Hidden costs to consider in your kitchen renovation

No longer tucked away in small dark rooms and out of view, modern kitchens are now the centrepieces of our homes and fulfil many more roles than providing a place for cooking. They are increasingly central to the daily operation of our busy lives, often incorporating study and homework stations, places to eat and convenient places to entertain.

The way we use our kitchens has had a significant impact on how they are designed and prioritised into a home, how big they are and how much money is allocated to them, so it is no surprise that kitchen renovations are one of the most common projects undertaken by homeowners. If your kitchen needs an overhaul, these tips will help you to identify a few areas where hidden costs often lurk.

Design fees

Kitchen design fees are not so much a hidden cost, but rather a cost that you should always factor into your renovation budget; especially since kitchens are so important to our day-to-day lives. Kitchens are very personal spaces and what works for you may not work so well for somebody else. An experienced kitchen designer will be able to share some practical tips on the basic functionality of a kitchen, and incorporate those necessary fundamentals with your personal preferences to create a kitchen that is both stunning and practical.


Out-of-square walls

Kitchen cabinetry and benchtops are all designed to integrate with each other along ‘square’ walls (walls perpendicular to each other). However, from time to time, and especially in older homes, the existing walls may not be perfect 90-degree angles. This occurrence is not new to cabinet makers experienced in kitchen renovations, but it can still add hidden costs due to on-site modifications, and even compromise the design of your kitchen.

It would be rare for the out-of-square wall to be rebuilt to rectify the problem, so in most cases the cabinetry and benchtops need to be modified to suit the wall location. Ideally this is dealt with at the design stage by completing a site measure of the space to be renovated. This simple step will highlight any problems, so both the designer and cabinet maker are aware of the situation before they start building.
Restructuring for stone or concrete benchtops

Stone benchtops have been a popular choice for kitchen renovators for a long time. They are durable, generally easy to clean, hygienic and offer a high-quality finish. Concrete is a newer material for kitchen benchtops, but one that is quickly gaining popularity. Both of these options are very heavy, and in older homes this additional weight can sometimes be too much for the existing timber floor structure.

Kitchens in older homes were much simpler and lighter than the kitchens we build today, regardless of the benchtop, so if your kitchen renovation is taking place in an older home with a timber floor structure, you may need to get some expert advice about whether you need to bolster the floor structure as part of your project.

 Changes to flooring

One of the more common traps for blowing a kitchen renovation budget is the unforeseen need to redo the flooring. The problem occurs when walls and cabinetry are removed, and gaps are created in the flooring. However, even if you have budgeted for the replacement of the kitchen floor, you may also need to consider where that new flooring starts and finishes, especially when we consider that a lot of kitchen renovations also involve the opening up of areas to create an open-plan space.

In those situations, the lovely new timber floor for the kitchen may also need to be extended out into the adjoining dining and family areas, otherwise the clashing floor finishes may undermine the whole renovation. The tip is to consider the wider space involved, especially when you are creating new open-plan rooms.

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Window changes

Kitchens are increasingly becoming the most important space within a home, but their design may not be contained to the inside. If you have dreams of opening up your kitchen to a view of the backyard or to connect to an outdoor entertaining area, you will also need to think about the external elements of the kitchen including the location, size and type of windows required.

As soon as you start making changes to the external walls of the home, you are stepping the complexity (and cost) of the project up a notch. Firstly, changes to exterior walls and windows may require planning approval for which there are likely to be time and cost implications. Secondly, the exterior walls are most probably load bearing, so you can’t simply be adding new windows or making existing windows bigger without first getting appropriate engineering advice.

Another knock-on effect of window changes is the potential that they may also impact the exterior finish of the building. With that in mind, it is important that you and your kitchen designer take a broad view of the project, including the impact the kitchen may have to the exterior of the home.

Plumbing costs

Renovating a kitchen in its current location will generally be a more cost-effective solution than relocating it. However, if a new location provides a considerably better result, the additional costs to relocate may not be significant in the grand scheme of things.

One of the obvious additional costs of relocating a kitchen is the cost of new plumbing. This cost may not be too much if there is access under the floor and if there are existing plumbing connections nearby. However, if there is no access under the floor (as is the case with concrete floor slabs), the additional plumbing costs will be much steeper due to the fact that the floor slab will need to be cut, modified and repaired to allow the installation of new pipes. With that in mind, island benchtops can also be problematic where installed on concrete slabs.

If you are planning a new island bench on an existing concrete floor slab that also includes the sink or dishwasher, you will need to consider how the water will be connected and how the waste water is going to escape. Once again, if the solution involves modifying the concrete floor, then your costs are going to increase.

Ducting for range hoods

Another important consideration in any kitchen is the cooking ventilation system; the exhaust fan, or range hood. These systems expel odours, steam, grease and heat generated by cooking and are located above the stovetop. However, it is important that we consider them as ventilation systems, not just range hoods. Although you are likely to choose your ventilation system based on both appearance and performance, the hidden ducting is just as important in ensuring that the system will be effective.

Where will the cooktop and range hood be located, and where will the exhaust ducting go? In single-storey homes there isn’t likely to be a problem as the ducting will go straight through the ceiling, through the roof cavity and out above the roof. However, in a two-storey home where the kitchen is located on the lower level and the cooktop is not adjacent to an external wall, it will be far more difficult (and expensive) to install the ducting.

In those situations, the ducting needs to be located within the structural floor system, in bulkheads or concealed within the kitchen joinery itself (which sacrifices usable cupboards). The shorter the run to the external exhaust point, with as few bends and turns in the ducting as possible, the better. In most situations there will be a solution, but they are not all cheap so ensure that, between you and your kitchen designer, you have considered ducting in the design.

This article originally appeared on houzz.com.au on 7 May 2016