I received an email from a prospective kitchen remodel customer a few days ago and got their permission to respond via a blog post. My hope is to answer their concern and then hopefully others will chime in with their comments and views.
The prospect’s email reads:
“Paul, Thank you for spending the time to meet with Dave and me last week to discuss the planning of our kitchen remodel. As we discussed with you, we did meet with another kitchen specialist last night.
After the two meetings we find that we are more confused than ever about the information we received. At the end of our meeting with you, you advised us that we should have a budget of between $70,000 and $80,000 to complete the project. At the conclusion of our meeting with the other gentleman he said that this was a project that could be completed for between $30,000 and $40,000. This is a significant difference and the reality is that we just don’t know which of you is right or understand why the estimates are so different.
We are not criticizing your estimate and recognize that his may be the one that’s out of line, but only ask you if you could take a few minutes to describe why these numbers are so incredibly different.”
Thank you in advance for your help.
Dave & Joan
My response in real-time (right here – right now – on the blog)
Dave & Joan,
Thank you for the opportunity to expand on your questions and concerns and thank you for letting me do this in public on the blog. As I briefly explained on the phone, this is not an unusual situation and other readers of the blog may gain from this.
First, let’s set the stage for the readers. This is a project that is in its infancy (there are no plans or specifications for the project). I do not know the other company, but I have no reason to question their professionalism or abilities. I can only explain how I came to my estimate – I cannot explain nor will I speculate how they arrived at theirs.
Now let’s look at some of the specifics of what I heard from you and some of the ideas we bounced around. Note, I will not use “quotation marks” for your ideas, statements or comments as, at best, I am paraphrasing what I thought I heard. If I heard wrong, it may explain some of the difference. For each of the items below you should ask yourself – was the same information discussed with both parties?
1. I heard – This is a complete gut and redo. Putting lipstick on a pig is not being considered.
2. We discussed the possibility of opening a wall that currently exists between the kitchen and the family room with a breakfast bar type configuration. Based on my short inspection, I believe this is a bearing wall and that it contains several plumbing/heating runs to the second floor. All must be relocated – I’m assuming the worst.
3. We discussed the desire to eliminate the soffits that run around the perimeter of the kitchen above the wall cabinets. Based on the fact that your electric service is mounted on the exterior kitchen wall, my experience tells me that the electricians ran all of their home runs through these soffits – these will all need to be relocated and there is the possibility that we may need to conceal a junction box in one of the upper cabinets.
4. You indicated that you were considering light stained very traditional cabinetry with darker highlights in the finish (similar to something a neighbor has). Based on that description I assumed we were at least discussing a semi-custom cabinet line (5 piece door and drawer fronts, real wood, glazed finish) – not a “big-box” store cabinet.
5. You indicated that you did briefly look at appliances and that you were leaning towards KitchenAid – stainless steel.
6. You indicated upper-end countertops (tile and laminate were not considered).
7. The existing floor is tile – you would like a wood floor in the kitchen and breakfast nook (approx. 300 square feet).
8. The sliding glass door and window in the kitchen should be upgraded – while this work is being done. We further discussed Pella with enclosed mini blinds.
9. You would like to explore the possibility to get a prep sink incorporated into the plan.
10. You indicated that you had looked at some plumbing fixtures and that you were certain you wanted Kohler brushed nickel finish and a white farmhouse sink.
While I took two pages of notes, I would like to simply analyze just the ten items mentioned above. My notes on these items look like this.
1. (from above) No dollar amount associated.
2. (from above) $4,000 – $5,000. This is simply a WAG (Wild Assed Guess). Until some investigation and as-built drawings are done, it is only a WAG.
3. $2,000 – $3,000. Again, I’m guessing and hopefully being cautious.
4. $20,000. One more time, just a WAG. I cannot predict what you will actually select. This is a number that could be $15,000 or $35,000. I choose what I believed to be a reasonable number after listening to you describe your cabinet desires.
5. This is a SEG (Somewhat Educated Guess). We did a kitchen just 6 months ago with all KitchenAid appliances. That bill was $13,400.
6. I guessed granite as an upper-end countertop – SEG = $9,000.
7. Approximately 300 SF at $7.75 per SF is $2,325.
8. Pella door and window with some bells and whistles (not all) – SEG = $3,000.
9. New plumbing and repair finished basement to original state – WAG = $1,000.
10. Plumbing fixtures $2,500. I took a WAG on the farm sink at $1,200 (the last farm sink we installed was $4,400).
The total for the ten items above (lower end) equals $57,225. The ten items above have not yet considered: backsplash, light fixtures, permits, design, in-house labor (set-up, dust protection, project management, tear-out, cabinet install, drywall…) paint, engineer fees, dumpster(s)… Let’s just throw in another $20,000 for these items. This brings the total estimate to $77,225.
The end result may show that I was conservative (high) in my initial WAGs – maybe by as much as 10 – 15%. If the other company is a large volume company, they may get slightly lower prices than us – but certainly not 50% lower.
You may want to ask the other estimator to provide some ballpark numbers for the ten items above. My best guess is that you have an “apples to oranges” comparison here. This is very common when detailed plans and specifications are not available.
I hope this explains how I arrived at my initial “ballpark” estimate. If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me and please follow this post – I hope others will chime in.
Thanks for the opportunity to be of service.