/ Budget & Planning

Avoid Extra Remodeling Drama

A kitchen remodel is complicated enough without adding additional drama. Cranky neighbors and spiteful construction workers can make your project go from disruptive to torturous in a hurry. You may want to brush up on your remodeling etiquette before passive-aggressive (or just aggressive) overtures from neighbors and workers consume your life.

When dealing with neighbors, the National Association of Home Builders' website suggests taking the following measures:

  • "Let neighbors know well in advance about your home remodeling plans and keep them apprised of progress, detail by detail. Tell them when work will begin, the approximate completion date, what work will be done and whether workers might have to come onto their property. If delays arise, promptly contact your neighbors to inform them of the revised schedule."

  • "Make sure noisy power tools are only used during standard business hours. Reasonable hours are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m."

  • "Inform your neighbors of any large trucks entering the neighborhood and ask subcontractors to park on one side of the street only."


Since you are paying the construction crew that is working on your home, you might not feel like they are entitled to anything extra. How you treat them is clearly your prerogative, but small gestures can help keep morale from dropping.

Candice Gilhooly, who remodeled her kitchen in 2006, offers this helpful suggestion. "One of the things I have learned is giving the contractors free access to a refrigerator in the garage stocked with bottled water and pop is just a little inexpensive perk that has helped to keep the peace around here. Remember, they're using a portable toilet that's been sitting on our driveway for the last two months."



More in this category:« Keeping Clean

Manage Dirt, Dust and Debris

A Dumpster is a must for a kitchen remodel.

Renting a dumpster during a remodel can make the cleaning process go more smoothly.

The amount of dust and dirt that accumulates during a remodel can be alarming. You cannot stop it completely, but you can prepare. Here are a few tips:

  • Protect what you can't remove; floors should be covered, dust curtains hung and a pathway defined for workmen to enter and exit the workspace. Use plastic sheeting and tape to seal off doorways into other rooms and cover bookshelves, furniture, and electronic equipment. Some contractors will do this for you.

  • Turn off the central air or heat when the workers are sanding floors. Keep extra air filters on hand.

  • Ask that the construction area be "broom cleaned" (swept) at the end of every day to minimize the mess.

  • If necessary, prepare a storage area in the garage or in another room near the kitchen for holding appliances, cabinets, and other items until it's time to install them. Or rent a storage space for a month or two during the construction phase.


Sometimes it will be necessary to rent a large Dumpster (like the one in the above photo) so the construction crew can get rid of large amounts of debris. Whether you use a large dumpster or not, if the construction crew is going to take debris to the outside of your home, you should set up some ground rules for where trash is put, as well as some rules about how construction workers should exit your home.

The inside of your home will be in disarray during a remodel, but the outside of your home doesn't have to have a trampled lawn and random piles of garbage. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry recommends the following rules to preserve landscaping and curb appeal:

  • Ask that all lumber and materials be stored on paved surfaces, not your lawn."

  • "If that is not possible, designate a path across your lawn with stakes and string - allow several access points and try to keep the path as direct as possible."

  • "You may want to lay down temporary plywood sidewalks - they distribute weight and will prevent ruts in your lawn. Standing the plywood up at the end of each work day will help preserve the grass. Be sure to remove the plywood as soon as the work is done."

For more tips about dealing with landscaping during a remodel, visit the NARI website's remodeling section.




Setting the Budget

The recession may technically be over, but when it comes to housing values, the numbers still have been sliding down. As a result, so has the return in investment on remodeling projects. However, a kitchen remodel continues to be the interior home improvement project that increases your home's value the most. According to the 2010-11 Cost vs. Value Report*, a minor kitchen remodel ties for the number 4 spot on the top 10 list of home improvment projects in terms of return on investment. Most of the remaining projects in the list are exterior replacements like an entry door or garage door, which tend to be less expensive projects than kitchens and also fall into the "must-do" rather than "nice-to-do" category.

The numbers reported below are national averages; in general, the Pacific states region outperformed the rest of the nation despite slightly higher costs. For example, on the West Coast, a minor kitchen remodel averages a cost of $23,603, with a return of 84.1 percent. In the East North Central (Great Lakes) region, however, the same project costs $22,239, with a return of just 63.7 perecent.

Minor Kitchen Remodel, Mid-Range
The 2010-11 report puts the national average price of a mid-range minor kitchen remodel at $21,695, averaging a return of 72.8 percent (down several point's from last year's 78.3 percent) a year later. What is a minor kitchen remodel? According to Remodeling, it's a 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry and countertops. The cabinets get refaced with new raised-panel wood doors, drawers and hardware, but the boxes stay. Laminate countertops and vinyl flooring are removed and replaced with the same material, but in updated colors and patterns. You also get a new, energy-efficient wall oven and cooktop, a new mid-priced sink and faucet, wall covering, and a new paint job on your trim.

Major Kitchen Remodel, Mid-Range
A major kitchen remodel at a mid-range price will run an average of $58,367, according to the report. A year later, you can expect to recoup 68.7 percent (down from 72.1 percent) of that. This 200-square-foot kitchen features a 3-by-5-foot island, 30 linear feet of semi-custom wood cabinets, laminate countertops, and a double-bowl stainless-steel sink with single-lever faucet. Add new energy-efficient appliances: wall oven, cooktop, ventilation system, built-in microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and custom lighting. Finish up with new vinyl flooring and paint for the walls, trim and ceiling.

Major Kitchen Remodel, Upscale
Price tag: $113,464, according to the report, with an ROI of 59.7 percent (down from 63.2 percent). It's an easy bill to run up in a 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of custom cherry cabinets with interior accessories, natural stone countertops, and an imported ceramic or glass tile backsplash. Appliances include a built-in refrigerator, cooktop, 36-inch commercial-grade range and vent hood, built-in warming drawer, trash compactor and built-in microwave/convection oven. Then add a high-end undermount sink; designer faucets; built-in water filtration system; general, task and under-cabinet lighting; cork flooring; and cherry trim.

*The 2010-11 Cost vs. Value Report — a joint study done by the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling magazine — provides national and regional averages. The report estimates the cost of an average home improvement project and compares it to the value it would recoup if the home sold a year later. In 2010, more than 3,000 real-estate agents, brokers and appraisers in 80 cities provided ROI estimates.



More in this category:« Financing Options

Get Organized in Style

drawer divider by rev-a-shelf
Photo courtesy of Rev-a-Shelf

For a makeover that makes life in your kitchen easier, find the right organization accessories for your cabinets. Drawer dividers, like this cutlery tray insert from Rev-a-Shelf, keep items tidy. The tray insert's maple wood construction and clear finish give it a sophisticated look. Using a table saw, the tray can be easily trimmed to fit any size drawer.

Create Storage with a Pot Rack

rogar pot rack
Photo courtesy of Rogar

Clear up counter and cabinet space by moving everything up, up and away. A pot rack like this one from Rogar frees up storage space while keeping your pots and pans easily accessible. Pot racks can be mounted to a wall or ceiling or hung over an island. Some also come equipped with lights to illuminate your workspace.

Use an Accent Color on the Island

accent color on a kitchen island

A little paint can go a long way when used the right way. Used as an accent on an existing island, this blue-green color creates a perfect focal point against the kitchen's warm cabinets and sunny yellow walls. A glaze finish on the island slightly mutes the island color.

Get a Workspace on Wheels

Photo courtesy of IKEA

An island on wheels offers extra counter space that can be easily tucked away. The stainless steel surface of this kitchen island gives a smooth and streamlined look while adding extra storage. Each of the four casters locks in place for added stability and unlock for added mobility. Accessories like a solid birch butcher block can be added to the tray for more chopping.

Add a Personal Touch with Hardware

Bosetti Marella Cabinet Hardware
Photo courtesy of Bosetti Marella

Spice up old cabinets with new hardware. This mini-makeover option carries a wide range of price tags, depending on whether you choose simple new pulls or a more artisan touch like this cabinet hardware from Bosetti Marella. This hardware is created using the ancient Raku clay technique, which uses hand-molded clay and low-temperature firing to yield gorgeous results.

Illuminate Your Kitchen with Task Lighting

Add task lighting to a kitchen
Photo courtesy of Bruck

Changing lighting drastically alters the mood and function of your kitchen. Adding task lighting not only changes up your kitchen's design, but it also makes life easier on both you and your eyes. These pendant lights from Bruck do just that, brightening up the surface of this island for food prep and entertaining. A good rule of thumb is to hang your pendants so they are about 30 to 40 inches above your work surface.

Line Your Ceiling with Design Tiles

Fasade Ceiling Tiles from ACP
Photo courtesy of ACP

For a different type of makeover, consider transforming your ceiling into a piece of art. The kitchen ceiling, easily ignored for other renovation projects, can be given an easy upgrade with ceiling tiles. These tiles from ACP are particularly simple to install with a trouble-free adhesive backing. With several styles and finishes to choose from, ceiling tiles can match your kitchen style or bring a new look to an existing space.