Gather Information About the Project Scope

The first step is to meet with the homeowner and gather details about their vision for the new kitchen. The contractor will ask questions about the desired layout, appliances, cabinetry, countertops, flooring, lighting, and other features. They will also take measurements and notes about the existing kitchen’s layout and condition.

Having a clear understanding of the project scope is crucial for making an accurate estimate. More complex projects with higher-end finishes will cost more than simple facelifts. Details like moving plumbing lines or electrical wiring will also affect labor costs. The contractor considers all these factors.

Review Current Industry Costs

Professionals rely on up-to-date information about the current costs of materials and labor. They research the latest prices for items like cabinets, countertops, appliances, flooring, and hardware. Costs fluctuate over time, so staying on top of the current market rates is key.

Trade journals, home building publications, and materials suppliers provide this pricing data. Estimators also tap into their network of subcontractors to get quotes for services like electrical, plumbing, drywall, and demolition work. These costs get built into the estimate.

Factor in Labor Costs

An essential part of any remodeling estimate is the cost of professional labor. This includes general contractors, kitchen designers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and other specialty tradespeople. Labor costs account for 50% or more of the total project price.

Professionals estimate labor costs based on the project scope and the estimated number of hours for each task. The geographic region also affects labor rates. More complex jobs take more time, which adds to the overall costs.

Use Estimating Software

Many professional contractors use software programs to build estimates. These programs contain databases of construction tasks and costs. The contractor simply enters the project details, and the software generates a detailed estimate.

This software improves estimating accuracy since it draws on current cost data. It also saves time compared to doing manual takeoffs and calculations. Many programs provide different estimate formats to share with clients.

Apply Contingencies and Markups

A standard estimating practice is to add contingencies to cover unexpected costs that can crop up during a remodel. Most estimates include a 10-15% contingency for design changes or unforeseen issues.

Professionals also build in a markup or overhead percentage to cover their company’s operating expenses and profits. These markups are typically 20-30% above the estimated costs. Design fees and permit costs also get added in.

Provide Multiple Estimate Options

Many contractors provide good-better-best estimates to give clients options for staying within their budgets. The “good” option includes standard finishes and more DIY elements to reduce labor costs. The “best” option includes higher-end finishes and expansive use of specialty trades.

Having multiple estimates lets clients prioritize which elements are most important to them. Customized options also allow for cost savings on areas that are lower priority to the homeowner.

How Professionals Estimate Kitchen Remodeling Costs

There are a few key factors that impact total remodeling costs:

  • Size of the kitchen – Larger kitchens require more materials and labor hours, increasing costs. Smaller galley layouts are more affordable.
  • Scope of work – Limited remodels like cabinet refacing cost less than full gut renovations. Complex projects cost more.
  • Materials selected – Higher end countertops, cabinets, appliances drive up costs over standard finishes.
  • Specialty plumbing/electrical – Moving pipes, vents or electrical lines adds complexity and labor costs.
  • Geographic region – Labor rates and material costs vary across different parts of the country.

Get Multiple Estimates

It’s a good idea to get estimates from 3-4 professional contractors before settling on one. Make sure all the estimates are bidding on the same scope of work. Comparing multiple estimates gives you a better sense of expected overall costs for your project.

Just picking the lowest estimate isn’t always the best approach, however. You want to look carefully at what’s included and also consider experience and reviews when choosing a pro. An estimate slightly higher than the lowest one may give you better service, higher quality work, and more attention to detail.

Estimate Changes During the Project

As you’re planning your kitchen remodel, build in a 10-15% contingency in your budget for potential changes and unforeseen issues. It’s rare for a project to run exactly according to the initial plan and estimate. Changing your mind about some materials or layouts along the way can alter the costs.

Your contractor should keep you updated if any significant estimate changes occur. They can help you understand the costs related to changes and work to stay close to the original estimate. Good communication preserves your budget and your peace of mind throughout the renovation process.

FAQ About Estimating Kitchen Remodel Costs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about estimating costs for kitchen remodels:

How much does the average kitchen remodel cost?

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the average major kitchen remodel costs around $135,000. Minor remodels average around $26,000. Costs depend heavily on the project scope, finishes, and location.

What is the most affordable remodel option?

Refacing cabinets rather than replacing them can save thousands. Laminate countertops are also budget-friendly. Limiting changes to layout, flooring, lighting and paint color also reduce costs compared to fuller remodels.

What factors make a kitchen remodel more expensive?

High-end appliances, cabinetry, countertops (like granite), extensive layout changes, and special finishes (tile, glass, stone) drive up remodeling costs quickly. Adding square footage or bumping out exterior walls also increases price.

How can I reduce my kitchen remodel costs?

Using stock or semi-custom cabinets versus fully custom, doing some demolition work yourself, installing your own backsplash, and shopping sales for appliances can yield big savings. Sticking to a tight project timeline also avoids budget overruns.

Should I get 3 quotes for my kitchen remodel?

Yes, it’s ideal to get quotes from 3 reputable contractors to give you a range of estimated costs for your specific project. Make sure all contractors are bidding off the same scope of work for an apples-to-apples comparison.

How accurate are most kitchen remodel estimates?

If detailed properly, most contractor estimates fall within 10-15% of the final project costs. Unforeseen issues can arise, but good communication preserves the budget. Contractors experienced with kitchen remodels provide realistic estimates.


Kitchen remodels require careful planning and accurate cost estimating to stay on budget. Professionals use a systematic approach to estimate costs based on the project scope, current material and labor costs, contingencies, and markups. Getting multiple estimates and selecting an experienced contractor gives you confidence in the estimated price. With good planning and communication, your dream kitchen makeover can become a reality within your budget.