How much can I expect to spend on a kitchen renovation?
$25,000 is a solid starting point for the cost of a basic kitchen renovation in New York City, according to Sweeten, a free service that matches homeowners with the best vetted general contractors for their renovation. Plenty depends on how high-end and customized you want to go, but there are some easy rules of thumb to keep in mind when estimating your costs. (Note: Less than that and you may be looking at handyman-quality work, setting yourself up for cost overruns, or dealing with unlicensed and uninsured teams.)
Start by dividing your spending into two categories—the cost of materials and the cost of the actual work.
Materials and appliances
These are the costs you can control a bit more and adjust depending on your budget and taste. Keep in mind that kitchen renovations in NYC generally fall within the $25,000 to $40,000 range, but can go much higher depending on finish levels. If you're doing a higher-end renovation, the added value is just as much in the infrastructure and precise, custom design as it is in the quality (and price!) of the appliances themselves. Here are the big expenses:
• Appliances: For the stove, fridge, and dishwasher, expect to spend anywhere from $400 to $3,000 on each. Sinks tend to run between $150 and $2,000, and faucet fixtures between $40 and $1,200.
• Backsplash: You can spend anywhere from $3 per square foot for cheaper options like subway or penny backsplash tile, and up to $35 per square foot (or more) for higher-end options like stone or marble finish.
• Countertops: Here, prices can go from below $10 per square foot for laminate counters to between $50 and $125 per square foot for certain tile, wood, and recycled glass options to between $100 to $300 per square foot (or more!) for materials like acrylic, stone, granite, and marble.
• Hardware & lighting: Details like drawer and cabinet pulls can be purchased for a few dollars apiece, whereas lighting fixture options can range from $25 for something simple like a basic flush mount to thousands of dollars if you're going for a high-design statement piece.
• Cabinets: There's a similarly wide range of options in the world of cabinets, where you can expect to spend $600 to $2,000 per linear square foot for stock and made-to-order cabinets like those from Ikea, Lowe's, and Home Depot. Custom cabinetry runs $1,000-$2,000 per linear square foot and is usually the most expensive element of a high-end kitchen renovation, lending a tailored look and the opportunity to maximize every square inch of storage space. Material also affects price: MDF cabinets are the least costly, while veneer cabinets and wood veneer cabinets are next in line. Cabinets will be cheaper if you opt for melamine interiors, though plywood tends to be more durable in the long run. As for finishes, you'll pay $6 per square foot for cabinets that are brush painted, and $15 per square foot if they're spray-painted.
"When planning a kitchen renovation, it's helpful to separate your 'must-haves' from your 'nice-to-haves,'" explains Sweeten founder and CEO Jean Brownhill. "Doing that allows you to see where you should be holding tight to budget versus splurging. Taking down a non-structural wall and creating an open floor plan between the kitchen and living room was a ‘must-have’ for this Brooklyn renovation."
This is where things get a little more complex. Regardless of your taste and style, the plumbing, electrical, and cabinetry work that go into even the most basic kitchen renovations necessitate some less-visible steps that are costly but important. Your co-op or condo building's requirements and the current state of your kitchen will also factor into the cost of the design and prep work. Consider your renovation in three distinct phases, each with its own costs:
Design: This is the planning phase, where you, your contractor and your architect (if you are working with one) decide on layout, plumbing, cabinetry and counter specs, lighting, and appliances, and you make a final call on your materials for backsplash, flooring, sink, and hardware. Your building probably also requires your contractor to carry a certain amount of insurance coverage; as a rule, the more steep the requirements, the pricier the contractor to cover this overhead.
Prep: A significant amount of work will be necessary to make sure your kitchen is ready for all of its new upgrades. First and foremost, you'll need to strip the walls and flooring to level the floor and frame the walls before starting a cabinet, tile, and counter installation. This process can often average $4,000, though if your place is brand new or your subfloor is concrete, it'll likely cost a bit less. Your contractor may find that plumbing and electrical systems behind the walls are old or sub-par; updates here run $2,000 to $3,500 for plumbing, on top of city permits (think $2,000 for plumbing and $900 for electrical).
Installation: Appliances are often installed as part of the purchase price or with an added delivery and installation fee. As for the rest of the labor involved in your new cabinets, countertop, backsplash, and floors, you'll negotiate directly with your contractor to determine the team needed to manage your kitchen's size and the amount of custom work involved.
Bottom line? If you choose the right contractor and nail down all the costs you expect to encounter ahead of time, you are well on your way to a smooth remodel—and the kitchen of your dreams.
Named “Best Contractor Locator" by New York Magazine, Sweeten is an award-winning, free platform that matches homeowners with the best general contractors for their renovation, with support from start to finish.