1. Plan! Plan! Plan! The best way to go over-budget in any remodeling project is to just jump in. Kitchen remodeling planning and research should address (1) what’s your main problem or objective. Keep your focus on what’s most important to you. (2) the price of everything (and I mean everything) you want/need to purchase (3) firm bids from all contractors (4) a contingency of at least 15% (5) remember the price of shipping and taxes and (6) reviews of appliances and materials. See also this Planning Guide.
2. Do it Yourself. Think about all the various items that go into remodeling your kitchen – tiling, carpentry, hanging cabinets, painting, and staining – to name a few. Think through which of these you can do yourself because labor is a huge component of the price of remodeling. Don’t take on any of the big items if you haven’t done it before like hanging cabinets or carpentry. But tiling and painting are great jobs for the amateur. To get a sense of the cost of materials for kitchen remodeling look here. The big lesson is that to keep the costs under $10,000 you must be prepared to do some of the work yourself. But if you select the right items to update, the tasks aren’t hard.
3. Look for Free Kitchen Design Services and Advice. A kitchen center – even home depot, Lowes or IKEA – have very useful software and sometimes knowledgeable personnel to help you visualize what your new kitchen will look like and to help you think through pitfalls. For example, you don’t want to place an island where it blocks the dishwasher from opening. Similarly, ask the opnion of your friends and family before you make your designs final. You’re not asking for approval here but simply asking for a different perspective. We all have different strengths and your friend might think of something that you haven’t.
4. Keep the existing footprint – even if you want to open up to another room, keep the sink, dishwasher and range in their current locations. An electric range is the least costly to move even this adds the cost of an electrician.
5. Laminate or Tile Countertops: Today’s laminates are terrific! I have a stone-look laminate desktop that most people think is stone at first glance. And laminate is a delight to work on. It’s a fraction of the cost of granite countertops.
6. Update don’t replace cabinets. Think paint or stain. If your cabinets are sound but just not to your style, update don’t replace cabinets.
If that isn’t enough, think about replacing only the doors and drawer fronts.
7. Be creative about materials and re-use. If you go to building re-use centers like the store associated with Habitat for Humanities or Community Forklift in my area, you can find almost new cabinets, countertops, and appliances. Also look at Craig’s List or similar resources. Develop the plan first with all the dimensions and bring this with you (as well as a tape measure). But also be flexible to change your plan based on what’s available. Also think about tables – especially industrial worktables – as an alternative to a traditional cabinet-made island. You also might be able to re-use some of what’s in your existing kitchen – with a bit of elbow grease and imagination.
You shouldn’t cut corners with electrical, plumbing or structural changes – but these aren’t really the expensive part of remodeling. What drives up costs is changing the exterior shell of your home – adding windows and doors and material selection. A separate cooktop and ovens can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a remodel over a simple (but good quality) range.