Major kitchen remodels are among the most popular home improvements, but a revamped cooking and gathering space can set you back a pretty penny. According to the "2015 Remodeling Impact Report" from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, a complete renovation of a 210-square-foot kitchen has a national median cost of $60,000, and you'll recover 67% of that cost come selling time.
Despite the big price tag, you'll be glad you upgraded. In fact, homeowners polled for the "Report" gave their kitchen redo a Joy Score of 9.8 -- a rating based on those who said they were happy or satisfied with their remodeling, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest.
If you can't afford the entire remodel all at once, complete the work in these five budget-saving stages.
Stage One: Start with a Complete Design PlanYour plan should be comprehensive and detailed — everything from the location of the refrigerator to which direction the cabinet doors will open to whether you need a spice drawer.
To save time (and money) during tear-out and construction, plan on using your existing walls and kitchen configuration. That’ll keep plumbing and electrical systems mostly intact, and you won’t have the added expense — and mess — of tearing out walls.
Joseph Feinberg, vice president of Allied Kitchen and Bath in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recommends hiring a professional designer, such as an architect or a certified kitchen designer, who can make sure the details of your plans are complete. You’ll pay about 10% of the total project for a pro designer, but you’ll save a whole bunch of headaches that would likely cost as much — or more — to fix. Plus, a pro is likely to offer smart solutions you hadn’t thought of.
For a nominal fee, you also can get design help from a major home improvement store. However, you’ll be expected to purchase some of your cabinets and appliances from that store.
Remember that it may take four to six weeks from the day you order them for your cabinets to be delivered.
Related: How to Choose Stock Cabinets for Your Kitchen
If you can't afford all new appliances, keep your old ones for now -- but plan to buy either the same sizes, or choose larger sizes and design your cabinets around those larger measurements. You can replace appliances as budget permits later on.
The same goes for your lighting fixtures: If you can live with your old ones for now, you’ll save money by reusing them.
You’ll have to decide about flooring, too — one of the trickier decisions to make because it also affects how and when you install cabinets.
You’ll need to know if your old flooring runs underneath your cabinets, or if the flooring butts up against the cabinet sides and toe kicks. If the flooring runs underneath, you’ll have some leeway for new cabinet configurations — just be sure the old flooring will cover any newly exposed floor areas. Here are points to remember:
For thin new floor coverings, such as vinyl and linoleum, the change is imperceptible. For thicker floorings, such as wood and tile, you might want to take into account the change in floor height by installing your new cabinets on shims.
During this stage, haul your refrigerator, microwave, and toaster oven to another room — near the laundry or the garage, for example — so you've got the means to cook meals. Feinberg suggests tackling this stage in the summer, when you can easily grill and eat outside. That’ll reduce the temptation to eat at restaurants, and will help keep your day-to-day costs under control.
A high-end countertop and backsplash can be a sizable sum of money. If you can't quite swing it, put down a temporary top, such as painted marine plywood or inexpensive laminate. Later, you can upgrade to granite, tile, solid surface, or marble.
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