Real Estate

A kitchen remodel recipe: four things to consider when redoing your cooking space

By From page C11 | October 26, 2012

Remodel or Move

You’ve wanted to remodel your kitchen for a while, and you can’t stop thinking about quartz countertops, tiled backsplashes, a built-in wall oven, custom-made cabinets, and more. Guess what? You’re not alone.

For the first time since 2008, kitchens have overtaken bathrooms as the number one remodeling project for homeowners. According to Dan Fritschen, that’s good news, because it means that “luxury” is returning to what has been a tighter-budget, more “practical” remodeling market (think adding a new bathroom because of an expanding family’s needs).

However, Fritschen says, before you start ripping up your old linoleum and shopping for stainless steel appliances, it’s smart to think about why a kitchen remodel is considered a “luxury.”

“Redoing a kitchen is not something I’d advise doing on a whim,” shares Fritschen, founder of “Not only do kitchens cost more than any other type of room to build or remodel, they also typically take the most time to complete and can totally disrupt a family’s sense of comfort and routines.”

Think about it: For weeks or even months, you might be without a sink, a range, a dishwasher, and more. You may have to move your refrigerator and microwave to another room, and use a bathroom or utility room sink to wash up. As a result, you’ll be eating out (a lot), or putting the backyard grill to heavy use. And all the while, your house will be full of workmen, and your bank account will definitely be taking a hit.

“Now, I’m not trying to discourage you from remodeling your kitchen, because the results can be more than worth the inconvenience,” says Fritschen. “And the inconvenience can definitely be minimized through good planning. I’m just suggesting that you carefully consider the project before pulling the trigger…then consider it again for good measure.”

Fortunately, you’re not alone when it comes to making the big decision.

“There are several new — and free — tools available online at,” shares Fritschen, “and they’re all designed to help you minimize stress and get the best results.”

If you’re in the consideration — or even early planning — stage of a kitchen remodel, read on for more of Fritschen’s experience-tested advice:

• Decide if remodeling is right for you. Find out using the instant, free Should You Remodel? Calculator at If remodeling were as easy as daydreaming about your dream kitchen, every family would have a stylish, cutting-edge cooking space. In the real world, though, you have to consider a multitude of variables: Can we comfortably pay for this remodel? Is my family emotionally ready to deal with the disruption and construction? What changes do we want to make, exactly? And don’t forget: Would it be easier or less expensive to move to a new home instead?

“Any type of remodeling project can seem complicated, especially if you’ve never updated your home before,” points out Fritschen. “At Remodel or Move, we’ve tried to simplify your decision-making by developing two free tools: The Should You Remodel? Calculator asks twenty questions that cover personal preference as well as hard numbers, then generates a recommendation. Along the same lines, the Remodel or Move Calculator can help you figure out if remodeling or looking for a new house is a wiser option. And overall, the website can help you formulate a well-organized game plan before you get your hands dirty, which can save you time and money in the long run.”

• Get a cost estimate. Get an instant Remodeling Cost Estimate using the free online calculators at Once you have determined that remodeling your kitchen is something that you and your family want to do, it’s time to get a more accurate cost estimate for the project. Make sure not to neglect this step because you don’t want to be stuck with a half-finished kitchen and no more money. It’s much better to put the project on hold for six months or a year while you pad your savings.

“It’s so important to start early,” advises Fritschen. “Not only do you want to allow yourself plenty of time to plan financially, you can also use the time to compare prices and look for sales on everything from appliances to countertops to cabinetry to make sure your kitchen remodel is as budget-friendly as possible.”

• Make organization a top priority. If you’re the type to throw dirty laundry on the bedroom floor and let mail sit on the coffee table for months at a time, don’t let those tendencies carry over into planning and overseeing your kitchen remodel. You’ll be dealing with a thousand tiny details, ranging from paint colors to cabinet door hinge model numbers to floor plans and more, and letting any one of them fall through the cracks could mean extra expense, delays, and/or dissatisfaction. Fortunately, says Fritschen, Remodel or Move’s Search Tool and Idea File are there to make sure that doesn’t happen.

On the web at or on your iPhone at

“These systems allow you to search through millions of photos by, for instance, cabinet type, style, and even color on your search for inspiration,” he explains. “When you find something you like, you can save it to your personal Idea File, along with notes, comments, and ratings. You can even take pictures with your smartphone and upload them, so if you find the perfect sink while shopping alone, you can show it to your spouse without having to drag him or her back out to the store. Again, it’s best to get started on selecting ideas and designing your new kitchen as early as possible so that you can envision everything as a cohesive unit, and so that you have time to change your mind.”

• Bring in the experts. Yes, the DIY movement is popular and thriving, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t provide your own labor for some aspects of your remodel … if you feel comfortable doing so. But chances are, you’ll also want some expert advice and help to make sure you’re completely satisfied with the finished product. (And unless you happen to be a plumber, electrician, or carpenter, you’ll probably need to bring in the professionals at some point.)

Find an architect Find a contractor at

“On the front end, you may find that talking about your options with a real estate agent, interior designer, architect, mortgage banker, contractor, etc. can help you understand the true costs and benefits of remodeling, and also help you plan efficiently,” Fritschen says. “When it comes to actually hiring some of these individuals, I have some good news: Today’s low interest rates and relatively low demand means that remodeling is ‘on sale’ compared to prices five years ago. Keep in mind that the more organized your plan is, the more tempting you’ll be. The best of the best will want to work with you.

“If you approach your kitchen remodel with an eye for cost-effectiveness and organization, not only will you have a gorgeous new space to cook in, you might even increase the value of your home,” Fritschen concludes.

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