Remodeling your kitchen or bathroom could cost more than you think

  • I budgeted $ 30,000 for my kitchen remodel, but that’s not even half what it will actually cost.
  • I asked a building contractor if 10-15% of the value of a house is typical; he said kitchens are usually higher.
  • The supply chain crisis slowed the pace of remodeling, but did not increase costs dramatically.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

Four years ago I decided it was time to renovate my small apartment kitchen. I budgeted $ 30,000 because I believed that all kitchen remodeling would cost $ 30,000. This year I finally got serious and started making estimates and had a rude awakening. The first company I called doesn’t affect jobs under $ 100,000. Next, I got a $ 40,000 estimate for the construction and rough carpentry work. That didn’t include cabinets or appliances, which would likely add another $ 30,000.

Obviously, my budget of $ 30,000 was way off. For a reality check, I spoke to Steve Cunningham, president of Cunningham Contracting based in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the chairman of Remodelers for the National Association of Home Builders. Having worked in construction since graduating from high school, Cunningham agreed that my $ 30,000 kitchen renovation budget was unrealistic.

First steps in house remodeling

Cunningham’s first home renovation principle is: Pick the right person to do the job. “Make sure you choose someone who is licensed, insured and comfortable with,” he said, “because they will be part of your family for a few months.”

If you don’t already have a relationship with a contractor, Cunningham recommends calling your local builders association for recommendations. Then choose two or three that you would like to interview.

Ask these questions to review your potential remover:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • What kind of license do you have?
  • Do you use subcontractors?
  • Do you have insurance? Are your subcontractors insured?
  • Are you getting all the necessary permits? (It’s a red flag if your contractor asks you to collect permits)
  • Are computer-generated renderings of the project part of your service? (Cunningham thinks it should be)
  • What else could I do that I don’t even know I need?

Don’t choose a contractor who blindly does what you want. “When you make a mistake, you need a contractor who’s not afraid to tell you,” said Cunningham.

But go with a licensed contractor. This will protect you from unscrupulous people who could take your money and leave the job unfinished. “You will probably pay a little more, but you won’t pay twice,” he said.

The kitchen remodeling: how much money to spend and what to expect

As a general rule, you should spend around 10 to 15% of the value of your home renovating your kitchen. For example, someone with a $ 500,000 home should expect to pay at least $ 50,000 to $ 75,000.

Cunningham thinks 10-15% is a good place to start, but kitchen remodeling can be much higher.

“If you look at what’s in a bathroom or kitchen in a house, that’s the most expensive part of that house,” he said. “There are so many different trades involved in these spaces.” You may need an electrician, plumber, tiler, carpenter, and glazier in addition to your contractor.

The cost of a particular kitchen remodel depends on many factors. These are some of the elements that will have the most impact on your budget:

  • Whether you are replacing the devices
  • Which device brands you choose
  • Whether you want to completely replace the cabinets
  • Where do you live (remodeling costs more in expensive markets like the Bay Area)

If you’re in the mood, a major makeover with high-end equipment and cabinets can cost $ 200,000 or more, no matter where you live.

The bathroom remodeling: similar budget to the kitchen

“Bathrooms and kitchens are pretty much in line, depending on their size,” said Cunningham. These two rooms are “the heart of the house, like the engine of the vehicle”.

Bathrooms contain many of the same elements as the kitchen, such as plumbing, tile and electrical installations. The bigger your bathroom, the higher the cost of the remodeling is likely to be.

How does a home remodel affect the selling price of your home?

When any of Cunningham’s customers want to sell, they tell them, “Don’t do anything. Whatever you do is likely not going to be what the next homeowner likes and it could limit who you can sell it to.”

But, he said, “If you’ve lived there for 10 or 15 years, kitchens and bathrooms are what houses sell.”

In Cunningham’s experience, there is one type of renovation that makes homes more attractive to buyers: universal design. This is the principle that built spaces should be accessible to people of all ages and all abilities. Cunningham’s company has made many renovations to help retirees in its area age on the spot, and these features are appealing to other senior home buyers.

The effects of COVID on home remodeling

There is good news and bad news about the impact supply chain disruptions have on your remodeling project.

“Unless you’re adding an extension to the house, the cost of remodeling won’t vary as much as building a house,” said Cunningham, because “the cost of wood doesn’t dictate too much of the cost.”

That’s the good news. The bad news is that you may have to wait for the components you need for your project. And wait Cunningham has been expecting a window for four months and should arrive in six weeks.

“There are thousands of ships waiting offshore to get in and that is killing us,” he said. “We’re trying to moderate that by ordering it early. But we’ve found over the past three months that it doesn’t even work.”

In addition to material delays, a shortage of labor can also lead to bottlenecks.

Pro tip: If the fridge or stove you want has been reordered and you can afford to pay a little more, higher quality appliances may be available.

How to freshen up your home for less

If you don’t have the funds to do a complete remodel, Cunningham had suggestions on how to inexpensively refresh a kitchen or bathroom.

For example, you could paint your kitchen cabinets, change the hardware and replace your countertops for a fraction of the cost of a complete renovation. You can also make significant savings by opting for less expensive equipment.

In the bathroom, you can just replace the cabinets and tiles, add new towel rails or give the room a new coat of paint. And if you’re looking for a more cost-effective way to give your home a facelift, bedroom and living room renovations usually cost less than kitchens or bathrooms.

In general, Cunningham says you should expect a major home renovation about every 10 years. This includes less glamorous projects like installing a new heater or replacing a water heater.

If you’re putting away 4% to 5% of the value of your home each year, you should have more than enough for repairs and renovations. For a $ 500,000 home, that means saving $ 20,000 to $ 25,000 annually to invest in upkeep, or about $ 2,000 a month. If you want to see how this investment affects the value of your home, Remodeling magazine has a detailed breakdown of cost versus value by item and region.

As for me, I’m still ready for a full kitchen remodel. I’ve given up on my low budget dreams, but having a kitchen that I love will be worth it.

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