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How can I remodel my kitchen for less?

Many homeowners will think and talk about remodeling their kitchen for years before taking action. It’s not hard to see why they hesitate: kitchen renovations can be a costly and complex project. Understandably, homeowners have a lot of questions. Where do I start? Do I need to save ten thousand dollars, or twenty? Is there a way to remodel my kitchen for less?

In this article, we’ll attempt to demystify the cost of kitchen remodels by exploring several ways to lower the cost of your project without sacrificing quality. We’ll also review some ways to potentially fund your kitchen remodeling plans.

What is the average cost of a new kitchen?

According to data collected by HomeAdvisor, the average homeowner spends between $75 and $150 per-square-foot on their kitchen remodel. For a 100 square-foot kitchen, that means your total costs will land somewhere between $7,500 and $15,000.

However, many American kitchens are larger than 10×10—some of them, significantly!—which is why the average homeowner ends up spending a little over $25,000 on their kitchen remodeling project.

If you’re grimacing at that number, you’re not alone. Keep in mind that figure represents the average, which means it takes into account both high-cost luxury renovations and kitchen remodels involving significant floor plan changes. As we’ll review in this article, by finding the right deals on high-quality materials, you can keep your total costs down and maximize your return on investment (ROI).

Is it worth doing a kitchen renovation?

Generally speaking, yes! Kitchen remodels are the king of home remodeling projects for a reason. They have a relatively high ROI and add significant, long-term value to your property. Many kitchen remodels can actually end up ultimately paying for themselves in the property value they add.

If you’re thinking about either selling your home or turning it into a rental, a kitchen remodel is a must-have project. Many of the homes yours will be listed next to will have upgraded kitchens; if yours does not, you could be a significant competitive disadvantage. Ask just about any homebuyer (or realtor): kitchens are a major selling point. After all, for many families, it’s the central nexus of life in the home.

Of course, a kitchen remodel isn’t just a matter of calculating ROI and cold numbers. You deserve a kitchen you can enjoy. If your outdated kitchen is starting to take the joy out of cooking or baking, it might be time for a change—even if your remodel doesn’t net a 100% ROI.

What is the most expensive part of a kitchen remodel?

Most homeowners will spend approximately half of their total remodeling budget on new kitchen countertops and cabinets. It’s not hard to see why: high-quality countertops and cabinets are expensive, and their cost scales up with the overall size of your kitchen. A larger kitchen, for instance, doesn’t need two sinks, or two ovens. It does, however, need a lot more cabinets and countertops, which adds to your project’s total overhead.

Just how much you’ll end up paying for new countertops and cabinets is largely dependent on the square footage of your kitchen. However, the type of material matters, too. Marble, for instance, is very expensive—perhaps prohibitively so for most homeowners (it’s also a poor choice for kitchens for other reasons). Laminate or plastic countertops are very cheap, but won’t give your home quite the value boost you’re looking for.

The two most-popular countertop materials—granite and quartz—fall between these two extremes. Both are relatively expensive, but they also are durable, long-lasting, and add significant value to your remodel. In other words, they’re often well worth their higher upfront cost.

What should you look for in materials?

In this video, a construction expert talks about what she looked for when buying countertops and cabinets for her own home.

Where should I save money on my kitchen remodel?

To save money on your kitchen remodel, put the work into finding high-quality materials at wholesale, bulk-order, or direct importer prices. Most granite and quartz comes from the same mines around the world, so the final price you pay is often more a reflection of how many middlemen were involved in the process. Buy from companies that cut out those middlemen, and you’ll likely be able to shave a couple thousand dollars off the total price you’ll pay for materials.

Along those same lines, you may be able to score a great deal if you’re willing to compromise on color or style. Many remodeling contractors or stores will run specials on granite or quartz countertops they’ve overstocked, or cabinets left over from other projects. If you’re not picky—or you’re remodeling a property to either rent it out or flip it—you might be able to cut your costs further by going with what’s on sale.

Two areas where you don’t want to make compromises: the quality of the materials and installation. Trying to find shortcuts here is playing with fire: you’re liable to get burned.

How can I afford a kitchen remodel?

While it’s probably the best and easiest option, not every homeowner pays for a kitchen remodel out of their savings account. Here are some other ways homeowners can pay for remodeling projects:

  • Cash-Out Refinancing: With today’s lower mortgage rates, many homeowners are planning to refinance their home. When you do so, you can convert some of your home’s equity to cash to be used for home improvements—especially those that add long-term value.
  • Home Equity Loans: This type of loan is financed by the equity in your house, and can be used to complete value-boosting home improvement projects. Basically, the idea is that you’re borrowing from your equity to add further future equity to the property.
  • Home Improvement Loans: Many financial institutions, including your local banks and credit unions, offer loans specifically designed for home improvement projects. These loans have a higher interest rate than home equity loans, but are ideal for homeowners who don’t want to tap into their home’s equity or use it as loan collateral.

Always talk to your financial planner or advisor before you move forward with any of these options. After all, everyone’s financial situation is different.