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Ways to save money on a kitchen remodel

Posted by Jamie Downey  August 12, 2010 10:18 AM

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This summer, my wife and I decided it was time to remodel our kitchen. The construction phase of the job began about four weeks ago and will finally be wrapping up on Saturday. I had read that the average cost of a kitchen remodeling is between $40,000 and $50,000. Our remodel job was not this expensive, but still ended up more than we had estimated. The average kitchen remodeling job will return between 80 and 95 percent on resale, so hopefully we will recover some of these costs if / when we decide to move.

Here are a few ways you might save some money on your remodel job:

Do it yourself – My skills in the trades is limited at best and I had no illusions that I was capable of completing our remodel. However, I was able to save some money doing the demolition myself. Tearing out the existing cabinets and other demolition is relatively easy and can save you the cost of a carpenter for a few days. I also handled the painting and daily clean-up. This saved me several more days of hired labor. It seems to me that many people can handle these tasks and can probably save a few thousand dollars in the process.

Appliances – The best way to save in this area is to use your existing appliances. This was our original intent (our refrigerator was only two years old.) However, the final color schemes did not work so we had to buy new appliances. I anticipated that stock mid-range appliances would set us back around $4,000. This included a refrigerator, gas stove, dishwasher and microwave. However, we were very fortunate and ended up paying about $2,400 for these items. On a trip to Best Buy in Brockton, we met the best sales associate (named Julie). We ended up purchasing several floor models that were also on clearance. Floor models may have a scratch or two, but the savings can be significant. Had we purchased these at their original prices, we would have shelled out about $4,900. Instead we got them for less than half that price.

Neutral colors – When designing a kitchen, you may want to consider using designs and colors that stand the test of time. Modern looks and unique color countertops, while fashionable now, might look dated or out of style after several years. You do not want to undertake another remodel job in six or seven years. Furthermore, you want to the kitchen to be appeal to as many buyers as possible when you go to sell your home.

Contractors – My personal preference is to use small contractors (carpenters / plumbers / electricians) to complete the various tasks. Small contractors, usually have lower overhead costs than large operations. Consequently, they can pass these savings on to you. Our carpenter also served as our general contractor and this helped us keep costs in check. There are some drawbacks to the small contractor philosophy. The quality of craftsmanship can vary significantly and you will want to make sure your contractor is competent to complete the job. Fortunately, I know a couple of good contractors that I trust and are skilled craftsmen. Also, you probably want to make sure the contractor is insured.

Don’t move your sink – My wife claims to have modest tastes. This is one of those instances where her perception and reality are in stark contrast. My wife proposed that we move our sink into the island. We discussed this with the plumber and the additional costs were significant. My wife reluctantly agreed to leave the sink in its existing location. If possible, do not move your sink to another location.

Donate or sell your garbage – Our existing appliances were in pretty good shape. So instead of sending them to the landfill, I sold them online. While the amount of money I received was pretty nominal, it saved me the costs and hassles of disposing of the units. I have heard that Habitat for Humanity and other charities will come and pick up cabinets, appliances and other supplies. In addition to saving on disposal fees, you can take a tax deduction for your donation and will save some space in a landfill.

Final costs – As a means of comparison, here are our final costs incurred in our kitchen remodel:

Appliances (Best Buy) - $2,324
Electrician and electrical supplies $2,780
Cabinets (Home Depot) - $7,786
Carpenter and general contractor - $3,750
Plaster - $950
Plumbing - $1,000
Hardwood floors (Wood Pro Flooring) - $2,250
Granite countertop $3,050 ($43 / square foot installed)
Kitchen faucet (Home Depot) - $228
Hardware, paint and other supplies $606
Total - $24,724

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