Where You'll End Up Spending Your Money During a Kitchen Remodel
Updated: Apr 23, 2021
If you've ever attempted a kitchen renovation—or even attempted to research a kitchen renovation—then you know it's no small task. So it's no big surprise that last year the national average cost for a minor, midrange remodel of the heart of the home was $21,198, according to Remodeling’s 2018 Cost vs. Value Report. Keep in mind, that doesn't even include layout changes, or moving plumbing or electrical. The report goes on to add that a more major, midrange renovation averaged $63,829, and an upscale kitchen renovation's average cost came in at $125,721. If you live in a large, expensive city like New York, chances are the price is going to be even higher than that. Regardless of where your remodel falls on the spectrum, we're talking a lot of money.
"Kitchens and baths are by far the most expensive rooms in the house because they are not only finish- and material-intensive (full of countertops, tile, and cabinets), but also carry additional budgetary demands due to plumbing, electric, and mechanical requirements," says Steve Pallrand of design firm Home Front Build. "On top of that, there are the appliances and plumbing fixtures. With the ever-increasing options available now in terms of finishes, functions, and styles, it can be extremely challenging to stick to a moderate budget."
However, we are firm believers that knowledge is power. Go into your remodel aware of the costs and you'll be less likely to collapse into a fit of stress-induced tears later. Here's a breakdown of where your money will go in a typical kitchen renovation. "The necessary plumbing, mechanical, electrical, framing, and plaster takes up about one third of the project budget, another third goes to finishes, and the last third to the installation of those finishes," says Steve.
Cabinets + installation: 20 to 40 percent of budget
Countertop materials + installation: 10 to 30 percent ("If there is one place to splurge, it would be the backsplash," says Steve. "It is a highly visible accent that can set the tone of the room and become the design focal point, whether you do a dynamic statement or a more subdued one.")
Flooring/framing/drywall/paint (the basics of a room): 10 to 20 percent
Appliances: 10 to 20 percent ("Placement of the dishwasher is the most common hurdle. Where the dishwasher goes is often ignored or undervalued," says Steve. "The dishwasher defines the cleanup area, and if placed within the work triangle, traffic jams and hazards will ensue.")
Electrical work: 10 percent
Plumbing & appliance installation: 5 to 10 percent
HVAC and ducting work: Less than 5 percent
Plumbing fixtures: Less than 5 percent ("The kitchen faucet is the most-used appliance in a kitchen. I would say that it’s worthwhile to allocate a decent amount of your budget and resources into this piece," says Mindy Sevinor, showroom brand manager at Designer Bath and Salem Plumbing Supply. "A reliable filtration system is worth spending money on because of its direct benefits on your health and on the performance and longevity of your appliances, such as your dishwasher and ice maker.")
No matter where you decide to allocate your funds, all our experts agreed on one thing: Plan for the unexpected. "The challenge in estimating an 'average' is that cost swings wildly based on what you do and how large your kitchen is," says Donna Garlough, author of Your Home, Your Style: How to Find Your Look & Create Rooms You Love. "Bottom line is that a national 'average' doesn't tell you much about what your particular project should cost. The only way to know is to get several in-home estimates on the work you're thinking about doing. Then add 10 to 15 percent for all the things you forgot about (and all the upgrades you'll want to make along the way)."