Establishing A Budget

New construction and establishing a budget

If you’ve chosen a builder there is a budget established. Depending on the dialogue with the builder and how much detail you went into about cabinetry and countertops, that number can be quite accurate. A typical budget will be one which the builder feels is appropriate for the price point of the house. If you’ve said “the cabinets and countertops are very important to us” then the builder might have put more against this than normal. In cabinetry like elsewhere, there are many different price points to choose from, our job is to help you decide what’s appropriate and what fits your budget. If you want to save we’ll have options.

Remodeling and establishing a budget

These are the questions we will ask:

  • when your house has been remodeled what will it’s price point be
  • are you remodeling to stay in your home or for resale
  • if you’re going to live in your home you might appreciate some details which won’t matter for resale, knowing you’ll be in your home might lead you to plan how you’ll use them, while remodeling for resale is more about the presentation

How to choose a contractor

Word of mouth and references. Who is still building. In our economy we think those that are working are survivors, have the necessary capital to work through this, and will be there on the other side to service what work they have done. Very important!

Cabinet and countertop costs

Several of our builders put out a monthly newsletter, and in a newsletter I just received the topic is “cost per square foot” when building or remodeling a new home. Often they are asked “what’s your price per square foot”, and this builder uses the analogy of “how much does a vacation cost”. This builder goes on to write about all the variables affecting arriving at a cost per square foot number; the complexity of the house, the interior and exterior materials desired, the design characteristics.

The same analogy applies to cabinets and countertops. We can do a small house (and we do a lot of them for the large production builders we work for) with cabinets, kitchen and bath countertops, installed and serviced, for $3000. Does it work at the price point of the house, absolutely, is it what you might want in your home, probably not.

What affects cabinet costs, how are cabinets constructed

Let’s start with construction. Cabinets may be built out of wood, which today is plywood, in thicknesses from 1/2” to ¾” thick. In our custom shop when plywood is specified we work with ¾” thick material.

Cabinets may be built from particleboard covered in a vinyl or wood veneer outside finish. Typical particleboard thickness is 1/2” to ¾” thick. In our custom shop when particleboard is specified we work with ¾” material.

There are three different ways to construct a cabinet.

A “frameless” cabinet is where the top, sides and bottom of the cabinet box are also the front, and the front edge is edgetaped with a matching wood or vinyl tape, and the door completely covers the front of the cabinet. Very little, maybe 1/8” of the front of the cabinet is seen. This style of construction originated in Europe, and so it is referred to as European style, which is frameless. Advantages are cost, there are fewer parts needed to build the cabinet, and looks, when you are standing in front of the cabinets all you see are doors.

A “faceframe” cabinet is the traditional way of constructing cabinets. We have a top, sides and bottom, and cover the front with a frame, like a door without a center panel. To the frame doors are attached. On less expensive cabinets you will have what is called a “1/2 overlay door”, which means you see about ½ the faceframe of the cabinet when the door is closed. Today, using the same type of hinges used for frameless cabinets, you can have a faceframe cabinet with full overlay doors. The doors don’t overlay as much as on the frameless, but the effect is similar.

And the very “old school” way of constructing cabinets is to have a faceframe and “inset” the doors, so the doors are set within the openings. This very classic look is also the most time-consuming to build because every piece is fitted.

Remodeling – is there a contractor

Our building codes allow you to be your own contractor on your own residence. On small jobs that are well-defined this can work. However, if you are living in the home and also have a job, this can be stressful to say the least. Finding someone to oversee the job who also is hands-on can be difficult, but usually is money well-spent, and they are out there. On larger jobs you’re going to have a contractor, and whoever you choose, get their references.

When remodeling know the scope

Define what the job entails, what tradespeople will be needed. Even though a remodel job may seem small, if there are multiple tradespeople needed they all need to be scheduled, and not at the same time. Often budget factors in to what one can do today, and what can wait. Know that in the kitchen there are so many things which tie back to the cabinets, like flooring, that you may have to plan on completing a lot of it in one shot

What is the time frame

Typically time frame is a factor when remodeling, and usually there is a necessary end point by which time it must be done. Know that our timelines are affected by which cabinetry is chosen, but allow the following amount of time:

  • Planning and design – can be done in a matter of days, more typically several weeks
  • Ordering and receipt of cabinets – for our budget line we manufacture can be within a week, more typically for manufactured lines allow 4-5 weeks. Some can be received in 2 ½ weeks, others in 7 weeks
  • Installation of cabinets – for a small job can be a day, for a medium size job 2-3 days, larger jobs can be more and have multiple return trips
  • Installation of countertops – depending on the type, from same day for some laminates to 7-10 days for granite. There are exceptions to these timelines we can cover

Value of property

One of the first items you want to consider when planning a new kitchen is how does the cost of the project fit into the overall value of your home. There is a balance point between spending too much and spending too little.

For resale

If you are remodeling for resale we need to know that. In that case we’re looking for “bang for the buck”. You don’t need to spend anymore than needed to present well. The adage “perception is everything” really applies here. Good design, good looking cabinetry which presents well but don’t have to cost a lot, decent appliances which fit the overall price point, and good looking flooring are what make the biggest impact on potential buyers.


Appliances are an integral part of the kitchen. Knowing the direction you want to go with appliances before finalizing cabinetry is necessary. Unless you’re reusing existing appliances they are going to be part of your budget, so you need to have some idea of what you want, and factor that into your budget. For a lot more information on appliances click the appliance tab.

Appliances and remodeling

When remodeling we are often initially told the existing appliances will stay, not because they’re loved, but they already exist and function well. And if the budget is tight, consider using them. However, in most cases if an appliance is more than several years old our customers end up changing them out for new one’s. That’s not where we start, but where we end up, with our customers thinking about how great their new kitchen will look, if only there were new appliances.