The first step in beginning a kitchen remodel project is to create a realistic and accurate budget. While you may have visions of stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, it would be irresponsible and stressful to take on more debt than you can afford. You also need to consider how long you plan to stay in the home: If you have no plans for moving, it makes more sense to spend more because you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor for a good long time. On the other hand, if you are thinking of putting your home on the market in the near term, real estate experts recommend spending no more than 15% of the home's value on a remodel for future sale. A kitchen remodel can make your home more desirable and even raise its value, so this 15% margin can generally be recouped when the house is sold.
Make a List of Desired Upgrades
In order to create a budget, you need to know what will be encompassed in the remodel. Make a list of everything needed for the remodel, including appliances, cabinets, countertops, flooring, paint, lighting, etc. Once the list is finalized, you can get prices from several contractors on the cost of labor for each phase of the project and gather prices from several sources for materials needed. Then add the cost of labor to the cost of the materials and you have an accurate overall cost for the project; compare this to you budget. If the project falls within the amount you have allotted to spend, great! If not, you will need to readjust the project, either by eliminating certain portions or by opting to do some of the work yourself. Even if you can afford to have a contractor do the entire project, you may wish to do some of the work yourself; the savings can be pocketed, used to purchase upgraded materials or extra amenities.
The Importance of Careful Shopping
It's very important to get at least three different contractor estimates; this is the only way to tell if the bids are competitive. Also consider that the cheapest quote may not be the best way to go: Get references and make sure that you are comparing "apples to apples". That is, make sure that each quote includes the same services.
When shopping for materials, it is also smart to compare prices for appliances, cabinets, etc. from one store to the next. Some stores will offer "1 year same as cash" incentives or discounts for opening a line of credit. This makes sense if you know you can pay off the loan when due and you can let your own money earn interest in the meantime. If you cannot pay off the loan when due, the extra interest required will shoot a gigantic hole in your budget, so the best option would be to use your own money and pay as you go.
Prioritize your purchases to save money. For example, black appliances can look just as nice as stainless steel, but granite countertops create the high end appeal that you desire. Keep careful records of your purchases and expenditures and keep always your overall budget in sight.
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