Tips to keep costs down for your next kitchen remodeling project

(CONSUMER REPORTS) More than 2-million kitchens will be renovated this year, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. That has manufacturers and contractors salivating at the prospect of record-breaking sales. If you’re thinking about a kitchen remodel, Consumer Reports has some tips to keep you on budget.

For example, one of the biggest budget busters is changing your mind. It can drive your budget up an average of 10 percent, according to Consumer Reports Home Editor Dan DiClerico.

“The average kitchen remodel costs around 28-thousand dollars. So spend a little longer on the design and stick to that plan no matter what,” DiClerico said.

Another tip: Don’t rely on rough sketches. 3D drawings and tools like virtual-reality software help you visualize the space before you even take down a wall. Kitchen Designer Sheri Mercandante said that’s solid advice.

“As a veteran kitchen designer, I can’t imagine making a large dollar purchase, that I will hold onto for decades, without having a full sense of standing in that space ahead of time,” she said.

Also, don’t overpay for high-end materials. Forgo pricey, exotic marble counter tops for less expensive, low-maintenance quartz. And you can get the look of hardwood floors for half the price with more durable, porcelain tile look-alikes.

Remember, while looks are important, don’t forget function: Save room in the budget for things like a range hood to keep your kitchen well-ventilated, under-cabinet lighting to ease food preparation, and improved storage, like drawers in the base units.

“It’s not the sexiest stuff, but it’s these little things that you interact with every day that are going to influence your long-term satisfaction in a major way,” DiClerico said.

The last tip is do your due diligence about who is doing the work. Consumer Reports found that accredited contractors are better at holding down costs on remodeling projects when unexpected problems crop up.

And check the references of contractors on your short list by asking clients about their experience working with the contractor and how the work held up over time.

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan
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