Remodeling your kitchen
Minor renovations average $14,773, while major renovation projects average $43,213,
according to 2002 figures from Remodeling magazine, an industry publication.
Value added: With a minor job, homeowners typically get
88 percent of their renovation dollar back at resale, according to Remodeling.
But the figure drops to 81 percent for a major project.
Popularity as remodel target: Ranks third in the number
of projects -- but second in terms of money spent, according to the National
Association of the Remodeling Industry.
New trends: Kitchens are becoming the heart of the home,
a place where the family spends time, as well as a place to entertain. In older
houses, homeowners are knocking out walls to open the kitchen to the living
"We're seeing people invest $20,000, just in appliances,"
says Mark A. Brick, president-elect of NARI.
Look for: restaurant-quality appliances made for residential
use, especially in stainless steel or with cabinet fronts; convection ovens;
easy-to-clean cook tops with a multitude of burners, griddles, etc; dishwashers
and food warmers in drawers, sometimes multiple units in multiple locations.
Also hot: recessed lighting, cabinet lighting, task lighting
and under the counter lighting, perhaps with a master control panel; granite,
solid surface or stainless countertops; wood, laminate or limestone floors;
natural wood cabinets, especially cherry, maple and oak. For an eclectic look,
homeowners are mixing and matching different counter and cabinet materials.
Features to consider: Who does the cooking and how much
will he or she use the room? Will more than one person be in the kitchen at
once? Does the area have other uses like a computer or study nook for the kids?
Determine the features that will take the biggest beating, usually
floors and countertops. "If you have a limited amount of money to spend,
spend it there," says M M "Mike" Weiss, certified graduate remodeler
and chairman of the Remodelors Council of the National Association of Home Builders.
"It's very important to have a professional designer to design
your kitchen," says Don Sever, certified remodeler, and marketing committee
chairman for NARI. "Almost every home center has professional kitchen designers
on staff, and they will do a free or lower-cost kitchen design. For higher-end
[projects], a paid kitchen designer will get a better result."
Remodeling suggestions and helpful hints: With granite
counters, using a 3/4-inch or 7/8-inch thickness instead of the conventional
1 1/2-inches will drop the price $1,000 on an average kitchen, making it comparable
to a mid-range, solid-surface product, says Darius Baker, certified kitchen
and bath remodeler and a committee vice chairman for NARI
Want to save your back or make it easier to stay in the home as
you age? Think about raising appliances, like dishwashers, four to five inches
so that you don't have to bend quite so far to use them, says Julius Lowenberg,
president of NARI.
Sometimes, homeowners pack the kitchen with so many cabinets,
there's no room for heating ducts, which can produce a very uninviting space,
especially in colder climes. Boston-based Tom Silva, the general contractor
for PBS's "This Old House," recommends using radiant heat under the
floors and granite counters. "It's very effective. It costs a little more,
but it makes the [heating unit] disappear."
New products: "Technology is becoming much more pervasive,"
said Larry Spangler, CEO of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Look
for refrigerators with computers to track supplies; computers for recipes and
e-mail built into counters and a host of "smart" appliances, among
them Whirlpool's Polara, a refrigerated range which keeps dinner cold until
a preset time, then starts cooking at a pre-selected temperature. And check
out: wine storage coolers that chill reds, whites and champagnes at different
Other new items: quartz countertops, concrete countertops
and bamboo flooring, says Nina Patel, a senior editor at Remodeling.
Special problems: Look at the space between your three
main work areas: stove, refrigerator and sink/dishwasher, says Lowenberg. With
a good design, you should be able to move easily between them.
The popular kitchen island needs at least 42 inches on either
side to make it workable, says Baker. Too many people, he says, "are just
trying to jam them in there."
Biggest mistake: The $80,000 kitchen "where someone
located a dangling light fixture 7 inches from where a cabinet door swings out,"
says Jim Cory, a senior editor with Remodeling. "It would have cost a lot
of money to fix, so the owner decided to live with it." Lesson: make sure
you, and your contractor, do enough preplanning.
Professional or DIY: Several areas of kitchen remodeling
mark it as one room where it may really pay to hire a pro. "Some faucets
will require different-sized piping," says Baker. Building codes for electrical
wiring are specific, he says, including the number of circuits, the distance
between outlets and which appliances require dedicated circuits. And if you
don't set cabinets plumb and level, you will have problems setting countertops,
which could crack as a result.
Got the do-it-yourself itch? Stick to something you can complete
in a weekend, like tiling the floor, adding Formica counters or installing a
fan, says Lowenberg. Stay away from anything structural or electrical.
-- Posted: July 1, 2003