By Bob Walsmith Jr.
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors
Homeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project, and with good reason. Kitchens are the hub of home life and a source of pride.
You can recover a significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs through the value the project brings to your home. A complete kitchen renovation with a national median cost of $80,000 recovers about 75% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the National Association of REALTORS®.
#1 Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, you can minimize the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.
How much time should you spend planning? The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends at least six months. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment.
#2 Get Real About Appliances
It’s easy to get carried away when planning your new kitchen. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.
Appliances are essentially tools used to cook and store food. Your kitchen remodel shouldn’t be about the tools, but the design and functionality of the entire kitchen. So, unless you’re an exceptional chef, concentrate your dollars on long-term features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring.
#3 Keep the Same Footprint
Nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing and electrical outlets and knocking down walls. This is usually where unforeseen problems occur.
If possible, keep appliances, water fixtures, and walls in the same location. Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, but you’ll also cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.
#4 Don’t Underestimate the Power of Lighting
Lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. It can make it look larger and brighter. And it will help you work safely and efficiently. You should have two different types of lighting in your kitchen:
1. Task lighting: Under-cabinet lighting should be on your must list, since cabinets create such dark work areas. And since you’re remodeling, there won’t be a better time to hard-wire your lights. Plan for at least two fixtures per task area to eliminate shadows. Pendant lights are good for islands and other counters without low cabinets. Recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and general prep areas with no cabinets overhead.
2. Ambient lighting: Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights create overall lighting in your kitchen. Include dimmer switches to control intensity and mood.
#5 Be Quality-Conscious
Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.
#6 Add Storage, Not Space
Storage will never go out of style, but if you’re sticking with the same footprint, here are a couple of ideas to add more:
Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more — and you might need a stepladder — but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.
Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors, hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack, and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.
#7 Communicate Clearly With Your Remodelers
Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project, make sure to:
Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.
Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.
Bob Walsmith Jr. is a native to Southern California and a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Santa Barbara. During his work with the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Bob has served on the CORE Committee, Education Committee, been Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, and the Multiple Listing Service Committee. He also is on the Board of Directors of the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara. Bob lives in Goleta with his beautiful wife Julie. When not working, Bob enjoys playing golf, fine wine, fine dining, and walking our beautiful coastline. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and/or email@example.com