What is the Most Expensive Part of a Kitchen Remodel Project?

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If you’ve been pricing items for your kitchen remodel project, you may be experiencing so-called “sticker shock”, especially if you haven’t done any kitchen renovations in quite some time. The price of most of the components for your kitchen can be very high these days, depending on the quality of the items you choose. And, of course, your total price will also depend on the size of your kitchen and whether you’re doing just a few renovations or are doing a “total gut job”, as the experts say.

Home Advisor notes that the current average cost for a kitchen renovation project in the U.S. is about $150 per square foot. That means the average size kitchen – not too big, not too small – will cost about $25,000 for a total renovation with the average range going from about $13,000 to $37,000. Of course, all the particulars matter. If you’re purchasing high-end products, like fancy appliances, custom cabinets, hardwood floors, and granite countertops, you’ll find yourself on the high end of that price range. Stock cabinets, laminate countertops and floors, and inexpensive appliances but you on the other end.

So, why are kitchen remodels so expensive and what item is responsible for a large portion of that cost? Well, the answer is simple.


Yes, cabinets are usually the most expensive item purchased for any kitchen remodel. They can essentially cost tens of thousands of dollars, depending on what kind of cabinets you choose and their overall quality.

  • Custom cabinets – Many homeowners understand that the cabinets they put in their kitchen will take center stage and so they opt to go high-end with custom cabinets of their choosing. Custom cabinets are as the name implies – you and/or your designer choose styles, colors, finishes, sizes, hardware, and other accessories, and you hire a custom cabinet manufacturer to make the cabinets of your dreams. They can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish, but – either way – they will be of superior quality. If this kitchen remodel is a once-in-a-lifetime project for the home you plan to live in for the rest of your life, this could be the way to go if you can afford the cost. A kitchen with custom cabinets can also add greatly to the value of your home, as long as you stick with something not too unusual. Custom cabinets will take a little longer to complete, but the extra time will be worth the wait.
  • Semi-custom cabinets – These cabinets are essentially stock cabinets (see below) with small changes or extra embellishments. For many kitchen renovations, these are ideal as they are sort of mid-priced and are a good compromise between basic stock cabinets and expensive custom cabinets. With semi-custom cabinets, purchasers can opt to change certain dimensions to fit their needs, like resizing the drawers or door fronts or even increasing or decreasing the depth of the cabinet. Semi-custom cabinets generally cost about $100 to $600 per linear foot. Compared to custom cabinets, which start at around $500 per linear foot and go up to as high as about $1200 per linear foot, the savings are substantial. And while semi-custom cabinets might still be the most expensive part of a kitchen renovation, they are significantly cheaper than custom.
  • Stock cabinets – Stock cabinets are ready-made cabinets, mass-produced in a factory, and ready to stand or hang in your kitchen. You cannot request any changes from the manufacturer. What you see is what you get. They may be perfectly fine for your taste and budget but you’ll have to stick with what’s available. You’ll have limited choices of styles, colors, finishes, etc. but you will get them quickly. Many homeowners opt for these cabinets if they are on a tight budget, for rental properties, or if they’re updating their old, tired kitchen before selling their home and don’t want to spend a bundle.

Other items that can be quite costly include countertops, depending on which kind of material you choose – granite, quartz, marble, laminate, etc. – and appliances, which can be very costly if you opt for something very high-end. To make it more clear for you about these countertops, Check out our reliable quartz countertops Anaheim installers. Again, a lot of it has to do with personal taste and preference. Some homeowners want the best in cabinets but aren’t as picky about appliances, for example, especially if they don’t spend a lot of time cooking.

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Keeping down the cost of your kitchen remodel project

If you’re working with a designer, he or she has likely provided some options for keeping costs down. If you’re doing this project yourself, you might need a few tips on where it’s okay to cut those proverbial corners and where you shouldn’t skimp.

First of all, it’s important to set a budget. If you don’t do this from the offset, it’s easy for costs to spiral out of control. And if quality cabinets are super important to you, price those out first and determine if the cost is realistic for your budget. If so, figure those in first and then choose the remainder of the items based on what’s left. This process will help you figure out quite quickly if your numbers are realistic and if you can indeed afford the items you want.

Secondly, don’t make structural changes or move appliances/sinks. Unless your kitchen layout is really wacky or awkward, do your best to keep it as is without knocking down walls and making other major changes. Experts note that one of the costliest changes is moving sinks or major appliances, like your range, because you’ll need to hire electricians or plumbers to move lines. Though that doesn’t sound like a big deal, it is! That extra visit from your local plumber or electrical specialist is going to cost you a bundle and will also delay your renovation. So, if you can keep your current footprint and still wind up with a great renovation, that’s the best way to go.

Some home renovators walk into their local big box store and choose everything for their new kitchen from this one location. Don’t do that. It pays to shop around. While you may find some things you like at your local Home Depot, remember that their selections are actually fairly limited when it comes to cabinets, flooring, tiles, and appliances. You should also include some trips to specialty stores that do one thing (cabinets, floors, tile, etc.) and do it well. You might be surprised when you find that you can get a great deal someplace other than your local big box home store.

Finally, buy cabinets from someone who knows the business inside out and backward, so to speak. The professionals at Watara Homes Constructions can offer expert advice as well as great pricing on a huge variety of cabinets for your kitchen renovation. They understand that the cabinets you purchase will take center stage in your kitchen and, as such, they work with you to get the most for your money. This service means you have access to the best manufacturers AND the best prices available, thanks to Mr. Cabinet Care‘s relationships with these companies. Most of all, they’ll listen to you and then collaborate, combining your wishes and dreams for the perfect kitchen with their knowledge and expertise of the industry.

In the end, you wind up with a kitchen remodel that includes quality cabinets at great prices and a kitchen you’ll want to show off to your family and friends.