It’s true—kitchens are the most expensive to build and to renovate. The costs depend on a lot of factors including the length of the project, the size of the space, what you want to achieve, and the materials you use.
Normally, homeowners set a realistic budget for their kitchen project. Upon execution, some plans followed the budget, some went over it. I asked our Brisbane architects in Superdraft Pty. Ltd. why some kitchen projects got more expensive than planned and how to avoid it:
Going for custom cabinets
Customized cherrywood kitchen cabinets matching the hardwood floor.
Prices of cabinets vary depending on where they come from. You can buy stock cabinets or have them semi customized or custom-made them.
Special or customised items usually cost more than the cabinets you can buy from home improvement stores. The more intricate or personalized the design you want, the more expensive it gets.
Designer tip: Ask your architect, draftsman, or general contractor for advice early in the planning stage. Don’t hesitate to throw sets of what if questions during the planning stage. “What if we extend the cabinets?”, “What if we change the height of each?”. Perhaps you can throw requests like make inexpensive cabinets look splurged. Avoid sudden, huge changes for it messes up with the plan, the timetable, and your budget.
Adding special cabinet features
A vertical bottle storage in between the drawer and oven.
Aside from the external cabinet looks, the innards can also increase the cabinet’s cost. I agree it’s really nice to have cabinetry add-ons like pullout shelves, wine storage, spice racks, and knife drawers. But these features spike the cost of your cabinetry. Prices may go higher than what you want and what you can afford.
Designer tip: Think about uses of a particular kitchen feature to you. Are you considering it because of aesthetics or function? Never prioritize looks over function.
Splurging the countertop material
Spacious kitchen with granite kitchen countertop.
There are a lot of materials used as kitchen countertop today. The cost of your counters changes based what you want to use. Renovations under a small, strict budget commonly go for plastic laminate counters. Others like to splurge a little and use quartz or granite.
Design tip: Dive into different options. Materials like copper can be used as countertop material. The bespoke design it offers can be yours at an affordable price. We also recommend sustainable, eco-friendly countertop materials.
Buying luxury appliances
The cost of appliances has a huge range. Most of the time, it’s the brand of the appliances that pull the prices up. For example, there are luxury refrigerators which cost a staggering $7500—while you can purchase a fridge of a basic brand for $500. Brands can double or triple the price of appliances. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condemn using ‘premium’ kitchen appliances. All I’m saying is that there are quality yet affordable appliances available in the market which you can buy.
Designer tip: When you go shopping, get the cost ranges of the kitchen appliances you need. Compare the features of the appliances and buy the one that is worth the expenses.
Hidden costs of discovering and fixing pre-construction errors
Builder explaining repairs and fixes before proceeding to construction.
During a renovation process, your architect, draftsman, or builder might find structural problems in your kitchen. For example, termites may have damaged a significant part of your kitchen cabinets, a faulty ceiling, or there is a leak which rotted an area on the subfloor. These should be resolved before pushing through construction. Sadly, repairing these hidden problems aren’t free.
Designer tip: Allot a contingency fund, preferably 20% of your kitchen renovation budget.
Not complying with local building codes
Designer tip: Work with local design and building professionals. They are the people who know the local building codes mandated in your country, state, or community. Review their portfolios and online reviews. You may also look for recommendations from your friends and neighbors.
Simply changing your mind
Let’s get one thing clear: you can always make changes in the design—it’s your home. But if you’re under a strict budget, I suggest that you identify all the finishes and materials before proceeding to construction. Contractors can accurately predict a project’s cost when all the finishes and materials are already identified. Pushing through the construction without a sure, detailed plan will cost you more time and money. Also, changing your mind about the finishes or the materials of your project messes up the timetable, which means more money.
And finally, when you push through with another renovation—immediately after another
The project turned out great. You’re happy with the results. Then, you remember the other problematic parts of your home like the living area, bedroom, fireplace, etc. Because your team is good, you’ve decided to give your team a new mission. An impulsive decision or not, it’s a project that’s over your budget already.
At the end of the end of the day, spilling construction and renovation project costs are largely driven by your choices. As the homeowner or the client, you are the boss—you have control of everything. Be smart about your design decisions.
Charlene Ara Gonzales is a design writer from Superdraft Pty. Ltd., in Australia. They provide one-stop, complete design services to their clients.