Don’t let inflation spoil your kitchen renovation

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Maybe you’ve just bought a house, or maybe you’ve had your house for decades and love everything about it — except for the extremely outdated kitchen, built before the days of marble top counters, stainless steel appliances, and kitchen islands. Renovating your kitchen can get expensive fast, but with inflation, materials cost even more than usual, so it can be tougher to control expenses.

Luckily, there are a few strategies you can use to get the updates you crave, without emptying your pockets.

Related: How Much Does it Cost to Remodel a House?

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1. Setting A Budget

Like most people, you probably already have a budget in mind. That’s a good start, but even with a spending limit in place, it’s smart to use a tool like this home renovation cost calculator to get an estimate of what your kitchen reno will ultimately cost, and make sure your budget will truly cover it. These calculators allow you to choose from basic to extremely bespoke changes, and they consider the cost of labor and raw material, generally with a 20% margin for the contractors. (And contractors can cost much more than you may expect!)

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2. Being Flexible

Be flexible about your upgrades. It’s not uncommon to have to cut back on some of your plans due to price hikes, sold out materials or surprise developments during construction. Expect to make compromises. If your dream project begins to get pricey, consider focusing on just one or two aspects of your reno that are most important to you, and saving other changes for another time.

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3. Getting Creative

To keep your costs down, try thinking outside the box. Say the countertop you really want is way out of your budget. Perhaps your contractor may know where to find salvaged materials at a deep discount. Or the cabinets you had your eye on have jumped in price. Opting to reface instead of replace your existing cabinetry could be a reasonable, cost-effective approach. Being open to these kinds of options can really help keep your spending in check.

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4. Doing It Yourself

DIY can be a great way to keep inflation from ruining your kitchen budget … if you know what you’re doing. There are millions of how-to videos online with detailed instructions on everything from putting in new flooring to installing sinks. One of the largest costs of any renovation is labor, and you can reap some significant savings by doing some of the things yourself, and saving the really hard stuff for a contractor. Keep in mind, though, that taking on tasks outside of your abilities could end up costing you in the end, so be realistic about what projects you can handle and which are better left to the professionals.

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5. Considering Temporary Fixes

Can you update your cabinets and countertops with removable materials? Or perhaps a new coat of paint and some new pulls? Peel and stick wallpaper has become particularly popular due to its variety and flexibility. It comes in countless prints from wood grain to marble, and can be used as a backsplash, on countertops, kitchen cabinets, and yes, walls. Incorporating one of these simple changes can give your kitchen a fast and financially friendly refresh.

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6. Renovating vs Remodeling

Yes, there’s a difference, and the distinction is important. If you are remodeling, you are changing the physical space, breaking down walls, removing cabinetry, etc. Remodels are almost always more labor intensive, require more materials, possibly permits, and definitely more of your contractor’s time, so they are almost always more expensive, even without inflation. Renovating, however, means you are updating what already exists. In this scenario, it’s often easier to pick your battles — keep the cabinets but change the countertop, for instance.

So, if you really want to keep costs down, you may want to consider renovating cosmetic features instead of remodeling.

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7. Consider a Loan

If you can’t wait to renovate but don’t have all the cash you need, you could consider getting a personal loan to cover the costs. If you’ve made enough mortgage payments, tapping into your home equity could be another option for funding your project. There are both benefits and drawbacks to borrowing so be sure to read the fine print, keep a close eye on interest rates and do your best to keep your project on track and under budget.

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8. Increase Your ROI

Tapping into a mortgage refi or getting a personal loan might seem risky, but it can make sense if you’ve considered how much your home improvement may boost the value of your home when it comes time to sell it. Using a home improvement ROI calculator can help you estimate how much value you can add to your home after a renovation or remodel.

Another metric you may want to consider is the return on investment, for a particular project. Boosting your curb appeal — that is, the exterior of the house — can give you the most bang for your buck. So can things like replacing a garage door, sprucing up the yard and landscaping, and even painting the exterior of the house. And even a minor kitchen renovation can boost your home’s value, potentially offsetting any inflation costs you may incur.

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9. Choosing The Right Contractor

Once you’ve decided what you want to do and what you can afford, it’s time to find a good contractor to execute your vision. This one decision can make or break the entire project, so it’s wise to ask for personal referrals. If that’s not an option, you can always search the top-reviewed contractors in your area. And just like comparing prices at the grocery store, getting estimates from at least three contractors can help you save.

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The Takeaway

Inflation might be sky high right now, but it doesn’t have to stop you from having the kitchen of your dreams. Whether you are going for a full remodel or a few cosmetic changes, there are ways to update the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank.

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