Tips for kitchen remodel on a budget

canicciFebruary 17, 2013

We're saving to finally do work on the kitchen. It'll be a gut remodel, but no moving of walls etc. We really want to keep costs down as we may move in 3-4 yrs.

We're looking at using ikea cabinets. As for DIY - I can paint, we can put ikea cabinets together, but most everything else need to get someone in to do.

We're still working on floor plan and overall look. I'm wanting tips of what we can do, where we can look to get things cheaper.

So what's your best tips for kitchen on a budget?


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Well, you can get your appliances either scratch and dent, Sears Outlet, floor models, or ebay.

Can you act as your own GC? This is a big undertaking, but can save you some money. There are many threads here to discuss this. Here is one:

If you do act as your own GC, then learn to do as much DIY as possible. Plan on taking a lot of time if you go this route. (If someone else is acting as the GC, he or she may not be able to let you do the work, lest you mess up his/her schedule.)

Ikea cabs, and either Formica or butcherblock countertops.

What are you thinking about with respect to flooring material?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 6:18PM
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We have marmoleum tiles. We like them but some are worn - have a gouge in them. They're in the laundry room too We do have a box of spares, so I wonder if it's possible to just replace some and maybe buff or polish? Keeping them would depend on color cabinets we end up getting.

The current floor is rust and cream tiles on diamond pattern. Base cabinets are painted green and top cabinets are painted white. Cabinets are very old, chips of wood fall into bowls, drawers are broken etc.

This post was edited by canicci on Sun, Feb 17, 13 at 19:00

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 6:48PM
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Here are some tips I learned froom our recent renovations:

Electrical work is very expensive. If you need to move or add 240V connections - for example we switched from range to cooktop and wall oven - it will be expensive. You can change light fixtures yourself easily and replace light switches or plug sockets if they are ugly but if you reposition appliances you will need an electrician. If the electrician finds that your sockets are not to current code he may want to do those too (there are rules about a minimum number outlets per length of counter and you must have one on the island etc.)

Fridge: Remember that if you move a fridge with icemaker to a different location, you need to be able to get water to it.

Two builder friends have independently recommended Ikea kitchens to me as being good quality and good value. One person said that the low end Home Depot units were so flimsy it was difficult to move them into place before they fell apart again.

Before painting, repair all the dings and knicks in the drywall. With a little practice and patience you can repair even major drywall damage yourself. (DIY videos or book if if you dont have anyone to show you how.) If your walls are not in great condition, choose matt paint and use a roller - imperfections will show less.

I have used the ikea wooden countertops in a bathroom with good success. They look really nice, but you would have to be a bit more careful to maintain them in a ktchen.

Tile backsplash or floor? My tiler warned me to be wary of very cheap chinese tiles - they can be porous so that the grout shows through, or irregular or difficult to cut. Tile work is also expensive to have done. Perhaps you could be creative with your backsplash and do something other than tile.

Good luck

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 6:53PM
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Well, I LOVE your floor, which will be no surprise to anyone on this board! ;-) (Here is a picture of my floor.)

I am sorry, but I don't know the answer to your questions about replacing just some of your tiles.

I am confused as to why you told us about your present cabinets. I thought you said it was going to be a gut remodel? If your cabs are worth saving, that is CERTAINLY a good way to save a lot of money. Are they salvagable? (It didn't sound like it to me....)

Sounds to me like you may need to do some research to figure out at what level you want to tackle this project. There are many good books on this subject, but here is the one I can recommend: Kelly's Kitchen Sync

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 9:27PM
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Love your floor. I do like the diamond patterns.

No the cabinets aren't salvageable. They were painted before we bought 8 yrs ago but are quite old and falling apart. I mentioned the color because of the color scheme with the floor. If we change cabinet colors, not sure how they floor will match.

We should though consider keeping the flooring from a cost perspective and making cabinets, counter match. I'm not sure if the marmoleum goes underneath the cabinets and we know we went a few changes to layout. There's only a couple of tiles with small gouge and I know we've got a couple extra boxes of tile in the garage.

It's something for me to check with someone that installs marmoleum.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 9:50PM
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Have you taken the tiles out of the garage and compared them to those in the kitchen to check for fading?

Preparation of walls before even opening a can a paint is key - the world's best paint will look terrible without the prep work.

The magazine Fine Home Building has very good articles about a variety of topics - some accessible online for free, some you have to pay for, but the information is well worth the cost. Very helpful books as well.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:55AM
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Tips for budget remodel:

Every time you have to move plumbing or electrical, it will cost money. So try to leave your sink and other appliances where they were in the original kitchen. Chances are that this will mean you won't have to apply for a permit, either. Permits in our area started at $1000 and moved up. If they're just replacing cabinets, floor and appliances, we didn't have to have a permit because we didn't need plumbing or electrical work. (YMMV, as areas differ.)

Shop around for appliances. Consider keeping a good working appliance in there until it dies. We kept our fridge and dishwasher when we remodeled the kitchen 5-1/2 years ago. We replaced the dishwasher last year and are starting to shop for the new fridge now.

Shop for your own lighting, tiles, appliances, etc. If you have a pickup truck, or a really good friend with one, you can buy your own tiles and bring them home yourself. Same with lighting fixtures. We brought our OTR microwave home from the store ourselves, though we did have to get (and pay for) delivery of the range. (When we replace the fridge, we will pay to have that delivered.)

Hope this helps...


    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 11:07AM
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Shop, shop, shop.

Look for stores that sell remnants, closeouts, or specialize in selling to the trade. Check all the retailers in your area; you may find one that just prices everything better or is running a special. Check the newspaper for ads. Check craigslist if you have it in your area, and
Look for coupons, too, some of our stores offer coupon off deals regularly.

Time consuming for sure, but to get my hardwood flooring for $1.59 sq ft when I was getting ready to pay $3.29 (and thought that was a fine price) made it worth it!

I definitely vote for the scratch & dent appliances; I've gotten great deals with only minor blemishes.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:11PM
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We gutted and remodeled our entire house on a relatively small budget. I'd say the two ways we saved the most money have already been mentioned, acting as our own GC and as raee mentioned constant shopping. We also did the entire demo ourselves. While I admit it was a HUGE pain the money savings made it worth it. The other way I saved money was identifying things that I absolutely had to have (farmhouse sink) and things I could compromise on (plywood boxes for the cabinets.) I would have liked plywood boxes but the savings I found by not having them paid for new windows in my entire house.

If you do decide it is in the budget for new flooring check and see if there is a floor and decor near you. I've added a link to them below. As much as I searched I could not find better pricing and they have a very large selection. Also another resource for scratch and dent low to mid end appliances is Best Buy. They usually have them on display at your local store but they do have the ability to search online also. Just go to best buy's website and type open box in the search.
Also see if anyone you know has remodeled their home in you area. They may have tips on someone reasonable to install cabinets, do electric, or an inexpensive counter top fabricator. Just be sure to ask about the quality of their work and not just the cost.

Here is a link that might be useful: floor and decor

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 9:17PM
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I have to mildly disagree with donnar. Of course, I don't disagree -- she or he is right that it is cheaper to leave the utilities where they are. But I think it could be penny wise, and pound foolish in a gut remodel. It probably takes about $500 to move either sink or range. Not chicken feed, of course, but if it gets you a better layout, it is well worth it, IMHO. (I moved my sink and range myself, so don't know how much it would normally cost, but know what it takes to do it.)

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 9:33PM
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I've done a number of renos, some on a tight budget. I can echo only some of the comments from the previous posters, and add a little detail. First off, you will save a ton of money by acting as your own GC and sourcing product on your own. Then, you can address savings in each category, in rough declining order of $ value - cabinets, appliances, electrical/plumbing, counters/BS.

On the cabs, if you truly are only going to stay there a few years, besides the Ikea brand, shop around. There are probably reputable local firms that sell decent quality/look stock cabinets and bundle low cost (but still highly capable) installers under a volume contract. Because they only do cabinet installs, you'll find their expertise high and their costs relatively low compared to a GC and the combined cost equal/less than the Ikea/Pro Installer combo. Just something to consider.

On the appliances, also don't forget the combo bundle deals. Piece-by-piece is not always the best value, especially if there are manufacturer incentives in place.

On counters, don't ignore the pre-fab option, if your layout supports it. I've seen quartz, granite, soapstone, marble, and laminates available at heavy discount from the cost of fabricating an equivalent item through special order.

You can save labor by doing finish work yourself; get friends and relatives to help you or teach you. Installing lights in existing sockets, installing trim, and other tasks can be picked up pretty quickly. Pizza and beer work wonders. However, if you are not good at it, don't try installing tile on your own. It will look like it. :)

The penny wise-pound foolish mantra applies elsewhere, of course, especially as it relates to function (layout) and finish (a bad tile job or a mismatched floor).

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 11:11PM
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I was lucky to find a contractor who is interested in doing the work, but does not mind if I get all of the supplies. I bought a sink at our Habitat store for $60. It is porcelain over cast iron and had only a few chips on the rim. They are visible because it is a drop-in sink, but not noticeable. The sink is huge and cannot be more that 10 years old.

I shopped Craigslist, as well. I learned which repeat-posters were selling "fell off the back of the truck" (likely stolen) appliances, and which were really affiliated with appliance brands to sell scratch-and-dent. I looked up model numbers, since sometimes the ad gets the info wrong. That is how I got a $2800 36" induction cooktop for $1200. Its box was all broken up, but the cooktop was undamaged and the manuals were there. We wondered if they knew that it was induction or if they thought that it was just a ceramic top electric. I knew it was induction because I looked up the model number that they placed in the ad.

As someone above said, reuse what you have that is in good working order if it costs a lot to replace. For example, we reused a 7 year-old Bosch DW and a 5 year-old french door fridge. But a $200 disposer we replaced. Too much work to have it taken out and a new one put in when the old one failed in the future. Just spend the $ and put a new one in now, since we are paying the contractor anyway.

Think hard about what you are really willing to give up. If you don't care about solid surface counter tops, get laminate. If you want a solid surface in one area (I did the island), will you consider tile? There are some awfully big tiles out there now, and with rectified edges, the grout lines can get very small. Consider porcelain over stone, too.

Save money in the long term. I spent several hundred dollars on four Cree 6" LED can lights and four 4" cans in which I put LED bulbs. I won't be changing out these lights for about 10 years, I hope. The savings on energy costs should be substantial since this is the one room where we leave at least some of the lights on all evening. Since you are planning to leave in a few years, this one may not apply to you.

Remember when you bring out the Marmoleum floor tiles that they will need some time in the bright light (not stacked together) to reach the color that they will be in the long term. True Linoleum yellows in storage and will change color a little after it hits daylight. Days or weeks, I have not gotten a straight answer on that!

If you live anywhere near Green Demolitions in New Jersey, New York, or Connecticut, check out their website for new fixtures and appliances. They often have new sinks, range hoods, faucets, etc. for sale in addition to complete kitchens for resale. Check around to see if Habitat or other places near you have new things like this on discount. I got my faucet half off from a contractor whose client had changed her mind on faucets, so the contractor sold the faucet on Craigslist rather than pay shipping and restocking fees.

See if you can find a contractor who won't mind if you have all of your materials purchased and sitting there waiting when they come to start work on your kitchen.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:21AM
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Lots of good advice--for us, acting as the GC was the single biggest budget saver. However, it isn't easy--very glad we did it, but hope to never do it again! :) It did allow us to shop carefully for each of the trades, though, which saved money and also got us the right people for the job. Even if you do use a contractor, you may be able to take on tasks like pulling permits yourself for some extra savings. We used a local reuse place for demo, which did cost money, but also took care of disposal (no dumpster rental) and got us a tax deduction for everything they could salvage. Love our IKEA Numerar counter, too. We didn't end up moving either our sink or our range, but considered it and in our particular situation it was not costly (but we have good access from our basement to our utilities).

I'll mostly weigh in on the Marmo issues, though. We have Marmoleum Click tiles and I finally got around to ordering the Forbo cleaner and finish to tackle some stains on our tiles from spilled chemicals. Refinishing them was surprisingly easy to do! We only used the finish on the problem spots since our local floor place had cautioned that once we finished the whole floor we would need to continue to periodically refresh the finish, but I would absolutely give that a try before abandoning the floors. They clean up impressively. I haven't tried patching the one gouge we have yet, but there are also instructions on how to do that online--basically you scrape off the surface of a spare tile and then mix it with glue and fill the gash with this, and then apply finish to seal it. It makes sense though no clue if it will work or not. You can also replace the individual tiles, though you have to be careful with seams (with either sheet or Click--Click seams itself but if you have to cut a tile out to replace it, you lose the tongue-and-groove seam). I love your floor, so I'd see if it's salvageable--one less thing to pay for!

This post was edited by artemis78 on Tue, Feb 19, 13 at 2:16

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:35AM
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Thanks everyone for the great advice.

We haven't finalized a floor plan, so I'll keep in mind moving sink and appliances will increase cost, but it may be worth to do so if it fixes some layout issues. Pretty sure the fridge will move and yes, we'll want one that makes ice.

We will shop around and hunt for bargins. We're not committed to ikea cabs, so we'll definitely look and see what our options are.

I'm also going to get a local realtor in to give us some advice. We may move in 3 yrs, but we may not (depends on DH's work). With things breaking and 20+ year old appliances, I don't know how much longer we can go with as is. Maybe replacing isn't worth it, maybe just patch and sell for lower if we sell.

Thanks for the marmoleum advice. In the 8 yrs we've been here, I've only mopped the floor and not with special marmoleum cleaner. It may be worth seeing what we can do to salvage the floor. I should pull out the extra tiles and see how they are. I'm not sure how old the floor is.

I'll keep posting as things come up. We're still saving, so we have time to work out how we want to do things and what it's worth for us to do and what's not worth it for us. I'll also search through old posts for ideas.


This post was edited by canicci on Tue, Feb 19, 13 at 3:01

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 2:57AM
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We are just finishing up a budget remodel with Ikea cabinets.

First thing I would advise is make sure you plan a good time period to start your remodel. Ikea runs specials and you should start getting an idea of what they are and how often they are offered. We pulled the plug a little early because they were having a sale that was 20% if you bought 3 appliances. Come to find out the next off it was just 20% off if you spent X. That would of been a better deal since we ended up with a so/ so range hood and a microwave that we are not using. It still worked out to be a better deal then buying straight.

They also put all the stuff they did not have in stock on a gift card so we could pick up later. For example if something cost $100, we got a gift card for $120. I wish I had added a few more things to that were out of stock because we used all those gift cards and more. Not necessarily on the sizes that were out of stock, but on other things like large panels and trim we originally did not include in our plan.

Make sure you have a solid plan, DH and I have two young children and decided to do our kitchen with little planning and research. I posted a small layout question here or there, but nothing major. This is our third kitchen remodel and our last one which was pre children included 6 months on here. Our last layout was awesome, thanks everyone! The plan had to be solid because it was built by a local cabinet maker. I love our new layout, but we did not narrow the kinks and have finalized our plan as we went. It is nice that you can return cabinets to Ikea. Ours has gone past the original return time, but DH was able to take some of our extras back and get a store credit.

If you go the Ikea route I would recommend not getting those plastic legs. DH tried on the first cabinet and it was a PIA. His friend then told us that they built theirs on 2x4 frames plus a sheet of plywood on top of them. I am sure others have their way of doing it so research methods. You can shim under the whole cabinet run frame to get the run level.

I am always shocked at how much electricians and plumbers cost. I would start asking around to find good ones that are cheaper or do side work. My DH originally was going to do the plumbing, but realized that it was harder then he thought. He also works 6 days a week and does not get home until after 7. This really made us evaluate the cost of not having a kitchen vs paying someone. He spent 3 Sundays and a few nights until 2 AM trying to do one thing. It took the plumber a few hours to do the same job and the harder ones.

Start looking at granite fabricators to see if they have remnants and their costs. Especially for an island which has not cut outs it can be one of the cheaper options. We went with the thinner Ikea butcher block (they don't have it anymore) for our perimeter and a granite remnant for our island.

If you know certain features (faucet/ sink/ appliances), you can start looking for them now. I got my oven- a Fisher Paykel double oven with a dent on the bottom door from a shopping cart for $1000 at Lowe's. I always check their misorder/ floor model section for good appliance deals. When I saw it, I called DH and he called a friend at an appliance store who was able to order a replacement door for us. We spent less then $1500 including labor. We have had it for a year and a half waiting for the new cabinet.

Since DH and I were not about to drywall our ceiling, we ended up using v-groove knotty pine so it would be easier. It also adds a little character to our kitchen. We did have to add molding because our walls were not totally square (not part of the original plan). The point is know your weaknesses and try to think if their is a different DIY way to get around it that is a strength.

Good luck on your new kitchen and make sure you get layout advice here because everyone really challenges your thinking. My last two kitchen would not of been half as nice without them.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 9:52PM
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If you are moving within three years I would not spend the money on a new kitchen. Your kitchen may have issues, but it is pretty, and you may not get your money back in the sale.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 12:23AM
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I agree that a full overhaul is probably not worth the time or aggravation. Remodeling the kitchen will raise the price you are able to get for the house but you will not recoup the amount you spend unless you are able to save a ton of money by doing a lot of the work yourself. Remodeling may help you sell the house faster but you could also just lower the price on the house significantly too.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 6:28AM
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