Angie's LIST Guide to
Kitchen remodeling

Your kitchen is arguably the most important room in your home. It should be attractive, stylish, comfortable and functional. Remodeling a kitchen can dramatically enhance the appeal of your home to potential buyers.
 

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Creating a vision

To achieve the dream kitchen dream kitchen that you want, first you should have a clear vision of what you want the end result to look like.

Analyze the existing space. Take plenty of measurements with a tape measure and get a clear idea of the dimensions of your current layout.

Pros vs. cons. Decide what you like about your current kitchen’s features and what you’d like to see changed.

Set your goals. Make a list of all your kitchen remodeling goals. Include everything from simple, easy-to-accomplish tasks like organization and decorative elements to over-the-top, impossibly expensive overhauls.

Create a collection of ideas. Print out or save photos of great kitchen setups from websites, clip photos from decorating or remodeling magazines or snap photos of kitchens you come across at the homes of friends and family, restaurants or home shows.

Prioritize your goals. Determine your top priorities. Be practical and realistic. Don't assume that you’ll suddenly start making more regular use of your kitchen if it has pricey, stainless steel appliances.

Don’t forget remodeling takes time. A kitchen remodel will take time and likely prevent you from using your kitchen for whole days or weeks. Be sure you and your family plan adequately to anticipate for periods without the use of your kitchen.

Deciding what you can afford

Determining your budget before starting the remodeling process will help determine what you can incorporate into your new space. (Photo courtesy of John Asante)
Determining your budget before starting the remodeling process will help determine what you can incorporate into your new space. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member John A.)

One of the most important parts of any remodeling plan is deciding how much to spend. Without a clear budget, you’ll have trouble determining whether you’re making a sound investment. Come up with a firm number for the overall remodel first. If you try to make budget determinations feature by feature or appliance by appliance, you can quickly exhaust your budget.

Here are a few tips for setting a budget and making a kitchen remodel a sound investment:

Make the budget a percentage of home value. Aim to spend no more than 20 percent of the total market value of your home on your kitchen remodeling project. With this method, you should be able to come up with a reasonable budget.

Set a buffer. Take the total that you came up with and set aside 20 percent of it, or an additional 20 percent, for contingency expenses. Things do not always unfold as planned during a kitchen remodeling project, so it is smart to create a little wiggle room by setting aside some extra funds.

Have realistic expectations. Remember that you won't see a return on your investment, if any, until the time comes to sell your home. Housing values are not static, of course, so there is no definite way to predict how much the value of your home will rise due to your kitchen remodeling work. Anything that improves the style and usability of your home is generally worth it, though, as home buyers tend to be impressed by well-designed, attractive kitchens.

Features to consider

Once you have decided on the general layout of your kitchen, you will need to make decisions about the various components that will go into it. This is where the big spending is going to happen, so you need to choose wisely.

Cabinets & countertops

An integral part of any remodel, the choices for kitchen cabinets and countertops are many. Visit the Angie’s List Guide to Kitchen Cabinets and Angie’s List Guide to Countertops sections for more information.

Replacing the sink or fixtures is an inexpensive fix that can make a big change to any kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Greg Sadosky)
Replacing the sink or fixtures is an inexpensive fix that can make a big change to any kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Greg S.)

Sinks & faucets

Installing a new sink or faucet is relatively easy if you're just replacing one fixture with a similar one without changing its location in the kitchen. If you're relocating a sink or installing an entirely new one, professional help will be necessary, which can cost several hundred dollars.

Depending on the quality and the material, you can purchase a new kitchen sink for less than $60 or for as much as nearly $6,000. When shopping for a new sink, look at features like extensions, sprayers and soap dispensers. They're only worth it if you'll actually use them.

Unless you want to buy a sink-faucet combination package, which can range from about $100 to $1,000, you’ll likely have to select a new kitchen sink faucet separately from the sink. As with sinks, the price range here is fairly broad, from under $20 on the low end to more than $1,000 on the high end.

Flooring

In addition to being pleasing to the eye, the flooring that you use in your kitchen needs to be practical. That is why most people steer clear of carpeting, which is not suitable for environments in which spills are likely to occur. Laminate flooring is an economical choice, but engineered hardwood floors are becoming increasingly popular. Vinyl, linoleum and ceramic tile are also great choices should also be considered.

Lighting

You can make up for a lot of limitations by using the right lighting. If you have room in your budget, it's worth it to hire a professional to help you with this aspect of your kitchen remodeling project.

With a combination of track lighting, recessed lighting and other options, it's possible to make even a compact kitchen look and feel roomy and elegant. Be practical about where switches are installed too. They should be placed in intuitive places to make it as easy as possible to get around in the kitchen.

Hiring a contractor

Because so many homeowners choose to remodel their kitchens, chances are you can find a remodeling contractor who specializes in kitchens. For improvements to just one room or area of the house, a kitchen remodel can involve a surprising number of specialists, depending on its scope. You or your general contractor may end up hiring everyone from cabinet craftsmen to electricians to plumbers to flooring specialists and countertop installation contractors.

Here a few tips for deciding who to hire for a kitchen remodel:

Who will be in charge?

It may be tempting to act as your own general contractor and hire each kitchen remodeling specialist on your own. While this can be easily accomplished for smaller scale kitchen improvements and there are potential cost savings, there are some drawbacks, especially for more involved projects.

A general contractor, especially one who has experience with kitchen remodeling’s multiple phases or features, will have the first-hand experience to deal with unforeseen issues that may arise during the project. What may seem like an impossible task to a first-time DIY remodeler, such as moving a plumbing drain or relocating an oven’s gas line, can be a relatively simple task for a general contractor.

Time can prove to be another drawback to acting as your own contractor for a kitchen remodel. While you may save money by hiring multiple specialists yourself, scheduling each segment can present an issue, especially if delays pop up. A general contractor or kitchen remodeling specialist will have experience planning out a project to minimize delays and will likely have network of reliable subcontractors.

Getting estimates

It’s always a good idea to get at least three estimates before hiring a contractor or kitchen remodeler before starting a kitchen remodel. One way to find a good contractor is to ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors or family members who have had similar work done.  You can do a more comprehensive search Angie's List for contractor reviews posted by other Angie's List members in your community.

If you’re remodeling based upon plans, sketches or 3D models, make sure you share them with each estimating contractor to ensure you can make apples-to-apples comparisons among estimates.

When interviewing contractors, be sure to ask about their experience in this particular remodeling specialty. Will they use subcontractors or do they have in-house employees perform the work?

Always make sure to ask for proof of a company’s insurance and bonding, if necessary, as well as their contractor or trade license if required.

Be sure to ask for and actually verify references from previous kitchen remodeling jobs. Call their referrals and ask about their projects. Were they happy with their remodels? Were there any delays or hiccups along the way? How well did the contractor, and his or her employees or subcontractors communicate? Did they clean up the job site daily?

These types of questions will help you make comparisons among contractors based on what characteristics you consider important in a hiring relationship.

The contract

As with any home remodeling contract, a kitchen remodeling contract should include several fundamentals:

  • Information about who will be responsible for pulling permits and submitting paperwork for inspections, if necessary. Some kitchen remodeling improvements such as moving plumbing, natural gas or electrical wiring may require permits. In many cases, this will be the contractor’s responsibility. Be sure to get it in writing.
  • Start and finish dates for phases and overall project should be included in the contract. Some homeowners will include daily penalties to the contractor’s payment for every day a project phase goes over deadline.
  • A detailed project description including materials to be used, brand names of products and quality level of the materials to be used.
  • The contract should spell out payment amounts and due dates. State and municipal laws regarding home improvement contracts vary, but as a general rule, never pay more than a third of a project’s overall cost as down payment or deposit.
  • Make sure you have the contractor’s insurance coverage information and property damage liability.
  •  Warranties and guarantees for craftsmanship and the final product should be clearly defined. This can offer a homeowner an avenue to have repairs made if portions of the remodeling project breaks or is damaged due to deficient or incomplete workmanship weeks or months down the road.
  • A lien waiver for material suppliers or subcontractors is a contract term that can help you avoid a mechanic’s lien if the remodeler fails to pay vendors or workers. Once the work is complete to your satisfaction and you’ve paid in full, signing a lien waiver or release to indicates the contractor is responsible for any remaining material supplier or subcontractor bills can limit your exposure to mechanics’ liens.

Comments

Having omitted this from my own budget, I always remind people to include in a kitchen remodel the additional cost of more meals out. Although they may fit you up with a little temporary kitchen in another room, it will be very limited and you will spend more eating out. We remodeled in the winter, and had the fridge, a small microwave, and a little hot plate. We got real tired of microwaved dinners. In desperation I finally dug the outdoor grill out of 3' of snow and grilled outside.

had fire need contractor

Thinking of having my garage sided. Is their an average coast for this?

Small job: Install minimum 44 feet of 4" crown molding about five inches below ceiling in L-shaped hallway to accommodate a space for indirect LED rope lighting. After seeing how well it works, may do the same in adjacent rooms. Budget is an issue. I will supply materials. I need a reasonably priced quality installer. Will be a 3-step process, i.e.
(1) Crown installer attaches a 3/4' x 1-1/2 " nailing strip to drywall attached to steel studs. Positioned about 5"" below popcorn ceiling.
(2) Electrician installs 3/8" LED rope lighting above strip and on the wall and wiring to existing switches for existing Ceiling tank lights (to be removed).
(3) Crown moulding installer nails molding to nailing strip. Involves 2 outside 90-degree corners and 3 90-degree inside corners, all requiring 45-degree cuts.
(3) Crown installer comes back and installs the crown

I'am looking for someone to fix my cabnets after a flood the plumber tore the front doors off and took out all the wet sheet rock, leaving me the sink but nothing else. Ive been living like this for about a month and want my kitchen fixed as soon as possible.

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