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5 Hidden Costs of Kitchen Remodeling

When planning a kitchen remodel, it’s important to have a predictable budget that you can rely on.  Yet, amidst the excitement of transforming your home, it’s possible you may encounter hidden costs that threaten to derail your kitchen remodeling ambitions, leading to budget overruns and unexpected challenges.

As one of Portland’s most trusted remodeling companies, Lamont Bros. Design & Construction has witnessed firsthand the intricacies and challenges of kitchen renovations. We’ve helped hundreds of homeowners learn how to plan for and avoid hidden costs during their kitchen remodeling projects. In fact, over the last five years, the difference between our original contract price and final project cost has varied by less than 5% per project.

In this article, we’ll discuss 5 of the most common hidden costs that homeowners encounter when remodeling their kitchen. After reading it, you’ll be armed with essential insights so you can plan effectively and avoid these hidden costs. We’ll explore:

1. Makeup Air for New Gas Ranges and Hoods

Kitchen remodeling projects often inspire homeowners to upgrade their appliances, aiming for modern aesthetics and functionality. One such sought-after upgrade is a gas range, favored for its precision heat control. If you choose to put a gas range in your kitchen, that triggers a chain of other necessities to accommodate its presence. This often includes a more powerful range hood, and, in some cases, a makeup air system.

What is Makeup Air?

Makeup air refers to a system that draws in fresh, outdoor air to replace the air that is exhausted by a ventilation system. As a kitchen’s range hood extracts smoke, steam, and cooking odors, it creates negative pressure in the home. If not balanced, this can lead to several problems, including combustion gasses being sucked back into the home due to a phenomenon known as “back-drafting.”

Diagram of a makeup air system by Fantech

Why New Gas Ranges and Hoods Require Makeup Air

Modern gas ranges, especially large ones, require hoods with increased airflow capabilities. Many new gas ranges suggest a hood that exhausts between 300-600 cubic feet per minute (CFM). A CFM rating above 400 requires that the kitchen have a makeup air system.

This requirement ensures the safe and efficient operation of both the range and the hood. Without makeup air, homes can face issues like smoke buildup, negative pressure, and even dangerous backdrafts of smoke and carbon monoxide.

The Costs Involved

Setting up a makeup air system can add $3,000 to $7,000 to a kitchen remodeling project. For many homeowners, the introduction of makeup air comes at an unexpected cost, especially when the focus has solely been on the aesthetic and functional upgrade of the gas range and hood.

2. Lead & Asbestos Removal:

Kitchen renovations may also reveal the presence of hazardous materials in your home. Two of the most alarming discoveries homeowners may encounter are lead and asbestos—commonly used in homes built before the 1980s.

What are Lead and Asbestos?

**Asbestos**, a naturally occurring fibrous mineral, was a favored construction material because of its fire and heat resistance. Similarly, **lead**, a heavy metal, was frequently used in paints for its durability.

Both substances, though advantageous for building, have been found to carry serious health risks. Asbestos inhalation can cause severe respiratory diseases and cancer. Meanwhile, lead poisoning, especially in children, can result in developmental issues and other health problems.

Because lead is commonly found in interior paint, it can release lead dust while your kitchen is under construction. Similarly, asbestos in floor tiling and wall plaster can also release hazardous particles into the air during demolition.

Removal and Remediation:

The removal of these hazardous materials must be done by professionals.

For asbestos, specialists encapsulate or seal the contaminated area to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne in the home. The asbestos is then packaged for safe removal and transported off-site to a safe disposal facility.

For lead, remediation typically involves safely stripping away the old paint and disposing of it. In other cases, the lead paint may be sealed to its surface by painting over it.

Cost Implications:

The costs can vary based on the size of the area and the severity of the contamination.

For basic remediation that involves minimal material removal, costs can be as low as $1,500. For more severe remediation projects that require more planning and larger amounts of material removal, the cost could increase to over $10,000.

It’s important to always consult a professional for accurate estimates tailored to your specific situation.

3. Flooring Changes

When designing their kitchen remodel, homeowners often get inspired to alter the overall layout, including the placement of cabinetry, appliances, or even the overall configuration. While these adjustments can improve the functionality and appeal of your kitchen, they also can introduce hidden remodeling costs related to flooring.

Why Flooring Changes Can Complicate Your Remodel

The simple decision to move a kitchen island a few feet or introduce a new walkway can uncover areas of mismatched or absent flooring. This occurs especially in homes where the current floor was installed after the kitchen cabinets and appliances went in.

In such cases, homeowners are often faced with a dilemma: try to add new flooring in that space to match their current flooring or otherwise completely re-floor the entire kitchen.

Flooring can carry some hidden costs for kitchen remodeling
Installing new floors can cost several thousand dollars.

Challenges of Matching Existing Flooring

Every flooring type has its own set of challenges. It’s common for laminate and LVP manufacturers to discontinue styles and colors every few years, making it tough to find an exact match. Hardwood flooring, on the other hand, can be especially tricky as wood changes color over time due to sun exposure, wear, and other factors. This can make color matching the stain very difficult, even if you know the stain color that was originally used.

Matching new wood to old often requires the expertise of a specialist who can find the closest wood species and use stains to make newer wood planks match the older ones. This meticulous process can be time-consuming and, consequently, expensive.

Cost Implications

Depending on the size and complexity of the patch, lacing in new laminate or LVP flooring can range from $200 to $800. If you decide to sand and re-finish the entire floor, that cost can escalate significantly, ranging from $2,000-$7,000. If you need to refinish or replace the entire flooring on that level because it is discontinued or is a wood that you want to match, it can escalate over $10,000.

4. Cabinet Costs: Custom vs. Semi-Custom

Kitchen cabinets play a pivotal role in determining the style and functionality of a remodel. But when homeowners wade into the world of cabinetry choices, they quickly find that those waters can get deep—and expensive. One decision that homeowners often don’t realize can have a tremendous impact on their final cost is the choice between custom and semi-custom cabinets.

What is the Difference Between Custom and Semi-Custom Cabinets?

Custom cabinets are tailor-made to fit your exact specifications, including size, materials, finishes, and cabinet features and functions. They offer homeowners the most flexibility in design but come with a higher price tag due to the craftsmanship and unique materials involved.

While not entirely bespoke, semi-custom cabinets offer a mix of standard and custom features. They typically start with a standard base cabinet size and offer some customizable selection in size, finishes, and hardware. This gives homeowners a degree of flexibility while also benefiting from a more standardized manufacturing process.

Custom cabinetry affords flexibility at the expense of added cost

Factors Driving Up the Cost of Custom Cabinets

Material & Finish: A wider selection of wood species, finishes, and door styles all contribute to the higher cost of custom cabinetry.

Craftsmanship: Because each one is built to order, custom cabinets require skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail. Custom cabinets require more labor to construct, resulting in higher cost.

Custom Features: Features such as pull-out shelves, drawer organizers, soft-close doors, and specialized compartments can further add to the total cost.

Installation: While installation is a factor for any type of cabinets, custom-built cabinetry can be often require more labor due to their unique specifications.

Cost Implications

Many homeowners begin a kitchen remodel expecting to only need standard or semi-custom cabinetry. However, they often discover during the design process that their needs or expectations are more aligned with the freedom and flexibility of custom cabinets.

For example, in a small kitchen with limited space, every bit of storage counts. By using semi-custom, standard-sized cabinets in a space like this, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll end up using filler pieces and wasting valuable space. It’s also possible that you won’t be able to include some of the cabinet features you had hoped for.

Generally, semi-custom cabinets can start at $350 per linear foot, while custom cabinets begin around $500 per linear foot and can exceed $1,200 per linear foot. This means that making the jump to fully custom cabinetry could more than triple your cabinet costs.

For a kitchen with 60 linear feet of cabinetry, custom cabinetry can increase the cost by about $50,000.

5. Living Adjustments during Remodeling

For many homeowners, the process of remodeling their kitchen can turn their daily routines upside down.With your kitchen it out of commission, your family will have to find creative ways to manage their daily lives, which can sometimes incur unexpected costs.

The Reality of Living without a Kitchen

A kitchen remodel typically takes 4-7 weeks to complete, depending on the project’s complexity. During this time, homeowners have to grapple with the following issues:

Meal Preparation: Without a fully functional kitchen, preparing daily meals becomes a challenge. The lack of a stove, oven, or even countertop space can drastically limit the types of meals one can make at home.

Washing Dishes: With no sink or dishwasher in operation, dishes might need to be cleaned in a bathroom sink or tub, a cumbersome and less-than-ideal solution.

Noise and Dust: Remodeling is a messy and noisy process. Sawing, hammering, and the general hustle and bustle of workers can be disruptive, especially if someone is working or studying from home.

temporary kitchen remodel
A temporary kitchen can limit the inconvenience of not having a kitchen during your remodel.

The Cost of Temporary Solutions

Setting Up a Temporary Kitchen: Some families choose to set up a makeshift kitchen in another room, using portable stoves, microwaves, and mini-fridges. While this can make daily life a bit more manageable, there’s an associated cost in purchasing or renting the necessary equipment.

Dining Out or Takeout: To compensate for the lack of cooking facilities, families often resort to eating out or ordering takeout, which can significantly increase daily food expenses. Each meal you eat out can cost $10-15 per person per meal. If a family of 4 eats out once a day for the duration of a 7 week remodel, that adds $3000 to the total expenses.

Staying Elsewhere: For those who can’t handle the chaos of living through a remodel, there’s the option to temporarily relocate. Whether it’s staying with family, renting a short-term apartment, or splurging on a hotel room, these alternatives also come with their own set of expenses.

In the Portland area, the average cost of a short-term rental is $148 per day, according to AirDNA. For a 7-week remodel, relocating could cost an additional $7,250, on average.

Want to Learn More About Kitchen Remodeling?

Now that you understand more about the hidden costs of kitchen remodeling, do you feel confident in your ability plan and budget for your own project? If so, take the next step in your research by downloading our free “Kitchen Remodel Buyer’s Guide.” In it, we’ll cover everything you need to know before beginning your kitchen remodel, including the types of contractors, pricing, and design options for your new kitchen.

Ready to start designing your kitchen remodel? If so, click the button below to schedule a free design consultation with a member of our team. We’ll help you navigate the challenges of remodeling and transform your current kitchen into the kitchen of your dreams.