Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Smart fixer-upper remodeling: cabinets first

by Shannon Lee
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

If you are looking for a home in this tough economy, you will probably see several foreclosures or short sales. RealtyTrac, an online marketplace of foreclosure properties, believes that 2012 could be a record year for short sales. If you do choose to buy one of these properties, you might save big money, but you could also be facing major renovations to bring the house back to its full potential.

Cabinet refacing is a good place to start

If you're being careful to budget for a home, you are likely looking at the bottom line when it comes to any remodeling needs. Since the kitchen often drives the sale of a home, it makes sense to begin there. The national average cost of a minor kitchen remodel was $19,588 in 2011, according to Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report. That remodel generally includes the following:

  1. New kitchen doors that are mounted on existing cabinet boxes, which includes raised-panel wood doors, matching drawers and new hardware
  2. New laminate countertops
  3. A mid-priced sink and faucet
  4. New resilient flooring
  5. Replacing the wall oven and cooktop with more energy-efficient models
  6. Repainted trim and new wall coverings

These changes are based on a 200-square foot kitchen that has 30 linear feet of cabinet space and countertops. The return on investment for this minor kitchen remodel is 72.1 percent.

Beware of going too big with this kind of work: A major kitchen remodel had an average cost of $57,494, yet offered only a 65.7 percent return on investment. Going even bigger meant even more money lost. An upscale kitchen remodel that cost an average of $110,938 returned only 57.4 percent.

Take these steps before remodeling cabinets

When you purchase a short sale or foreclosure, the property is often sold in "as-is" condition, meaning that you could face more work than meets the eye. Before you start your kitchen remodel, call in a plumber and electrician to make certain that the basic systems are up to par.

Also keep in mind the value of the other houses in the neighborhood. If you got a great deal on a home in a depressed area, you might be tempted to spend more cash on remodels. Be careful not to over-improve your home. Always keep the value within range of other homes in your neighborhood to help ensure good chances of selling when the time is right.

About the Author
Shannon Lee has written professionally for two decades on a wide variety of topics, including medical and health issues, home repair, education and relationships.

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