There are few better projects to increase your home’s value than a kitchen remodel. According to Remodeling Magazine, an industry leader in tracking remodeling cost data, a mid-range, minor kitchen renovation has one of the highest returns on investment of any home improvement project at 72.2%. However, it’s a substantial investment: The median cost to remodel a kitchen is $26,214.
Remodeling a small kitchen has a lower but still sizable price tag. This guide explains what you can expect to pay and provides saving tips.
Average Kitchen Remodel Cost
Small kitchen remodel costs vary by project but usually total between $9,000 and $25,000, with a national average of $16,000. Here are the key factors that affect the price.
- Area: Some parts of a kitchen are more expensive to change than others.
- Extent of project: A remodel that focuses on cosmetic changes and minor improvements won’t cost as much as changing the room’s layout.
- Kitchen size: The more square footage, the more expensive a remodel will be.
Cost of a Minor Kitchen Remodel
You can get away with minor updates if you’re happy with your kitchen’s layout and only want to make a few cosmetic improvements. This could include installing new countertops, repainting or installing new cabinets, painting walls, and updating appliances. Some renovation costs vary based on the size of your kitchen, and others vary based on how many new appliances you want. Depending on the type of project, a minor kitchen remodel can range from $7,000 to $20,000.
Cost of a Major Kitchen Remodel
An extensive remodeling job can be expensive, ranging from $17,500 to over $50,000, even for a small kitchen. Making structural changes to the layout, plumbing, or electrical system increases cost, as do additions such as custom cabinetry or a kitchen island.
Cost by Kitchen Size
It’s hard to measure the “average kitchen” since homes come in many shapes and sizes, but most sources put it around 225 square feet. A kitchen between 70 and 200 square feet is considered small. Remodeling costs can range from $100–$250 per square foot, depending on the remodel’s extent.
Cost by Area of Kitchen
Costs vary greatly by the materials you pick for each part of your kitchen. For example, pre-made stock cabinets can cost as little as $120 per linear foot, whereas custom cabinets can cost as much as $1,425 per linear foot.
The overall cost for a remodel with low-end materials is $11,410, while a higher-end project costs $43,625. Here are the approximate costs of common materials plus total costs for installing them in a 70-square-foot kitchen.
Renovation Cost Factors for a Small Kitchen
Other than kitchen size and extensiveness of renovation, these are the factors that determine the total cost of your project:
- Home value
- Kitchen layout
Unlike some home improvement projects where labor makes up the bulk of the cost, most of your kitchen remodel budget will go to the materials and appliances—about 70%–85%. This means you have more control over the total cost of your remodel. It’s not a good idea to pick cheap materials that won’t last, but you can balance value with quality. Here’s how a kitchen remodel budget typically breaks down.
Cabinetry, countertops, and flooring make up almost half (46%) of the total budget. Installing granite countertops, hardwood floors, and custom wood cabinets will drive your budget up very quickly. Fortunately, plenty of modern alternatives can mimic the look and feel of these materials at a lower price point. These materials are also often easier to clean.
Materials come in a range of prices, but here are the cost categories they usually fall into.
Labor costs can make up 15%–30% of your total kitchen remodel. The National Kitchen and Bath Association puts the average around 17%.
Labor costs largely depend on how much specialty work you need. Contractors can perform most kitchen remodeling tasks, such as laying tile, installing cabinets, and hanging drywall. However, rewiring lights or moving plumbing or gas lines requires licensed electricians and plumbers, who may cost more. Here’s a look at installation costs by the hour.
Some homeowners may already know what they want their new kitchen to look like, but many need an expert to help with the design. Kitchen designers may charge $50–$250 per hour, or they may charge a flat fee or percentage of the overall cost.
A consultation from a big-box store representative can cost $100–$800. Independent kitchen design specialists regularly charge $1,500–$2,500 for full service, including 3D renderings, material selection, and coordination with contractors.
Homeowners who love to cook may value a new, state-of-the-art kitchen more than other amenities, but having a run-down home with a high-end kitchen doesn’t make financial sense. The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends spending no more than 10%–15% of your home’s total value on a kitchen renovation. This amounts to no more than $30,000–$45,000 for a $300,000 home.
Your kitchen’s layout is somewhat determined by size; installing an island in a 70-square-foot kitchen wouldn’t be practical. Galley kitchens have one or two rows of parallel cabinets and are usually the least expensive and best suited to small kitchens. An L-shaped kitchen requires at least 100 square feet of space but is also on the low end of the cost spectrum.
Installing a peninsula or lower cabinets on one side increases cost. A three-sided, U-shaped kitchen and kitchens with islands are the most expensive, though these layouts are usually only used in large kitchens.
You need a permit for any renovations requiring substantial changes to plumbing, gas lines, or walls. These can range from $500–$1,500 depending on where you live, so check with your city or county.
Small Kitchen Remodel Cost: DIY vs. Professional
Kitchen renovation is expensive, so you wonder if you can do it yourself. Some parts of the project—including cosmetic upgrades such as new cabinet hardware, wallpaper, and light fixtures—can be accomplished by seasoned do-it-yourselfers (DIYers). You can also install tile backsplash, countertops, and flooring. You may be able to do the initial tear-out and finishing touches if you’re gutting your existing kitchen.
However, anything involving plumbing, wiring, or gas lines requires a licensed professional. Installing cabinets is also a larger job than most homeowners realize. Countertops won’t be even and drawers may not close if everything isn’t lined up correctly. Though you can do this job yourself, it’s best left to the experts.
Signs Your Kitchen Needs Remodeling
Here are some signs that your kitchen needs an upgrade.
- It’s been more than 10 years since you updated your kitchen.
- Your cabinets are falling apart or no longer open and close easily.
- Your energy bills are high due to inefficient kitchen appliances.
- Your kitchen’s design or appearance is outdated.
- The layout makes accomplishing basic tasks difficult.
- There’s evidence of pooling water, mold, mildew, or water damage.
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How To Save on Small Kitchen Remodel Costs
You’re probably looking for ways to cut down on costs if you’re remodeling on a budget. Check out our kitchen remodeling guide or consider the following suggestions to save money.
- Choose a cosmetic renovation over complete gutting and remodeling. Only replace what needs replacement.
- Consider repairing or refacing existing cabinets, which are generally the most expensive part of a kitchen remodel.
- Consider stock or semi-custom cabinets if you need new cabinets. These give you some flexibility without the high price of entirely custom models.
- DIY the non-specialty steps such as tear-out, laying tile, painting, and changing cabinet hardware.
- Remodel in stages. For example, replace your kitchen sink and garbage disposal, then save up before you move on to new flooring.
- Think long-term and opt for energy-efficient appliances, durable materials, and classic designs when possible.
How To Hire a Professional
Remodeling a kitchen requires many specialties, so homeowners often hire a general contractor to keep everything running smoothly. Here are some things to keep in mind as you’re comparing contractors.
- A kitchen contractor will spend a lot of time in your home, so make sure they’re someone you trust and feel comfortable with.
- Ask for references and check the contractor’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating and online customer reviews.
- Ensure the contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured where applicable.
- Ensure you and your contractor share the same vision for your completed kitchen.
- Have a design in mind—including specifics such as materials and lighting—when soliciting quotes. That way, the contractor won’t have to make assumptions, and you’ll get the most accurate estimates.
- Get written quotes from at least three different contractors or companies before making a decision.
Kitchen remodeling is expensive no matter the size of the project, but it’s a great way to increase home value. A new kitchen has a high return on investment and increases both aesthetic and functionality. Even a small kitchen remodel can be valuable if you have the money to spend on it.
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