SHOP PRODUCTS
Houzz Logo Print
caitlinmrice

Renovating on a 35k budget - design/build firm? architect? DIY design?

5 years ago

Hello. Need some advice from the houzz community on what the best decision is for our remodel. We just bought our first house and we are looking to renovate the kitchen and open up a wall from the dining room/kitchen to the staircase to make the space feel bigger. We are also interested in finishing the basement, painting the interior adding a closet and updating the bathrooms. The first on our agenda is the kitchen space. We are moving in in a month and would like to not walk into a complete destruction zone because we have a 7 month old and a 2.5 yr old (though I know nothing will be finished or even close to it by then). I really enjoy interior design and know what I like but I don't have the experience to draw out plans or manage any of these projects. We don't have a large budget as we put most of our $ towards the down payment. We have 35k at the moment to do whatever renovations we can with that. But we'll be saving an extra 1k each month as our mortgage is much less than our rent so we have money to put towards the projects but not a lot up front.


With that budget, is it better for us to contact a design/build firm to help us come up with a design that would stretch our money the furthest? (I assume they know costs of building as they do it in house). We have some basic plans but I don't know if what we are thinking is the best way to use our money. Or do design/build companies only work with people that have very large budgets? Do they allow you to find your own appliances or find our own quartz slab from wholesale etc or does everything have to be sourced through them? Or should we just work with a designer that hopefully knows what things cost to implement or an architect? Any recommendations would be very much appreciated. By the way, we are based in Maryland, right by the DC border.

Comments (50)

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    We've been in our place for 20 years. For the first round of renos we did all the planning ourselves. A few years ago, we had a house fire and had to gut and redo the whole house. We bit the bullet and hired a great designer. Best money we ever spent. We'd done okay with the renos on our own (and with the help of Gardenweb), but the quality of the work was totally different with the designer. She made a plan for the whole house rather than looking at one room at a time and came up with ideas on layouts and finishings that we never would have considered. She was also a go between with the builders/contractor and stood up to them when I would have been run over by them.

    Good luck with your project(s) and I second what emho23 says about timeline. You will be lucky to be finishing the design/demo process in 4 weeks.

  • Related Discussions

    Hire a structural eng. before hiring a KD/ID or design/build firm?

    Q

    Comments (25)
    Sophie Wheeler: You're assuming way too much. What makes you say that I don't seem to take into account the associated costs of removing bearing walls, when I clearly stated above: "I hate surprises, especially big ones. That's the reason we would like to know BEFORE we commit to this project just how many dollars we'll be spending on putting in beams, RELOCATING PLUMBING, ELECTRIC, DUCTS, etc." All the affected rooms will need new flooring that's not a news item for us. We also know we will need to spend money on floor matching if we enlarge the narrow opening between the kitchen and dining room. How much we will spend on this kitchen reno will not be limited so much by our finances but by the value increase that a large family kitchen will add to our 3000sqft , 4 bedroom house that has one big problem: A tiny, 60's kitchen more befitting a small cottage. We just simply don't want to overspend. The estimated size of the value increase will mostly inform our decisions.
    ...See More

    Design/Build or Design/Bid/Build?

    Q

    Comments (7)
    For our custom home build we brought in the builder after the overall floor plan was agreed on with our architect. Originally we had thought we would go through the bidding process (See "What Your Contractor Can't Tell You" by Amy Johnston). Now that we are under construction I am so glad we didn't go through the process. What I have realized is that the pure bidding process means that you are completely dependent on your architect's estimates for the cost to build. If your architect is finely tuned to residential building costs in your area, that is great. If he/she does commercial projects to pay the bills but does residential because he/she loves it, then he/she may not be completely up on building costs. If we had designed our home with all the bells and whistles we had dreamed about and gone through the bidding process only to find we were waaayyyy over budget, that would have been terribly disappointing - not to mention the additional architect fees we would have to pay to redesign. Builders told us this is not an unusual situation to run into in the bidding route. Our builder joined our meetings with our architect and helped us understand how our wants translated into costs. Armed with both the aesthetic considerations and the construction cost we could make informed decisions.
    ...See More

    Our architect designed, with builder input, a house WAY over budget

    Q

    Comments (78)
    Yes take a comb through the materials and price them out. Have at least 4 builders price out your project with all the trades. Sometimes GCs that offer a level of self performance like carpentry can avoid double mark ups. Did you see any of the major quotes like excavation, framing, plumbing, etc? I'm doing a lower level finish. One bid was 60% over budget....another 44%....then with due dillengence we ended up 4% over budget but went with the contractor that was 10% over budget. Pricing wasn't the only varible at the end of the day. I'd hold the line and get more bids if you can - too much time and money vested - but if the bids come back similar time to cut the cord unless the redesign to meet budget is free.
    ...See More

    design build vs architect

    Q

    Comments (8)
    I'm an advocate of the design-build project delivery method because design and construction are highly interdependent activities. The American Institute of Architects endorses the approach, which they've labelled "integrated project delivery" or IPD. That said, you don't need to settle for a "lesser" design quality from a design-build company nor should you expect a higher cost of construction--that's fundamental to the design-build approach. Some design-build firms have licensed architects and/or licensed engineers on staff. Some are owned and operated by architects. Whether you choose a design-build firm or an independent architect for the design task, the plans and specifications should clearly and accurately document the project scope. That's in everyone's best interest. Ask to see sample plans so your can compare. Compare the cost of the plans, too. If you go the independent architect route, I recommend you select your contractor at the same time and get them on the design team early on. That way your contractor can inform the design with real-world cost information. In the covid-19 world, historical cost data that architects may have is, well, out the window-- and it doesn't matter whether it's an egress window or not.
    ...See More
  • 5 years ago

    Congrats on your new house! You've gotten excellent advice from both people above. I think a lot of people (myself included,) would advise you to live with it for a year before making any big decisions. That said, find yourself a designer to work with now. An architect or residential or interior designer can help you prioritize and plan and envision things while you save money. Bonus: this person can help you out with the smaller things that may make your house more livable in the short term: he or she will know a good painter, or a handyman if you need it.

    Use that extra 1K a month to beef up your budget. 35K could be gone in a flash in your area. Plus, anyone who's good at what they do won't be able to get to you for a couple of months. Invest in the time (and cost) it takes to forge a relationship with a good designer. That's my advice. Best of luck to you!

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Where I live $35k goes REALLY fast. My advice, especially with your young children, is to just do basic cosmetic fixes ( such as paint or any other things that need to be addressed immediately ), live there for a year or two, plan & save $ durng the interim, Trust me, some of your initial thoughts may change completely after living there. Been there, done that.

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    Have to be honest, $35K in the DC metro is going to be tough unless you're doing IKEA cabinets and you're doing all the installation DIY. An average kitchen remodel where we are (talking gut and re-do) is $150K, not including designer fees. You MIGHT be able to get away with 15-25% less in DC, depending on the extent of the remodel, and if you had Home Depot or similar do the kitchen design/cabinets.


    Live with it for now and save your money to do it right. Build some equity in your home so you can do a home equity loan (but only if you plan to be in that place for 10+ years). With two small kids, even sourcing all your own materials will mean six months of going to home improvement showrooms every weekend to pick out everything from tile to faucets to stone. Doesn't sound like you have time for that.

  • PRO
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Move in. Research. Plan. Save. Hire a KD. Keep saving. Put this on a schedule to happen in 1-5 years from now.

  • 5 years ago

    Congratulations on your first house. Have you already tested for lead paint? If you have lead paint, your costs for remediation before remodelling will be significant. A $10 test kit from the hardware store will get you started. This is really important when you have children.


    In my high cost of living area, design/build firms start at $150K or $200K. You are in a high cost of living area. Make some phone calls to local well-reviewed design/build firms to see what price range they work in.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    35K will not get you where you need to be. Or even close. 1 month time to completion starting now is completely unrealistic even if you had started planning 6 months ago and all of the materials were on hand. Just the work alone is 8-16 weeks.

    Paint everything in the house you want painted before you move in. Maybe new knobs and pulls. Maybe new appliances. Maybe a few textiles You just spent half or more of your budget.

    Or spend nothing and do nothing. Move in and keep saving for 3-4 years to get to the cost level of your wish list. What exists can’t can’t be that bad.

  • 5 years ago
    Honest, we painted 1400sq ft and that alone cost almost $6K (very high COL area). Maybe just do that and switch out some light fixtures and hardware. Or if there’s really something you don’t love in the kitchen and it’s not a large area, you could change backsplash or counters in your budget. Enough to make you enjoy it daily but not a gut re-do. I think paint and new light fixtures can really make a difference.
  • 5 years ago

    Don't freak out about lead paint, IMHO that is a bit of a red herring (and I have an old house). If your house was built after 1978 it has none, and if it's older, sure get an inspection but it still might not be an issue, depending on what you want to do. Also, in many cases, remediation in the sense of actually removing all the old lead paint is no longer advised or considered necessary.

  • 5 years ago
    Congratulations! Lots of great advice here, but I’ll add a slightly different perspective. We were in a similar position to you 7 years ago. Bought our second house (a foreclosure in terrible shape), 2 small kids, a small budget, and a tight timeframe. We did a reno in 8 weeks that included opening up the kitchen to the family room, all new kitchen (ikea cabinets), new and refinished floors throughout, update of 1 bathroom, added a walk in closet in master, interior painting, and a new roof. The design was DIY and we hired contractors on our own. We used our cash to pay contractors and used 0% credit cards to buy materials and paid it off in the next 1-2 years. I’m the first to say it’s not perfect and it would’ve been great to have a 150k budget and a pro designer, but I could not have lived in this house the way it was and it looks pretty good. No matter what you do, you’ll want to update in 10 years, so you can go high end the second time around. Good luck!
  • 5 years ago

    All renovations are pricey, there are lots of things you can do to move forward. Everyone here wants to help but sometimes it can feel crushing. I know because I was in a similar position about 7 years ago. I did not have the budget for a full reno however you can work toward what you want and there are ways to work around some of the costs. You need to find a structural engineer, possibly a contractor who can tell you what options you have regarding the wall you want to remove. We were able to hire a crew to demo and put up new drywall,electrician and plumber how did we do it? We found 2nd hand cabinets on Craigslist for 500, rearranged them and my kitchen is functional and believe it or not beautiful. It can be done but you will need to really think about what you really need.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Design build firms combine construction and architecture. They usually have an architect and a general contractor, either as business partners or one working for the other. Yes, they are usually more expensive than a plain old general contractor. Yes, they do work on small home renovations. And a $35,000 home renovation isn't so small that they would turn up their noses. But the problem is that budget would only get you to an empty room with new walls and wiring/plumbing if you use a design build firm.

    Well if you were doing a simple remodel I'd say that it's possible to study the NKBA guidelines and with a few months of hard work, study and conversation you might conceivably come up with a good design on your own.

    But you want to take down a wall.......

    That really changes things and opens up a lot of issues not just in terms of structural problems and redesigning a totally different space but completing a timeline that doesn't leave your house full of dust.

    The cheapest option is probably to find a really great general contractor with a sensitivity to design who associates with an architect on a freelance basis who helps them with permits and design. Some general contractors have an art background ( I know two with MFAs) and know a lot about design and aesthetics. That's the type of GC you want not just a dude with a truck and a hammer.

    If you get in to hiring a design build firm or an architect I think you'd be paying two specialized professionals instead of one.

    And you might want to go with the standard budget choices: Ikea cabinets, butcher block counters and plain tile. But that's a look and there's nothing wrong with it.

    However I agree with others that the best option is to wait a few years, save money, do it right and time it to coincide with a vacation so you won't have to live with the dust. And that gives you time to shop for the great, artistic general contractor who can deliver a great redesign on a budget.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    As others have said, your $35k is not close to enough for all that you described in your OP. I am not handy at all, could never DIY anything. I re-did my kitchen recently (using good contractors). I live in a somewhat HCOL area, compared to areas nearby, but it's not as high as Maryland/DC. My kitchen cost about $30k, and that is with no structural work whatsoever, no moving plumbing, the exact same footprint and layout, and leaving existing wood floor and existing ceiling cans as is. The electrical alone was the thing that took my breath away - just for installing wall outlets per Code (prior kitchen was not Code-compliant), switches, UCL lighting and the wiring for it, were a couple thousand right there.

    I was able to do my kitchen for only $30k due to the following: I shopped online for hours upon hours to find deals on appliances, sink, faucet, pulls, everything. My cabinets are locally made, and just OK in quality - they are fine for my lifestyle with kids no longer at home so won't take a beating. The only thing that was impossible to find deals on were counters and backsplash, and those were my two really expensive things. I am also experienced, having done 2 prior kitchen renos, and that saves money too, by not making rookie mistakes that are inevitable for a first-time renovator.

    I am telling you all this so you have more realistic expectations of what your $35k will cover.

  • PRO
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    How bad is the kitchen? Is there a photo of it from the listing?

    Brand new state of the art kitchens have become such a focus when moving INTO a new house. When I got married and we bought a house the kitichen was clean and serviceable. IMO, and I have a lot of years and experience under my belt, spending $150,000.00 on a first home is simply a waste of money. I am saying that because I am assuming the ratio between what you paid for the house and spending $150,000.00 on just one area of the house is pretty unbalanced.

    Use the 35K to paint, replace lighting, purchase a beautiful rug…whatever the rest of the house needs to make you happy.

    Throw the 1K a month toward the mortgage principal and in a year or two apply for a home equity and do the kitchen then. At the least you will have one more home interest deduction for your taxes and by then it is possible the monthly payment won’t change that much.

  • 5 years ago

    Move in and live with what you have for now. Yes you could do an Ikea kitchen on your own for that price, but what you think you want now may be completely different after you've lived in the house for a year or two. Plus if all you have now is that $35k, what happens when you discover the pipe burst, or the roof leaks, or you need to upgrade the electrical or the basement has mold you didn't realize?

  • 5 years ago

    BTW: similar to what Judy said, in my first home after I put in new Ikea cabinets and a new tile floor (done by myself and my ex) we still had the 30 year old working fridge and 35 year old working dishwasher. And the original subway tiles from 1927 on the walls.

  • 5 years ago

    THIS STORY IS NOT MEANT TO STRESS YOU OUT! ;) ;)


    Having no idea what stuff costs in the US (I'm dutch), I do know DIY and renovation. We had a €30k budget (and no kid yet) and all of that money was spent merely on materials for insulation and drywall, new wiring and plumbing, a bathroom (from scratch), double glazing on the second floor and some wallpaint. Did all of the work ourselves.. The gutting took 8 months, while both working full time jobs. A few months later we moved in, with only a bathroom and a bedroom finished. Then it slowed down, since we were tired. Saved some money for an ikea kitchen and a second hand quartz top (scrolling online late night to find the exact corner). Got pregnant, can still remember tiling the backsplash with a huge belly. It's been 7 years since we bought this house (820sqft) and I still need to paint doors and frames. I'll wait until the little hands (4yr) stop touching things accidentally.


    My advise: If possible leave the old kitchen just where it is. Get a builder to open up the space you want, so you can plaster and paint. Do some flooring if needed (and have enough extra for future patchwork). Move in (because one month, wow!!). Take plenty of time planning a kitchen, don't rush into something that expensive (I'm a kitchen seller/planner). Basement can wait. Bones go first.

  • 5 years ago
    It is a popular fallacy that a newly renovated kitchen will provide an instant payoff in the fantastic space. Realistically, it is a tough slog to be living through a renovation with little ones. If the existing space is in any way usable, spend some time saving your money and learning how the house works. Opening up spaces may solve some obvious issues, but that will create others.
  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    OP, you must be feeling a little let down right now. I’m going to give you a little help. I just replaced all my cabinets, put in quartzite and new basic(ie, what most people have, not 6 burner stove and sub zero fridges) appliances, new backsplash and changed the layout slightly by taking out half a wall and moving a doorway. It cost just over $20,000 and took 10 days once the contractor got started. Ten days, not six months.

    Many of the people on this forum have very large houses and very large budgets. Most people do not spend $150,000 on a kitchen remodel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you can certainly have it done for much, much less.

    I agree that moving in first and living with the house will give you a much better idea of what you want to change.

  • 5 years ago

    Taking down your wall may be a bigger, more expensive project than you imagine. What is involved, changing the flooring, moving electrical, etc? Like some others, I vote for cleaning and painting the house and living with it for awhile. Save your money for unexpected surprises. There are always some...

  • 5 years ago

    Can you post some photos here?

  • 5 years ago
    Sorry, Sharon, but OP lives in one of the highest COL areas in the country. She needs to temper her expectations or increase her budget and/or timeline. Probably all of the above.
  • 5 years ago

    You do not have a lot of time, so it may be useful to find a designer and see what you can do with the kitchen. Once you will be in the house with 2 kids that age, you wont be able to do that (you can redo the bathrooms one at a time and repaint a room at a time).


    I am not sure what you can do with $35 K where you are, it is worth exploring. As others have said, it will depend on what you want to do.

  • 5 years ago

    I agree that a $35,000 budget is unrealistic for your wish list and as others have advised, I would live in the house for awhile to determine what you really want to have done.


    Any renovation done in a month's time would be a slamdash job at best - even if possible. I just finished a remodel and there are just going to be delays ranging from materials not being in stock to having to wait for inspectors.


    If you feel the place needs to be painted or there are wood floors that should be refinished - do that in the month before you move in.


    Then save your $1000 per month - you might find that you actually don't have that much in savings each month versus rentals because homes require constant maintenance.


    In terms of Design Build, I don't think that is necessarily the best or most economical way to proceed. I hired a designer - NOT an interior decorator and so she knew a lot about construction and Codes and what was feasible etc. She was able to steer me to vendors and a great GC. The best way to find good people is to ask around - ask your neighbors and friends who they might recommend.


    If D.C. is anything like Los Angeles where I am - besides being an expensive area - there is so much remodeling and building going on that all of the good people are booked so finding people within a short time frame would probably be impossible anyway.

  • 5 years ago

    One other thought. You have that $35k budget. What happens when you open up those walls or pull out the old cabinets and discover problems that need thousands of dollars to fix. In reality, your $35,000 budget is really $30,000 because you need to keep a contingency for surprises.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    @Sharon Perkins - you put in *quartzite* counters, new cabinets, new appliances, new backsplash, took out half a wall, and moved a doorway for $20k? Sorry, I am not buying it. Something is missing from that story.

    To the OP - the advice on this thread, while daunting and a bit depressing, is to save you from starting the list of work you mentioned, and running out of money before even half of it is done. Live in the home for a while while saving money. Also reno fatigue is real - you may find that after you re-do the kitchen, you’ll have no more energy for the basement and bathrooms for a while. Don’t take on too much at once.

  • 5 years ago

    Outside of DC here in VA. I paid $7k just for the kitchen demo/reno design plans and detailed estimates.

  • 5 years ago

    I’m in agreement with live in the house first, because it gives you a chance to find out what you like/don’t like before you get started. I also agree with the fact that 35k is unlikely to get you what you say you want. I spent 75-85k for a relatively small kitchen, nice quality things, but nothing super fancy, and I didn’t relocate anything. You can spend the time planning and researching while you save up more money. We spent several months planning so that we were fairly well set before we got started. Good luck, hope you enjoy the new house!

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Go see Jennifer Gilmer in Chevy Chase with about 4-5x your budget if you want the Houzz wishlist kitchen. Or start eliminating wants and figuring out what is more of a need vs a want.

    http://www.gilmerkitchens.com/

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Unfortunately, costs vary quite a bit around the country.

    I've seen some beautiful kitchens on here where people hired a local carpenter to make custom cabinets. Not so expensive in a rural area where carpenters are looking for work. But here in NYC a local carpenter starts at 5k for built in bookcases. DC might be even worse than NYC.

    That's why I think a great general contractor, who can help with input on design and can source materials at a discount, will be key to getting a project done for a reasonable cost in the DC area. But you won't find that person fast and as others have mentioned the good ones are booked months in advance.

  • 5 years ago
    My advice is don’t drink the kool aid. There is always a fancier kitchen, house, etc. Is what you have safe and functional? Most people, at least in the US, live pay check to pay check with no emergency fund or contingency plan for serious illness, disability, or job loss. People pull out tens or hundreds of thousands in equity from their home, leverage assets, etc. to get a fancier car, kitchen, whatever. Most people who put in 150k kitchens cannot actually afford them. They don’t own the home or the kitchen. It’s all rented from the bank, and it wouldn’t take much for the house of cards to fall down. Rare (less than 1% rare, hence, 1%ers, and even then, due to how far most people with high incomes are leveraged, in reality it the .05% who don’t rely on income for their wealth) is the person who can genuinely comfortably burn the money to do those kinds of things. Splurge a little, but always put your financial solvency first. Most things loose their luster after a while. Chasing the dream is a race no one, or very few, wins.
  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Keep money in the bank. Enjoy the feeling of having more dough than you need. Grow the money, improve the kithen, in due time. Your budget is too small for a reno in your neck of the woods. It’s a great starting budget for peace of mind. Enjoy the new house.

  • 5 years ago

    I don't want to pile on but I want to share my experience since we recently just finished our basement. I want you to have realistic expectations.

    We first starting interviewing companies back in February 2018. My husband had done a ton of research prior to that so this process actually started several months before we started interviewing. We met with a total of 7 companies whose estimates varied widely. We didn't want to do anything crazy, just add a bathroom, a couple of closets and basically finish the walls. We were shocked that one of the estimates came back at about $70K - and this was not even including the bathroom. In the end, we picked a company that was in the middle of the estimates and spoke with several people that had used them. We signed the contract with them in August 2018, so it took nearly 6 months for us to actually figure out what company we were going with. Once we signed that contract, they couldn't start until mid September because of other projects they had going on (so about a month after we signed).

    Our basement took 3 1/2 months to finish, about a month longer than we had originally thought. I personally don't know anyone that has done a major remodel of any sort where it was finished early or even on time.

    We had some setbacks. Most big projects do.

    We went over our original budget by around $11K. I didn't account for the $5K we had to put into it before we even started finishing - namely a back up sump pump and waterproofing/sealing the walls. We have radon in our area so we needed a special cover for the sump pump. I also didn't account for having to buy a couch and tv in the original budget (we were finishing it for our teenagers and those things were needed). We didn't even have high end finishes either - our countertops for our kitchenette were from Menards, most of the bathroom fixtures were from Menards and the tile was from Floor and Decor. We also got a permit which added to the cost and increased time to completion.

    We were very lucky in that we didn't have anything major come up that ate up our budget. A friend of mine remodeled her kitchen a few years ago and when they tore out the old cabinets found major water damage in the walls and floor. That was several thousand to fix that she had not accounted for. As others have said, you never really know what you will find until you open the walls up.

    If you're planning on removing a wall, you need an expert to determine if it is load bearing or not. If it is, the cost to add a beam is not cheap. And if there's electrical and/or HVAC in the walls, that too is very pricey to remove. We had to move some of the HVAC in our basement so that the areas would be properly heated and cooled because the builder of our home did a half ass job to begin with.

    We are all not telling you this to discourage you, but to keep you from making very expensive mistakes and having unrealistic expectations. Living in a construction zone isn't fun; I had to do it with 2 toddlers when we had major mold remediation. Your time frame is not doable for what you want done so you're going to have to deal with construction and little ones if you really want to remodel.

    Unless there are things that are falling apart, you need to take your time. Some people take years to plan out renovations. Many companies will work with "smaller" budgets - we were very happy with the contractors we used. We sourced our own materials although we did use one of their preferred vendors to get our flooring. In other words, my experience (and talking with my friends that remodeled) is that you can use outside vendors (like for countertops) but then the design company isn't liable for their work. We did not use an architect to finish our basement (although we did interview one) but went with a company that specialized in basements and had designers on staff vs a company that did a little of everything. My friend that remodeled her kitchen did use an architect/big design firm because she was moving walls.

    I know most of this is not what you want to hear, but this is the reality of home renovations.


  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Yes, M Miller, that’s exactlywhat I did. My counter s are Van Gogh quartzite. My cabinets are Fabuwood. My appliances are average, regular old “normal” appliances. My cabinets were $7,000, quartzite was $4000. Contractor was $7,000 and appliances were around $1,00 for the stove and microwave. I live in a Philly suburb. My kitchen is not huge and I don’t live in a McMansion. We removed half a wall between the dining room and kitchen—this really isn’t all that expensive if there are no mechanicals in it, as long as it isn’t load bearing— and moved the doorway between the kitchen and side porch down so we could move the fridge to a different wall. I’ll be glad to give anyone my contractor‘s name. Feel free to look up my “before” pictures in a post I did a few months ago titled The night before reno begins”.


    Honestly, there are many people who don’t spend $50,000+ on their kitchens. Of course you CAN spend that, and I spent the equivalent of that 20 years ago in what I thought would be my “forever home”, but turned out not to be. I agree that the OP can’t do everything on her list for $35,000, but she can do more than some people are insinuating. Can she put in sub zero fridges and Wolf ranges for that? No, of course not, but maybe she isn’t planning to. Many people survive in much more ordinary but perfectly nice kitchens. Here’s mine. You can see the half wall between the kitchen and dining room.


  • 5 years ago

    Sharon your kitchen is beautiful but how did you buy appliances for$1.?

  • 5 years ago

    In my area, the good contractors, cabinetmakers, and subs are so busy that projects are booked 6-9-12 months Into the future. So, starting any sort of a major remodel project in a month is inconceivable, regardless how much one is spending.


  • PRO
    5 years ago
    I second Sharon. I live in the Bay Area, pretty much the most expensive area in the whole country real estate wise. I was able to get my 11x13 kitchen done within 25k: 5k cabinet (of course not high end but solid quality premade with solid maple wood, soft closing dovetail drawer, pullout pantry, corner lazy Susan, many drawers, plus a peninsula) , 1.3k prefab quartz countertop, 6-7k top line bosch appliance with some friends discount, 6k contractor labor, 1-2k for other stuff maximal. No plumbing but some electrical work to get it up to today’s code and to relocate fridge. In total well under 25k. And my kitchen turned out beautiful. Granted I didn’t open walls or do any structural work, but you can get a quality new kitchen with OP’s budget, maybe not so much beyond that. I don’t understand why people would spend 150k for a kitchen remodel if they are not making a million $$ a year. But hey, lots of things I don’t know.
  • 5 years ago

    I think Sharon meant $1000 for the microwave and stove? Maybe she already had a fridge and if there's a dishwasher, she didn't need to buy a new one?

    In July 2018, a pipe blockage in the form of a pair of children's socks caused water to find a new way out instead of the drain, that new route happened to be in the basement - specifically the laundry standpipe. Luckily we have homeowners insurance and they deemed this incident to be unforeseeable therefore covered - still had to pay the deductible and for the amount exceeding the flooring allowance when we decided we wanted to use LVP throughout instead of just in the laundry and 3rd bathroom, ditching the carpet that was down there entirely (except for on the lower run of stairs). Given the shortage of contractor labor in our area that has been an issue since the end of 2017, the work to repair and restore the basement after the initial water remediation was going on at the same time as other homeowners' projects. The remediation removed wet carpet and pad, the LVP and previous owner's large format tile floors that were underneath, the lower 24" of drywall, insulation, while running those huge fans and taking multiple moisture readings in all parts of the basement each day. If not for our insurance the costs of remediation alone would have gone over $3000 (and this is in Nebraska!).

    My point is that even though the mister and I aren't new to the 'home buying rodeo', there will be sudden home-related expenses. Repairs and upkeep are a never ending responsibility that homeowners must pay for. Move into your house and give yourself at least 6 months if not a year or more, to really see what needs to be done in order to be more functional, not to mention anything that should be repaired that wasn't obvious until you'd been living with it for a while. Even though there should have been an inspection before the home was purchased and you signed on the dotted line, that doesn't mean there was an exhaustive inspection of everything or that there aren't 'hidden' issues that the seller didn't volunteer any info about the existence of. Sometimes it's not possible for them to know, because the damage is only found when a major gutting has been undertaken (Which seems to be the case in the commenter example of their friend discovering water damage only after ripping out the old cabinets).

    Owning a home has a learning curve. Be patient; you want someone to do the job right the first time, something that tends to involve spending more on the contractor hired. I can't think of anyone who has had a major renovation done in their home, whose project finished early, and maybe one person whose project was done by the specified completion date on their initial contract. Change orders, contractor labor issues, materials delayed, waiting on permits and required inspections - if it can delay a project, it has happened.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    It's the wall removal that throws the wrench in the gears of a possible fast, budget friendly remodel.

    That brings up structural issues, possible permits, moving or adding electrical or plumbing, repairing or changing flooring to cover the gap where the wall was, redesigning a new space in a way it hadn't been previously used..... and most of all an unholy crapton of dust that must be cleared out in a timely manner if little kids are in the house.

    That requires a general contractor, and a good one, to handle the logistics and get the jobs finished on time and all the labor to do all those jobs from demolition to electrical. And cost saving on materials is going to go out the window in the effort to get it done on time and clean up the construction zone. No leisurely shopping for cheap leftover backsplash tiles on Ebay. All the stuff is going to be bought at the big box store on a deadline at retail prices.

    By contrast, with a small kitchen remodel, where no plumbing or electrical is moved and nothing structural is changed, a savvy person with enough thought and effort might be able to come up with a good design, act as their own general contractor, hire out the individual jobs and add some DIY, and scout the best deals on faucets, tile etc. And they could set up a hot plate in their relatively clean house if the project takes too long. No muss, no fuss. All the cost savings are in the ability to focus on material costs and minimize labor costs.

    The wall removal changes things.

    $35K to knock out a wall and create a totally new and well functioning kitchen in the DC area???

    Maybe with a great general contractor who specializes in exactly this kind of overhaul of a space, and has good taste in design, and knows a flooring guy who owes him/her a favor. But this might not be something to rush through or in to.

  • 5 years ago
    Following.
  • 5 years ago

    Beyond a remodel, you are just moving into your first house. There are thousands of small and some not-so-small purchases that will show up in the first few months. Believe me.

    Just wait. We moved into this house 3 years ago, and we're just starting to work on the kitchen and some other things.

  • 5 years ago

    I commented earlier but I want to add on to what Kelli W said about lead times.

    Unless you're getting everything from the big box stores or Amazon, time is not on your side OP. I had *one* cabinet made for my kitchen - I had the planning desk removed and replaced it with a cabinet of drawers. That one cabinet alone took 8 weeks to come in (it was custom made). Had I gotten all new cabinets for my kitchen, the lead time was at least 16 weeks. Now that we're almost into March, this is the time of year cabinet makers and contractors get busy.

    When we were finishing our basement, we weren't given a lot of lead time on when the big items were needed and we made the mistake on not buying these things ahead of time. For example, we found out on a Friday night that they needed the bathroom sink cabinet that Monday so they could measure and frame the walls properly. I had ordered one online, but it hadn't come in yet, so my husband and I ran to the big box store that weekend and had to buy one in stock. We also had the opposite happen where the contractors said they needed the kitchenette cabinets and they wound up sitting in my dining room for 3 weeks longer than we had planned.

    Getting a new home and wanting to remodel and make it more functional or more to your taste is exciting. But most people wind up doing these big remodels only once because of the time, mess and expense, so you cannot rush into these things, especially if you don't even have any direction on what you should or can do.

  • 5 years ago

    I was just rereading your post and thinkIng back to when we bought this, our first house. We spent a few weeks walking around, listing all of the things we wanted to do, whether right away, or down the road. The first things we tackled were things that we could do ourselves, in our case we painted pretty much everything as the house was green and dark. Next we replaced most of the light fixtures, as they those little candle looking things and gave off almost no light. These 2 relatively inexpensive things made the house liveable until we were ready to tackle some of the larger projects, we hated our kitchen, which had dark Formica cabinets, red indoor/outdoor carpet, black Formica cabinets and red, yellow, blue and green flowered wall paper, hung upside down, and needed to replace an appliance, so we hired a kitchen designer to make a plan so that we could buy an appliance that would work with the new kitchen when we were ready to do it. We went through little by little, remodeling everything in the house over a period of a few years. Worked out well for us, and we learned more and more as we went along, making each project less stressful

  • 5 years ago

    Yes, I did spend more than $1.00 on appliances lol. We had the fridge and dishwasher. Bought the stove and microwave For $1,000.

  • 5 years ago

    I am just starting my kitchen reno. Structural engineer was just out yesterday because we're removing a load bearing wall. Just his hour of time and report cost us $800. He also found some structural issues unrelated to our reno that he recommends we take care of now instead of later when the cost will just go up. This is before anything has been done and I'm already looking at an increase of a few thousand dollars over my contracted bid. I'm going to feel lucky if I get this done for less than $70K at this point. This is a small 1922 house and my kitchen is maybe 10x15. I'm not even getting the highest of finishes and I'm in a smaller city with a very reasonable cost of living. We have lived with our awful kitchen for almost 14 years. Our house is almost paid off and we are using an equity loan to pay for the reno. I'm glad I waited until we lived with this kitchen a while and figured out what worked and what didn't. I'm also glad I have moved beyond wanting to do anything thing really trendy. Keeping it as close to period appropriate as possible means simple and white.

  • 5 years ago

    @Sharon Perkins, your kitchen looks very nice and very similar to what I am planning with cabinets and hardware. How do you like your Fabuwood cabinets and how long ago were they installed? I just recently heard about this line and may consider them once we have a chance to see them. Do you mind telling me the name of the door style and color and where you purchased them? We are also in the Philly area. Thanks.

  • 5 years ago

    Bathdilema, I love the cabinets, they’ve been in around three months. The finish seems quite durable and is easy to clean. This line is the Allure line, the style is galaxy and the color is linen. I purchased the cabinets and quartzite at Ilkem Granite in Cherry Hill. I didn’t use a kitchen designer outside of the Fabuwood designer. I knew pretty much what I wanted as I live in an over 55 community with a limited number of house designs. I talked to quite a few people and saw how many people with my model had done the kitchen., so I knew what I needed. Of course, I took the advice of everyone here and put in mostly drawers. I was fortunate in that all the interior walls in these houses are non-load bearing.

  • 5 years ago

    Sharon, Thanks for your response. We had a kitchen designer out from a company in the Philly area who will have designs drawn up for us this week. We are looking forward to seeing the cabinet samples. I'm glad to hear you love your cabinets!

  • 5 years ago

    Do you have a Habitat for Humanity store or something similar in your area? You might consider trying a place like that and keep an eye out for nice cabinets that have been removed from another house that you could use in your remodel. Sometimes they have the counters too if they come out without breaking. Often these are removed from really large homes and there are enough cabinets for a smaller home and the extras can be used to make filler strips etc to make it look custom to your home. This is rarely an overnight exercise -- it could take quite a while and lots of searching to find something that could work, but it would be more budget friendly than all new. With your current budget you'll be choosing from the bottom end of the cabinet market.

    Also with your budget you should be considering that you might need to do some of the work yourself which is going to be tough with small children. You mentioned you can save $1000/month. Even if you waited a year to add to your savings that would make a significant difference to what you can afford as well as a contingency for other things that will definitely come up, its not an "if" but "when" when you start renovating and taking out walls. Plumbing or electrical or both could give you issues or pipes might need moving, venting moved etc. Plan carefully and come up with a "must have" list, then a "nice to have" list. Work with someone you can trust and work through what you can get from your must have list with your current budget. Good luck and congratulations on the new home.

Sponsored
EA Home Design
Average rating: 5 out of 5 stars71 Reviews
Loudoun County's Trusted Kitchen & Bath Designers | Best of Houzz