Read on for expert tips on budgeting for your kitchen renovation and take control of expensive surprises
Houzz UK Contributor. LWK Kitchens are a design-led German Kitchen specialist based… More
A budget might be one of the first things you think of when it comes to planning for a new kitchen, but have you factored in all those unexpected ‘hidden’ costs? Sometimes, it’s only after starting that the need for additional works, such as new plumbing or rewiring, becomes apparent and these discoveries can lead to delays, which can also cost money. And what about things like parking for your contractors, or the cost of living on microwave meals for weeks?
Experts advise putting aside 10-15% of your budget as a contingency, and this is sensible advice. However, in the hope of eliminating alarming surprises, check out these 10 costs you might not have considered.
Not sticking to regulations
For any new work, it’s important to establish whether or not you need Planning Permission and how Building Regulations will affect your project.
It might be that you’re planning an extension, which will need to conform to certain size or height restrictions, or making electrical changes, which will need to meet Building Regulations. Before parting with cash for your new kitchen, speak to an expert, either your designer, your architect or someone at the local council, and consult the Government’s Planning Portal to find out what you need to know before investing too much in your new kitchen.
Not doing so will mean you’ll run the risk of your project not meeting regulations and facing additional costs and upheaval for modifications later on. In the worst case scenario, you could even have to take it down entirely and lose all the work, time and money that was spent.
Do you need Planning Permission for that? Work out what you can and can’t do
Kitchen design charges
Some kitchen companies charge for design time or the release of your kitchen plans to you. This might be as much as a few hundred pounds. So when first approaching kitchen companies, always enquire about any associated design costs before proceeding.
It’s important to recognise that by committing to a company’s design costs, you’re being encouraged to proceed with them, especially if the money you’re spending is redeemable against a confirmed order.
But is this really the right reason to proceed with a given company? What if, after you’ve paid, you aren’t 100% sold on their designs? It’s far better to have the freedom to shop around different companies until you get the exact design, product and service you feel is best for you and your home.
Planning for a new kitchen requires far more work than simply ripping out and replacing an old one. Depending on your home’s age and the requirements of your new kitchen’s layout, you may need to replace all existing electrical work and all pipework. You’ll also need a nice new layer of clean and even plaster on the walls.
It’s worth getting several quotes and choosing a reliable contractor for these preparation works, but be aware that sometimes this work can throw up unwelcome surprises and further costs. This might be damp; your walls not being fit for purpose, or electrics that don’t conform to Building Regulations. Some of these you have no way of knowing about prior to taking the kitchen out, and this is usually where that 10-15% contingency budget comes in extremely handy.
Read this complete guide to project managing your kitchen renovation
Never underestimate the cost of your own time! In the initial stages, this might be hours spent visiting showrooms, talking to designers and obtaining quotes from different suppliers and contractors.
Once the work begins, are you going to be there every day to let people into your home and oversee what’s going on, or do you plan to give keys to your works team, allowing you to keep to your usual daily pattern? The latter is obviously less disruptive for you, but, to feel comfortable with this, you’ll need to discuss the idea at the initial stages of your project, so you know what and who to expect at your home.
If you do plan to be home for the project’s duration, factor in the cost of either using up holiday allowance or taking unpaid leave if necessary. If you’re your own boss, factor in the likely reduction in productivity, and be realistic about whether this could have a financial impact.
Living without a kitchen
Don’t forget that during the course of your project, there will be a period of time during which you’ll have to live without a working kitchen. How long for depends on the size of the project and personal circumstances, but typically this means having to make other arrangements for meals. This often results in eating out, going to friends’ houses or buying food on a day-to-day basis (rather than putting food in the fridge) and living on more expensive microwave ready-meals.
Sometimes families will choose the cost of a hotel or deliberately arrange a holiday while works are progressing.
A further cost can be that of looking after pets during disruption to normal routines. Many families will include the cost of kennels during their budgeting, ensuring they can keep pets safely out of the way of ongoing works, and also to stop them being frightened by loud noises.
Browse photos of white kitchens
Meeting safety requirements
When replacing appliances, it may not be as simple as making a like-for-like swap. New appliances often require a higher electrical loading, so a new fuse board may be required in order for them to work.
Equally, if it’s found that something doesn’t meet electrical regulations during the renovation, your contractor will recommend you replace it, so, depending on the age of your home, you might need a new fuse board anyway. Be sure to discuss all this up front, so you can factor in potential costs.
You may also be faced with similar issues to do with plumbing or structural damage from an earlier renovation that needs to be repaired. Again – be prepared!
A lot of homeowners opt for new flooring along with their new kitchen, but if you’re planning to keep your existing floor, do you know what condition it’s in underneath your appliances and units? You could be in for a surprise.
One client discovered a large cutout in her wood flooring, made to accommodate a wine fridge she wasn’t keeping. This was only discovered upon removal of the old appliances. The newly planned kitchen layout would leave the cutout exposed, yet she had none of the original flooring spare with which to fill the hole. Fortunately, the fitters were able to reposition the cabinetry to cover the hole, but if it wasn’t for this, she would have had to replace the entire kitchen floor.
This does not just apply for cabinetry: reconfiguring a room’s layout can also expose gaps, for example if a wall is removed.
Consider, also, your ceiling: a new layout will generally require new positions for light fittings and, quite often, more light fittings than you already have. Be sure not only to factor in these fittings, but also be aware that the ceiling will need making good where old lights were positioned.
Works vehicles will require access to your home. If you live in a metered area, you should check with your kitchen supplier in the initial planning stages to clarify whose responsibility it is to cover the costs of parking for the duration of the project (and beyond, in case there are unforeseen delays). This could could quickly add up, whether you’re organising for bays to be suspended, topping up meters or stocking up on visitor permits.
In most areas, tradespeople can apply for trade permits, but you need to establish whether this applies. Typically, you’ll need to cover the cost of two vehicles parked close to your home.
This has already been touched upon: unexpected problems may well come to light once works start, and not only will these potentially incur extra cost to fix, but also a longer project.
This is particularly so if you have a large project where delays mean trades having to reschedule, and often when they are already heavily booked up for the weeks and months ahead.
For example, you might discover damp or water damage beneath your existing cabinets, which needs addressing before the new kitchen is installed. It may even require a damp specialist at extra cost. This will, of course, also knock the overall project off schedule, incurring more of the costs – parking, time, dinners and so on – already outlined.
The last cost on this list might surprise you, but one of the biggest hidden costs can actually be you. While it’s your prerogative to change your mind during your project, you need to bear in mind that if you do this at a later stage, it may cost you.
If you decide on a different worktop, for example, after the original choice has already been cut to size, you’ll have to pay for both. Other items may be returnable, but it’s worth finding out which aren’t in advance.
Alternatively, you might decide on different appliances after yours have already been ordered and delivered, in which case a restocking fee may apply.
You can reduce the risk of all this happening by working with a good designer, who will take the time from the very early stages to work through all the options with you thoroughly, so you only sign off on the final design once you’re fully aware of everything that’s being ordered and are entirely happy with your choices.
Your relationship with your designer can be absolutely key to the final result.
Have you encountered other unexpected costs during a kitchen renovation? Share your experiences and tips in the Comments below.