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8 Kitchen Remodel Costs to Consider

Devon Thorsby

Any major home renovation likely includes the kitchen. According to the Houzz & Home study of renovation trends for 2018 and 2019, the kitchen remains the most popular room to renovate. Of the more than 140,000 people surveyed, 28% renovated their kitchen last year.

But the kitchen is also the most expensive room to renovate. The median cost of a kitchen remodel was $14,000 in 2018, according to the report, followed by the second-most expensive renovation, the master bathroom, with a median cost of $8,000.

Given that you'll replace major appliances, plumbing, countertops and cabinets, it's easy to see why the kitchen is such a pricey room to remodel. And depending on your vision for a kitchen renovation, you may need to prepare for the cost to far exceed the $14,000 median.

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How Much Does a Kitchen Remodel Cost?

According to home improvement resource company HomeAdvisor, the national average for a kitchen renovation is $23,887, with a low-end remodel starting around $4,000 and a high-end project reaching $58,000 or more. The disparities between cost estimates are due to the range of options for renovations and the scale of projects. Many kitchen remodels are smaller projects -- think countertop replacement rather than an overhaul of the entire room.

Additionally, it's important to keep in mind where you live, the condition of your kitchen, the materials you would like to use and the scale of the overall renovation determine the total cost of your renovation. Especially if you're planning to gut your entire kitchen, estimates for the project will likely be higher than nationally reported medians and averages.

When you're considering a kitchen overhaul, how much should you spend? "A really good rule of thumb for a kitchen project is that it should cost anywhere from 5% to 15% of the home's value," says Dan DiClerico, home expert and smart home strategist for HomeAdvisor.

How much you'll spend on your kitchen renovation also depends on how much cash you've set aside or the amount of the home improvement-related loan you've obtained.

Based on online estimates, HomeAdvisor's national averages and DiClerico's calculations, we've assigned a rough estimate of each part of a kitchen renovation.

Here's how the cost of a major kitchen remodel breaks down:

-- Labor: 25% to 35%

-- Cabinets: 25%

-- Appliances and ventilation: 15%

-- Countertops: 10%

-- Lighting: 5%

-- Floors: 5%

-- Fixtures and plumbing: 5%

-- Additional finishes and budget cushion: 10% to 15%

Labor: 25% to 35%

Hiring a general contractor and team, as well as various specialists like a plumber and electrician, will require a significant portion of your budget. If you hire a contractor to manage the entire project, he or she will likely have licensed specialists on staff or on call. Alternately, you can hire a contractor that only oversees the main construction work, then hire additional professionals as needed.

Labor costs can rise if you incorporate the work of a designer, who would plan a cohesive look for your kitchen and charge between $100 and $200 per hour, according to HomeAdvisor. "If you're looking to save, don't skimp on the labor, don't skimp on the design. Nobody ever regrets spending more on the design," DiClerico says.

Cabinets: 25%

Expect the installation of new cabinets to account for about a fourth of your total kitchen renovation budget. Home improvement information site Fixr reports that the average cost to install kitchen cabinets is between $6,412 and $11,400 -- and whether you choose a custom design or opt for cabinets in stock plays into the total.

If your existing cabinets still work well for you, consider refacing them, painting them a new color or simply switching out the cabinet and drawer pulls. Refacing, which maintains the structure of the original cabinets but covers the door and drawer fronts with new wood or veneer, can still be expensive because of the custom work required, says Leneiva Head, principal broker and owner of Welcome Home Realty, a real estate management company in Nashville, Tennessee. Refacing cabinets, on average, costs $6,881, according to HomeAdvisor.

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Appliances and Ventilation: 15%

The next-largest share of your budget will go toward appliances and the ventilation associated with installing a range hood or fan.

Keep in mind that big-box stores like Lowe's and Home Depot often offer package deals when you purchase a refrigerator, oven and stovetop, dishwasher and even microwave in matching finishes. They may also offer appliance sales and discounts during holiday weekends, so "it's not as daunting, financially, as you might think," Head says.

Countertops: 10%

The variety of countertop materials can affect the amount you spend here significantly. Marble and granite are high-end materials that cost around $60 per square foot, according to HomeAdvisor, while quartz is a common choice that's considered mid-level in cost and starts around $50 per square foot (although it can reach $150 per square foot). At the lower end are butcher block counters or laminate, starting around $40 and $55 per square foot, respectively, according to HomeAdvisor.

If you're keeping your existing cabinets and not changing the layout of your kitchen, you may be able to save on countertops by installing a granite overlay, which covers your existing countertop. While granite itself can be pricey, the labor involved for an overlay is less than new counters would require. "You didn't have to take anything apart, you don't have to rip anything out," Head says.

Lighting: 5%

Adding recessed lighting throughout your kitchen will obviously be a bigger project than swapping out the fixture. The more electrical work involved, the more expensive this portion of your remodel will be.

Lighting is one part of a kitchen renovation that DiClerico says is an easy place to accidentally splurge. Rather than opting for a showpiece chandelier or elaborate pendant lights over your counter, he recommends focusing on the right lighting plan to make the kitchen comfortable to work and hang out in.

Floors: 5%

Flooring can be expensive, especially if you opt for new hardwood or custom tile. But fortunately the square footage in a kitchen is typically minimal, since much of the space is taken up by cabinets and appliances. Fixr reports the average cost of hardwood flooring is $12 to $20 per square foot, while a laminate floor can range between $8 and $25 per square foot.

One way to save when it comes to flooring is offering to take up the old floor yourself. You'll want to make sure you don't damage the subfloor, but that's fairly easy to do with less-expensive surfaces like vinyl or carpet.

Combined with other DIY tasks, DiClerico estimates you can potentially save as much as 10% of the total cost of the project by taking on some of the labor yourself. "With a $30,000 kitchen remodel, that's nothing to sneeze at," he says.

Fixtures and Plumbing: 5%

A new sink and water hookup for your refrigerator aren't necessarily expensive, but you'll need to enlist a licensed plumber to make sure the work is done correctly -- you don't want to use hot water to make ice, for example, or risk a leaky pipe under the sink.

Additional plumbing for luxury kitchen additions can send the cost higher. These include items like a pot filler, which is a hot water faucet over the stove, or a built-in espresso machine with a water hookup.

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Additional Finishes and Budget Cushion: 10% to 15%

Paint and additional decor like curtains and barstools cost relatively little compared to cabinets or a new fridge. Plus, you can save some money by painting and decorating on your own.

Keep in mind that "surprise" issues often come up with a remodel. You may discover water damage from an old leak that requires you to replace the subfloor, or a wall you wanted to remove turns out to be load-bearing and requires a beam or post to support the roof. By leaving a portion of your budget set aside for the unexpected, you'll reduce the chances of needing to overhaul your plans when something goes wrong.

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