Profession Remodel Cost - is it reasonable?

viki412agDecember 19, 2012

Ok, so we're not DIY people, so please don't tell me to save money by doing it ourselves. It took us 2 months just to repaint a bedroom, no way am even going to attempt to redo a kitchen.

So we're hiring a pro to remodel our kitchen. Here's the summary of the work included so far. I really like this guy but I want to make sure I'm not overpaying.

Kitchen is about 11ft x 15ft, 1960s home, total worth about $200K.
Pittsburgh, PA area.
1. Removing bulkhead along the 2 walls where the cabinets are now.
2. Remove 1 non-load bearing wall dividing kitchen and dining room.
3. Adding a peninsula in place of that wall (with base cabinets)
4. moving fridge to new location (water line to fridge will be relocated but utilities are almost directly below the kitchen, so not huge deal).
5. all new cabinets, frameless style, plywood box, solid wood mitered doors in maple. soft close slides/hinges on everything.
6. laminate counter tops.

no backsplash, just paint.
No hardware selected *yet*.
no new floor *yet*
Already have new appliances

new cabinets are about $20K
laminate countertop is about $1600
Rest of project cost, all the tear down, rebuilds, and installation, about $11K.
So total about $33K plus unknown amount for floor & hardware...

Is that a reasonable cost? I see a lot of sources that say a kitchen remodel can be done for 20K and that's more then enough for a nice new kitchen... so I'm just a little uneasy... feedback would be greatly appreciated...

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20K is enough for a DIYer to get a nice kitchen. Add in the labor to have that same kitchen done and you'd be at 35-40K. So, yours is actually a tad low as to what I'd expect. Does it include any electrical? You're going to need under counter lighting as well as to probably add in some other task or accent lighting. What about the HVAC? Are there any vents in that wall that's coming down? You may need to reconfigure the duct work to keep your kitchen properly conditioned.

As an aside, I'd only recommend a mitered door if you fully understand the tradeoffs. Meaning a mitered door will show the natural expansion and contraction of wood much more than a stick and cope. That can reveal some unfinished wood on the panel when it does that. You just need to understand that this isn't a defect. It's the nature of wood to do this.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 5:21PM
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We completed a kitchen remodel in the Pittsburgh suburbs about 6 years ago. We did not DIY, but I was the GC on the job. I found and supplied the custom cabinet maker, remnant countertops, scratch and dent appliances, fixtures, and flooring. I had a contractor do all the installation (other than countertops) Actually, we did install the wood floor ourselves. No structural changes. We even kept the original drywall.
Final price was just over 22k. The cabinets (painted, inset, solid wood) were about 11k. About 5k was labor. Your cabinet budget seems a little high, but prices have gone up. Back then, we saved about 5k going with the custom shop on the cabinets. We had quotes up to about 25k for no inset semi custom cabinets. Are you using a Kitchen Design shop? That is going to cost you as aoppsed to doing much of the legwork yourself. The final kitchen looked way more expensive than our modest budget.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 7:27PM
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We have a 10x22 kitchen with the actual kitchen being 10x14. We are also taking out soffits, removing a wall to the family room and also changing out a backyard door to be a 6ft sliding door (requiring exterior work). We were quoted $52k for everything except appliances. This includes all custom cherry cabinets - all drawer except under the sink, soapstone countertops, new flooring and all new electrical. So, your # sounds good to me. Yeah, when people asked if we redid our master bathroom, we said, well we wrote the checks! We're very good check writers.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 10:00PM
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Your estimate seems pretty on target, except as LWO says if you need a lot of electrical or HVAC work done.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 10:21PM
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Thank you so much for your replies, it's reassuring to hear your feedback and comments. And thanks for not judging us for not going DIY...�

So to reply to some of your comments...

yes, we want under cabinet lighting but we took that off the table due to the cost. 30k was my max I was willing to invest into this project, but as you can see, even with just the 'must have' items, we're already over budget. We opted out of the nicer quartz counter tops, we opted out of the backslash, �opted out of the task lighting, and as i mentioned the cost of the floor is not factored in yet either....

�It's not that I can't pay a little bit more it's that I can't justify spending that much on a single room when our home value is only 200k. We're doing this for ourselves, not for resale. I want to enjoy it without the spending guilt.

Btw, there is an intake vent on that wall but he's already factored that in. There's also an outlet there which will be migrated to peninsula.

I really like the cabinet line he's offering. His company doesn't build them, but he deals with the manufacturer direct. I guess you could call it semi custom., it's the frameless design, and there are no upcharges for resizing or differen finishes.

The comment about the mitired doors concerns me, does that always happen with those or not necesarily?

Do you think doing any of the items on the opt out list will
be more difficult later on? Like the task lights or
backsplashback splash?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 2:03AM
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Sophie Wheeler

If you don't plan the wiring for the lighting now, it will be more difficult and expensive to do later. It really should be done now, as you can't just leave wires dangling and pass inspection. They'd have to have some type of fixture or cover plate installed on them, and you've dne the expensive part by running them.

The backsplash can always come later. The flooring should be done now, or you should decide on the material at least so that the cabinets can be installed onto the equivalent thickness of plywood and not cause any problems with transitioning or appliances. And you will have an awkward area where the wall came down that will need some type of patch in the meantime if the flooring is to come later. The ceiling will need the drywall work and patching as well.

Really, with the wall coming down, your budget should be in the 45-50K for that work. The guideline is 10-20% for a replacement remodel without structural work. You're getting structural work done here.

The only way to reduce the costs here are to not take down the wall. Then, you'd be at your budget.

You should post your layout to see if there are any tweaks that can be done to the space as is without taking down the wall. It's not the magical go to solution in every kitchen remodel, and it can actually detract value from the home in some situations and in some home types.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 7:29AM
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If you have electrical outlets on the backsplash wall, it shouldn't cost more than $1500 to install under cabinet lights. Otherwise your estimate seems reasonable to me. You can always upgrade counter tops later.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 8:30AM
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The one thing I would recommend is to bite the bullet on the lighting and just do it. Good lighting will make a huge difference in your enjoyment and use of the space. Laminate countertops can be a good choice, a painted backsplash does the job, poor lighting - no. Get a lighting store to help you develop a plan for the whole space and see what you can come up with. You don't need $500 designer pendents, but you do need good lighting.

Also, for $20,000, be sure those cabinets are coming with all the bells and whistles, full extension, soft close drawers for all the lowers, super susan (or whatever) for the corner(s), maybe a drawer insert of two. Cabinet hardware doesn't have to be expensive. Given the choice of anything out of the thousands offered at our local cabinet and knob store, the ones we preferred were just over $100 for our whole kitchen; the knobs and pulls were right around $2 each. They do carry the ones that are $10+ each, but those aren't the ones we liked.

I absolutely hear you on the cost compared to the value of the house. We wanted to make a major addition to an inherited family house and had to abandon the project when the cost got too high compared to the value of the property. Bummer.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 9:11AM
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Your costs sounds reasonable considering you're taking down a wall, etc. I would brace for the unexpected as others mentioned...a pipe, HVAC issue...who knows what's beneath when you take stuff out. And yes, the backsplash can wait, but the floor decision needs to be made now. When we bought our house a few years ago, a family member told us we could do over our kitchen with 20K. Ha! Turns out the whole thing needed to be gutted. Old house = lots of dirty work. It's the dirty work, not the finishes, that cost so much imo. We are not DIY material either, but I sure wish we were! We spent about 14K on cabinets - all plywood, good far we're really happy with our Schuler cabs from Lowes. They look great, work great, and I waited for a good deal (Lowes has about 6 big sales a year - you can save 1000s). So with the big sale, we were able to afford the soapstone counters that I really wanted. Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 10:12AM
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Electrical lighting has to be on a separate lighting circuit. They can NOT be run from one of your small appliance outlets on your backsplash. They can be run from an existing lighting circuit (and switched separately) if that doesn't overlaod the circuit.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 10:24AM
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Sounds like everyone agrees i should investigate the cost of the task lighting, so i'm sending my GC that email now. I checked him out well, and i'm sure he'll know to run it off a light circuit, not a counter top outlet. he's well reviewed, licensed and spoken for. There's sufficient power available since we had a pro completely rewire our whole house 2yrs ago from aluminum to copper, replaced EVERYTHING and planned for expanding power needs.

Yes, the cabinets come with all the bells and whistles. :-)

Maybe I can get a good floor deal from a local flooring store. Any suggestions on flooring products? I haven't researched this but I know I don't want ceramic tile of any kind. I hate dealing with grout lines and I hate how everything shatters on it if dropped. No natural hardwood of any kind either please, scratches too easily (dog nails) and we're just not that careful when scooting chairs, bins, etc... just not my thing. Plus, i can't justify putting down hardwood on top of hardwood (yes, house actually has old 1960s hardwood throughout that has always been carpeted/linoleumed over - I've seen it at neighbor's houses and I just don't like it.).

thanks again...

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 11:33AM
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Our kitchens sound somewhat similar in that they have the dreaded soffits. Our neighborhood can't bear expensive remodels either. We decided to leave the soffits because DH knew there were many wires/hvac lines up there and the expense would be too great. Now it is certainly not my favorite look but it is what it is. With our new paint it blends nicely and I am used to them since we have lived here 12 years. There are many options for covering them up or using crown. My DH wants to try crown.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 11:56AM
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I wanted to add that good lighting is huge! It makes such a difference you wouldn't believe it. I think our recessed lighting is one of my favorite things about our kitchen.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 11:58AM
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A fellow Pittsburgher here - over in the North Hills. And wow - your project sounds rather similar to ours - 1950's house, removing the DR/kitchen wall, getting rid of bulkheads, etc. For the health of our marriage, we are not DIY people either - better to get someone else in who can do it for us...remodels are stressful enough, would rather someone else to have to be upset with if things need fixed!

Quotes for us have been ALL over the place. We thought that we had someone lined up and he disappeared off the face of the Earth!

So, we're looking again.

We're looking for custom cabinets because of some of the special things we want and prices for those have ranged from low 20's to around 50k - plywood, full overlay, frameless, dark stained cherry, Shaker, almost all drawers, Blum hardware - full extension, soft close....but we are going to have a load of cabinets and we're having a custom banquette built, our cabinetry is pretty extensive.

We're having a tough time coming up with a GC right now, but just got a quote from the guy who has done some general "handyman" work for us and we trust in him. His quote didn't include the install of the cabinets and is not inclusive of materials (he bills us at cost - picks up what we need at Home Depot or wherever)...but is tear out of old kitchen, demo of the wall, repair of the ceiling, electrical wiring, installation of two replacement windows, install vent and damper for exhaust fan, etc. and we're around 6k. But again, this isn't including the install of the cabinets and doesn't include materials costs.

As others have mentioned, don't skimp on lighting. As much as I hate my current kitchen, if I had adequate lighting, it would make it much easier to work in the kitchen. Lighting can be decorative in nature, but in a kitchen it really is about making it truly functional.

The value of your home is a bit higher than the value of ours and we will be putting more money into our kitchen than you are. BUT, the kitchen is going to be a very usable space for us - one that I will spend significant time in because I enjoy cooking. We are likely over-improving and wouldn't recoup our money. If we were planning on selling in the near future, we would modify our plans greatly. However, we are very happy where we are located - quiet neighborhood, easy access to major highways, and a nice piece of ground...the previous owners were the original owners (house built in the 1950's) and we absolutely know why they never moved - we have a treasure. Seeing as our plans are to stay here, we want things to be how we would like them rather than stick within numbers of what others feel is appropriate to put into a remodel of a house in our price range. What I'm saying is - if this is a longer term home for you, and you have the means, get what will make you happy to have long term. If you get the laminate countertop now, is that what you are keeping or will you want to replace in in two years or so when the honeymoon of having a new kitchen has worn off. If that's likely, then you will have paid twice for something. So, be honest too with yourself on where you've decided to cut back...if you can honestly say you can do it and be happy, then by all means, do so. But, if there's even the slightest suspicion that you will long for what you originally were planning, you may benefit yourself in modifying your overall budget, IMO.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 9:42PM
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Hey andreak100, thanks for sharing your experience/plans. I wish I had your confidence about investing into a kitchen I love rather then a kitchen I like. We also love our home and also bought it from the original owners in a amazing neighborhood, and plan on staying here a while.

I may not necessarily miss what I opt out of because I think the end result will still be amazing and I may forget what I'm missing.

Your words hit a note I must consider though. I don't cook much now due to a busy life and career but the next stage of my life will be becoming a stay at home mom, and the kitchen will see a lot more action then.

On the subject of counter tops... Other then stone being more durable and more shiny, more expensive.... I really don't see a point to it. Dishes shatter more easily on it, makes a loud clank anytime you set something down, can't get the no drip edge.... I personally like laminate but everyone is telling me the stone is the way to go... I'm struggling with this choice....

I'm really struggling with this whole decision. I really don't want to shop around anymore but I also want to get more for my money....

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 2:51AM
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viki - wow...we really are writing a similar story with our houses if your's also came from the original owners! What a small world sometimes!

I will just say that you plan on being in the house for quite some time, it're putting a fairly good chunck of money into it. If you can put slightly more into a kitchen you love as opposed to a kitchen you like, you should do that, I think. I've found that in life, when I've compromised and got what was "good enough", but not what my heart really desired, I tend to long for what I don't have, no matter how nice what I do have really is. If you don't, then no worries. But if you think you might be similar in that respect, I suspect that your "dream" stuff might be closer in your monetary reach. It sounds like you have a budget set on what others may have told you is "right" to put in your house for that area. If that's the case, put that aside and put into your house what YOU feel is appropriate. If you figure over the course of a lifetime of the kitchen, the extra few thousand dollars to do it right vs. make-due will not be nearly as troublesome.

If you don't like stone, there's no reason to spend the money get it. Get what works best for what you like. There are some lovely options out there - laminate tops of the present are nothing like they used to be.

If you are planning on kids in the semi-nearish future - durability is a very good thing to consider the whole way around...little ones with sticky hands and active bodies can do a number on things!

Don't rush your decision. Start it when you feel it is right. If you don't feel that you are getting the deal that is right, check a little more. I think (I hope!) that we are getting close on ours.

Again, all of this is IMO, so take it for what it's worth and discard it if you prefer.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 8:35AM
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I think you're all talking me into it, haha. I'm trying to make my decision before new years because the cabinet manufacturer sent a notice of price increases for 2013, not much, but still no point in throwing away money.

andreak100 - Speaking of cabinet manufacturer, sounds like we're looking for very similar products as well. Are you looking at a certain brand/manufacturer or are you having them custom built?

I think I'll be happy with the laminate counter tops, i think stone is pretty, but I like laminate for every other reason. I'm kinda glad I was forced to down grade from quartz because i felt like i was giving into 'what's popular' when choosing it.

I'm going to add in the task lighting to the project. I"ll be looking for an attractive, durable and simple flooring option, some type of laminate tile or even sheet linoleum if it's not ugly. I have no idea what that will cost yet. hopefully not very much...

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 2:27PM
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Make sure they really come with all the bells and whistles. I'm in the process getting my kitchen done, and dealing with the cabinet guy to get the missing roll outs, so how after agreeing the 18 inch cabinet would have roll outs, it doesn't.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 3:20PM
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