5 Things to Know About a DIY Kitchen Remodel

5 years ago

What's the grandmama of home remodeling? A kitchen overhaul. Tempted to do one yourself? Here's what you need to know.

Doing as many steps of your kitchen remodel yourself can save you tens of thousands of dollars. I looked up the cost versus the value of remodeling our kitchen on Remodeling magazine's website. You can sort by area of the country, and if you're in a large enough market, like I am, you can even find your own city. Apparently, a midrange major kitchen remodel like what we are attempting normally costs $53,666 and adds $33,673 to your home's resale value. We're not spending even half that much, and we're not going anywhere. I'm here to tell you that if you are at all handy, you can probably do a DIY kitchen remodel for a lot less than the national average, especially if you don't replace all your appliances and aren't afraid of a crowbar. However, managing your own remodel brings with it its own host of headaches and expenses, and here they are.

The Disappearing Contractor

"I'll be back in a week." They say that on Monday. You assume they mean they'll be back in a seven-day week, the following Monday. But Monday comes, and goes, melting into Tuesday and possibly even Wednesday while you track enough dirt into your carpeting to grow tomatoes waiting for the return of the tile guys. Without a general contractor, you're the one who has to track and manage any contractors who are doing parts of your remodel you can't do yourself.

Credit Image: brianc on Flickr


How Much You Really Do Need Your Kitchen Sink

During our kitchen remodel, we lost our kitchen sink for two weeks. That's two weeks of not being able to rinse a bowl without a garden hose or clogging a bathroom sink drain. Two weeks of walking to another room altogether to put water in a coffee pot. Two weeks of staring at the healthy food in your refrigerator that needs to be steamed, boiled or otherwise prepared with water and ordering pizza ... again. (Your taste buds thank you. Your thighs scream curses.)

Credit Image: papalars on Flickr


Where Is That ... ?

After getting home late from a meeting, I spent forty minutes looking for a jar of peanut butter. The next day, I bought another jar. The day after that, I found three jars in the 76 paper sacks in my office filled with the contents of our pantry. As the bags are moved again and again and again in an attempt to walk through the room, we completely lost track of where anything is. I sure hope nothing is, um, molding. Because all the food has been in those bags now for a month.

Credit Image: stevendepolo on Flickr


Where Your Floor Really Ends

If your house has had more than one owner, chances are your floor does not end where you think it does. Is it carpet on top of hard wood? Or maybe linoleum on top of linoleum? Tile on top of lineoleum? You won't know until you get all the way down. If you're trying to lay down a new surface, you'll want all the levels to be the same height, which might involve prying up more than you bargained for. Give yourself time to figure out where it all ends.

Credit Image: Shawn Henning on Flickr


Budget for Not Cooking

This one has really been the biggest issue for us. We budgeted pretty close for the remodel itself, but normally we only eat out once or twice a week. During the course of the remodel we have cooked as much as possible, but after losing the kitchen sink, the fast food, take-out and better quality restaurant meals have our bank account crying for mercy. We have been so diligent about eating at home for health and frugality in the past six months I truly forgot how much it cots to eat out all the time. If you're going to do a major remodel, plan for at least two to three weeks during which you'll be hitting even the deli at your grocery store way more often than you think.

Credit Image: Patrick Feller on Flickr

Despite the inconveniences, I'm shocked at how much money you can save by doing as much as possible yourself when remodeling.Have you remodeled a kitchen? What did I miss?

Rita Arens is the author of the young adult novel The Obvious Game & the senior editor of BlogHer. Find more at www.surrenderdorothyblog.com.