How To Remodel A Kitchen That's Not Supposed To Fund Your Retirement

Remember the days when your kitchen was an investment? Yeah, those days are over. Now you need a reasonably priced kitchen where you can actually cook!

Consumer Reports has 4 tips for remodeling a non-ridiculous kitchen:

No matter how much money you plan to spend, a few simple rules apply:

Don’t rush

If it’s been a while since you thought about remodeling, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wealth of innovative products that combine value, performance, and good looks. Take the time–anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the scope of your project–to meet with pros, browse the Internet, and visit showrooms and home centers. Haste can also be expensive. Changing their minds after the work got started typically added about $1,500 to the cost of a kitchen project, according to almost 3,000 readers we surveyed about the hidden costs of remodeling.

Don’t get stuck on size

Bloated showpieces are out. In addition to being expensive, huge kitchens can be exhausting to work in. There should be only about 4 to 9 feet of space between the sink and the refrigerator or between the sink and the stove, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Islands should be only 3 to 4 feet deep and 3 to 10 feet wide and have a 42-inch-wide aisle between the island and surrounding cabinets. Anything bigger can be hard to use and clean.

Beware of budget busters

“While we’re at it …” are words that can break any budget. It’s one thing to make unexpected structural repairs (in fact, you should leave a 10 to 15 percent cushion in your budget for such surprises), but it’s another to add decorative flourishes just because a skilled carpenter happens to be in your kitchen. But don’t settle for a cheap option, promising yourself that someday you’ll replace it with what you really want. “In 30 years, I’ve never had a client actually come back and make the change,” says Mark Karas, a Boston designer and president of the NKBA.

Get everything in writing

Whenever you hire a pro, the written contract should list each phase of the project; every product, including the model number; and copies of each contractor’s license and workers compensation and liability insurance to confirm that they’re still in effect. Call references and, if possible, visit them for a visual inspection.

Classic Kitchens For Less [Consumer Reports]