Any major home renovation likely includes the kitchen. According to the Houzz & Home study of renovation trends for 2018 and 2019, the kitchen remains the most popular room to renovate. Of the more than 140,000 people surveyed, 28% renovated their kitchen last year.
But the kitchen is also the most expensive room to renovate. The median cost of a kitchen remodel was $14,000 in 2018, according to the report, followed by the second-most expensive renovation, the master bathroom, with a median cost of $8,000.
Given that you'll replace major appliances, plumbing, countertops and cabinets, it’s easy to see why the kitchen is such a pricey room to remodel. And depending on your vision for a kitchen renovation, you may need to prepare for the cost to far exceed the $14,000 median.
How Much Does a Kitchen Remodel Cost?
According to home improvement resource company HomeAdvisor, the national average for a kitchen renovation is $23,887, with a low-end remodel starting around $4,000 and a high-end project reaching $58,000 or more. The disparities between cost estimates are due to the range of options for renovations and the scale of projects. Many kitchen remodels are smaller projects – think countertop replacement rather than an overhaul of the entire room.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind where you live, the condition of your kitchen, the materials you would like to use and the scale of the overall renovation determine the total cost of your renovation. Especially if you're planning to gut your entire kitchen, estimates for the project will likely be higher than nationally reported medians and averages.
When you're considering a kitchen overhaul, how much should you spend? “A really good rule of thumb for a kitchen project is that it should cost anywhere from 5% to 15% of the home’s value,” says Dan DiClerico, home expert and smart home strategist for HomeAdvisor.
How much you’ll spend on your kitchen renovation also depends on how much cash you've set aside or the amount of the home improvement-related loan you’ve obtained.
Based on online estimates, HomeAdvisor's national averages and DiClerico's calculations, we've assigned a rough estimate of each part of a kitchen renovation.
Here’s how the cost of a major kitchen remodel breaks down:
- Labor: 25% to 35%
- Cabinets: 25%
- Appliances and ventilation: 15%
- Countertops: 10%
- Lighting: 5%
- Floors: 5%
- Fixtures and plumbing: 5%
- Additional finishes and budget cushion: 10% to 15%
Labor: 25% to 35%
Hiring a general contractor and team, as well as various specialists like a plumber and electrician, will require a significant portion of your budget. If you hire a contractor to manage the entire project, he or she will likely have licensed specialists on staff or on call. Alternately, you can hire a contractor that only oversees the main construction work, then hire additional professionals as needed.
Labor costs can rise if you incorporate the work of a designer, who would plan a cohesive look for your kitchen and charge between $100 and $200 per hour, according to HomeAdvisor. “If you’re looking to save, don’t skimp on the labor, don’t skimp on the design. Nobody ever regrets spending more on the design,” DiClerico says.
Expect the installation of new cabinets to account for about a fourth of your total kitchen renovation budget. Home improvement information site Fixr reports that the average cost to install kitchen cabinets is between $6,412 and $11,400 – and whether you choose a custom design or opt for cabinets in stock plays into the total.
If your existing cabinets still work well for you, consider refacing them, painting them a new color or simply switching out the cabinet and drawer pulls. Refacing, which maintains the structure of the original cabinets but covers the door and drawer fronts with new wood or veneer, can still be expensive because of the custom work required, says Leneiva Head, principal broker and owner of Welcome Home Realty, a real estate management company in Nashville, Tennessee. Refacing cabinets, on average, costs $6,881, according to HomeAdvisor.
[Read: How to Finish a Basement.]
Appliances and Ventilation: 15%
The next-largest share of your budget will go toward appliances and the ventilation associated with installing a range hood or fan.
Keep in mind that big-box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot often offer package deals when you purchase a refrigerator, oven and stovetop, dishwasher and even microwave in matching finishes. They may also offer appliance sales and discounts during holiday weekends, so “it’s not as daunting, financially, as you might think,” Head says.
The variety of countertop materials can affect the amount you spend here significantly. Marble and granite are high-end materials that cost around $60 per square foot, according to HomeAdvisor, while quartz is a common choice that's considered mid-level in cost and starts around $50 per square foot (although it can reach $150 per square foot). At the lower end are butcher block counters or laminate, starting around $40 and $55 per square foot, respectively, according to HomeAdvisor.
If you’re keeping your existing cabinets and not changing the layout of your kitchen, you may be able to save on countertops by installing a granite overlay, which covers your existing countertop. While granite itself can be pricey, the labor involved for an overlay is less than new counters would require. “You didn’t have to take anything apart, you don’t have to rip anything out,” Head says.
Adding recessed lighting throughout your kitchen will obviously be a bigger project than swapping out the fixture. The more electrical work involved, the more expensive this portion of your remodel will be.
Lighting is one part of a kitchen renovation that DiClerico says is an easy place to accidentally splurge. Rather than opting for a showpiece chandelier or elaborate pendant lights over your counter, he recommends focusing on the right lighting plan to make the kitchen comfortable to work and hang out in.
Flooring can be expensive, especially if you opt for new hardwood or custom tile. But fortunately the square footage in a kitchen is typically minimal, since much of the space is taken up by cabinets and appliances. Fixr reports the average cost of hardwood flooring is $12 to $20 per square foot, while a laminate floor can range between $8 and $25 per square foot.
One way to save when it comes to flooring is offering to take up the old floor yourself. You’ll want to make sure you don’t damage the subfloor, but that’s fairly easy to do with less-expensive surfaces like vinyl or carpet.
Combined with other DIY tasks, DiClerico estimates you can potentially save as much as 10% of the total cost of the project by taking on some of the labor yourself. “With a $30,000 kitchen remodel, that’s nothing to sneeze at,” he says.
Fixtures and Plumbing: 5%
A new sink and water hookup for your refrigerator aren’t necessarily expensive, but you’ll need to enlist a licensed plumber to make sure the work is done correctly – you don’t want to use hot water to make ice, for example, or risk a leaky pipe under the sink.
Additional plumbing for luxury kitchen additions can send the cost higher. These include items like a pot filler, which is a hot water faucet over the stove, or a built-in espresso machine with a water hookup.
Additional Finishes and Budget Cushion: 10% to 15%
Paint and additional decor like curtains and barstools cost relatively little compared to cabinets or a new fridge. Plus, you can save some money by painting and decorating on your own.
Keep in mind that "surprise" issues often come up with a remodel. You may discover water damage from an old leak that requires you to replace the subfloor, or a wall you wanted to remove turns out to be load-bearing and requires a beam or post to support the roof. By leaving a portion of your budget set aside for the unexpected, you'll reduce the chances of needing to overhaul your plans when something goes wrong.
What will your budget let you renovate?
Home prices are high and interest rates are rising, so many homeowners are opting to stay put and renovate rather than search for a new house. According to Houzz’s 2018 study of renovations in the U.S., 51 percent of Houzz users have plans to renovate in 2018, with a median budget of $10,000. But how far can your budget get you? We're breaking down the cost of some popular home renovation projects to help you figure out the best ways to spend your remodel money.Kitchen
It doesn't matter if you're a gourmet chef or a microwave connoisseur – you want a welcoming kitchen that makes the space worthy of spending time, not just prepping food. A kitchen renovation is the most common planned project for homeowners, according to the Houzz study, with 31 percent of respondents noting they plan to remodel their kitchen. But it's also a costly project. Remodeling Magazine's 2018 Cost vs. Value report breaks down the national average cost for kitchen remodels as such:
Midrange minor kitchen remodel: $21,198
Midrange major kitchen remodel: $63,829
Upscale major kitchen remodel: $125,721
How much you'll spend all depends on your planned makeover. Read on for a breakdown of some popular kitchen updates.Kitchen: cabinets and countertops
Kitchen: cabinets and countertops
Cabinets and countertops are two of the most visible aspects in a kitchen, not to mention that they take up the most space. You have a lot of price wiggle room when it comes to material and installation of both: The installation for countertops alone can range from $1,700 for butcher block to $14,000 for quartz, according to HomeAdvisor. For a kitchen with 30 square feet of counter space and 40 linear feet of cabinets, here are some cost estimates for materials, based on HomeAdvisor information:
Budget: $3,600 for stock cabinets, butcher block countertop.
Midrange: $13,800 for semicustom cabinets, midrange quartz or granite countertop.
Splurge: $52,050 for custom cabinets, concrete countertop.
Kitchen: new appliances
If you're not looking to drop $50,000 on surfaces, consider freshening your kitchen with new appliances. Stores like Home Depot and Lowe's often offer significant discounts if you purchase kitchen appliances in a package deal, with the added benefit of having the same brand appliances that match in color and style. Consider these budget options to replace your fridge, range, dishwasher and microwave all at once (based on prices listed as of Sept. 14, 2018). You're more likely to get a deal on appliance purchases close to the end of the month, on a holiday weekend or just after the new year.
Budget: $1,234 for mixed brand.
Midrange: $2,794 for Whirlpool Kitchen Suite through Lowe's.
Splurge: $6,476 for Bosch Kitchen Suite through Lowe's.
Kitchen: knocking down walls
Removing a wall tends to cost the same in every room, but these days it is commonly done in the kitchen to create a more open floor plan. Wall demolition costs vary based on whether the wall is load-bearing – meaning it's a key part of the house's structure – or if there is plumbing or electrical wiring running through it. HomeAdvisor provides national averages for the cost of removing a wall:
Budget: $300 to $1,000 for a wall that doesn't bear any weight.
Midrange: $1,200 to $3,000 for a load-bearing wall in a single-story house.
Splurge: $3,200 to $10,000 for a load-bearing wall with two or more stories.
The second- and third-most popular home renovations, according to the Houzz study, both fall under the bathroom category, covering guest or secondary bathrooms and master bathrooms. Current design trends show homeowners want a spa experience in their bathroom, whether that means a rain-style showerhead, double vanities or exquisite tile work. Remodeling Magazine separates the cost of remodeling a bathroom into two categories, based on national averages for 2018:
Midrange bathroom remodel: $19,134
Upscale bathroom remodel: $61,662
Beautiful tile in a bathroom can make the room a showpiece in your home, not just a necessary space for privacy. But depending on your tastes, new tile can get pricey. Home renovation cost estimate site RemodelingCalculator.org notes the material and installation costs increase with the intricacy of the design and rarity of the material. Based on Remodeling Calculator's estimated costs, here's some pricing to consider:
Budget: $4.60 per square foot for ceramic tile, $3.80 to $6.70 per square foot to install.
Midrange: $6.70 per square foot for granite tile, $5.45 to $7.50 per square foot to install.
Upscale: Up to $25 per square foot for custom mosaic tile, anywhere from $15 to $300 per square foot to install.
Bathroom: moving plumbing and drains
Plumbing changes are often one of the most expensive parts of a renovation. If you're looking to relocate the toilet, shower or sink in your bathroom, the cost to move both the plumbing for water and the drains can add up quickly. Home improvement marketplace and information site Porch.com – a former U.S. News contributor – estimates the national average to move one plumbing line costs between $653 and $802 – and that’s just for the work. Be sure to factor in the cost of new fixtures and any additional work related to opening up the floor and walls.
Budget: $653 to $802 to move shower.
Midrange: $1,306 to $1,604 to move shower and toilet.
Splurge: $1,959 to $2,406 to move shower, toilet and sink.
To renovate a bedroom that's more focused on the furniture inside than the four walls means a simple bedroom remodel should be fairly attainable for someone with a small budget. Often a fresh coat of paint can do the trick to bring new life to a bedroom, but sometimes a little more work is involved. Home remodeling cost guide Fixr estimates the national average to completely remodel a room – from replacing the drywall on the walls and ceiling to new flooring – at nearly $8,000.
Budget: $200 for paint and painting materials.
Midrange: $800 for high-end painting, professionally done.
Splurge: $7,880 for new walls, floors, etc.
Bedroom: master suite addition
Sometimes, though, the bedroom you have isn't the one you want or need. Master suites are frequently high on the list of homebuyer wants, but they're also not always common in older houses. Making an addition to a house is an extensive project that will cost you a lot of money, but your investment does come back to you, at least somewhat, in the increase in property value. Remodeling Magazine notes a master suite addition recoups just over 48 percent of the cost in resale value for upscale projects and more than 56 percent for midrange projects. Here are the average costs for both projects, per the Cost vs. Value report:
Midrange master suite addition: $123,420
Upscale master suite addition: $256,229
Easily transforming your closet to fit all your clothes and having extra room for storage is the dream for many, but a custom closet can cost you. The overall price tag will vary depending on the size of the closet and how customized you want the space to be – a hanging rod and a couple shelves can put you back a few hundred dollars, but once you factor in wood finishes, built-in shoe racks and rolling drawers, that price tag climbs. Here's what Fixr estimates for closet costs:
Budget: $400 to $1,000 for small closet.
Midrange: $300 to $3,000 for walk-in closet.
Splurge: $400 to $6,500 for custom closet.
Once your kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms are right, it's time to tackle those rooms that aren't as frequently used but can make a big impact on your daily life. A revamped laundry room can be just the ticket to taking the household chore of cleaning clothes from a hassle to downright enjoyable. The cost to redo or build a laundry room varies based on what you have already and whether you need plumbing and electric moved. Fixr breaks down the range of costs depending on if flooring is replaced, whether appliances are new and if professionals are required.
Midrange: $6,000 to $7,000
While it's more out of necessity than luxury, your roof is certainly a major home improvement project to consider if you’ve experienced leaks or it's near the end of its functional life (about 25 years). It's possible you'll only need repairs done to the existing roof to ensure the rest of your house is protected from the elements, but you may need an entirely new roof installed.
Budget: $334 to $1,243 for repairs.
Midrange: $2,380 to $12,100 for new asphalt shingle roof.
Splurge: Up to $84,000 for a new slate roof.
She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.
Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.