Frugal DIYers Reveal Costly Mistakes in a Kitchen Remodel

Sadly, not all DIYers have the foresight of Jim, who wrote a letter recently describing his success remodeling his mom’s kitchen. Here at RTA Cabinet Store, we hear our share of “war-stories” from frugal DIYers who tried to save money, only to wind up spending more money or wasting tons of time in the long-run. Here are a few, in hopes that you can avoid the same costly mistakes!

Underestimating Time and Incidental Expenses

Helen and Bob from Minnesota thought they could handle their kitchen remodel themselves. By using RTA kitchen cabinets from RTA Cabinet Store, they saved almost $5,000. Add in another $3,000 or so in labor costs that they did themselves for “free,” and that’s some serious savings!

The truth is, given enough time and determination, most homeowners can tackle almost any project that doesn’t involve plumbing or electrical work. A lot of DIYers though, Bob and Helen included, underestimate the amount of time and complexity of a big job like a kitchen remodel. Sure, a remodeling contractor can get the job done in a few days in a pinch, but that’s with multiple experienced workers devoting entire work-days to the project.

If you’ll be working on it during weekends and around your work schedule, a more realistic time frame is one to two months. Two months is what it took Helen and Bob, and that’s a lot of money spent eating out and ordering pizza that wasn’t in their initial estimate for the kitchen remodel!

They also didn’t factor in the cost of new tools; sometimes you just really do need the right tool for the job, or you risk a low-quality result you’ll be kicking yourself for, for years or even decades to come. By the time they accounted for the cost of eating out for two months, and the extra tools they needed, they actually wound up spending more money than the best bid by a local contractor, and they didn’t have a kitchen for two months!

Poor Design Choices

What good is a kitchen remodel if a week after finishing it, you find out you made a serious mistake in the overall design, and wind up remodeling again in a year or two when you just can’t stand it anymore? That’s what happened when Carol from Oregon designed her dream kitchen based on things she’d seen in magazines.

Her sons did a wonderful job installing her new cabinets and a small island she’d managed to fit into the design for extra work space, and the result was beautiful! Unfortunately, she’d committed the cardinal sin of functional kitchen design: she neglected The Triangle—the three most-used stations in any kitchen of stove – sink – fridge. See, she’d wound up with her fridge on one side of the island, the stove on the other, and the sink at the end. After a couple of years of walking all the way around the island over and over, she wound up taking the island out, and had to redo the floor, costing more money in the long run.

Let Us Help Before “Mistakes Were Made”

Proper design and a realistic estimate of time and materials are essential to a satisfying kitchen remodel, both during the project and in the years to come. That’s why we offer FREE professional kitchen design consultation, as well as an online DIY design tool on our website. If you do decide to do the work yourself, we can help make sure it goes right the first time. If you decide it’s just a little more than you can really handle, we can recommend qualified and reliable contractors in your area who’ve installed our cabinets many times before and can get the job done quickly, efficiently, and for less than you might think. And you can still get some of the satisfaction and pride a DIYer enjoys, by assembling the cabinets yourself. All you need is a screwdriver and a free weekend.


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