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“Kitchen Renovation Recommendations”

by Prince Of Petworth February 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm 38 Comments

kitchen reno
Photo by PoPville flickr user Pablo Raw

“Dear PoPville,

My husband and I bought a lovely house east of the Anacostia River in the Kenilworth neighborhood and couldn’t be happier. The home is in great shape and we are able to restore the majority of the property ourselves, but we need assistance from a contractor to gut and renovate the kitchen. We recently got a quote from Four Brothers LLC and they asked for an absurdly high $150,000. Something tells me that $750 a square foot is way too expensive for a 200 square foot renovation.

Has anyone on the site gone through this type of kitchen renovation? If so, how much did they spend per square foot and would they recommend their contractor?”

  • N

    Are you sure they weren’t confused on what you were asking for? $150,000 sounds like a quote to remodel your entire house (depending on size).

  • JS

    That quote sounds like their way of telling you “your job is too small for us to bother” without actually coming out and saying it.
    The price per square foot can depend on a number of factors. A 200 square foot down to studs kitchen remodel is going to be pricey, but it shouldn’t be six figures pricey. 30K? 50K? A lot of it depends on what you find once you start tearing down walls.

    • AnonV2

      This is exactly correct. Contractors are SO busy in this town right now that they are turning down lots of smaller jobs (not that a full kitchen gut job is small, but compared to pop ups, bump outs, etc. it’s minor). It’s worth their time if you bite on that ridiculous bid, but otherwise not so much. I normally wouldn’t recommend them, but you might want to contact one of those kitchen/bathroom showroom type places that does these exclusively. Get a few bids that will put you in the ballpark, then shop around for independent contractors in the same range minus say 15-20% (typical additional overhead with the all-in-one shops). As said below more details would be really useful here. Do you need or want an architect to design this? Are you totally flipping around the layout, want to knock down walls, expand into adjoining rooms, run gas lines where there currently is no gas service, is the space below finished? Etc. etc.

  • anon7

    That seems high, but you did not provide specifics on what you asked Four Brother to do. You could expect to pay between 10k and 15k for the labor for a basic kitchen renovation (i.e. installing new cabinets, counters, and appliances). But if you are knocking down walls, doing extensive plumbing and electrical, replacing the ceiling, etc., that jacks the price up and limits the pool of potential contractors. What specifically, do you want done?

    • HaileUnlikely

      Agreed with all this, but $150K is over the top goofy expensive pretty much no matter what. You should be able to do a full gut reno of the entire house for not much more than that.

  • Barney Circle

    We used Fajen & Brown (http://www.fajenbrown.com/) and were very pleased with their work. They probably won’t be the cheapest but they do good work.

    While I’ve only gone through the process once, Kitchen’s seem like the kind of thing where the type of appliances and materials you want to use can really push the upper bounds of how much it can cost. If you are buying a $10,000 chef’s range, having custom cabinetry and using the highest-end finishes, $150k is probably very easy to do. Also, square footage won’t be a huge driver of cost because of those factors.

    • Barney Circle

      I second what other comments said as well – moving major utilities and or structural walls can also add a lot to your price tag.

    • Hukiyoyo

      The first thought I had was about the appliances. If they’re all high end it’s very easy to hit $150k.

    • But if you design the space and buy all the cabinets and flooring yourself – what is a good “ballpark” price for tear out/installation?

      • Kara

        We are starting our kitchen reno of a 190 sq. ft space on 2/27/17. Reno includes removing a half wall and moving gas line. Water line will be extended to new fridge. We bought everything (i.e., cabinets, quartzite and flooring, faucet, bar stools, appliances). Reno will be around 38k.

    • dcd

      “Kitchen’s seem like the kind of thing where the type of appliances and materials you want to use can really push the upper bounds of how much it can cost. If you are buying a $10,000 chef’s range, having custom cabinetry and using the highest-end finishes, $150k is probably very easy to do.”
      That’s exactly right. The materials cost can make a kitchen skyrocket. Appliances (range, range hood, refrigerator, built-in ovens, microwave, dishwasher – that could easily be $30,000 right there), fixtures can be insanely expensive, plus any extras beyond the standard (prep sink? Pasta filler? insta-hot?), custom cabinets, material for the countertop . . . that can be well in excess $50,000 total before labor, plumbing, electrical, moving floorplans around, etc. So $150,000 is definitely high, but it doesn’t have to be a rip-off, depending on what you’re getting done.

  • kgw

    Four Brothers is really high. I would keep asking around. I think 30-50 K is more reasonable. We reno’d our kitchen with Kitchen and Bath Factory and are still happy with it 10 years later. http://www.kitchenandbathfactory.com/index.php)

  • Betty Behrens

    we renovated our galley kitchen, down to the studs, without changing the footprint of the space ( no walls taken down, etc.) in 2009 for $30k. That price included labor, semi custom cabinets, all new appliances and a hardwood floor installed. I am happy to share with you the contact info for our contractors. (They work exclusively in DC; we live EOTR in Hillcrest).

    • Contessa of Cleveland Park

      Similar. I did a gut remodel of a small galley kitchen (roughly 9 x 9) in Cleveland Park, in 2010, for the mid $30s. That included new floor, new semi-custom cabinets, new appliances (except fridge), granite counters, and removal of one non-load-bearing wall. Working in a condo (which restricts hours, and where all materials have to go up and down by elevator) and dealing with lead abatement increased the cost; keeping the original “footprint” held down the cost. My contractor was Case Remodeling and Design, which didn’t snub my “small project.” I was, and still am, quite pleased.

    • anonalisa

      We did a heavy refresh of ours for $25k with all new appliances, some new cabinetry, new counters, new floors, backsplash, paint, adding lighting, and some general work that needed to be done on the house before they could get started. We did this through Bray and Scarff, they were wonderful and kept the project on budget and on time, which has so far been our only experience like that with contractors in DC.

  • anon

    Just used JCabido Remodeling and had a very good experience. Kitchen is 12 x 18. Gutted the kitchen ourselves and had Aaryn Zablocki at Applianceland in Annapolis design the kitchen. She ordered the cabinets and countertops, which were about $25,000. JCabido did all the work for $12,000. With appliances and other materials, we spent about $45k.

  • Brookland mom

    I have a lot of advice having done a few kitchens and currently doing additional work on our house!

    First, we used Chesapeake kitchen and bath. They are a contractor in tenleytown that has the cabinets and samples on the flooor. We really liked them- check out Angie’s list. I’d highly recommend them!

    Second, four brothers is a true design build firm. They do amazing work but they will be higher end than getting real line item quotes from contractors like Chesapeake. I’d go on Angie’s list and find 3-5 highly rated contractors, tell them all the same things you want to do so you’re comparing apples to apples, and get quotes.

    Third, when reviewing quotes look at the allowances, meaning how much they’re assuming you’re spending on cabinets, counter, etc. the numbers are often unreasonably low and can make a bid that is high seem low if they use low allowances.

    • Brookland mom

      And I want to agree wit a PP that 30-50 is a better number unless you’re changing layout, moving walls, etc. that should include cabinets, quartz coubters, a nice backsplash. All new appliances will bring you closer to forty-fifty.

  • Wendy Testaburger

    I renovated both bathrooms in my condo and went with Home Breakthrough LLC. I worked with Francisco and the work was excellent and meticulous, especially the tile work. They also do kitchens, but I had already renovated my kitchen with another contractor that I would not recommend. I do recommend getting quotes/bids from at least 3 different contractors and each one will give you different ideas as to how to renovate your kitchen. It will also give you an idea as to what parts of the renovation will cost more, so you can adjust your renovation plans accordingly. February is the start of the busy season for contractors, as everyone starts to do renovations in the spring, so the quote you got may be reflective of that.

    If your home is an older house, your contractor may be factoring in possible asbestos or lead pipe replacement. You should ask for a breakdown of the costs and get other quotes from other contractors as a comparison. You can also save some money by sourcing the appliances and building materials yourself, as I believe most contractors add a surcharge to the cost of building materials if they have to source it themselves.

  • Bloomy

    I am a budding Kitchen designer who’s willing to help design your space for free. I am only doing this because I want to see if it’s something I would actually enjoy hanging a shingle out for some day… up until now I have only done higher-end redesigns and total remodels for myself, family, and close friends (in addition to 4-5 inexpensive flips), but I’d like to start doing this professionally. If you’re interested, let me know, and we can chat. Dan can connect us.

  • Very Anonymous

    I did my own kitchen in my NW apartment. It required modest plumbing, running 50 additional amps of electric, and relatively high end fixtures and appliances and a lot of IKEA cabinets (which I love). Doing 100% of the work myself (other than delivery to site) and buying appliances with cosmetic blemishes or on ebay, I spent about 63k, just on materials. Given the necessary of subcontractors, permits, stairs, etc. An architect friend said it would have been bid at roughly twice that. Lots of small things can be a big pain, for ex, I had to open an exterior wall to get one of my counters in. Whole kitchen is about 15*8=120 sq ft. But it is crazy awesome. Cookie cutter kitchens are trivially fast to put in – a Baltimore flipper I know budgets labor plus materials of $2200 for a complete new kitchen without appliances. Really custom kitchens are a serious pain to install.

    • textdoc

      “I spent about 63k, just on materials.” My mind is officially blown. I guess those were some really high-end fixtures/appliances??

      • HaileUnlikely

        IKEA cabinets + ebay appliances = $63K for materials alone? Did somebody accidentally put the decimal point in the wrong place?

      • Wow – yes – please clarify. 63K on materials sounds nuts. A full set of brand-new “high end” appliances with no cosmetic blemishes is less than $10,000. 120 square feet of flooring, even for swank price of $50/square foot is only $6,000.00. Embed diamond dust in the grout for an extra $10,000 and hire a cleaner to come once a week for the next century and you are still no where close to 63K.

        But you mentioned opening an exterior wall – so help us out with real costs here.

        • Bloomy

          most of the sub zero refrigeration line is $10K or more/appliance, Wolf ranges are just as expensive… It’s about $8K for an “entry level” “high-end” appliance package.

        • dcd

          “A full set of brand-new “high end” appliances with no cosmetic blemishes is less than $10,000.”
          Sorry, that’s just incorrect. A suite of so-called “top of the line” GE appliances may retail for less than $10,000, but those aren’t even remotely close to high end. If you want a Wolf range, Subzero refrigeration, and similar brands for your wall oven, microwave, wine fridge, refrigerator drawer, you can blow by $30,000 on appliances alone without even trying. And there’s a whole level above THOSE appliances that costs a truly insane amount.

        • Very Anonymous

          28k just on ikea cabinets (12ft high x 12ft long plus island with double row beneath) and nice fronts.
          countertop is 13’x4′ stainless integrated kohler sinks was 8k plus transport of 3k (materials for opening wall and closing it up after were probably only 600 and a lot of tears: studs, ply, crete, paper, shingles…)
          second countertop with welded in kohler sink 4.5k + 1.5 crate and transport
          kohler fixtures, used, 800 each.
          1300 cf/min 6ft wide 3 deep stainless hood exhaust hanging 7ft down with large roof exhaust 3.5k
          3k commercial double convection oven (plus lots of 220 copper to get power to it)
          2k on bosch induction stovetop (plus 1000 just for the long distance 220v copper, conduit to power it with 50 amp breaker (new ones draw less, wish I waited))
          1k silent bosch dishwasher
          hidden wine fridge 1.1k (just the ikea front was 110)
          triple filtered, softened, pressure-reduced water for plumbed in espresso machine with it’s own drain and trap: 600 (machine itself: 3k bought not working, used)
          built in co2 system for cocktails, filtered water: 600
          Nice wall paint and paint materials: 500
          sheetrock, screws, nails, mud, tape, sistered or replaced studs: 800
          replacement oak flooring (just patches): 400
          10 new gfi outlets, wiring, new breakers, running heavier cable, conduit to breaker box: 600
          Big disposals, 3 traps, pvc, primer, glue, copper, solder, gas, flux, john guest fittings, triple inline filtration for fridge, drinking water sink, espresso: 800
          Pantry shelving (12ft high): 800
          floor, ceiling trim: 600
          Consumable tools like blades, bits (drilling, cutting stainless is expensive!): 180
          Kept my 10 yr old fridge: free!

          I’m not saying this is normal, but it’s easy to spend the money. I could have easily spent double on the stovetop and the wine fridge for another 3k. And a nice fridge is another 1.5k. Obviously, I basically live in my kitchen.

      • Bloomy

        We priced out our kitchen cabinets through a online company ($8K), a big box retailer ($16k), a semi-custom company directly ($23k) and Waterworks in Georgetown ($80K)… literally 10Xs difference in price for higher end cabinets… We ended up going for semi-custom from Kraftmaid to take advantage of some unique spaces, and think it was worth it…

    • TheRealNE

      We fully renovated (down to the studs) our medium-sized kitchen in NE with IKEA products for around $11k. This included cabinets, hardware, sink, faucet, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, design consultation, and installation. The only IKEA component I would not recommend highly is the countertops–the vendor was IMPOSSIBLE to deal with so we ended up contracting with a separate granite company.

  • Adam

    Check out TopBuilders LLC out of Arlington. Andy is the owner and a great person to work with. His team redid our kitchen (completely gutted) for a reasonable pro e. And they did an amazing job cleaning up every afternoon.

  • jbiz

    We had our kitchen in Brookland gutted, including removal of two walls, changing layout replacing floors, cabinets, granite, new appliances, etc. for $33K labor and materials.

    • textdoc

      That sounds like a bargain — could you share which contractor(s?) you used?

  • ingrid

    Check out Ant Builders – Shy is amazing, good prices and great quality work.

    • Ian

      Agree with this! Shy has done a few pretty big projects for us, most recently our kitchen reno. In addition to the above, she is great to work with and super responsive. Those qualities are not always easy to find in a contractor.

  • MadMax

    We initially contracted with Four Brothers to do our kitchen remodel. Their initial estimate was $80-90K, which we were OK with because it was a pretty big project. Then they charged us about $10K for architecture plans to draw up the whole design, and came back with a final quote of over $160K and that was cutting corners on some of the materials we were asking for. So we dropped them and walked away with some very expensive pieces of paper.

  • Rufus

    We finished some major renovation work on our Petworth rowhouse about a year ago. We hired a contractor and architect, but we also were pretty budget conscious so we purchased most of the items ourselves and had the contractors install everything. We spend roughly $30k for material and labor and we are very happy with the results. Our contractor was doing a lot of other work for us at the time, so he gave us a pretty good price on labor, and as I said, we were pretty hands on during the process, which saved us a lot of money. For instance, we ordered all our appliances on black Friday and used 10% off coupons.(We also just called a few appliance stores and asked if they would give us a discount on the order and most did! Good guy/gal discount I guess?) The scope of work included complete gut of the prior kitchen, taking down a wall, relocating a window, new everything (floor, plumbing, electrical, kitchen stuff). Here are some of the contractors we used:

    General contractor: Apex General Contracting (Carlos Gonzales) https://www.yelp.com/biz/apex-general-contracting-fredericksburg
    Cabinets- Ikea (we LOVE them if you are wondering)
    Countertops- Modern Marble and Granite (great prices and awesome to work with)
    Appliances- Mostly from Lowes- use their 10% off coupons

    Good luck!

  • We self contracted (i.e. hired for each individual job) on an addition on our house in Alexandria and the entire 500 sq ft addition/12 foot bump out cost maybe $60k for the crawl space, framing, roof, shingles, siding, patio doors, windows, unfinished wood floors and drywall and painting. We’re onto cabinets now and highly recommend POM KBF in Alexandria, Virginia for cabinets.

  • textdoc

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