What are the biggest expenses in kitchen remodeling?

If you’re embarking on a home remodel, you should come prepared with a budget. Generally, payments for this type of job are not just a one-and-done lump sum. You have to look at each aspect of the remodel and understand the cost of every part of the project. 

The kitchen is a particularly challenging remodel when it comes to expenses because everything needs to be high functioning on top of looking good. There’s no way to skimp when it comes to kitchen appliances – you might be able to find a cheaper carpet swatch or couch dupe for a living room, but you’ll notice the difference if you go for a suboptimal oven choice. However, other parts of the kitchen that aren’t mechanical can be places to save when design is more important than function. 

Let’s go over the most expensive factors of kitchen remodel cost and figure out where to begin with your budgeting. 

What’s hiding in that cabinet? 

It may come as a surprise, but cabinets are consistently one of the most expensive parts of a kitchen renovation – they often become 25% – 35% of the total cost of the remodel. You can reduce this figure by discussing with your kitchen contractors the option of shopping for materials from big box stores or Ikea. You might also consider local carpenters looking to break into the market who would jump at the chance of a remodel job to cut their teeth and gain experience. 

Decorative kitchen features like crown moldings and ornamentation can end up being an unnecessary expense. Unless money is no object, consider sticking to basics to keep your project within budget.

The biggest way to save on this most-expensive part of a remodel is not to get new cabinets at all. Of course, this isn’t an option for everyone, but if you’re able to muster enthusiasm for your current cabinetry instead of replacing it, you’ll save a considerable chunk of cash that can then be delegated to other parts of the kitchen remodel. 

Kitchen Remodeling

Photo credit: JOSBRA design

Where the magic happens 

It’s no surprise that appliances are another high-cost area. For appliances, focus on quality instead of trends or big names. There will always be new things going on in the appliance world, from larger fridges to new temperature settings to fancy kitchen gadgets. Focus on your needs for the long run instead of what is hip and popular in the moment. 

Think about the most vital aspects of cooking for your family and base your appliance choices on that. Appliances will always be costly, but it’s better to put your money into things that will affect your cooking life. If plumbing and electric work become part of installing new appliances, they will quickly become an expensive facet of the project. This makes kitchen and bath renovations more complex than other areas of the house. 

Kitchen Modeling

Photo credit: Sidekix Media

Time vs. money

Like the rest of a home remodel, labor is one of the most significant costs to factor into the equation. Doing some installations you can save on labor expenses, but as the adage goes, time is money. Taking time away from work or other responsibilities might not be worth the money saved, especially when you might make mistakes that a professional can avoid. 

That being said, labor will be one of your largest costs when it comes to your kitchen remodel, and it’s not something you want to skimp on. First of all, it’s bad business to cut corners with your staff in the hopes of saving money – they’re people, too, and underpaying them to support your bottom line isn’t fair or right. 

Hiring a younger or less experienced crew might get you a lower price, but you’ll have to weigh the option of hiring an untested team. Then again, if you’re able to find a less experienced team through a trusted personal referral, you might be able to save money and still work with someone you trust. 


Photo credit: Chandler Cruttenden

From small to big 

One major factor in determining the cost of your kitchen remodel is how much, exactly, of your kitchen you are remodeling. Remodeling just some aspects or a smaller area of your kitchen will, of course, be much cheaper than the whole space. A small kitchen remodel is easier to pull off financially. If you’re set on a larger overhaul but are worried about the cost, discuss with your kitchen remodel contractors any possible ways to keep aspects of your old kitchen while getting the renovation you desire. 

The average kitchen remodel cost is around $6k on average for a smaller space, or minor remodel, while major ones shoot up to an average of $43k. There’s a large gap between those two numbers, so you can see why it’s advantageous to discuss the possibilities of keeping some parts of your original kitchen intact if you’re going for a large-scale remodel. Whatever your budget ends up being, you should always factor in an extra 10% for overhead and contingency. You might be the best fiscal planner in the world, but the nature of remodeling is such that some things just can’t be planned for.

Off to the races

A new kitchen is an exciting prospect, but some of that excitement can get lost when you begin to worry about how much everything is going to cost. The best way to keep up your enthusiasm and not get lost in the money is to plan ahead as much as possible. By taking cost considerations into account at the very beginning of the planning process, you’re less likely to get taken down by stress along the way, and you’ll avoid making costly decisions under duress. Make your home remodeling process as pleasant as possible by understanding cost factors before you begin your project.