Why Do Kitchen Remodels Go Over Budget?


The kitchen is absolutely one of the most important spaces in the home as far as property value goes. In fact, it’s probably THE most important. That’s why many homeowners tend to focus on this particular room in the home when it comes time to do a little remodeling.

If you’re planning on giving your kitchen an overhaul, you can expect to get back anywhere between 60% to 120% of your investment back, as long as you don’t go overdo it and stay in line with what your local market demands. If your kitchen is far fancier than the rest of your home – or any other kitchen on the block – you stand a lower chance of getting all of that investment money back.

Coming up with the right kitchen remodeling plan is a critical step to any renovation job in the home, and part of this plan includes establishing a budget. But coming up with a budget and sticking to it are two completely different things.

So why exactly do kitchen remodeling jobs go over budget, and what can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you?

Not Listing Every Detail of the Job

The first thing that needs to happen with a kitchen remodeling job – or any other type of major project in the home – is to draft up a detailed plan. Your contractor should be doing this for you based on all the information you’ve provided about how you want the space to look. That’s why scoping out a few contractors before hiring the right one is so important.

You may get an estimate from a contractor based on items listed, but if many details have been left out, you’ll be paying a lot more by the time everything is said and done. If you don’t include all the elements that go into the project from the onset – including small details like cabinet knobs and even wall plates – the costs will be tacked on at the end, and can add quite a bit more money to the original estimate.

Do yourself a favor and hire a reputable, licensed contractor who comes backed with plenty of references. You don’t want to settle for a contractor who quoted the lowest price, only to find out that the estimate didn’t include all the other “extras” that crept up along the way.


Not Factoring in the Cost of Materials

You might want a Sub-Zero fridge, MDF cabinet doors, marble counters, and a porcelain backsplash. Sure, these elements are extremely sophisticated and create a luxurious look and feel to a kitchen. But have you done the research needed to find out how much these items cost? High-end materials and custom-made finishes are far more expensive than your standard materials. For example, cabinets bought from a big-box store usually cost around $50 per linear foot, compared to as much as $2,000 per linear foot for custom cabinetry.

If you’ve got a well-padded budget, great. But if your selections are far more than what your budget can handle, you may be stuck with a final bill that’s way over your head.

Make sure you’ve scoped out the price of all of these items before you solidify a kitchen remodeling plan so you don’t wind up owning more than what you can compfortably handle.

Changing Your Mind Throughout the Process

One of the most common reasons for a blown budget on a kitchen renovation is straying from the original plan. Many homeowners tend to have a change of heart during the process, but what they may not realize at the moment is that such modifications can make the overall price creep up. In fact, changes or additional work that is requested after the project has started increases a budget by an average of 10%.

For instance, if you decide that you want to move the sink from its originally planned spot to another, the plumbing lines may have to be moved. Or if you decide that you want to add crown molding, you could be messing around with the trades’ schedules.

There’s also the element of the ‘change order’ – which is the extra work that has been added to the original contract. Your contractor will charge you extra for any changes that need to be made to the original plan. Such change orders will slow things down and boost the final price.

To avoid this from happening, make sure you take as much time as needed to determine what you want to see in your kitchen when the project is done. Don’t rush into the project, and only start it once you are absolutely certain that what is currently on the plan is exactly what you want to see in your home. Make a pact with yourself that no changes will be made unless absolutely necessary.

Not Having a Contingency

Even the most solid plans might have extra items added to them if unpleasant surprises crop up. After ripping out the floors or taking down drywall, you might come across something like rotted wood, a shoddy electrical job, or even termite damage.

It’s impossible to foresee these types of issues, which usually only pop up after more digging is done. For this reason, it’s crucial to add a 10% to 20% contingency to cover such additional expenses that you weren’t aware of before the project started. That way you can make sure the budget doesn’t overflow.

The Bottom Line

Be conscious of the decisions you make before and during the renovation process. Many of the choices you make can have a huge impact on your budget. Do your best to avoid making these mistakes, and you should be able to get the final product you want while keeping your bank account intact.