At this point in the kitchen planning process, you should have a pretty clear idea of the direction of your kitchen project. You’ve identified how you’ll use your space, your wants, don’t-wants, and dream elements. You have images and inspiration, along with copious notes, so now it’s time to set a parameter that will allow you to determine your selections and scope of work moving forward. You’ll do this by taking the difficult but necessary step of determining a kitchen budget. Beyond ensuring that you can afford your project, having a budget you’re confident in will help you to make choices for wants and needs in your space. Knowing your kitchen budget can help to keep your project moving and your workflow flowing. As planning tools go, it’s tough to beat a budget, so in this segment we’ll cover how to determine the right one that fits you and your project best.
When considering how much of an investment you want to make, it helps to know in a general sense what your kitchen project will cost. Typically, interior designers will encourage clients to plan on a price range of between 10 and 20 percent of your home’s value. For example, if your home is worth $400,000, your kitchen renovation cost will most likely fall between $40,000 and $80,000. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. For example; if you live in an area with an inflated housing market- meaning homes are selling above asking and there’s an inventory shortage- the average kitchen project cost may come in closer to 10 percent of your home’s value. After you’ve had all the necessary discussions and have settled on “your number,” plan to add 10 to 20 percent on top for cost overruns or unexpected needs.
At this point, you’ll need to begin breaking down the expenses associated with your kitchen project. Every component of your kitchen will have choices in varying price ranges, and in future posts, we will cover Good, Better, Best options for all of your selections to help make the decision process easier to navigate. There are important things to remember here:
- It’s almost always certain that quality and cost are correlated. Your notes on how you use the space and what elements you find most important, used in combination with the Good, Better, Best methodology will make determining the investment level in each selection easier.
- If you are operating within strict overall budget parameters, you’ll have to do a give and take of good, better, best within the different components of the project. You may decide to choose cabinets from the “Better” category, while opting for countertops from “Best” and flooring from “Good.” There are endless ways to create a top of the line feel by combining middle of the road and higher end items, and the Good, Better, Best approach can help you achieve it.
- You’ll need to make rational choices that are best for your dreams, wallet and lifestyle. Put rationality in the driver’s seat in this stage and make sure you’re considering not only the aesthetics of your choice but the practicality and affordability.
- It’s essential to factor into your decision making the duration of time you plan to use the kitchen. If you’ll be staying in your home long term and aren’t able to incorporate everything you’d like to in this phase of your project, you can plan for upgrades to take place down the road. And if that is your plan, be sure to evaluate which selections are easier to upgrade vs. others. For example, countertops and lighting are simpler to replace vs. flooring or cabinets. Thoroughly evaluating this can also help you to decide where to choose good, better, or best for your kitchen selections.
Though there’s no exact formula for all kitchens, but it’s safe to say your budget will be divided roughly into 3 sections, which will break down as such:
The first third will be allotted to cabinetry. There is a really wide range of prices and options here that will vary greatly depending on your preferences. Generally, there are 3 main levels of cabinetry from which you’ll choose: stock, semi-custom and custom. Within those tiers, each choice can vary from having a few options, to unlimited levels of customization. You’ll make choices in terms of style, finish and function and will be presented with products that range from inexpensive to astronomical. Don’t worry, we’ll break down cabinetry choices in depth in a future post.
The second slice of your budget will be spent on labor. While it may be tempting to work with the lowest price contractors you can find, it’s important to understand that it takes skilled workers, along with their tools and materials to implement a quality kitchen project. If you’re planning to DIY, you’ll most likely still need to hire out a few aspects of the project, like electric/plumbing to meet your local regulations. Also, DIYers should remember that giving an accurate account of what your own time is worth should factor into your equation. Do you have the time and desire to do something that may take you longer than a professional? And, depending on your skill level, will you be able to accept less-than-professional results? Think this one through carefully. If you do decide to hire tradespeople to complete your project, try to get at least 3 bids for each category (contractor, electrician, plumber, etc). Look for local people who come highly recommended by people you trust. Remember to also evaluate the tradespeople you’re considering for quality of work and project management skills. The motto “you get what you pay for” definitely applies here, so be sure to keep it in mind. Another piece of valuable advice; make decisions based on costs and your gut for your project.
The last piece of the budget pie is reserved for the “everything else.” What is the “everything else?” It refers to things like countertops, plumbing fixtures and fittings, appliances, and lighting- all the tangible products that make a kitchen function. These elements tend to add up quickly, so the Good, Better, Best method will be critical in helping you to decide which items make the cut. What isn’t included in “everything else?” things like fees associated with hiring an interior designer, furniture and accessories.
If you’ve completed the early stages of your design process thoroughly, you should be arriving here confidently. If you feel unprepared for budgetary decision making, it’s a good idea to rewind a bit and make sure you put in enough early work to move forward. Remember, your budget is a tool. However you choose to interact with or manage it, it’s important for seeing the bigger picture of your home’s value. A good budget helps you to visualize cost allocations and make determinations on selections for your kitchen investment. A great one will help keep things on time and organized. Regardless of your scope of work, using your budget as a guide will help you to successfully achieve your vision for your space.