How to Do a Budget Kitchen Remodel

  • 01 of 05

    Advocate for Lower Kitchen Remodel Costs

    Kitchen Shelving with Pottery
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    Begin with the reality of budgeting for kitchen remodels: Kitchens are always one of the most expensive areas of the home to remodel. Bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, and even small bathrooms pale in comparison to the price of remodeling a kitchen. The good news is that a budget kitchen remodel is possible relative to the average cost of other kitchen remodels.

    Windfalls of free or cheap kitchen cabinets or bargain appliance might help, but you cannot count on this. What you can count on is being educated about a few basic themes that guide budget kitchen remodels.

    No One But You Cares About Lowering Kitchen Remodel Costs

    The most important theme is that you are the only person who truly cares about keeping the kitchen remodel within budget. All of the secondary parties involved in a kitchen remodel, including contractors, subcontractors, architects, designers, and suppliers, will tacitly agree to your stated budget. But it is not within their best interests to do so; the home remodeling ecosystem and commerce as a whole do not work that way.

    On the bad side, you may find a contractor or architect who willfully tries to punch holes in your budget by heaping on more extras or finding problems down the road that require more and more construction change orders. On the more common and realistic side, you have secondary parties who continually need to be reminded to stay within the limits that you are comfortable with.

    In the end, you are your own best advocate when it comes to keeping your kitchen remodeling budget within a manageable range.

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  • 02 of 05

    Refresh Kitchen Cabinets Rather Than Replace Them

    High Gloss Slab Kitchen Cabinet Doors 514410507
    Spaces Images/Getty Images

    New kitchen cabinets are invariably expensive. Purchasing new kitchen cabinets usually means that you can remove the word "budget" from your bragging rights when showing off your new kitchen to friends and family.

    In general, tear-out-and-replace projects will be more expensive than projects that keep a majority of the materials. It is also more eco-friendly to avoid landfilling tons of flooring, glass, laminates, plastics, and other materials that take centuries to degrade.

    Painting your kitchen cabinets is the classic method of refreshing the outside shell of your cabinets. More expensive than painting, kitchen cabinet refacing adds a new wood or thermofoil veneer to the outside of the cabinets and entirely replaces doors and drawer fronts.

    If you are replacing your cabinets, think outside the box. Cabinets are usually less expensive when they are partially constructed from MDF. If you don't mind putting together your cabinets, you can look for RTA, or ready to assemble, kitchen cabinets.

    One way to limit the use of expensive wall cabinets is to install some open shelving. Result: an airy feel, almost like that of a commercial kitchen.

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  • 03 of 05

    Do It Yourself Rather Than Hire Professionals

    Construction men making kitchen island hole
    Gregory_DUBUS/Getty Images

    Do-it-yourself home remodeling projects let you pay for only the materials while bringing down labor costs to zero.

    Some remodeling projects range from easy to moderately difficult for do-it-yourselfers: interior painting, flooring installation, changing outlets and lights, hanging drywall, and installing baseboards and other trim, among other projects.

    Time, or lack of it, is another factor behind your decision to do-it-yourself or hire a professional. When you have the luxury of time to complete your kitchen remodel, you can do much of it yourself. Tight timetables entail hiring professionals. 

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  • 04 of 05

    Fix and Refurbish Your Appliances

    Repairing Dishwasher
    Repairing Dishwasher. GeorgePeters/Getty Images

    At one time, it was assumed that all appliances, even perfectly functioning ones, would be landfilled during the course of a kitchen remodel. Thankfully, that antiquated thinking is on its way out, as most municipalities have enacted restrictions against sending kitchen appliances directly to the landfill. 

    The most important driver behind this trend is the easy availability of information about fixing kitchen appliances, coupled with a thriving online service parts marketplace. Now, homeowners can fix kitchen-related appliances and essential home services such as:

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  • 05 of 05

    Maintain Your Kitchen's Layout

    Kitchen Layout One-Wall Design With Kitchen Island
    Ivan Hunter/Getty Images

    Dramatically changing around the kitchen layout is one sure way to drive up the budget. Conversely, keeping your kitchen layout basically the same, while changing only the elements within that framework, is one important key to keeping your remodel within budget.

    Moving essential plumbing services such as the dishwasher, sink, and refrigerator (ice maker) entails hiring plumbers. Moving around electrical services such as GFCI outlets, lights, dishwasher, refrigerator, and garbage disposal means tearing out drywall and rewiring the kitchen.

    Kitchen layouts are usually determined in the first place by the size of the available kitchen space. So, major changes to the footprint are sometimes more effort and cost than they are worth. Try to work within your current layout in order to save money.

    Corridor- or galley-style kitchens often have such limited space that footprint changes literally are not possible, short of major alterations to the home's structure. One-wall layouts allow for a little more flexibility since they do have an open side. In this case, adding a kitchen island is a great way to add more prep space and storage without major layout changes.