For many homeowners, the kitchen is the hub of the home. It’s more than just a place to prepare a meal. It’s a place to connect with friends and family. It’s a place to gear up for the day ahead or recharge in the evening. So it’s no surprise that one of the most popular home improvement projects is to breathe new life into an old kitchen.
But it can also be an expensive undertaking, especially in Los Angeles and Southern California where material and labor costs are high. Luckily, we’ve got some tips to help you save money on remodeling a kitchen.
Related: 6 Things to Know Before Kitchen Remodeling
Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, and San Diego Counties with reliable contractors, we speak to homeowners every day about tips for remodeling a kitchen – here are some ideas & tips to get you started.
Planning for a Kitchen Remodel
In Los Angeles, a luxury kitchen remodel can easily run upwards of $100,000, but we’ve seen it done for as low as $35,000. To get an idea for your own kitchen remodel budget, it’s important to create a list of everything you want to include in this project. We’ve created a kitchen remodeling checklist to help you get started.
Choosing the Right Contractor for the Job
By bringing in a contractor early when you’re remodeling a kitchen, you can save time and money on your project by sidestepping costly errors and delays. Your contractor will be able to advise you on the best appliances and materials for your space and your budget, will know the process for obtaining the necessary permits, and will have a capable crew to make sure the job gets done right the first time.
At GreatBuildz, we make it easy to connect with the best. After one free call, we’ll match you with three licensed contractors who specialize in kitchen renovations in your area — whether you’re in Orange County, Ventura County, or elsewhere in Southern California. These pre-vetted professionals will show your portfolios of past work and submit bids outlining the project scope and total cost to complete it.
How to Cut Costs for an Affordable Kitchen Renovation
As you and your contractor start making plans for your kitchen remodel, here are some key areas where you can save money. Note: Figures listed are estimates. Your actual costs could vary due to market fluctuations and supply.
Stick with the existing layout. Moving walls and doorways and making changes to your electricity and plumbing are often the most expensive aspects when remodeling a kitchen. If you’re comfortable with your kitchen’s current floor plan, there’s no need to change it. Potential savings: $12,000+.
If you can’t achieve the kitchen of your dreams by maintaining its original layout, don’t skimp. You might have a closed-off galley kitchen but you want to achieve an open-concept kitchen. Go for it. You might have to remove some walls but the result will be worth it. Ask your contractor to determine if the wall you’re removing is load-bearing. If it’s not, the costs should not be significant. Even when changing the layout of your kitchen, do your best to keep the fridge, oven, cooktop, sink, and exhaust in the original locations, as much as possible.
Shop smart on appliances. If your kitchen renovation includes new appliances like a refrigerator, oven, stove, and dishwasher, you can expect to spend between $10,000 and $15,000 for mid-tier brands like Samsung and GE. You’ll find less expensive brands on the market, but it’s worth checking reviews on Consumer Reports or other trusted product testing organizations — replacing cheap appliances within a few years of purchase doesn’t save you money in the long run. Functionality and durability should be your top priority. But there are still ways to save money here. Appliance stores often run seasonal sales to coincide with holidays like Labor Day or Black Friday. Potential savings: $500 – $2,000+.
Consider semi-custom cabinets. Custom cabinets, which are built specifically for your home by a craftsman, can cost between $18,000 to $30,000. But semi-custom cabinets — which are made overseas, sold in stores like IKEA or Home Depot, and then assembled onsite by your contractor — cost a comparatively low $12,000 to $18,000.
Another option? If your existing cabinets are in good shape, your contractor can simply refinish them, repaint them and add new hardware for an easy but effective update. Potential savings: $6,000+.
Explore options for countertops. For years, granite has been the most popular material for kitchen countertops, and for good reason: It’s impervious to heat, it’s durable and low-maintenance, it adds real-estate value and it’s available in more than 3,000 colors. Generally, a new granite countertop will cost between $2,250 and $4,500, though you can sometimes save money by purchasing remnants. This is an especially effective option if you have a smaller kitchen.
Other popular countertop materials include butcher block, quartz, tile, and solid-surface materials like Corian, Swanstone, and Avonite. These materials can vary widely in price range, but your contractor can help you explore your options and choose a surface that will best suit your aesthetic and lifestyle. Potential savings: $500 – $2,000+.
Don’t shy away from modern flooring alternatives. What to put underfoot? The four most common flooring options for kitchen renovations are laminate, vinyl plank, ceramic tile, and hardwood. Ceramic and hardwood are classics for a reason, but prices start at about $10/square foot. At about $5/square foot, laminate is the least expensive option, and it doesn’t look anything like the 1970s-era stuff your grandparents might have had in their home. Modern iterations of this material can be made to look like hardwood or tile, and it’s considerably more durable than it used to be. Vinyl plank, which is more substantial than laminate, also is a cost-effective option at $8/square foot. Potential savings: $600 – $1500 for 300 square feet.
Be sure to budget for fixtures. Little extras — think the sink, faucet, cabinet knobs, and lighting — add up quickly. Costs will vary depending on the brands and styles you choose. Some low-cost solutions include stainless steel sinks, basic faucets, and simple cabinet knobs, or those who enjoy the thrill of the hunt can find vintage or refurbished options. Potential savings: $1,000+.
Get creative with leftover materials. You’re likely to have some extra material after your renovation. The average kitchen renovation sees about 5% to 15% of purchased materials go to waste. Rather than throwing them out, you can put them to good use by creating high-end features. Leftover lumber, for example, can be used to make rolling inserts in cabinets. And granite end pieces can be used to make gorgeous cutting boards. There’s no reason an affordable kitchen remodel can’t feel luxurious.
Related: Top Kitchen Design Tips From the Pros
Process and Timing
The average kitchen renovation takes between six to eight weeks to complete. After you’ve chosen your materials and appliances, your contractor will solidify the schedule with you.
The first step in the renovation is tear-out and demolition. Next any new pipes or wiring necessary for the renovation will be installed. After a professional health and safety inspection, the construction team will finish the walls to hide the new piping and wiring.
The next step is to install any new doors or windows, followed by flooring. Afterward, your contractor will install your new cabinets, counters, sink, and other fixtures. Next, it will be time to install your new appliances and any other finishing touches.
When it comes to remodeling a kitchen in your home, you shouldn’t have to go it alone – GreatBuildz can help simplify your renovation experience.
GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish. Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next remodel project or visit our website for more information: www.greatbuildz.com