Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where to Spend and Save on Your Kitchen Renovation

An upcoming kitchen renovation is no doubt a daunting task. Not only is it going to be a large expenditure, you will also have to deal with the stress of choosing from so many different options, ideas and products out there.

Hiring a good designer and general contractor will definitely help guide you in the right direction. However, keep in mind you will still have to make choices to help them understand what your vision is and to help them achieve your desired goals.

As a general contractor and serial renovators ourselves, we have worked on lots of kitchens. Over the years, we have come across the same problem ourselves and for our clients on what you really should spend more of your budget on and where you can cut back on.

So, here’s what we’ve put together to help you during the planning stages of your upcoming kitchen renovation:

Spend More

  • Upgrade Plumbing and Electrical
  • Faucets and Appliances
  • Flooring
  • Kitchen Cabinets

Spend Less

  • Light Fixtures
  • Kitchen Accessories and Knobs and Pulls
  • Countertop
  • Sink
Spend MORE: Upgrade Plumbing and Electrical: Unless you know for sure your kitchen has upgraded plumbing and electrical, this is one area you do not want to bypass or skimp on. I know it’s not the pretty stuff but believe me, you want to make sure your plumbing and electrical is in tip-top shape otherwise, all your hard-earned money spent on the pretty stuff for your kitchen will be ruined if you get a leak or your wires spark a fire.

Spend MORE: Faucets and Appliances: Research the brand(s) you like and make sure you have an opportunity to see the faucet and appliances in person. They will get the most use in your kitchen, so you need to make sure they are strong enough to withstand aggressive use. Skip the good-looking “designer-ish” yet “more cost-effective” stuff you find in big-box retailers. Focus on good quality, strength and reliability. You do not want a cheap faucet to start leaking all over your new cabinets, nor do you want to be stuck paying someone to come out and fix your lower end appliances that start to go bad within a couple of years.

Spend MORE: Flooring: Take the time to really identify what you want (tile, wood, laminate, linoleum, etc.) and assess whether it will hold up to your anticipated traffic levels in the kitchen. Regardless of what type you choose, spend more to get a better quality and more durable flooring product that will hold up to the traffic. You don’t want something cheap that will crack, fray or warp within a few years time.

Spend MORE: Kitchen Cabinets: This is where you really get what you pay for. It’s not so much on the actual finish or style of the cabinets, but the quality of the cabinet construction. Spend more for sturdy wood cabinets with solid wood doors, dove-tail drawers and strong plywood shelves. We have installed a number of cabinets that had an inferior construction grade (i.e. nailed drawers, melamine shelving, etc.), and within months after installation, the cabinet shelving started to sag from the weight of plates, the door panels started to shift downwards, and the “skin” of the cabinets started to fade from sun exposure through kitchen windows.


Spend LESS: Light Fixtures: There are so many light fixtures out there, from really affordable to really high-end expensive. However, there is no reason to spend thousands on a light fixture (unless of course you really love it!) when you can get a similar one for just a few hundred dollars only. All new ones are wired for safety and work pretty much the same way. Besides, if you decide to change up your style in a few years, it won’t break the bank to replace it with something else.

Spend LESS: Kitchen Accessories and Knobs and Pulls: This is where the cabinet makers and sellers get you (in terms of cost). Skip the fancy Lazy Susan, pull-out bins and organizers, knobs and pulls, etc. They charge you an arm and a leg for it when you can simply buy it yourself in a woodworkers’ shop or through an online cabinet makers catalog. You can either install it yourself or have a handyman install it. You’ll be surprised that it will cost you only a fraction of what it would have been if you purchased it with the cabinets.

Spend LESS: Countertop: We don’t mean spend less on a countertop by going with tile or Formica instead of natural stone or some other material. If you decide to go with granite, for example, there is no need to spend a premium on a type of granite from Italy versus the same type of granite from another quarry in a different part of the world. We have installed kitchens with granite from both Asia and Europe. The price difference was almost by 50%, but honestly the “look and feel” was comparable.

Spend LESS: Sink: A sink is a sink, whether you pay $150 for a dual basin white porcelain one from Home Depot or $900 or more for a similar sink through a high-end designer store. If a heavy pot falls on it, it will most likely crack both. It’s the same thing with a stainless steel sink. It will scratch the same whether you spent $200 for it or $1200 for it.

To see samples of Good Home Construction's previous and current projects, click HERE.

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