helaurin93

Help compare kitchen renovation quotes

helaurin93
4 days ago

Ok, so I've gotten two quotes for my kitchen renovation. Markedly different - one is about $28k and the other about $38k. Both are much higher than I was expecting - I am working with a tight budget of $50k.


Neither includes the following: actual cost of cabinetry; cost of countertop; installation of countertop; cost of backsplash tile; installation of sink; installation of appliances nor cost of any appliances to be replace; cost of lighting fixtures; undercabinet lighting is also not included.


So I'm really struggling with figuring out what I can reasonably cut from my budget, but also with figuring out which contractor (both came highly recommended to me by the KD) would be better to work with as I try to go forward.


Quick description of what I have and what I want to do: Have a kitchen and an adjacent dining room, each 10'x13'. Want to remove a non-load-bearing wall between them to create a larger kitchen (20'x13'), and move kitchen functions from the current kitchen to the current dining room. This also means removing the current kitchen floor and replacing it with hardwood oak to match the rest of the flooring. Build a pantry closet (approx. 3'x4'). Replace old wood-framed window. Update and install new electrical wiring, outlets and lighting as needed. Remove existing cabinets, install new. Save and reinstall existing dishwasher, sink faucet, and refrigerator. Install new sink and range. Remove part of a load-bearing wall between current kitchen and living room.


Both estimates include installing the actual cabinetry, and a dumpster for debris.


Vendor "A" estimate was not nearly as detailed as Vendor B's estimate. I'll summarize the differences:


Vendor "A" did not include any allowance for his charges IF I want him to get permits, to complete and submit permit documents, to manage and schedule permit inspections, etc. Vendor B did included these in his estimate.


Vendor "A" did not mention about hanging plastic or putting down anything to protect the flooring in the rest of the house; Vendor B did.


Vendor "A" would only put in new drywall "as needed" and would attempt to repair any drywall that could be repaired. For example, the canned lighting in the ceiling would need to be moved to reflect a new cabinetry layout; he would not remove the existing ceiling drywall where cans might be removed, but would just patch it up.


For the new pantry closet, both would frame it out, but Vendor A included building/installing shelving, whereas Vendor B did not mention it.


Replace wood-framed window in kitchen (nearly 50 years old window) with new vinyl replacement window - Vendor A did not include this, Vendor B did.


Both would install new hardwood flooring in the current kitchen to match the rest of the hardwood flooring; Vendor A is including an "allowance" towards that - if his selected flooring contractor charges more, the extra cost is on me. Vendor A specifically mentioned about pulling some of the boards from the adjacent space and weaving them in to help minimize any difference in pattern/shade; Vendor B wants to do a hard line, insert a strip of wood at 90-degree angle to sharply delineate the space (and to avoid having to match the wood flooring that closely).


Vendor B plans to take down all the existing drywall in the current kitchen and dining room, and would add insulation to the exterior walls; Vendor A would not.


Vendor B would specifically run dedicated electrical lines for each of the following: Range, Range Hood, Refrigerator, Microwave, Dishwasher, Garbage Disposal and 2 GFCI outlets.


Vendor B specifically mentioned installing baseboard, quarter-round, window trim; Vendor A did not mention it.


Vendor B would apply two coats of paint to all walls, ceiling, and trim work. Vendor A did not include any painting.



I feel like Vendor B would, overall, do a more complete job - and that I'd be less likely to run into workmanship issues down the road. Vendor A though sounds like his flooring contractor may do a better job with the flooring to create a more seamless look, as well as installing shelving in the pantry.


Thoughts? Should I look for a 3rd and possibly 4th estimate? For those who've done kitchen renovations, how many estimates on average is advised or typical?

Comments (23)

  • live_wire_oak
    4 days ago

    You want to do this for 50K, you keep the kitchen in its existing space. Both quotes are much to low to actually accomplish all that’s really needed to do the job correctly.

    helaurin93 thanked live_wire_oak
    Featured Answer
  • millworkman
    4 days ago

    The scopes are not the same, that is the difference. You need to dictate in writing what you expect the scope to be and what exactly you want and where. If you leave it up to the contractors it will never be the same. I do not see how you can accompish this for 50K either if they anyone is in the 30's without half the project. You have a 100K project here from the sounds of it.

    helaurin93 thanked millworkman
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  • helaurin93
    Original Author
    4 days ago
    last modified: 4 days ago

    @live_wire_oak unfortunately, keeping the kitchen in its existing space will not solve any of the problems we have with it. In the current space, the only way to get to the kitchen from inside the house is through the dining room. The sink and stove are too close together at a right angle from each other, which creates a hazard when someone is at the stove and someone else is at the sink. There's virtually no usable countertop space - what little there is, is taken up by a microwave, toaster, coffee pot, and can opener. Storage space is a joke - we have to store some items in the garage, which is downstairs and on the opposite end of the house. There is one operable window in the kitchen, which I can't even reach to open unless I get a stepladder. When kitchen designers walk into the space - they just shake their head and say 'EVERYTHING' is wrong with that kitchen. .....


    What I'm hoping to find are areas we can scale back on cost without sacrificing functionality (or long-term use and resale value). For example, my family could do the painting of the ceiling, walls and trim. We're planning on keeping the existing dishwasher and refrigerator. We're shortening the plumbing run, rather than extending it, so while replacement plumbing connections will need to be made, no new lines need to be run nor extended. However, I still want a decent design, I don't want the floor to look like it was patched together, and decent (not necessarily top-of-the-line) cabinetry, but something that can expected to last 15-20 years.

  • helaurin93
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    @millworkman Both vendors had the same information from the KD and myself. It sounds almost like I need to create my own detailed Statement of Work for contractors to use - is that what you are saying?

  • Isaac
    4 days ago

    @helaurin93, it sounds like you have given this a lot of thought, but it might still be worth asking people here (in a new thread) for layout help. Maybe someone will come up with a layout that will reduce the scope and cost of the work. Maybe not, but it is worth a try.

  • millworkman
    4 days ago

    "It sounds almost like I need to create my own detailed Statement of Work for contractors to use - is that what you are saying?"


    Yes, You are essentially working as your own GC. If you want what you want and need to get to a certain bottom line dollar amount, yes it is incumbent on you to spell it out exactly or you will end up with what you have now. I do not see how there is any chance of bringing that amount of work in at that budget regardless. You also typically need to have a 15-20% what if or oooops fund.

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    4 days ago

    You don't need any "estimates."

    What you need are fixed-contract price proposals to perform a scope of work which is completely and accurately depicted by a set of plans and specifications you provide. Absent that, you'll drive yourself crazy trying to reconcile scopes of work assumed and pricing provided by multiple contractors.

    Your post notes that the scope of work includes removing part of a load-bearing wall. The "before" and "after" conditions including the size of any headers, beams and posts need to be shown in the plans and not left to guesswork on the part of multiple contractors.

    Now, before you engage a design professional to produce those plans and specifications, let's get to the cost vs. budget question. Remodeling Magazine publishes a "Cost Vs. Value" Report each year that gives national, regional and local cost data for a variety of remodeling projects. They include costs for minor remodeling of a 200 SF Kitchen, major (mid-range quality) remodeling of a 200 SF Kitchen and major (upscale quality) remodeling of a 200 SF Kitchen in the 2020 report:

    https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2020/

    Your 260 SF remodel would be most like their "Major Kitchen Remodel" (mid-range) the national-average cost of which is $68,490. You'd also need to add the cost to move the wall, replace the window, and install hardwood flooring vs. the resilient flooring in their mid-range project. That would take you well beyond you $50K budget. Proceed with the upmost of caution.

    helaurin93 thanked Charles Ross Homes
  • helaurin93
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    @Charles Ross Homes Thanks, I did see that report. If that's accurate (although the only appliance I am replacing is the stove) - then I doubt I will ever be able to renovate the kitchen. It's just so frustrating. From what I'm gathering, I'll need closer to $120k-$140k (including "oops" allowance) at today's prices - and there's just no way that would ever be possible. And my income/savings isn't going to increase faster than renovation costs would go. It's just frustrating. I didn't realize when I bought the house (and the home inspector didn't catch it either) that mice can come up the pipes, and run right into the base kitchen cabinets because the sides don't come up all the way to the frame. We can't keep anything boxed in the base cabs, we can't put most things in the uppers because the shelves are fixed and cut into the framing, I've gotten burnt trying to take a pot of boiling water off the stove to the sink (only to find someone already there, then having to do a pivot to avoid burning whoever was in my way), we can't get to some cabinets nor the dishwasher if the door to the patio is open (which I keep open often in decent weather to help vent), the stove vent (hood) doesn't vent outside - it just recycles the air right back in my face. and I can't even open the window over the sink. Ugh.

  • itsourcasa
    4 days ago

    Post a floorplan. And current photos. Moving the kitchen to a completely different room and having to start from scratch is what is making this very costly.

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    4 days ago

    You shouldn't need to budget 15% to 20% for surprises whether you're doing a remodel or new construction unless you're totally winging it or you've hired a fly-by-night type.


    You minimize the potential for surprises by investing in a well documented, complete and accurate set of plans and specifications (not the back-of-the-envelope sketch type) and choosing a contractor who takes the time and effort to perform reasonable due diligence pre-contract (ideally during design.) That involves crawling around in crawl spaces and attics, doing what can be reasonable be done to look behind walls (some investigative demolition may be necessary) to identify issues and include the cost to address them in the contract price--not as a change order during construction. You should not hear the phrases "that's not what we assumed" or "we didn't include the cost of that" or "we didn't figure it would involve all this..."

  • live_wire_oak
    4 days ago
    last modified: 4 days ago

    You’re acting as the designer. You write the entire scope of work, referencing industry standards, and specific details of the specified materials. You should have all of your materials selected, and have researched their install requirements.

    Or you hire a Kitchen Designer to create all of the documents that includes floor plans, elevations, materials, and section details.

    But yes, your dream is a 100K+ one. If that’s a no go, you can stop asking for quotes right now. And start planning for the existing kitchen to be all it can be.

  • Isaac
    4 days ago

    Post a plan (of the whole floor the kitchen is on) and we'll see what we can come up with. There are a number of talented people who can help you out for free.


    I hear your frustration. Kitchen renovations are seriously expensive. We bought our house 5+ years ago knowing the kitchen would need a gut reno, and it will still be at least a couple of years until we can do it. Meanwhile we deal with a lousy layout and crumbling materials.


  • helaurin93
    Original Author
    yesterday

    @Isaac I did post a while ago in another thread on this forum.


    This picture is from 10 years ago, showing our current layout. It's the realtor's photo from when the house was on the market. You can see all of the cabinets and kitchen storage here. The wall with the window is 10' wide. From left to right, on the bottom, you have a 24" base cabinet with a fixed half-shelf inside. 24" d/w. A 6' blind sink cabinet. Turning the corner, a 15" base cabinet (again, with a fixed half-shelf inside). 30" stove from the 1970's or early 80's. And another 15" 4-drawer base cabinet.


    In reality, we have very little countertop to do any prep on. The microwave sits on the countertop at the left. Then the coffee pot and coffee stuff (filters, coffee) are next to that. Then the paper towels (the holder in the photo failed, so now paper towels sit on the counter top too). Then there's an integrated "drain board" finishing out the space between the papertowels and sink. To the right of the sink, a blender, can opener, knife block and canister for cooking utensils takes up most of that space. Then the stove, and then a 4-slice toaster takes up most of the counter between the stove and the refrigerator. And anything that is over 7.5" tall, because it won't fit in any of the upper cabinets.


    What you don't see is that to the left, there is a wood swing-in door to the patio. When it's open - such as when the weather is good - it blocks access to the first 3' of cabinetry on the left, including the dishwasher, the only 24" base cabinet, and the first two upper cabinet doors.


    When that door is shut and someone is coming in from the patio, they have to be cautious opening it - because there's been more than a few times when I was down on the floor, trying to find a can of whatever in the base cabinet, only to end up getting whacked by the door. That base cabinet next to the sink is a nightmare. The drawer is supposedly supported by a single wood rail in the center, and it's constantly loose, so then the drawer doesn't open. You have to get down on the floor, stick your head into the cabinet, adjust the wood rail, and then open the drawer. Oh, and the cabinet side adjacent to the dishwasher? It doesn't come up all the way to enclose the actual cabinet. We can't keep anything down there that isn't in a can, especially in winter, because field mice come up the pipe from the basement, go through the sink base cabinet side (which also isn't actually fully enclosed), then either over or under the d/w, and into that left base cabinet - usually first landing in the silverware drawer. Especially in winter, we have to take out all the silverware at least weekly and clean out the drawer of mice poop. And we can only keep canned items in the base area below.


    The upper cabinets have non-adjustable shelves - the shelves are actually cut and built into the frame. Nothing over 7.5" can fit in there.... such as cereal boxes. Which we can't put cereal boxes in the base cabinet... so... cereal boxes get stuck either on the top of the refrigerator or literally on the open floor, because with five cats, the mice won't go after boxed items if they are left on the actual kitchen floor. In the base cabinets, boxed items are safe for mice to go after. Yes, we're talking field mice. Sadly, one of my dogs who would hunt both mice and snakes in our yard passed away in December of old age, but she used to take great delight in catching mice in the backyard, showing me the mouse in her teeth, and then one gulp and it was down the hatch. Our new dog, a hound, doesn't hunt. Probably one of the reasons she ended up in a shelter down south; but she's much loved here, but she's not a hunter. Which is probably a good thing for the rabbit that we found SITTING on the dog one day.


    Anyhow. Another issue with the current kitchen is the traffic flow, which cuts diagonally across the room. The open doorway from the dining room to the kitchen is on the right, next to the refrigerator. Anyone coming/going from the patio to the dining room has to cut right across the center of the kitchen. Make the mistake of coming from the dining room into the kitchen just as someone is opening the refrigerator, and you can lose your teeth when the refrigerator door whacks you in the face. My boyfriend smokes outside... so he's constantly going through the kitchen and opening the door to the patio. Add in a teenager plus friends getting stuff to eat/drink and hang out in the yard.


    Also, the proximity of the stove and sink - I can't tell you how many times I've had the "vent" (which just circulates the air in the kitchen, doesn't vent outside) on, I've been standing and cooing at the stove and then turn to dump something hot into the sink (such as boiled pasta) and had to do a fast 180-back when discovering someone is at the sink in my way. I've also been in the middle of cooking and have had someone at the sink just step back and nearly knock me over or bump me while I'm cooking. Keep in mind, from the right-most side of the sink to the left-most part of the stove, there's only 15" distance.


    So as far as uppers, we have about 42" of upper cabinets on the left. Then the window, a corner cabinet (things get lost back there), a 15" cabinet, the 30" above-stove cabinets, and another 15" cabinet.


    Somehow, I'm supposed to keep all the foodstuffs, cooking implements, baking pans, pots/pans, silverware, spices, dishware, glasses & mugs, etc. etc in that amount of storage space. It doesn't work.


    The next issue is that I'm closed off when cooking from family/guests. The dining room is also small (10'x13'). So often people hang in both the dining room and the living room - which means that people can't actually hang together, because the living room is on the opposite side of the kitchen, where there is a wall.





    Here's what I am hoping to go to, in a general sense, and why I think it's better: In the below drawing, what isn't there on the upper left corner, is a pantry closet about 3'x4'. That would give me a lot of storage for not-every-day appliances as well as larger quantity purchases from Costco & BJ's. I wouldn't expect to go into the pantry closet very often, so having the patio door open wouldn't be that much of a problem. The wall that currently divides the kitchen from the dining room would be gone, so instead of a small 10'x13' kitchen and an equally small 10'x13' dining room, we'd have a single 20'x13' combination room. Removing part of the wall that divides the kitchen from the living room would allow for better flow between the rooms. I'm not entirely sure that I like the particular cabinet sizes/layout in the drawing; for example, I would like to see the sink be larger so that two people can easily be at the sink at the same time. I do like that I could be at the refrigerator, stove or sink and I wouldn't be bothered if someone came through to use the door to the patio on the left. But the problem is that opening up the kitchen and dining room together means replacing the existing kitchen floor (laminate) and matching the hardwood floor that is through the rest of the house.





    The other thing is that I think the dining room situation would be improved. Currently, it's 10' wide. On the perpendicular (longer) wall, we have the china closet, so that takes up maybe 16" of space in parallel to the table, which is 42" wide. So those two items take up about 58" of the available 120" of space. So from the table edge to the nearest obstruction (wall or china closet), we have 31" of space including what's partially taken up by the chair. What that means though is that when anyone is sitting at the table - there is zero space to slide behind them to pass by.


    My thought is that I would use the cabinetry planned for the bottom left as my "good china" etc. area - out of the way yet still easily accessible. And for the countertop there to be a service area if hosting a gathering - an ideal place to put slow-cookers or drinks etc. (I know the plan there currently shows a tall pantry - I don't think I want that there). I'm also not married to the island design as it currently is shown, so ideas there would be nice. My original thought was to have two entry areas from the current living room, but it seems silly have to have that short wall in the center. I had hoped to have the two entrances actually closer to the left & right side so that there would be a longer wall in the center to still give some separation between the future kitchen and existing living room (also so I could put a TV on the living room side of the wall), but that apparently won't work or wouldn't look right.


    I do want to keep the plumbing along the back wall, to minimize the plumbing work needed. Yes, the sink is moving, but it's actually getting closer to the water heater and drain area, not further, so hopefully that's not too bad.


    Thoughts?

  • Isaac
    yesterday

    @helaurin93, thanks for the plan and all the details! I hear you on the bad layout and pest issues, and the lack of usable countertop space. We have all of those (not mice, but bugs) Also the fixed shelves - we have those too (circa 1950 built-in cabinets).


    I will have to mull it over. Maybe I missed it - what is on the other side of the range wall now?

  • eld6161
    yesterday

    How about waiting and saving?

    Side story: we are renovating a master bathroom. First quote $43,000.

    Second quote $33,000.


    We are GCing this project! I am lucky DH is more that capable.

    We remodeled the kitchen using a kitchen company. All said and done for our small kitchen it was over $50,000.


    I agree that the biggest nut is removing the wall and moving the plumbing.


    I have lived for years with kitchens much smaller. I have used the kitchen table as counter space.

    Used basements for storage over flow.


  • helaurin93
    Original Author
    yesterday

    @Isaac Hi Isaac, on the other side of the range wall is the current dining room, which is where we want to move more of the working kitchen functionality to. We did have a bug issue about six years ago, but I was able to nip that pretty quickly.

  • helaurin93
    Original Author
    yesterday
    last modified: yesterday

    @eld6161 I hear you about saving up first. I just feel like by the time I save anything, it's going to be years from now. Single income, grandmother raising a grandchild (she's my teenager now). Still have a mortgage and car loan. I feel like costs for kitchen renovation will increase faster than my salary or anything that I could save. I already do have to use both the garage and utility room for storage. It's not convenient, especially on days when I can only walk with a cane. Every try carrying bags of groceries or various appliances like a slow-cooker, etc while trying to navigate stairs with a cane? Maybe I'm just not all that coordinated, but it's not easy for me to do. And as I pointed out - it's also a health/safety issue driving this. We do not have a kitchen table to use as counter space. The only other flat surface would be the dining room table. Beyond the health/safety issues, it seems that we end up having to store a lot of different food items - everyone in our house eats pretty differently from each other.

  • live_wire_oak
    yesterday
    last modified: yesterday

    Maybe this isn’t the house you need to live in long term if you’re having difficulty living in it and you don’t have the money to do a big structurally involved renovation project. Maybe you live here a couple more years with a DIY Ikea kitchen of the same space, and then downsize.

    helaurin93 thanked live_wire_oak
  • helaurin93
    Original Author
    yesterday

    @live_wire_oak I was hoping to someday retire here. It's a reasonably nice area, and I definitely don't want to uproot my grandchild who has been through enough in life before landing in my house. I'll just have to figure this out somehow.

  • PRO
    ProSource Memphis
    14 hours ago
    last modified: 14 hours ago

    Navigating stairs with a cane says to skip doing any remodel on this home and find a single level smaller home. This dilemma isn’t really about “just a kitchen remodel”. It’s about so much more that you’re not really wanting to look at head on. It’s making realistic choices for the remainder of your life. That won’t involve a large home with stairs.

  • helaurin93
    Original Author
    10 hours ago

    @ProSource Memphis Navigating stairs with a cane is part of life for many people due to age and/or disabilities. While it can make certain aspects of life more challenging, it's certainly not impossible. Many people are able to remain in their homes with some challenges. I know, because my parents had the same type of house. But in 1977, my dad had a stroke and never fully recovered - he was left completely paralyzed on the right side of his body. That meant he had to use a walker to get around short distances in the house, and a cane on the stairs. For 12 years, until his death. I don't consider my home to be a "large home" - it's more of a typical 3-bedroom bi-level house... but with a bad kitchen & storage layout. There's also a scarcity of ranchers/single-story houses in my area. Just for kicks, I looked to see what's for sale. Only two - not yet built - that would be about twice as expensive as my current house.

  • Isaac
    9 hours ago

    I can only imagine how hard it is to ask for help solving a problem with your kitchen, and have a bunch of strangers in the internet suggest that instead, you should move.


    But.


    In this case I think the suggestion is worth serious consideration.


    If there are three of you in the house, a two bedroom, one level apartment or condo might be an option that would let you be rid of the mortgage, the stairs, and the kitchen. There is no shame in downsizing when circumstances warrant. And it would make your financial situation a bit more solid. I can't see things in the US getting much better economically any time soon; reducing debts and expenditures is a prudent move for just about anyone right now, but especially someone supporting others on a single salary.




    helaurin93 thanked Isaac
  • helaurin93
    Original Author
    3 hours ago

    @Isaac It would be a consideration if I was ready to retire (or lost my job with no hope of finding another one), wasn't raising a child, didn't have pets, etc., or if I was basically ready to sit around idly waiting for the grim reaper to find me.


    I'm definitely not ready to downsize. I actually envision that someday in the far future, when my teen has launched herself into adult life and flown the coop, that if anything, I might end up renting a room out to a college student.... I'm close to a university and quiet lodgings for serious students is at a premium around here. But that's in the distant future.


    There are currently three humans in the house. We also have 2 dogs and five cats, plus frequent four-legged guests from the shelter and or my teenager's pet-sitting activities. In our current setup, my bf & I have one bedroom, my teen the 2nd bedroom, the 3rd is being turned into a guest room/office, the 4th is my boyfriend's office, and a 5th room is a combination dog area and exercise area... oh yeah, and a custom 2.5'x8' enclosure for a rabbit.


    We have a new dog she's sitting for - and he's a night time barker/howler, unfortunately, which we didn't know before the owner left him with us while she travels out-of-state. He's been fed, watered, walked, petted, taken out for potty, etc. - and he's still barking right this minute.... and it's midnight. Thankfully, there's enough space between our house and neighbors that his barking doesn't upset them. I can't imagine what would happen if we lived in an apartment / condo / townhouse... let's just say, neighbors would not like us.


    Many apartments/condos have rules that would prevent us from keeping our current menagerie, let alone having additional dogs/cats. And some restrict dogs by breed and/or weight. which is a concern for me. Our most recently adopted dog weighs about 70 pounds and is training to be a service dog for my teen.


    I especially selected the township I'm in because the real estate property taxes are relatively low while still having good schools (significantly above the state average in terms of academics). But, for the sake of argument.... I looked to see about any single-level properties in our township for sale. Most of the houses in my area are 2 or 3 stories. I found only one single-level property... listed for about $30,000 MORE than my house is valued at - probably because it can be zoned either residential or commercial and it's on a busy highway. Although it is about 1/3rd smaller too. So while "downsizing" - the cost would go up.


    We also are having another grandchild stay over periodically. There's enough of an age difference (10 years) between the one I'm already raising and this one that if she stays over often, they should each have their own room. I also need a separate room to use as an office - I work 90% from home and have client meetings using MS teams, webex, etc.


    Like I said.... maybe 10-15 years from now, downsizing might make sense - presuming I'm not raising anyone at that time, hopefully by then I'll be retired, etc. Just not ready to essentially prepare to roll over and wait for death just yet. :)

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