Finally Our Kitchen is Done

Finally our kitchen remodel is finished and we are able to enjoy the simple pleasures of eating off a real plate and using a dishwasher to clean the dishes. Our remodeling projects started exactly five months ago when we started removing tile from the walls of the bathrooms using a roto hammer. We did all the demolition of two bathrooms and our kitchen by ourselves, hiring a guy from craigslist to haul away over two tons (4000 lbs) of rubble, lumber, sheetrock and old cabinets and counters.
Our goal was to redo the bathrooms for $5000 each, and the kitchen for $10000, for a total of $20,000 for the remodel. We actually were over budget due to having to replumb our 50 year old home's plumbing we busted in the demo. It needed to be done anyway, but we blinded didn't think of it. It is a relief to know we have brand new plumbing behind our walls though. The bathrooms ended costing about $11000 including the replumb job.
While we tried to be frugal by using 10% off Home Depot or Lowes coupons for all our purchases, we still got top quality stuff which costs more. At first we thought we would go inexpensive with white appliances, but then we realized that stainless is really what people want, and hopefully it won't be out of style in 20 years when we sell our house. We don't plan to do this again, so we wanted to do it right with good workmanship, quality cabinets, counters and tiling.
We were fortunate to have a referral for a great handyman who was able to do everything except the replumb for us. We changed plans last minute several times and he was able to work with the changes. I felt bad at first asking him to incorporate all those 2" accent tiles into the backsplash, but not enough to not do it. It took two days to tile and grout it, and its not even that large of an area. We decided since our refrigerator is only 6 years old, we'll keep it until it dies and then replace with a ss model. We designed extra space into that area to accomodate the larger models when we replace it.

Anyway, we ended up spending about $12,800 on the kitchen. Here is an approximate breakdown
$4100 Cherry cabinets (incl free sink base, soft close) Lowes
$2900 Granite counter top (incl free ss sink) Lowes
$3400 Labor over 100 hours for the handyman
$1400 SS Dishwasher, Microwave, Range, Kenmore Sears
$1000 Faucet, blinds, switches, lights, switchplate covers, dimmers, cabinet hardware, tiles, misc
Here are the ways we made it more affordable without compromising quality:
1. Saved the money ahead of time so we could take advantage of deals when it was the right time of the year. We saved a lot on the appliances at Sears with stacking deals like price matching, coupons and holiday sales.
2. We picked up our own appliances from Sears when we were ready for them to be installed. We borrowed our neighbors truck and loaded up the 3 boxes and unloaded them on our own, saving delivery and installation fees.
3. We purchased all supplies a 10% off coupon. If our handyman had to run and get something we just paid retail, no markup.
4. We gave our handyman a home depot gift card to use to pay for items he needed so he didn't have to charge them on his own card.
5. We did all demolition and cleanup ourselves by borrowing tools from our neighbor or from the handyman. We hired the handyman on a Saturday to help remove the old cast iron bathtub since it was so large. We also needed to move the shower and toilet drains in the bathroom to accomodate a new shower design which involved jack hammering the terrazzo floor through to the dirt and the buried drain. We rented the jack hammer for just 4 hours and returned it.
6. We installed simple things ourselves to save hours from the handyman - like installing the ceiling lamp, sanding, painting, lightswitch covers, cabinet knobs, installing undermount lights, put up blinds. It actually took us longer than we thought, but when we were done we were glad we didn't have to pay someone to do it.
7. We took advantage of Lowes and Sears delayed payment plans for interest free payments for 6 months (Lowes) or a year (Sears). We have the cash saved but are trying to pay back the credit with income rather than taking it from savings. This is working well and we have over half of our savings left from the budget that we might not have use for the kitchen costs.
8. When we did purchase something it was on the Mastercard or American Express card that earns points, and you guessed it we have redeemed the points for Home Depot gift cards.
9. We returned all unused items soon after to get credit back. We have tons of receipts and we couldn't always find the right one, or the item was purchased with a gift card. The cool thing is they just scan your credit cards you might have used and it shows if you ever purchased that item and they can give you credit back if you did. If you didn't show a purchase history, they give you store credit on a gift card. Either way works for us.
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