little different. Generally speaking, the kitchen remodeling process will look something like this:
- Design the New Kitchen
- Prepare for Construction
- Demolish Existing Kitchen
- Install Plumbing and Electrical
- Install Drywall and Flooring
- Install Cabinets and Countertops
- Install Appliances and Backsplash
- Finalize Kitchen Remodel
1. Design the New Kitchen
The first step in creating your dream kitchen is to design it. Depending on your contractor, they may have in-house designers who work with you or partner with a design studio or firm to assist. Regardless, the design phase can take several weeks to complete as it will go through various drafts, each time iterating on the feedback you provided. Most designers provide 2D and 3D models for a better gauge of the final space.
Along with the design, your contractor will talk to you about materials. This is an essential aspect of your remodel as it comes hand-in-hand with the design. Some materials aren’t suitable for certain styles or designs, so the design team and contractors work together to find a good match. Most importantly, they speak to you about the materials you want in your kitchen. Hardwood? Marble? Glass? These are conversations you’ll have early.
2. Prepare for Kitchen Remodel
You won’t move forward in the remodeling process until you approve the design. After, the contractor will begin preparing for the remodel. They order the necessary materials for the build, apply for permits if necessary, and schedule a start date with you. Once the materials arrive, construction can begin.
3. Demolish Existing Kitchen
This step in the remodeling process will look different based on the level of remodeling you have done. If it’s a cosmetic remodel, there isn’t much demolishing. As for the other levels of remodeling, your entire kitchen will be ripped up. The crew will rip out all the old materials to get in the new. If you’re tearing down any walls or moving any, this is completed during this phase as well.
4. Install Plumbing and Electrical
After the walls are where they should be and the old materials are gone, electrical and plumbing are replaced. They’ll first do the rough-in plumbing and electrical before finalizing the connections until later stages of the project. After electrical and plumbing are in, an inspection is needed. Your contractor will be responsible for scheduling any inspections throughout the kitchen remodel.
5. Install Drywall and Flooring
Since the electrical and plumbing are in, the crew will begin closing up the walls and floors. This is where your kitchen will begin to look like a room again. Drywall can take a few days to complete, with drying time included. As for flooring, it greatly depends on the material you choose.
6. Install Cabinets and Countertops
Next, the cabinets and countertops can be installed. Depending on the types of cabinets, this process can take two to three days. The countertops cannot be installed until after the kitchen cabinets are secured. Afterward, the rest of your kitchen will fall into place.
7. Install Appliances and Backsplash
Your appliances and backsplash will fill into their designated areas once the cabinets and countertops are installed. Plumbing and electrical are finalized when the appliances are connected to their hookups. The process of installing your backsplash will look different depending on the materials. The usual option is tile, but brick and stone are also excellent choices. On the other hand, you may not have a backsplash. That’s okay too.
8. Finalize Kitchen Remodel
Finally, your contractor will finalize the project by completing your kitchen’s last few details and features. They’ll likely reveal the space to you as well. However, you won’t be able to use it just yet. A final inspection is required before the green light is given. Only after that can you begin enjoying your transformed kitchen.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does kitchen remodeling take?
Most kitchen remodels take approximately six to 12 weeks to complete. That said, there are many factors that can affect your time frame. Some of those include the extent of the remodel, the size of the kitchen, any failed inspections, unexpected problems, and material delays.
How much does a kitchen remodel cost?
Do you need a permit to remodel a kitchen?
Generally speaking, cosmetic updates do not need a building permit. This includes projects like refacing your cabinets, installing new flooring, painting the walls, and changing fixtures.
Building permits are required when electrical or plumbing is updated. In addition, any structural changes to the kitchen, such as moving a wall or adding a window, will need building permits.
Above all, it depends on what you’re doing to remodel your kitchen and where you live. All municipalities have different requirements for building permits. We recommend consulting your contractor and local laws to learn more.
What is the most expensive part of a kitchen remodel?
On average, the most expensive part of a kitchen remodel is the cabinets. These can take up to 30% of your remodeling budget. Installation costs and appliances follow.
Can I live in the house during a kitchen remodel?
Yes! We recommend setting up a temporary eating and cooking area somewhere else in or around your home. Some choose an adjoining dining area, while others may choose a deck or patio. There are plenty of ways to survive your kitchen remodel without too much of a hassle.