12 Factors that Impact the Cost of a Kitchen Remodel

  • kitchen remodeling

Photo Credit: Wellborn Cabinets

The cost to remodel a kitchen varies greatly because so many factors affect the cost of remodeling a kitchen. Below, we’ve outlined the major factors that go into the cost of a new kitchen. We’d be very pleased to discuss the cost factors relating to the kitchen remodel you have in mind.

1) Configuration

It costs less to remodel a kitchen if you don’t change the location of things like sinks, dishwashers, stoves, ovens, refrigerators, lighting, etc.. Changing the location of these things require extra plumbing, electrical and gas line costs to your kitchen remodel.  However, if the configuration and layout of your existing kitchen aren’t working for you, these additional costs are worthwhile.

2) Upgrades and Changes to Utilities

Going from an all-electric kitchen to a kitchen with a gas stove and ovens increase the cost of your kitchen remodel. Also, if your home has not had its electrical system upgraded in a while, you may need to “heavy up” and add electrical circuits to meet building code and to handle today’s appliances. Going from a refrigerator freezer that doesn’t have an auto ice maker and water on the door to one that does also means running extra water supply pipes.

Additionally, due to a Mechanical Code change, after 2010, hood or downdraft exhaust systems that move more than 400 cfm of air now require the installation of a “make-up air system”. This new requirement can add $1,400 to $2,000 to the cost of the kitchen.

3) Flooring

High-end tile, stone, or wood floors in your kitchen will cost much more than sheet vinyl. But there are many options between these high and low-cost ends. Most are affordable, functional and beautiful. Even within tile, stone, and wood floors there can be a broad range of costs. There are also many man-made products that simulate stone or wood that look great, wear well and typically cost less.

4) Cabinets

If your design includes a good number of kitchen cabinets, your choice of cabinets can have a dramatic impact on the cost of your kitchen remodel. There are many types and grades of cabinets.

Three categories of kitchen cabinets: No matter the type or grade of your cabinets, they will all fall into one of three categories: Stock, Semi-custom, and Custom.

Generally, stock cabinets are of a lower grade of construction and only come in a limited number of sizes and configurations. But they will cost less than a similar quality semi-custom or custom cabinet. There are times when a mix of these types of cabinets offer you the most cost effective and optimum kitchen solution.

Grades and construction: The grade and construction of your cabinets offers you the most cost effective solution only when they are matched to your needs, desires, and budget.

Lower-end, lower-cost, and lower-quality cabinets are typically (but not always) made of cheaper materials. They may have veneer or foil faced modeled wood and plastic doors and exterior surfaces. Their cabinet boxes may be constructed of compressed wood and fiberboard. They may have lower quality hardware like, pulls, hinges, and glides. Cabinets made like this of lower quality materials don’t usually hold up as well, don’t function as smoothly, won’t last as long, don’t look as good, and are assembled using joinery techniques that are inferior. BUT, even in an upscale home, these types of cabinets may be worth considering for a secondary kitchen or pantry off of your kitchen.

At the other end, high-end cabinets are usually made using high-quality solid wood, have more design options, nicer finishes, better glides, hinges, pulls, soft closing draws and doors, and have many internal configuration options. They are made using joinery methods like dovetails for draws. This quality results in beautiful cabinetry that works extraordinarily well and can last a lifetime.

In between the lowest and highest quality cabinets you’ll find cabinets that the majority of homes have. They have some materials similar to lower and higher end cabinets but may use wood veneers, for example over lesser quality wood or boards. Their hardware, glides, hinges may fall in the middle-quality range. From a look standpoint, many of the middle to higher end “in-between” range kitchen cabinets can a great choice for many kitchens.

Quantity and features: Each cabinet you add to a kitchen increases costs. Larger and taller cabinets, as well as cabinets with special features, tend to add more cost than smaller plain ones. But the quantity and nature of the cabinets in your kitchen should be determined by how you want to use your kitchen, how you want it to look and function, and what you want to have in your kitchen vs. a pantry off your kitchen, etc.

5) Trim

Some kitchens and kitchen cabinets need more than basic trim to be installed. Some installations require extensive trim. Depending on quantity and style, or if they need to be finished to exactly match the cabinetry; these features can easily increase cost by $500 to $3,000 or more. These can be a simple one piece crown molding, to a three-piece cornice; light rails; valance trim; toe-kick and base trim, etc.  Attention to this detail will make the difference in appearance from plain to elegant. Typically trim is not a large expense as a percent of the kitchen unless the trim work is extensive and/or requires custom mill work.

6) Counter Tops

Laminate countertops are often the least expensive option for kitchens. Besides the typical squared off laminate counter top, there are also molded laminate counter tops with curved edges. You can also enhance a laminate counter top by adding custom wood edges that are stained or painted to match your cabinets.

Most homeowners today who have mid- to upper-end kitchens prefer natural stone counters like granite or marble or synthetic counters. The man-made counter most popular today are quartz counter tops. These have natural quartz in a special resin. Stone and Quartz counter tops are more expensive than laminate. There is a wide cost range from lower end and sometimes thinner stone and quartz tops and more expensive stone and quartz tops. And if you desire exotic imported stone countertops they can be extremely expensive.

At the time this article was written, the average cost of granite is $65 per sq. ft. Occasionally, there are limited offerings of stone for as little as $40 per sq. ft. Marble, while liked by many people is susceptible to staining and etching and needs more preventative care and maintenance. You need to factor that into your cost comparison. Man-made counters that are primarily or completely resin based such as Siltstone and Corian range in cost from $52 – $58 per sq. ft. But high-end man-made Quartz counter tops, like Zodiac Quartz, go for $90 per sq. ft. to $120 per sq. ft. They will typically be more than the granite counter tops most often used.

Tile counter tops are also a reasonably popular countertop. They usually cost more than laminate but less than high-end stone or quartz tops. You can get very creative with tile. The downside to tile is the potential for staining of some types of tile and grout. When using tile, you should select a tile that is less likely to stain and keep the grout sealed at all times. You may also need to remove and replace the grout from time to time. Using a darker color grout can help minimize the need to replace the grout as frequently as a light color grout.

You may want to consider the time and cost of counter top maintenance over the life of the counter. These costs vary and can make some selections more expensive than others when you factor in the lifetime cost of ownership.

7) Appliances

You can buy all the appliances you need for an economy or even mid-range kitchen for what just one or two high-end appliances will cost.

Therefore, appliances can have a significant impact on your kitchen remodel cost. At Diamond, we have relationships with some manufacturers, like Jenn-Air for which we can pass along special discounts. Beyond that, it is relatively easy to learn what any particular appliance will cost you.

8) Lighting

In many of today’s kitchens lighting consists of recessed lighting and under cabinet lighting. Because kitchens typically need the same level and type of lights, there is not lots of difference between lighting costs for kitchen remodels between high and low-end kitchens.

LED lighting is the recommended type of lighting for longevity, lowest cost of energy use and over the lifetime of the light will offer the lowest overall cost. Non-dimmable LED lights tend to be the least expensive, dimmable, variable color temperature, and home automation controlled lights tend to increase costs. Sometimes dramatically. Dimmable LED bulbs and switches also vary in the range they can offer between the dimmest and brightest light. The widest range of dimming can sometimes cost a bit more.

Using fixtures instead of recessed lights or, in conjunction with recessed lights, may add costs over basic lighting but can also add greatly to the distinctive look of your kitchen.

9) Quality of Design, Installation, and Construction

Regardless of all other considerations, there is almost always a cost difference between a slapdash level design with poor craftsmanship for the installation when compared to a carefully thought out kitchen design that is built with care and high-quality craftsmanship.

When renovating your kitchen involves moving walls, removing or adding doors or windows, or bumping out, or moving the kitchen to a whole new addition; the design and quality of construction will also impact cost, sometimes considerably. But sometimes these costs are more than worth the investment. They can both make your kitchen and home better to live in and also increase its resale value.

10) Kitchen Design, Interior Design, and Product Selection

Depending on what you are looking for from your kitchen designer and remodeler there will be a cost impact. For example:

  • Expect to pay more if you want more than basic kitchen design and product selection support.
  • Expect to pay more if you would like the remodeler or designer to provide interior design services as well and to shop with you or pre-select materials and products for you to select from.
  • Expect to pay less if you have a great design sense and know what you want so you don’t need these services as much. But If you don’t, investing in these services will make your kitchen that much better.

11) Value Engineering

When you work with Diamond Builders of America, Value Engineering is not an extra cost. It’s built into our price. Value Engineering is a method we use that helps you get the most of what you want in your kitchen based on YOUR priorities.

It starts by us asking you what is most important to you, how you plan to use the kitchen, etc. We can design the kitchen and recommend products that will help you get what you want within your budget. At any given budget, value engineering helps you get more of what you want.

For example: Let’s assume you very much want high-end cabinets, stone counters, an island, top of the line appliances, and you also want to add cabinets to increase your storage space. But, adding additional high-end cabinets for the new storage will eat up almost all of what you want to spend for your kitchen.

One value engineering solution we might suggest would be to use fewer cabinets in the kitchen and, to increase your storage space, build a large walk-in pantry right off the kitchen, that gives you even more additional space than you would get with the extra cabinets. This way, you get everything you want, but in a way that lets you do so in your budget.

12) Project Management and Client Service

A company, like Diamond Builders, that provides professional project management and attentive client service typically charges more than one that doesn’t. It’s because it takes a higher caliber of staff member and managers to provide this.

BUT, the small cost for this improved level of service, provides you huge payback. This is because poor company and project management, and poor customer service, often leads to higher, hidden, and unexpected costs. These costs come in the form of you spending more time dealing with problems, the likelihood of more delays, surprise costs, and aggravation.

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