10 Ways To Save On A Kitchen Remodel

A kitchen remodel is among the most popular renovation projects for homeowners, but it can quickly become the most expensive. According to HomeAdvisor, the average kitchen remodel costs $25,656, or $150 per square foot, but most homeowners spend between $13,486 and $38,101, or $75 to $250 per square foot.

The cost to remodel a kitchen ranges dramatically depending on the size, quality of materials and scope of work for each project. However, the projects you choose to focus on can help keep costs within your budget.

Here are 10 ways for you to save on a kitchen remodel.

  • Have a budget and a detailed plan.
  • Do your homework.
  • Upgrade decor, furnishings and hardware.
  • Change out light fixtures.
  • Update your appliances.
  • Shop around.
  • Be strategic about where you splurge.
  • Avoid a piecemeal renovation.
  • Use your existing kitchen layout.
  • Consider a professional over DIY.

Have a Budget and a Detailed Plan

Without a detailed plan for a kitchen remodel, it’s easy to go over budget. The 2021 U.S. Houzz & Home Study: Renovation Trends found that staying on budget was among the top three renovation challenges that homeowners faced.

“A remodel is 75% planning with 25% implementation,” explains June Shea, president of Shea Studio Interiors in Fairfax Station, Virginia. “If you plan well in advance and you have a good design, then when you do pull the trigger, everything goes quicker and more smoothly. You’re better able to control the cost.”

It’s also important to ask about estimated timelines. “During this time, when home remodeling and design professionals are particularly busy, it’s also important to ask about and align on timelines,” advises Anne Colby, Houzz editor. “Businesses in the construction sector had a wait time of 11.7 weeks before they could begin a project.”

Do Your Homework

Before you start looking at new countertops or tiling, you need to do some research and make a plan. “Probably the most important thing is to do the research and define the scope of work,” says Shea.

When you’re looking for a contractor, price shouldn’t be the only deciding factor. You don’t want poor-quality construction because you were looking for the cheapest option. Speak with several contractors, and give details about the scope of work and your target price point.

“If you've established a target, you can farm it out to three contractors. If you don't (establish a target), you're going to get three different answers about what it's going to cost to do your remodel,” says Shea. “By establishing the assumptions from the beginning, you get a more realistic price on labor.”

Upgrade Decor, Furnishings and Hardware

A kitchen remodel doesn’t always have to be a major renovation. “One way we see people breathe new life into their kitchen is by upgrading kitchen decor and furnishings,” explains Colby. “Bar stools, wall art and cabinet pulls can go a long way to giving your kitchen a fresh feel.”

Change Out Light Fixtures 

A lack of natural lighting, the wrong type of artificial lighting or lighting in the wrong location can become a problem very quickly. A well-lit kitchen is a must and changing out light fixtures is an easy, affordable fix.

According to HomeAdvisor, labor comprises the majority of the cost to install lighting fixtures, with the average cost of installation around $526 nationally. However, small light fixtures can cost as little as $75 to $100. Once you have a labor estimate, the cost to switch out light fixtures is easier to predict.

Update Your Appliances

“Appliance updates are very common during kitchen renovations,” Colby says. “Houzz research shows that just over half of homeowners replace all of their appliances during kitchen renovations and another third replace some appliances.”

If you’re looking to save on appliances during a kitchen remodel, Shea advises homeowners to purchase them as a bundle. “You can buy your stove, your refrigerator and your dishwasher – usually it's two or three appliances – from the same vendor. If you do that, there are some pretty significant rebates that you can achieve,” she claims.

Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances can also save you more money over the long term. For example, Energy Star, a program backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, boasts an annual savings of $450 on energy bills for the typical household.

Shop Around

When you’re looking for tiles, countertops and other materials for your kitchen remodel, shopping around can help you get the best bang for your buck. “Don't be afraid to shop around for tile. You can find the same tile or very similar tile at three different stores and at three different prices,” Shea says. “At one place it might be $30 per square, but at another place it might be $12.”

Be Strategic About Where You Splurge

Even small purchases add up quickly, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t splurge. Homeowners should be strategic about where they spend their money.

“Another great place to save is if you know you're doing a kitchen redesign and you want a really sexy backsplash. Well, you can use $3 per square field tile and use $40 decorative tile. With that $40 decorative tile, you only need maybe six square feet. You can splurge on a small quantity of the expensive tile and place it into a field of way less expensive tile, but the overall result is that it all looks expensive,” Shea suggests.

This can be applied to most materials in your kitchen remodel, but you need to be strategic. Every little decision can lead to significant savings.

Avoid a Piecemeal Renovation

Homeowners can save more money by doing their entire kitchen remodel at once instead of doing it project by project over a long period of time.

“If you do your renovation piecemeal, it will cost you more and you won't get the best result,” notes Shea. “You're better off saving your money so that you can do it all at once. You can maximize the dollars that you have because you're not spending your money redoing something you’ve already had done.”

Use Your Existing Kitchen Layout

Try to maintain as much of your current kitchen layout as possible for bigger cost savings. Dramatically changing the layout can quickly drive up your kitchen remodel budget. For instance, moving the plumbing for your sink, dishwasher or refrigerator requires extensive work from licensed professionals. For a total kitchen makeover, you’ll need to budget for:

  • The labor required to remove walls.
  • New plumbing, pipes and hookups. 
  • Electrical rewiring for appliances and lighting.

Consider a Professional Over DIY

The do-it-yourself approach won’t always save you in the long run. “A common misconception is that DIY projects save time and money, but in many instances, a professional can complete the job in less time and provide access to discounts on products and materials that offset their fee,” says Colby.

Colby also points out that a general contractor will be able to act as an intermediary with specialty contractors to ensure that a project stays on schedule, while an interior designer can provide insight on the price-to-quality ratio of each product as well as access to trade pricing. “For smaller construction projects, you may have to rent expensive tools or purchase extra material to practice more technical work,” she adds.


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