Planning your Kitchen Remodel - The Best Time to Address B U D G E T

Just as Steve Martin exudes with pure joy as he runs to the mailbox……..“The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!”, I similarly gleem with excitement as I see the Subject line in my inbox read........“The annual Cost vs. Value Reports are here! The annual Cost vs. Value Reports are here!”  

The question - “How much?” - inevitably comes up during every initial client meeting.  Without yet knowing the layouts and locations of the elements or the materials from both a quality and quantity standpoint, anyone can make up a number.  But is it accurate for a particular client’s project?  I’ve been called into projects after a client has entered into real estate transactions with incomplete and unrealistic numbers only to find as they progress, their expectations don’t equal reality.  So if they don't have a money tree in their back yard, as a project continues one of two things have to happen.  Either the quality level or the scope of the project must be changed or the project be sidelined.

Going through past projects and showing clients before and after shots along with detailed spreadsheet costs of those projects is a good way to start a dialogue on expectations and budget from the very beginning initial client meeting.  The other is to carry the annual "Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report" to share with a client.

So are you curious what $57,000 and $113,000 get you in the ATL for a kitchen remodel?

According to the "Remodeling 2015 Cost vs. Value Report" (, a midrange complete kitchen remodel for a 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of semi-custom wood cabinets, laminate countertops, resilient flooring, appliances, lighting and new paint has a job cost of $56,845 in the ATL, which is also very close to the national average.  Compared to $113,192 for an upscale complete remodel of the same size including custom cabinetry with functional interior accessories, stone countertops, backsplash, commercial-style appliances, low-voltage under cabinet lighting, and wood or cork flooring.  

So if you want to know - "How Much?"- before you even begin, those are the starting up front baseline job costs for a kitchen remodel to keep in mind. I’ve had some kitchens less and some much more depending on the size, selections, design details, quality and scope.  

Treat the budget as a living, breathing entity and know it evolves over time - up and down.

Treating the budget as a living, breathing entity during the entire planning stage of a project is crucial since it evolves over time as decisions are made and designs are developed.  The overall concept budget gives you a starting point, but it should never sit in a folder and wait until the end.  Designers and contractors should collaborate at the very beginning once conceptual design ideas are developed to establish a detailed list of materials and construction costs based on the concepts.  Clients should be aware that as design details and decisions are made, the budget may increase or decrease accordingly.  

Finalize design selections and scope of construction with budget in hand every step of the way.

Once an overall concept budget is established, the design layout, final material selections and scope can be massaged as needed as the budget gets updated and finalized along the way through each step of design.   Clients know where they stand and can make decisions on scope and selections as they go with accurate, realistic data at their command.  As designers, it is our job to ensure that we not only provide creative design, but also keep the interests of our clients’ investment a priority from concept to completion with the various trades and vendors. That eliminates major surprises at the end; everything is transparent and the client is taken through each step with concern for their investment whether they are remodeling for personal joy or as a business investment. 

(Acknowledgement of Excerpts from "Cost vs. Value Report": Copyright 2015 Hanley Wood, LLC. Complete data from the Remodeling 2015 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at