Kitchen Renovation NYC
In March, we took a look at the cost breakdown of the average NYC bathroom renovation. This week, we’re moving on to the first of a two-part series on kitchen renovation pricing. We talked with Sweeten Experts Valeria and Eduard as well as Sweeten Expert Peter for a transparent look at the basic and variable costs of a typical kitchen renovation.
The realization that struck me after talking with these experts is that homeowners have a lot of choice in managing costs on some material aspects of a kitchen renovation, but there are other costs that are less-obvious, labor-intensive, and tremendously critical to the work overall, no matter what you choose to spend on materials. Let’s take a look at both the straightforward and behind-the-scenes costs.
Straightforward Costs – Materials and Appliances
Take a quick walk around your kitchen or any home appliance store and you can start to get a feel for the obvious costs of a kitchen renovation. You can expect to spend under $400 or up to $3, 000 (and well beyond) on each of your stove, fridge, and dishwasher selections. You can find basic sink options for under $100 and up to $2, 500, and faucet fixtures for under $40 and up to $1, 200.
You can keep costs under $3 per square foot for efficient and easy-to-clean subway or penny backsplash tile options, or go up to $35 (and beyond) for a higher-end tile, stone, or marble finish. Similarly, you can limit countertop costs per square foot to under $10 for laminate counters, between $50 and $125 for some tile, wood, and recycled glass options, and between $100 to $300 (and beyond) for acrylic, stone, granite, and marble countertop options. You will also need to choose hardware like cabinet pulls that can run a few dollars a piece and lighting fixtures that can be had for $25 (for basic flush mounts) or run up to hundreds or thousands of dollars for decorative chandeliers or statement pieces.
Cabinet materials also vary widely in quality and cost. Valeria explained that you can spend between $600 and $2, 000 per linear foot for cabinetry. MDF is the least expensive option, followed by veneer cabinets, and wood veneer cabinets. Cabinet interiors made of melamine can help keep costs down, while plywood cabinet interiors are the standard for more durable, solid cabinets. Cabinetry finishes also add to the cost; you should expect to pay around $6 per square foot for cabinets that are brush-painted, or $15 per square foot for cabinets that are spray-painted.
Below: Basic kitchen renovation with ikea cabinetry by Sweeten Expert Peter
These choices are up to you, your budget, your aesthetic and functional preferences, and your desire to build re-sale value in your home. In contrast to these more predictable costs, Valeria and Peter walked us through the stages of a typical kitchen renovation and explained the behind-the-scenes investments that homeowners need to make.
Behind-the-Scenes Costs – Design, Site Prep, and Installation
In the design stage, homeowners and contractors need to work together to create detailed drawings that account for all physical elements of the kitchen. Your drawings should cover layout, plumbing, cabinetry and counter specs, lighting, and the appliances we’ve already detailed. During the design phase, you should also make your material decisions for the backsplash, flooring, sink, and hardware.
Both Valeria and Peter echoed a theme we heard when we looked at bathroom renovation costs: the requirements of individual buildings can play a significant role in dictating design and budget needs. Building demands can range from insurance coverage minimums, which limit your ability to work with professionals who aren’t carrying high-value insurance policies, to general alteration agreements that require anyone doing any work in the building to have far-reaching coverage for problems they may never encounter, like asbestos removal or explosion and collapse scenarios. The contractors that can afford to work in buildings with more extensive requirements tend to have higher operating costs that meet higher insurance requirements.
In the site prep stage, both Valeria and Peter highlighted significant behind-the-scenes labor that is needed to ensure that your kitchen renovation is successful and will maintain its value. Almost without exception, I heard from both of these experts that you have to strip the walls and flooring to level the floor and frame the walls before you attempt any kind of full cabinet, tile, and counter installation. This step is critical and labor intensive – Valeria noted that the cost for this step can easily average $4, 000. If your home is new or the sub-floor is concrete, leveling needs may be minimal, but otherwise, you probably need to account for floor leveling and new wall sheetrock or intensive plastering.
Peter also advised that you expose the existing conditions inside the walls during the leveling and framing step so that you can address any plumbing or electrical issues. If you can, Peter suggested that contractors replace all horizontal plumbing work to the building’s “stack” (the main vertical lines that run throughout the building), and run new wiring to head off plumbing and electrical problems that you may have inherited. While these behind-the-scenes steps are labor- and cost-intensive, Peter stressed that homeowners won’t get the foundation alignment and infrastructure needed for the cabinets, appliances, and tile work without investing in this prep.
As we learned from our look at bathroom renovation costs, plumbing alone can cost $2, 000 to $3, 500 (or higher) and plumbing permits (when necessary, as required by the City’s Department of Buildings) can run to $2, 000 per permit. If you’re removing an outlet or doing electrical work, you may need an electrical permit, which can run close to $900. You may also need an asbestos inspection, again depending on the building requirements and your plumbing plans, which can cost around $500.
The installation stage is the third and final stage. Valeria noted that appliances are often installed by the store from which you purchased the appliance, sometimes as a built-in cost and sometimes as an added delivery/installation fee. The labor involved in the installation of the backsplash, counters, cabinetry, and flooring varies in accordance with the size of your kitchen and the degree of customization you need to make all of the pieces fit.