If you’ve been dreaming of a new kitchen but can’t stomach the thought of a pricey remodel, you’re right to worry. Remodelling a kitchen is a big – and expensive – project.
With estimates like those flying around, it’s easy to try to ignore your outdated kitchen and make do with what you have. It could take years or even decades to save up the cash to do a full kitchen remodel. You could borrow the money from a low-interest credit card, but then you’d pay interest on your kitchen remodel, too.
But what if there was a better way?
If you’re a homeowner with big kitchen dreams and a small budget, your heart is probably sinking as you read these numbers. But don’t give up hope yet! There are a lot of ways to stretch your kitchen remodelling budget. With the right combination of patience, creativity, and elbow grease, you can make a big impact in your kitchen for a few thousand bucks – or even a few hundred. Check out our range of kitchen renovation at Hitch Property Constructions.
Why Renovate Your Kitchen?
There are three good reasons to renovate your kitchen:
- Your kitchen is falling apart
- You’ve outgrown your kitchen
- You want a more beautiful kitchen
If your kitchen is old, it may be falling apart. In that case, you probably need to replace your cabinets. Does that mean you have to put the job in the hands of a kitchen renovation company? If that’s a budget-buster, you can always buy a flat pack kitchen and install it yourself. You may need professional help along the way, but a flat pack kitchen can still save you thousands of dollars.
Have you outgrown your kitchen or is your kitchen no longer organised? Over the years, we accumulate more appliances and other stuff, but don’t know where to put it, so it ends up getting crammed in our kitchen cupboards and cabinets. That’s no reason to have a full kitchen renovation. There are cheaper ways to organise your kitchen.
Your kitchen no longer appeals to you. You want a brighter, more modern kitchen or just a change of colour. Why throw away perfectly good cabinets when there are cheaper ways to brighten it up?
How to Do a Budget Kitchen Renovation
Many of the same tips that work for decorating on a budget also apply to remodelling. Besides, other strategies can work for any remodelling project, not just kitchens. These general savings tips fall into three main categories: planning, materials, and labour.
Plan Your Project
The first, most important rule for saving on a kitchen remodel is to take your time. Give yourself a few weeks – or even a few months, if you’re planning a major renovation – getting a clear idea of exactly what you want. Look at lots of different design ideas, price out various options, and get advice from contractors and other pros. Having a clear plan will help you avoid mid-project design changes, which can jack up the overall cost.
As you plan, think about your priorities. It’s tempting at the start of a project to say, “While we’re at it, we might as well…” and tack on a whole wish list of other jobs to do at the same time. Before you know it, the scope of the project has ballooned to twice its size – along with the budget.
Instead, step back and look at your kitchen with a critical eye. Ask yourself what bothers you most about it, what you like, and what you don’t love but can live with. For instance, maybe you need new cabinets, but your existing counters and flooring are okay as is. The more of your old kitchen you can leave untouched, the less you’ll spend on the remodel.
This is especially true when it comes to the kitchen layout. Relocating your kitchen sink requires re-plumbing all the pipes that lead to it, and moving a range involves shifting gas or electric lines. Consumer Reports says either of these jobs will require at least a day’s worth of work from a plumber, an electrician, or both – at $45 to $145 per hour.
Even if you have to move things around, think twice before you add a lot of extra space to the kitchen. Big kitchens don’t just cost more to build; they can also be tiring to work in. According to Architectural Digest, each side of your kitchen “work triangle” – the space between the stove, fridge, and sink – be between 4 and 9 feet, and the three sides together shouldn’t add up to more than 26 feet. Hitch Property Constructions has an extensive range of kitchen renovation Melbourne to take the hassle out of deciding the right furniture that matches.
Save on Materials
The best way to save on materials is to keep what you have whenever possible. Often, a fresh coat of paint is enough to give dingy old walls, cabinets, or even counters a whole new look. You can also look at other rooms in your house for pieces you can reuse. Maybe that old bench you’re so tired of in your front entry would be just the thing for your new breakfast nook.
Here are a few other ways to save on materials for your new kitchen:
- Shop Around. If you find something you like – say, some gorgeous floor tile or a perfect lighting fixture – it’s tempting to grab it and check it off your list, whatever the cost. But it’s worth taking extra time to see if you can find what you want for less. Maybe another tile store has that same fabulous tile on sale for half price, or maybe there’s a cheaper lighting fixture that’s even more perfect. Patience and persistence are the keys to finding what you want at the right price.
- Shop Secondhand. Reuse centres, such as the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, carry all kinds of materials you can use in a kitchen remodel. You can find tile, counters, cabinets, hardware, lighting fixtures, sinks, and appliances, all at bargain prices. Other good sources of secondhand materials include sellers on Craigslist and eBay and even freebies from your local Freecycle group. Of course, you have to check these secondhand finds carefully to make sure they’re in good condition, but if you’re lucky, you can fill many of your renovation needs at a fraction of the retail price.
- Sell Your Old Stuff. The same stores and websites that offer bargains on secondhand materials can also help you sell your own. Often, the stuff you tear out when you redo a kitchen – stuff like counters, appliances, and lighting fixtures – is still perfectly usable. Rather than just dumping it in a landfill, see if you can find a buyer for it. That old bright-yellow stove you always hated could be perfect for someone doing a vintage kitchen remodel, and the money you get for it can help offset the cost of your new stainless-steel range.
- Mix It Up. These days, it’s trendy for kitchens to use a combination of different finishes. For instance, you can have different colours on your upper and lower cabinets, or use different materials for your kitchen island and the rest of the counters. This means if there’s a high-end material you love, you can use just a little touch of it as an accent and go cheaper elsewhere. For example, you can use fancy glass doors on your upper cabinets and go with a more basic design for the lower ones.
- Focus on Details. If your kitchen is functional but boring, a few small and inexpensive changes could be enough to brighten it up. Little details like faucets, lighting fixtures, and cabinet hardware can change the whole look of a room without a lot of effort or expense. Accessories, such as green plants, artwork, and decorative pottery, can also make a surprisingly big impact on a small budget.
Save on Labor
About one dollar out of every four spent remodelling a kitchen is for labour – plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and so forth. The more of that work you can do yourself, the more money you can shave from your budget. So, it makes sense to DIY (do it yourself) whenever you can.
However, when you’re remodelling on a big scale, trying to do everything yourself is probably a mistake. Tackling a job that’s beyond your abilities won’t save you money if you end up having to hire a pro to fix your mistakes – or if you end up with hospital bills after an accident with an unfamiliar power tool.
When deciding whether to DIY or hire a contractor, research the job carefully to get a clear idea of what it involves. Be honest with yourself about your DIY skills, and decide whether it’s something you can handle on your own. If it’s a job you’ve done before or one where a few rookie mistakes won’t do much damage, go ahead and tackle it. If not, leave it to the pros.
One part of the job you can probably do on your own is demolition. Tearing out cabinets and flooring is a lot easier than putting new ones in, and you don’t need a contractor’s license to swing a sledgehammer. Doing the demo work yourself turns the kitchen into a blank slate, so your contractors can come in and get straight to work on the more complicated jobs.
For the jobs that require professional help, the best way to save is to find a good contractor who will do the job right for a fair price. Take the time to get multiple quotes on each job – plumbing, wiring, and so on – and make sure you get all the details about what is included in the price. The lowest bid isn’t a bargain if all it gets you is a half-baked job. Call the contractors’ references, and, if possible, look at some of their recent work in-person to assess their skills.
When you decide on a contractor, get a written contract with all the details spelled out. It should list every phase of the project and every product that’s included. Also, make sure contractors provide copies of their licenses, workers’ compensation, and liability insurance, so you know they’re still valid. Looking for kitchen renovation Melbourne? Look no further? Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.
Save on Specific Items
Most kitchen remodels focus on changing the biggest items in your kitchen – cabinets, counters, appliances, and flooring. However, you can also make a big impact with smaller changes, such as adding a new backsplash or changing the lighting. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save on all these updates, both big and small.
Cabinets are one of the highest costs for a kitchen remodel. According to Consumer Reports, new cabinets can eat up as much as 40% of your total kitchen budget. That works out to over $8,600 for the average kitchen remodel.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to keep this cost down. Here are a few ideas:
- Change the Finish. If your old cabinets are in good shape, but they don’t look good, you can save a bundle by repainting or refinishing them. First, take off all the doors, clean both doors and cabinet faces with a degreasing agent, and rinse. Then, if you’re repainting, give the cabinets a light sanding and apply primer and a coat or two of paint. To refinish, sand the cabinets more thoroughly to remove all the old finish, then apply fresh stain and varnish. This can give you a complete set of new-looking cabinets for a few hundred bucks. Be careful, though; if your cabinets were installed before 1978, their current paint or finish might contain lead. In that case, refinishing is a job best left to a pro, which will cost you about $50 per door.
- Reface the Cabinets. Another way to update old cabinets is to get them refaced. This involves replacing all the doors and drawer fronts and applying new veneers to the cabinet boxes. It’s costlier than repainting – around $150 per cabinet door opening – but it gives you more options for changing the look of the cabinets.
- Replace the Hardware. While you’re freshening up the cabinets, get them some new hardware. Swapping out old handles and drawer pulls for new ones is an easy DIY job that can give your cabinets a dramatically different look. New knobs and pulls can cost anywhere from $2 to $20 a piece, according to HouseLogic. That means for an average kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinets, and you can expect to pay between $80 and $800. Even if you go for the high-end hardware, that’s still a fraction of the cost of new cabinets.
- Choose Stock Cabinets. New cabinets vary widely in price – and quality. Custom cabinets, which are built to fit your kitchen, start at around $500 per linear foot – $15,000 for a typical kitchen. By contrast, budget-priced stock cabinets, which come in a limited range of styles and sizes, can cost as little as $70 per linear foot. Stock cabinets vary in quality; they’re often made of particle board with a veneer on top, rather than sturdier plywood. However, Consumer Reports says it’s possible to find budget models that hold up just as well to wear as the high-end brands. The bottom line is, don’t skimp on cabinet quality, but don’t assume you have to pay top dollar to get it.
- Use Open Shelving. A popular look for modern kitchens is to ditch the upper cabinets altogether and replace them with open shelving. This gives your kitchen a more open, airy look, which can be a big plus if the room is small or dark. It also allows you to show off pretty dishes. Also, open shelves are cheap, so it cuts your cabinet budget nearly in half. The downside is that when your items are always on display, you have to spend more time keeping them clean and organised.
- Install Them Yourself. Most of the cost of new cabinets goes toward materials, but the labour costs aren’t cheap either. According to Improvement, homeowners typically spend around $2,100 to have their old cabinets removed and new ones installed. If you’re reasonably handy, you can save this cost by installing the cabinets yourself. However, this is a big project that takes a lot of time. According to Consumer Reports, you should expect to spend at least an hour assembling and putting up each set of base and wall cabinets. Lower cabinets are easier to do than uppers, so installing your own can be a good option if you’re planning to replace the upper cabinets with open shelving.
According to HomeAdvisor, having new countertops installed typically costs around $3,100 for a mid-range kitchen remodel. However, the price can vary widely depending on what material you choose.
Common countertop materials include:
- Laminate. This common material is made from a core of particleboard or compressed paper, covered in a thin layer of hard plastic. It’s easy to install, and it comes in a wide variety of colours and patterns. On the downside, it scratches easily if you cut on it. Common brands include Formica and Wilsonart. Cost: $5 to $25 per square foot.
- Solid Surface. Solid-surface counters, such as Corian, are made from acrylic, polyester, or a blend of the two. This surface is stain-resistant and available in a wide range of colours. It scratches easily, but small nicks and scratches can be sanded out. Cost: $15 to $50 per square foot.
- Butcher Block. A butcher-block counter is made from thin strips of wood bonded together into a slab. It’s easy to install and has a warm look that many homeowners like, but it’s vulnerable to stains and scratches. Cost: $20 to $60 per square foot.
- Granite. Natural granite counters were one of the most durable types in tests at Consumer Reports, resisting heat, cuts, and scratches. They’re also popular for their looks, with each slab having a unique pattern. However, granite has to be sealed regularly to resist stains, and the corners can chip. Cost: $20 to $60 per square foot.
- Quartz. Quartz composite, also known as engineered stone, has the look and hardness of a natural stone slab, but it’s made from chips of quartz bonded together with acrylic or epoxy. Consumer Reports found it the most durable counter type of all, resisting scratches, stains, and heat damage. Its only problem is that sharp corners can chip. Cost: $20 to $60 per square foot.
- Other Stone. Many homeowners love the look of natural stone, such as soapstone, limestone, and marble. However, these stones are costlier than granite or quartz and not as durable. They all scratch and stain easily, and marble can also be damaged by heat. Cost: $20 to $75 per square foot.
As you can see, the material has a big impact on the total price. If you have 60 square feet of counter space, you could spend as little as $300 for a cheap laminate or as much as $4,500 for high-end stone. And if you want fancy details, such as a waterfall edge, that can add another $1,000 to the total.
However, if you have granite taste and a laminate budget, there are ways to get the look you want for less. For instance, instead of buying a solid slab of granite, you can get cheaper granite tile and install it over a base of plywood and tile backer board. Using a dark grout helps camouflage the grout lines, so the granite looks like a single piece. If you do this yourself, it costs roughly the same as a professionally installed laminate countertop.
Another option is to mix materials. You can buy one slab of pricey granite or quartz and install it on an island, then go with a cheaper laminate in a complementary colour for the rest of the counters.
New appliances usually account for around 15% of the cost of a kitchen remodel. Consumer Reports says a full suite of new appliances from mass-market brands will run you about $5,000. Pricey professional-style appliances from brands like Viking and Wolf can triple or even quadruple that cost.
Here are some ways to keep the cost down:
- Don’t Replace everything. First of all, consider whether you can work with your old appliances. If they’re still in good shape, there’s no point in tossing them. If you need to replace just one appliance – say, the dishwasher – and you’re concerned that the fridge and range won’t match, consider painting them. You can get special appliance paint in a variety of colours, including stainless steel. Another trendy option is to paint your fridge with chalkboard paint so it can be used as a message centre.
- Consider Buying a Set. If you do need to replace all your appliances, you can sometimes save money by buying them as a set. However, if top performance is your goal, you’re better off mixing and matching brands to get the best models. If you decide to go for a set, experts recommend choosing the one with the best range. Flaws in a fridge or microwave are easier to live with than an oven that doesn’t cook evenly.
- Pay for Quality, Not Style. When it comes to appliances, you don’t always get what you pay for. Tests at Consumer Reports show that pricey, pro-style appliances don’t perform as well as the top-rated models from mass-market brands. Moreover, there’s no evidence that they increase the resale value of your home any more than other new appliances. To get the best performance, rely on reviews from independent sources, rather than brand names.
- Choose a One-Piece Range. A range costs a lot less than a separate stove and wall oven. One of the top-rated electric ranges in Consumer Reports’ tests costs only $650, while a comparable stove and wall oven from the same brand cost $1,650 put together. Plus, wall ovens generally don’t perform as well as the ovens in a one-piece range.
- Check the Scratch and Dent Section. Stores that sell appliances, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sears, and Best Buy, usually have a “scratch and dent” section for appliances that are damaged in some way. These units go for as much as 50% or 60% off their original sale price, and the flaws are often so tiny you’d barely notice them. Sometimes you can pay half price because of a scratch that won’t even be visible once the appliance is installed.
- Check the Energy Guide Label. The cost of an appliance isn’t just a matter of what’s on the price tag. You also have to consider the long-term cost of using the appliance year after year. Energy-efficient appliances, such as Energy Star models, can cost a little more upfront, but they’ll often pay for themselves in long-term savings. Check the yellow “Energy Guide” label on the front to see at a glance how much an appliance should cost you to run each year. Then multiply that by ten and add it to the price tag to figure out how much the appliance will cost you over ten years of ownership. That’s the number you need to compare to figure out which appliance is the best value.
According to HomeAdvisor, new flooring for a mid-range kitchen typically costs $1,800 to $2,800. Here, again, the price varies depending on the material you use. Sheet vinyl can cost as little as $1,000, while hardwood – a popular choice for modern kitchens – costs around $4,000.
If your budget won’t stretch this far, here are a few cheaper flooring options to consider:
- Just Clean It. Sometimes, a good cleaning is all it takes to get old tile floors looking like new. If yours is so filthy that mopping it no longer has an impact, you can have it professionally cleaned for around $450.
- Look Underneath. If your kitchen has hideous old vinyl flooring, it could be worth peeling it up and having a look at what’s underneath. Sometimes, buried under the layers of cruddy vinyl, you can find perfectly good hardwood floors that only need to be refinished. That’s a job you can have done for around $600.
- Use Peel-and-Stick Tile. Peel-and-stick vinyl tiles are easier to work with than sheet vinyl, so installing them is a fairly easy DIY job. If your floors are reasonably undamaged, you can apply the new tiles directly over the old flooring. You can buy peel-and-stick tiles at home centres for around $1 a square foot.
- Paint the Floor. Believe it or not, it is possible to paint over old vinyl flooring. Clean the floor well, and scuff it lightly with sandpaper. Then roll on a coat of primer and paint it with tough “porch and floor” paint. Optionally, you can add a coat or two of water-based polyurethane to protect it. You can choose your colour and add patterns like stripes, checks, or stencilled designs. You can transform an entire floor this way for about $100.
Wishing for a new kitchen is one thing, but paying for one is an entirely different animal. While it might be worth the splurge to get your dream kitchen, there are plenty of simple upgrades you can make instead of a full-fledged remodelling job.
After all, spending $50,000 or more for an upgraded kitchen could mean working in your career longer than you planned, taking fewer vacations, or having a smaller nest egg for retirement.