How to Remodel a Kitchen

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

A kitchen remodel can offer your home a new lease on life as well as a nice boost to the resale bottom line. According to Remodeling Magazine's 2010-2011 "Cost vs. Value Report," a minor kitchen remodel can recoup up to 72.8 percent of its cost. A major kitchen remodel for a mid-range kitchen can offer a 68.7 percent return on investment, while the same remodel in an upscale kitchen can recoup 59.7 percent of costs.

Many homeowners might look at the cost of a kitchen remodeling project and be tempted to handle it on their own. Not so fast: a good kitchen remodeling contractor might be more expensive, but can actually save you money in the long run.

Kitchen remodeling: DIY or call a pro?

In some cases, a kitchen remodel can be done as a weekend project. However, a serious kitchen remodel often requires the help of a professional. If you choose to do the project yourself, a good knowledge of construction and materials is imperative. If you don't have experience with construction projects, a major remodel is probably not the best place to learn. A few mistakes can add up to big bucks over budget.

Homeowners who choose to do the job themselves can expect to pay between $15,000 and $26,000, on average. Most do-it-yourself kitchen remodels start at around $5,000. If you choose to turn to a contractor, the price goes up: Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs. Value report estimates that a minor kitchen remodel can cost an average of $21,695, while a major kitchen remodel can run $58,367. A major kitchen remodel in an upscale home can cost an average of $113,464. Those averages are based on a kitchen size of 200 square feet.

Choosing a remodeling contractor

The right kitchen remodeling contractor can make your dream kitchen a reality; the wrong one can lead to a nightmare of problems. Make the right choice with these steps:

  1. Get referrals from friends or neighbors. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a good contractor.
  2. Check out each contractor's licenses, certifications and insurance information. Don't forget to look them up on the Better Business Bureau, too.
  3. Meet with the contractors, get references and ask for an estimate.
  4. Narrow down your options based on references, experience, price and warranties.
  5. Inspect the contract closely before you sign it. The contract should include a clear cost breakdown, a firm start and end date, and a payment schedule.

The right contractor can be the best decision you make for your kitchen remodeling plans. Take your time in choosing the one who makes you most comfortable.