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How Do I Know if My Kitchen Remodeling Estimate is Realistic?

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Nailing down an appropriate budget is a significant step for any remodeling project. Homeowners care about making smart investments and good use of their resources — we get it. So, how do you know if your contractor’s kitchen remodeling estimate is realistic? Good question! To help you get started, we’re diving into four critical factors that go into a remodeling estimate below.

Does a person or a computer produce your estimate?

Every remodel is different. Even if someone else has renovated your space in the past, no one has remodeled with your new project’s specific selections or finishes. Many companies use estimating software that inputs square footage and spits out an estimate. These figures don’t take into account the intricacies for YOUR project, such as style, layout, preferences, or preexisting conditions.

What is the history of overages or change orders from the company producing the estimate?

A lot of remodelers offer lower estimates to get the job, only to hit customers later with change order fees for items that should’ve been included in the original calculation. Here’s an example to put it into perspective: the customer requested a hand-scraped wood floor that starts at $12 per square foot. To win the bid, a contractor only included a $4 per square foot flooring allowance. Those costs don’t match! While the kitchen remodeling estimate may come in lower, the homeowner will be hit with additional charges to make up the difference.

At J. Carsten Remodeling, we always include reasonable allowances and plan contingencies to account for changes. Our typical client only adjusts the original contract price by 2-5% – mostly due to customer-requested changes.

If you’re comparing estimates, do they include the same items?

This is the hardest part for customers to decipher alone. There are so many variables! Are you comparing apples to apples or apples to oranges? For example, one company’s version of kitchen lighting can differ significantly from another’s. Does their definition of lighting include can lights in the ceiling, under cabinet lighting, puck lights in cabinets, accent lighting, and island pendant lights?

The estimate should provide enough details for you to understand what’s included in the contractor’s standard package.

Ask yourself, what is NOT included?

A typical kitchen remodel estimate includes:

  • Permit: Actual cost or allowance for permits. State law requires the contractor to pull the permit.
  • Project Setup: Details about floor protection, dust protection, security and access to your home, and dumpster and toilet use
  • Design and Selections: Nearly every remodeling project requires design work – additional design work and selection assistance should be part of the process
  • Allowances: Cabinets, countertops, tile backsplash, flooring, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, appliances – are these budget allowances reasonable for your taste?
  • Mechanicals: Moving a toe kick location or installing hood fan venting; rerouting a plumbing line due to the reconfiguration of the kitchen; re-wiring the kitchen for required code updates – these things can get pricey

In the end, an estimate is only as good as the company producing it. Do you trust the company? Do they demonstrate professional integrity?

If you’re not sure, then ask their previous customers. Make a trip to view their work or at least check it out online. Honestly, the only real way to know if your estimate is realistic is by doing a little good old-fashioned vetting and investigation work. You’ll thank yourself later!

Contact Jason at J. Carsten Remodeling if you’d like to discuss an estimate or get started on a new project. Jason will be there to assist you through the entire process. He prides himself on honesty and integrity, always striving to do what is right for his clients. Read any of his past client reviews, and you’ll see what we are referring to!

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