Remodeling a kitchen is one of the most surefire ways to improve both the value of a home and its inhabitants’ quality of life. Although a kitchen renovation offers a relatively healthy return on investment (anywhere between 53 and 81 percent), it’s a notoriously expensive undertaking.
But there’s good news: There are ways to cut construction costs on your kitchen renovation, even when supplies are short and inflation is high. Keep reading to learn how to save some cash while putting together the kitchen of your dreams.
1. Find Used Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets are notoriously pricey, and any strategy for saving some money on those boxes and drawers is worth exploring. One option: Hit the local classifieds and Habitat for Humanity ReStores in search of used cabinets that are still in good shape. With a bit of paint or even new doors, those old boxes can look as good as new, and they’ll keep the remodeling budget in line.
2. Reface Existing Cabinets
If the cabinets in your kitchen are in good condition, they may be worth refacing. Refacing is essentially a makeover for cabinets that involves adhering thin strips of laminated hardwood to the face frames and side panels to make the cabinets look new again. Refacing is typically much less expensive than replacing cabinets, even if the homeowner needs to order new doors to match.
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3. Wait for Appliance Sales
There are multiple times each year when big-box home improvement stores mark down their appliance suites, and they’re worth waiting for. Columbus Day, Black Friday, Labor Day, and other holidays tend to mark the biggest appliance sales, so be sure to check local flyers for deals on stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, and multi-appliance packages.
Also, check for rebates when shopping for appliances. Whether you’re offered an Energy Star or manufacturer rebate, it could mean a bit of extra cash back in the bank account.
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4. Consider Open Shelving
If the point isn’t clear yet, cabinets aren’t cheap. But who says you have to cover every square inch of wall space with them? Swapping out some cabinet boxes for open shelves can save you some money and give the space a country vibe. There are downsides to this design trend—you’ll need to keep plates, cups, and anything else on the shelves clean and tidy, for example—but if you like the look, it’s a great way to cut expenses.
5. Sell Your Old Materials
Slow down, demo-happy DIYers. Don’t just bust up those old cabinets with a sledgehammer like a couple of TV house-flippers. Instead, carefully remove the cabinets, countertops, and other materials and list them on the resale market.
Just as shopping for secondhand cabinets and countertops can save money, selling them can recoup money that can go back into the project. So, leave the Sawzall. Take the screwdriver.
6. Get Multiple Bids
Some steps in a kitchen renovation may require hiring a professional: Running new wiring, moving gas pipes, or installing plumbing and drains where they never existed before can lie outside some DIYers’ expertise. In fact, depending on where a homeowner lives, some of these projects may require permits or even be illegal for a DIYer to tackle alone. When the time comes to call in a professional, don’t rush to hire the first company that walks in the door.
Getting multiple quotes allows homeowners to leverage them against one another. Contractors may knock down their markup or offer cheaper solutions during negotiations, and this can result in significant savings.
7. Avoid Trends
Ah, trends! Avoid them. While they’re often the inspiration for a renovation, indulging heavily in trends can be a serious waste of money. Not only are of-the-moment materials constantly marked up, but they also quickly diminish in value when that trend passes.
A classic design will age well and hold up against current fashions, while a trendy kitchen will quickly go out of style, necessitating a makeover. More frequent makeovers add up to more money over time as well as more stress from managing multiple projects. Don’t trends usually come back around? Sometimes, but it may take 40 years—and who wants to wait that long? Stick with the classics.
8. Design It Yourself
Kitchen designers may have the know-how to put together an amazing space, but homeowners pay for that expertise. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on a pro, design the kitchen yourself. Just be sure not to jump in blindly: Take the time to learn about kitchen remodeling projects, and check out a few design and planning handbooks such as the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s Guidelines and Access Standards (available on Amazon).
That said, it’s worth noting that kitchen designers have merits beyond expertise. For instance, they can sometimes pay for themselves by sourcing materials at cheaper prices through their connections. For homeowners who’d rather not go to the expense, however, designing the space themselves is an option.
RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Kitchen Design Software
9. Do Most of the Work Yourself
As much as it makes sense to hire contractors for certain parts of a kitchen renovation, it also makes sense to DIY everything else. DIYers can tackle the drywall, painting, flooring, cabinet installation, and appliance hookups, in most cases. Doing much of the work yourself means that you can put some of the savings back into the renovation (perhaps to splurge on high-impact features like countertops and backsplashes), or just lower your overall costs.
10. The Budget Rules All
Ultimately, the most important thing a homeowner can do to save money on a kitchen renovation is to come up with a realistic budget and stick to it. These projects can get out of hand quickly, so it’s important to set a hard line. If you know you can’t spend more than $10,000 on the kitchen, work well below that budget to account for incidental expenses that may come up, as they always do.
If you come to realize that the kitchen of your dreams isn’t happening within that budget, it may be worth waiting and saving up more cash. Overspending and ending up cash-strapped is never worth it.