8 Surprising Expenses That Always Come Up When Renovating a Kitchen

Don’t throw money down the garbage disposal

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It’s happening: After years of complaining about your creaky cabinets, questionable plumbing and early aughts “faux-Tuscan” color palette, you’re finally renovating your kitchen. You’ve gotten quotes from contractors, budgeting for everything from new appliances to permits to a fresh coat of paint. But as any renovator will tell you, surprising costs will crop up. “Whatever you think the budget is, double it,” designer Leanne Ford has famously said.

That quote alone was enough to make us start hyperventilating, which is why we consulted contractors, plumbers and other pros to uncover the top expenses most people overlook—and how to budget for them. Here’s what costs to consider before Demo Day.

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1. Special Plumbing for Farmhouse Sinks

Farmhouse sinks are beloved for their deep basins, but that feature can also present a challenge. “Many design professionals don’t realize that those fixtures need specialized plumbing and fitting, since they take up more room underneath the sink,” says Matt O’Rourke, president of national plumbing, sewer and drain repair company Z Plumberz. If you’re consulting with a designer or architect on your remodel, it’s worth bringing in a plumber to review the plans, so you have a clearer picture of what work needs to be done to achieve the look you want. (O’Rourke recommends budgeting $1,000 to $3,000 for kitchen plumbing in general, just to be safe.)

2. Delivery Fees

In the Amazon era, doesn’t everything come with free, two-day shipping? Hah. You’ll often have to pay a fee to have large, heavy items delivered to your home. Some companies, such as Best Buy and Home Depot, offer free delivery if the item costs over a certain amount (typically about $400). That said, you’ll want to know exactly what that delivery entails—it may mean they’ll unload it at your property, but they won’t bring it inside or up your front porch steps.

On top of that, if you need someone to install it, expect to spend another $120 to $130 per appliance, according to Thumbtack, a service that helps people hire local pros for home projects and repairs. It may not seem like much…until you start adding up everything you’re shipping to your house.

3. Power for the Garbage Disposal

All too often, it isn’t until a garbage disposal is about to be installed that Z Plumberz gets a call: Um, can somebody help us power this thing?! “We’re often brought in because the electrical supply is overlooked,” O’Rourke explains. Installing a new switch and wiring will set you back about $90, though that can vary, depending on how much labor is involved, according to HomeAdvisor.

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4. Bringing Your Kitchen “Up to Code”

If your reno involves making any changes to plumbing, load-bearing walls or electrical work—and your kitchen hasn’t been updated in decades—there’s a good chance you’ll have to make some adjustments to ensure those systems are in line with your state or municipality’s current laws and standards. A licensed, insured contractor should know what changes will need to be made, as well as any permits required for completing the work.

5. Under-Communicated Must-Haves

Here’s where Ford’s double-your-budget warning comes into play: Expenses often balloon because we under-communicate our expectations when we initially meet with pros to discuss things like millwork, lighting, plumbing and countertops. “Homeowners tend to under-budget their own taste and the level of finish that they’re hoping for,” says David Steckel, Thumbtack Home Expert. We all think we’re low maintenance—until we decide that if we’re shelling out all this cash for a new kitchen, it might as well have quartz countertops. And a wine fridge—which also requires running another power line. Some are just classic upsells; others—like the upgraded hood—require bringing in different experts to ensure it’s installed properly ($) and has the power (ahem, $$) and perhaps plumbing (make that $$$) it needs.

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6. Installing a New Vent Hood

You’ve heard that costs skyrocket the second you move an appliance, but surely upgrading your hood wouldn’t be a big deal, right? Well, it depends on how much of a change you’re making, since you may need carpentry, electrical, HVAC and drywall work to make the new style fit within your existing home, says Ted Speers, president of drywall repair company The Patch Boys. There’s a sort of domino effect, where each design change requires you to consider every other aspect of the home that may be impacted—and every pro who may need to be called in to help bring it to life.

7. Takeout Bills

The typical kitchen remodel takes 6 to 8 weeks—though larger projects are closer to 10 to 12—and when your kitchen’s out of commission, you’ll need to find other ways to cook. You can create a makeshift kitchenette in a corner of your home, using a microwave, air fryer, mini fridge and slow cooker, but let’s be real: You’ll probably be ordering takeout a decent bit.

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8. The Final Site Clean

“Homeowners often tend to forget to include the final site cleaning in their budget when tackling a project,” Steckel says. “A post-construction clean is very different from your regular bi-weekly cleaning, requiring special tools and a truck to haul away all the protection used to cover floors and counters.” You could do it all yourself, but if you’re exhausted just thinking about all of the other work a renovation involves, Steckel suggests setting aside $300 to $500 to have a cleaning service take care of things.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...