How Much Does It Really Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?

Modern kitchen
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Average kitchen remodel cost is a nebulous number that hinges on different factors.  

Simplistically, you can say that average pro-level cost is $25,000 and average do it yourself (DIY) level cost is $16,000.

As soon as you pin down one cost, you angle it slightly to the side and--like a precious stone in the light--everything dramatically changes.

So it is best to look at this estimate from a few basic angles before arriving at that final cost.

Combination Of National Averages

For nearly the last 20 years, Remodeling Magazine has published their annual Cost vs. Value Report, (CVVR) which breaks down average kitchen remodeling costs, as well as for other areas of the home. These averages are further broken down by area of the U.S.

CVVR is the most reliable source for average remodeling data because it is the only publicly accessible source of that scale.  It is also the source that everyone tends to fall back on it without drawing in other data or questioning its numbers.

Most consulted for resale values, CVVR derives this data from perceived value by remodeling industry professionals such as Realtors, builders, remodelers, and so on.  For remodel costs, it relies on RemodelMax's data in conjunction with Clear Estimates construction estimating software.

Thus, these renovations are full-on, professional-level kitchen remodels, yet built with mid-range quality materials.

No do it yourself work; no shortcuts; no skimping.  Because DIY is such an important part of mid-range kitchen remodels, data for this is broken down here:

Remodeling Magazine’s national figures are $20,122 for a minor kitchen remodel and $119,909 for an upscale kitchen remodel.  This chart concentrates on minor remodel figures:

 Cost - ProsCost - DIY
Reface cabinets (1)-$9,000
New cabinet hardware (2)-$150
New wall oven (3)-$854
New cooktop (4)-$300
Replace laminate countertops (5)-$414
New sink and faucet (6)-$263
Repaint trim (7)-$28
Add wall covering (8)-$75
Replace resilient (vinyl) flooring (9)-$400
Sub-total-$11,484
Local and state tax @ 5%Included$574
 $20,122$12,058

Bracketed numbers refer to notes in Footnotes, below.

Your Average Cost Is 5 Average Costs

So here are the different ways to look at average cost, rounded:

  • $12,000:  Do it yourself cost, rock-bottom
  • $13,000:  Do it yourself cost, adding nearly $1,000 for reasonable upward adjustments like better quality materials.
  • $16,000:  More realistic do it yourself cost (number arrived at by averaging the do it yourself cost and the professional cost to take into account occasional need to hire tradesman).
  • $20,000:  Professional level cost, rock-bottom.
  • $25,000:  More realistic professional level cost, arrived at by adding about $5,000 to account for better quality materials and real-world variables that may influence cost.

6 Ways To Stay At Lower End Of The Scale

  • Sub Out.  Avoiding the full-blown kitchen remodeling companies and even a contractor. Instead, subbing out the job yourself to the trades. Trades would be: new flooring, electrical, plumbing.
  • Do (Some Of) It Yourself.  DIY in this case would be: demolition, painting, new flooring (if vinyl tile, ceramic tile, or laminate).
  • Reuse Cabinets.  Preserving kitchen cabinetry if at all possible. Painting, refacing, or sanding and staining your existing cabinets save the four or five figure bill for new cabinets.
  • Keep Footprint.  Moving services (electrical, plumbing, vents, drain, etc.) automatically shoots up the price.  Can you live with this layout?
  • Builder-Grade Materials.  Avoiding any upscale surface material like granite, stainless steel, or exotic hardwoods.
  • Less Detail Work.  Details like crown molding dress up a room. But they also act like gasoline on your remodeling-cost fire.  Limit details to control costs.

Footnotes

  1. Higher end of estimated cabinet refacing costs, $7,000 to $10,000.  Because DIY refacing is essentially not possible, professional level refacing is listed in both categories.
  1. Polished chrome pulls (40 pieces @ $1.71 ea.) and satin nickel overlay door hinges (48 pieces @ $1.70 ea.).
  2. Whirlpool Single Door 24. In. Black @ $854 ea.
  3. Whirlpool 30 In. Gas 4 Burner Cooktop @ $300 ea.
  4. Valencia Spicewood Springs Laminate Countertop @ $31.50 per linear foot.
  5. Thermocast Manhattan Drop-In Acrylic 33 in. 2-Hole Single Bowl Kitchen Sink in White @ $193 ea. with  Delta Foundations 2-Handle Standard Kitchen Faucet with Side Sprayer in Chrome @ $70 ea.
  6. One gallon of Glidden interior trim paint @ $20 ea. with set of three angled sash brushes at $8.20 ea.
  7. Glidden interior latex paint (3 gallons at $20 ea. = $60) plus 8-piece paint roller set ($15 ea.).
  8. TrafficMaster Allure resilient vinyl plank flooring (200 sq. ft. x $2.00/sq. ft. = $400).  Even though 200 sq. ft. will not be used due to cabinet footprint, extra is added for wastage.