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  • Writer's pictureWestring Construction

Estimates and Bids – Understanding How Much a Kitchen Makeover Costs

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Having a clear understanding of what you want can help you get more accurate proposals for your Kitchen Makeover.

How much does a kitchen makeover cost? The question comes easily. The answer does not. There are many variables. Shooting from the hip on a kitchen update is unwise.

When you meet with a contractor to discuss a kitchen makeover you want to know how much money you’ll need for the kitchen update. In the beginning, you may be asking for an estimate, quote or possibly a bid – to most homeowners, these are interchangeable. To a construction professional, they are not. Knowing and understanding the differences makes reaching a decision easier.+++

Determining A Project’s Cost Is A Process

Figuring the cost for a project begins with a simple conversation. Just asking “what will my kitchen makeover cost,” isn’t fair. Until you hire a remodeling contractor to go on site and see what’s involved, you can’t get a true picture. You may get a list of what your kitchen project could cost and how long it could take.

Planning is a major part of any kitchen makeover that’s often undervalued by homeowners. When asked what they want, many say “new counters, different cabinets,” or “more space.” That’s not helpful.

Kitchen Makeover Cost vs. Value

The Westring Construction remodeling professionals recommend would-be clients look at magazines, TV shows and websites to see what’s available. Consider windows, doors, colors an

d built-ins like islands and pantries, not just countertops and cabinets. Only you can decide which elements of a kitchen makeover provide enough value to justify the cost.

To understand the complete process, consider the different pricing terms: The ESTIMATE (SWAG) is a complimentary service provided prior to the kitchen makeover.

  • A SWAG is an estimate derived from a combination of factors including past experience, general impressions, and heuristic or approximate calculations rather than an exhaustive search, proof or rigorous calculation. The SWAG is an educated guess and is not regarded as the best or most accurate estimate.

A BID is a service provided for a fee.

  • A bid is a firm number based on a clear scope of work, project area dimensions, research of the municipal requirements and precise details leading up to a kitchen makeover.

  • A bid will require the time for the Project Manager and or Estimator to conduct site visits to procure and confirm accurate measurements, to evaluate the site for access and material logistics, and to obtain bids from the respective trades. The Project Manager or Estimator creates a bid based on the scope of work provided by the client or architect/engineer or created by the Project Manager/Estimator.

James Westring explains: I provide a free Estimate. Call it a SWAG. When I present it to a kitchen makeover prospect, I highlight that there are assumptions and allowances. I also reference what the project could cost based on data from a “Cost vs. Value” resource by Remodeling magazine. I add that this preliminary estimate is made in good faith and reflects the costs associated with the requirements communicated to WESTRING CONSTRUCTION, and may be subject to change based upon final drawings and specifications in a written kitchen update contract. The SWAG is the deliverable for the initial sales meeting and is a cost of doing business, hence, it is “free”.  The SWAG includes & makes assumptions and utilizes allowances to initially shape the estimate. If the SWAG is within the customer’s budget, and they hire me, we proceed into the Design-Build relationship. I create a design contract for the design portion of the design-build project (separate from the Build, which is a separate contract).

The Design portion of the project takes the initial SWAG and then refines it. The design portion is a billable phase and that is where we gather and compile the information to provide the BID. The BID, and the plans, specifications, and preliminary schedule are the deliverables in the design phase of the project.

A BID requires a Project Manager and/or Estimator to go on-site to obtain accurate measurements, to evaluate the site for access and material logistics and to obtain bids from the respective trades. From there, a bid is created based on the scope of work outlined by the client and the architect/engineer. We prefer not to dictate the project’s scope and product specifications, but at times we base our bid on recommendations. Normally this is for smaller, non-complex kitchen makeover projects.

An example: The customer goes through the kitchen makeover design process and we gather detailed information, but they are not sure what appliances they want. To keep the project moving, we put in a realistic appliance allowance. We contact our appliance supplier and request pricing on the desired package — it may be basic styles we specify or specific models the consumer has mentioned. The supplier responds with a budget quote that we use as a placeholder. We make sure the customer understands this allowance is what we have put in the contract bid. If we have a $4,000 allowance and they pick $5,000 worth of appliances, they will know — because it is spelled out in the contract – that the bid is increased by $1,000. And, if they choose $3,500 worth of appliances, they are under budget and will save $500.

I do not use the word quote for a kitchen makeover. To me, that’s what the supplier provides me based on specific product information. If the quote is an ALLOWANCE, there will normally be disclaimers on the quote we share with the client. 

Kitchen Update Costs Aren’t Always Obvious

Direct kitchen update costs including lumber, doors, cabinets, windows, countertops, flooring and paint are easy to see. Here are some of the important but less obvious costs involved in planning a kitchen makeover.

  • The planning process — can account for 10% to 15% of the total cost of a kitchen update. It’s the first step in avoiding costly mistakes.

  • Indirect costs — the “general” costs for production and materials, including disposable items like saw blades and drill bits. The materials list for kitchen updates includes lumber, doors, windows, countertops, floor covering and paint.

  • Managing the trades — your contractor will pay plumbers, electricians and HVAC pros. In Madison WI technical aspects of the kitchen update require licensed professional tradesmen.

  • The cost of doing the work — known as General Conditions, include tasks such as cleanup, recycling construction materials, protecting other parts of the house from dust and debris, obtaining permits, paying local fees and dealing with inspections. A quality contractor assumes responsibility for all these obligations and courtesies.

Call Westring Construction at 608-441-5435 or email us to help you get a better understanding of your kitchen makeover in Madison WI.

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