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Setting a Realistic Budget for a Kitchen Makeover

By Jessica Ackerman

As with any remodeling project, you will need to set a realistic budget for your kitchen makeover. Of all the home upgrades available to increase your home's value, making over your kitchen can really pay off if you ever put your home on the market.

Breaking Down the Numbers

While you want to get the most "kitchen" for your money, you should also consider a remodeling project that is relative to the value of your home, and whether the expense of renovations will add to the resell value of the home. Of course, if you have no plans of selling your home, your upgraded kitchen is purely for your enjoyment and the sky is the limit when it comes to getting what you want. As a general rule of thumb, no kitchen remodeling project should exceed 15% of your home's fair market value. So, for instance, if your home is worth $100,000, then your kitchen remodel should not cost more than $15,000. Many homeowners follow the standby formula of allotting half of their budget for cabinets and countertops, 15% for appliances, flooring, lighting, and plumbing fixtures, and the remaining 35% for labor, permit fees, and etc.

Wants and Needs

When you are setting a realistic budget for your kitchen makeover or remodel, you should make a list of what you want and what you need in your kitchen. While you need appropriate plumbing, good lighting, sufficient storage and the ability to refrigerate and cook food, you likely want top of the line appliances, elaborate fixtures and decorative details. Know the difference between wants and needs: Allocate money first for things you truly need and the balance can go toward extras you.d like to have.


Be specific during the planning phase for your kitchen remodel and makeover; this will help your contractor develop the most accurate estimate on the work being done. Start with your basic needs, and then list the features that you like and dislike about your existing kitchen. What features do you want to add? What features do you want to take out? Talk to your contractor about any that will be required in order to bring your kitchen up to any local codes and ordinances so that your funds aren.t eaten up by an unexpected expense during the renovation. It is oftentimes the structural changes that need to be undertaken that really blow a kitchen budget.

Remodeling Older Kitchens

If you have an older home, you will likely need to budget differently than for a new construction when it comes to kitchen remodeling. Older homes oftentimes require extra electrical work or other structural upgrades in order to accommodate the needs of the remodeling project and to get the kitchen up to code. If your home is older than twenty years, budget some additional money towards this type of work.

Moving Plumbing Features

If you are planning to move plumbing features, be prepared to see a portion of your budget diminish quickly. If you want to move the kitchen sink to the other side of the room, for instance, be sure to let your contractor know immediately before the project begins so that your estimate, and your budget, will be more accurate.

Plan for Unforeseen Costs

In general, you will need to allow a cushion for unforeseen expenses that might be incurred by your kitchen makeover. Most homeowners allot ten percent of their budget for contingency items that had not occurred to them during the planning process.

Jessica Ackerman, author and staff designer at, specializes in wall mounted wine rack for wall art.

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