Sunday, August 21, 2011

Final Kitchen Budget: AutoSUM does not compute the ignorance factor.

It's been several months since the kitchen of amazing awesomeness was completed and I've given myself plenty of time to reflect on the project and dance and twirl as necessary.  You might have expected my Jerry Springer style "Final Thoughts" a long time ago but I was seriously kitchened out and thought some distance might allow me to be more objective considering my last thoughts in May were "take my check and get the fuck out of my house!"  

And that was in my happy place! 

"The floor looks so good no one will even guess how many bodies are buried beneath it!"
As I sat down to catalog all of my amazing earth-shattering insights I realized I had a shit ton to discuss so I had to break up all my final kitchen tawlk into three parts.  If you don't care anything about this stuff then sorry, your MS week is going to be boring as shit and you can just skip all this.  I'll reward you with some mediocrity later.  But if I don't blog about all this stuff then the project will just be left hanging open and I just couldn't bear to live in a world where my inconsequential ramblings weren't posted for the strangers on the interweb.  I have to complete the circle.  It's the final step in closing the hellgate!

The most important thing that all you project voyeurs probably want to know is if I stayed on my budget.  The answer iiiisssssss.......   



Good enough for me!

"It's a good thing I have such low expectations!"
I already discussed my ideas about setting a budget here - to make a long post short (too late) I picked an arbitrary value that I felt comfortable with my kitchen costing in relation to the value of my mortgage.  I don't trust appraisals but I trust the numbers in my bank account. [MS sidebar: I'm not really concerned with what the appraiser comes back with anyway because I have yet to meet one who seems to have a firm grasp of the real estate market since this last appraiser used comps from 2001 and spent the majority of the time at my house trying to coax Charlemagne out of the bushes while telling me about his own cat hoard.  Take your pussy fetish elsewhere, you fucking wierdo!  I mean, oh that's hilarious would you like another cookie Mr. Strong Inspector Man?!]  

"Yes, do my bidding you ignorant swine. I have weapons to polish!"
Anywhoozle, I decided that I would like my kitchen to be no more than 20% of my original mortgage.  Aaaaaannddd.... I came in at 21%.  I'M A FAILURE!!!  That is a number that I'm totally fine with even though technically it's over budget.  My original original budget was about 15% but that was completely without doing any homework or any idea what I was going to the space period.  I was so wrong.  Upon further reflection, pre-shopping and introduction into the real world my revised budget put me right under 19%.   That number was without factoring in any allowances for mystery problems so 21% is pretty good.

If you believe in the concept of national averages, for what the rest of the country spent on a low end kitchen remodel (new laminate counters, refacing cabinets and new vinyl floors) I got an entirely new kitchen top to bottom. 

"They" can suck my 21% dick.  I fucking killed it.

So where did I go over?  Well, lots of places actually.  I made a super scientific ghetto-ass spreadsheet where I pre-shopped for everything I would need to purchase long before the project even started.  I'm sure there are official forms somewhere but hell if I could find them and they couldn't be better than my superb Excel skillz.  That freshman computer science class is really paying off!  This was my project bible and let me know when to praise jeebus for sale prices or when I needed to start drinking more (something I forgot to include in the budget).

My estimates weren't perfect but I don't know how people could even entertain the idea of any remodel without some sort of research like this.  They probably used a number like my original original estimate and were fucked.  The amount of people I heard about that just jumped into remodels completely blind made me question the future of the human race.  Maybe this is my anxiety-ridden nerd talking but Madame tip #93493938:  DO YOUR HOMEWORK, Y'ALL.

Some things I saved money on like the glass inserts for my cabinet doors (I saved, like, 20 whole dollars!) and faucet (shout out to Brizo!); a lot of things I broke even on like the hardware, sink and garbage disposal.  

Behold my Excel skillz.  Click to make larger if you care to read.
Other things I completely fucked up.  For instance, I originally budgeted about $200 for a microwave (that was probably low anyway) but it ended up costing me almost three times that amount because I had to ship back the wrong parts and order the new ones from Middle Earth and have them blessed with virgin panda tears, blah, blah, remember?.  

I also totally fucked up the backsplash tile estimates.  It was a last minute addition anyway because I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to afford it and therefore didn't have time for my usual amount of ulcer-causing obsession.  Then I realized that I'd rather just do it all right now rather than wait so... Boom.  Done.  Tile.  Turns out the tile of my dreams that I would accept no substitutes for ended up costing the same as all of the tile for my floor.  SHIT!  I also didn't realize that I had to pay for the freight (not just shipping!) for the tile that was hundreds of dollars.  THE FUCK?!  I kinda assumed buying from a tile store meant I didn't have to pay for that stuff but oh the things you learn...  It was still worth it for me.

I also went over my initial cabinet budget because I had no idea that glass door cabinets are SO expensive.  Even paying for the glass myself, the fact that they are finished on the inside somehow translates into wallet-raping numbers.  Hey manufacturers, it's all the same cheap shit on the inside. You're not fooling anyone!  

Of course there were some additional labor expenses that I knew would pop up because no one really knew what existed at the base of the hellgate until we got down and dirty in the remodel. Nothing major showed up except for some moldy insulation inside the walls, a damaged joist that needed repairing and other thrilling details you just have to deal with.  Nobody has X-ray vision even though that was on my list of wants in potential contractors.  

The other extra expenses resulted from a lack of communication rather than a renovating mishap.  Some ended up being semantic debates (What exactly does the word "trim" include?  Apparently, we had different meanings...) and some were just incorrect assumptions from both parties. We'll delve into this bullshit when we talk about contractors later.  Aren't you excited?!!!!!  I'm not.

In the end, the unexpected down and dirty parts put me about 10% over budget on my the entire cost of the project.  I was expecting 20% so that's not too bad.  I would have liked it to be 5% because I wanted to funnel some money to my bathroom project but whatever - I didn't have to make Charlemagne resort to whoring (again!) to pay for anything so it's still a win. 

"I spent so much money on this gorgeous wallpaper border I had to use broken glass from the alley in your sandwich."
I tried to figure out where I could have really saved money had my budget been even tighter and there weren't a lot of places.  Sure, I could have eliminated the tile floors and backsplash but if I'm getting an entirely new kitchen it seemed a waste not to do everything if it was reasonable to do so.  I guess I could have done the over-the-stove microwave/vent hood combo unit thus saving me a few hundred dollars to ensure my place as a middle class homeowner.  I don't think the money I could have possibly saved for any decision was worth the style value that I added.

"Finally that kidnapper took the hint!"  This Madame needs some alone time."
In the end, I did as much research as possible and it payed off.  Literally.  Unless it didn't pay off because I fucked up and hemorrhaged money for a short while.  There's no accounting for the ignorance factor.  Or if there is I wasn't taught it in my computer science class.

Maybe the ignorance factor is like a handicap in golf if I actually understood what a handicap in golf is... 

Sometimes it's not all about the math or numbers or percentages anyway.  It's about the backsplash tile or the yellow sink or the hush money that really makes a kitchen have value.


  1. Utter brilliance... Just goes to show that there is a way to do a decent project for less than what most spend on a crappy re-facing job and not blow the budget as long as you do research and stick to your guns.

    The other caveat to your GLARING RED BAR on the cabinet graph is that you got KraftMaid... There are plenty of other cabinet lines out there that are cheaper(both cost and quality) that you could have chosen.

    I think you did great and I'm thankful that I got to be a part of the project!

  2. When I hear about the actual cost or refacing it's ridonkulous! Just buy new cabinets - seriously.

    Yes I could have gone with a cheaper cabinet line but I think the difference in cost was probably negligible for the amenities I wanted. I still would have had the glass cabinets and opted for the fancy lazy susans, etc. and I think those are what drove the price up - not the cabinets so much.

    Thank you - I'm rather pleased you were part of the project as well. ; )

  3. Kraftmaid Cabinets are crap! Who are you kidding?

  4. Our budget was 5,000. Bahahaahaa you can say we pretty much doubled that and some.

  5. Your word verification just called me a hoker.

  6. I love Kraftmaid cabinets. We installed those in quite a few kitchens including two Extreme Makeover homes here in Kansas City.

    I'm curious how you jumped from Laminate to granite. Did Laminate spike due to the shape of your kitchen? I've seen that happen more than once.

    How could you forget the extra budget for the booze? Maybe you just don't know how to pull off a remodel in full redneck style. Oh well, too many of us would disturb the space time continuum.

  7. Madame, I think that you did an awsome job with your budget. As Nick said, you got Kraftmaid cabinets and they are an exceptional quality for the price. In another life and world, I sold a whole bunch of Kraftmaid cabinets. If only all of our customers had such realistic expectations. I am with Nick and you on the refacing crap, it is just that, crap!

    Good job, Madame and Nick!

    Brenda Lynn

  8. Bri - My word verification can suck my 21% dick too! I hope you were able to find the money to make up the difference - damn girl!

    James - Pay no mind to the anonymous trolls! I kinda want the inside scoop on your Extreme Makeover experiences!

    My countertops aren't granite they are butcher block from IKEA. Surprisingly they were cheaper than laminate and a hell of a lot prettier!! By the time I added in the labor to install them they probably came in about the same price as laminate though. I just didn't like what I was getting for my money with laminate - it's more expensive than I thought!

    I tried to leave behind my hillbilly ways but the gravitational pull was too strong!! ; )

    Brenda - Thanks! I'm pretty happy with how the budget turned out - I knew I would go over my estimates because everyone does! I don't feel any regret for my cabinets or any choices I made either! It was worth it!

  9. Brava Saucy, you're a textbook example of how to go about planning a renovation.

  10. Girl, don't feel bad. Everyone forgets about the blessing with virgin panda tears. Now that I am a card carrying Jesus Head, they give us reminder cards on that shit.

  11. Paul - Thanks honey. My obsessive compulsive behaviors are finally paying off!

    Alycia - They always trick you and forget to say it has to be a VIRGIN panda. Damn fine print. I will give it to y'all Jesus Heads - you sure do have some organization down. Atheists and anarchists take note!

  12. Why can't I just afford a design/build firm that can design & order & deliver & install everything while I sit back and fight my cat for the last piece of my mom's strawberry-rhubarb pie and drink sauvignon blanc? Have I said too much?

  13. I think you've described the life of rich people who can afford real designers... I don't know any people like that so I don't really know what goes on their fancy lives but in my head it's a lot like that. Damn you lower middle class life!!!!

    So you don't have any pie left?

  14. With your usual keen discernment, you have identified the crux of the matter: The pie is gone. Maybe I'll just budget for pie and wine and ignore the kitchen.

  15. Fucketh a new kitchen. Wherever thoust findeth pie, thou art home.