Kitchen Remodeling 101: Costs, Safety, and How to Get Started

understand how to remodel your kitchen

Thinking about remodeling your kitchen but don't know where to start? Our guide to kitchen remodeling outlines everything you need to know, including average costs, design considerations, how the process works, when to DIY, and how to hire the right professional for the job.


Consider Costs

A major kitchen remodel typically costs between $10,000 and $30,000. However, remodels can cost more or less depending on the extent of the update and the quality of the materials you decide to use.

National Average Cost to Remodel a Kitchen
Low End Price $1,000 - $10,000
Average Price $10,000 - $30,000
High End Price $30,000 - $50,000

The thing(s) you decide to spend the most money on during your remodel should echo what’s most important to you and your family.

There are countless ways to remodel—or simply update—your kitchen, so don’t be discouraged by the thought of having to drop thousands of dollars to get a kitchen better suited for you and your needs. That’s not necessarily the case.

Not to mention, a major kitchen remodel can result in a return on investment of 60 – 70% when you sell your home. So although upfront costs may seem steeper than you’d like, you’ll be able to make a majority of your money back if you plan on selling your home in the future.

When to Spend & When to Save

Because it could be argued that your appliances are the most-used aspect of a kitchen, you shouldn’t try to cut corners here. However, there are some appliances that last longer than others and should, therefore, receive the most funds.

For example, you may be tempted to spend the most money on your refrigerator, but these often need to be replaced after 10 years or so. A range, on the other hand, will last 15+ years, so you could consider splurging there.

Similarly, if you have dirty dishes piling up on a daily basis, investing in a good dishwasher or dishwasher drawers (very energy efficient and great for small spaces!) is a great use of your money.

Always be on the lookout for energy-efficient appliances that come with warranties.

Ideally, your new kitchen should be built to last at least 20 years, so don’t focus solely on price. As you know, you often get what you pay for, so it’s imperative that you weigh the pros and cons of going the cheap route, whether it’s appliances, cabinets, or the contractor you choose to hire.
 

Hiring a contractor? Establish a foolproof payment plan:

  • Do not pay with cash
  • Avoid paying more than 10% upfront
  • Pay as the work is completed
  • Do a thorough walk-through before making final payment
  • Get payment plan in writing

Find an interior demolition contractor near you


Keep Design in Mind

A kitchen should be functional, efficient, durable, and stylish. Everything from the layout to the hardware should fit your family’s lifestyle.

Kitchen design and remodeling

Your kitchen should be tailored to how you live. If you’re planning on using your new kitchen for years to come, choose updates specific to you and your family’s needs.

For example, if you have a large, busy family, one of the number one things you’ll want to consider is storage because you’re going to need a lot of it.

Likewise, if you experience a lot of foot traffic in your kitchen, design it to accommodate the comings and goings of your family. Think: Open floor plan with an island.

Keep the following in mind when addressing kitchen design variables:

  • Size of the space
  • Homeowner’s lifestyle
  • Budget
  • Condition of the building/space
  • Adjacent rooms
  • Direction of sunlight

Looking for inspiration? Check out:


Understand the Process

The kitchen remodeling process can be stressful and is easily one of the most complicated remodeling projects considering all the decisions you’ll need to make along the way.

For example, do you plan on keeping the general layout of your existing kitchen, or are you looking for a fresh slate? Do you want to buy completely new cabinets, or simply update what’s already there?

Understanding the kitchen remodeling process is one of the first steps to creating the kitchen of your dreams, and although each remodel is different than the next, there are general steps that can be followed.

How a major kitchen remodel is performed from start to finish:

  1. Tear out cabinets and walls
  2. Replace old plumbing
  3. Install lighting
  4. Hang drywall, mud, and sand
  5. Paint walls and ceiling
  6. Install flooring and baseboards
  7. Install cabinets
  8. Order and install countertops
  9. Install backsplash
  10. Install appliances, faucet, and hardware
A contractor can assist in any or all of the remodeling process. However, if you have some experience or a willingness to DIY, you could save money by choosing to do the easier things yourself (like tearing out cabinets and drywall or painting).
 

paint cabinets to give kitchen a fresh look

Know when to Hire and when to DIY

Doing work yourself is an excellent way to save some money on your kitchen remodel, but that doesn’t mean you should take on all of it by yourself.

Instead, leave the tough stuff to the pros, and handle the easier stuff yourself.

Which Project Types Are DIY-Friendly?
Project Type DIY-Friendly Hire a Pro
Major kitchen re-design   X
Cabinet removal X  
Wall panel removal X  
Plumbing   X
Electrical work   X
HVAC   X
Painting X  
Flooring X  

Choosing to DIY? Follow Safety Precautions

Although some aspects of the remodeling project are capable of being done yourself, that doesn't necessarily mean you should do it yourself.

First and foremost, you should have experience in whatever work you're performing. No matter how straightforward and simple something may seem, if you have absolutely no experience, you could end up injuring yourself or causing damage to your property.

If you do decide to DIY, make sure you wear protective gear, like safety goggles, gloves, and heavy duty boots.

The best way to be safe is to have your home's blueprint on hand. That way you'll be able to know where all the important stuff is located and where you need to be extra careful (i.e. electrical lines, load bearing walls, plumbing, etc.).
 

Learn more about how to be safe during interior demolition:


Hire the Right Contractor(s) for the Job

During a kitchen remodel, you will likely need to hire a contractor for one aspect of the project or another, so you'll want to make sure you hire the right contractor for you and your project.

To get the best value for your money, hire one experienced contractor to handle all the work rather than hiring separate contractors for each individual job.

Chances are, you can find a contractor who is experienced in all the various aspects of a kitchen remodel; and if they can’t, they’ll know who to sub the work out to.

With that being said, always make sure the contractors are licensed, insured, and have the necessary permits needed to perform the work. Make sure you ask to see these certifications; don’t just take their word for it.