Getting hard evidence leads to realistic estimates for any home remodeling project. Since a kitchen remodeling project is often pricier than remodeling other less utilitarian rooms, it’s easy to see your money evaporate before your dream kitchen is completed. But getting estimates for such a large remodeling project can be as overwhelming as a smoke-filled kitchen. If you don’t take the time to itemize and compare costs, you might just find you’ll be cooking in piles of sawdust when the relatives are arriving for a holiday dinner.

To begin seeing a clear picture of where your kitchen remodeling project is going, and where your money is going, you need to start with an itemized list of material and labor costs, and have a realistic budget. If you don’t keep an eye on your estimates and your budget, your kitchen remodeling project will go up in smoke. Think of your list of material and labor costs as a recipe to create an original kitchen with the finest goods at the most reasonable price. Tweak your recipe and budget until it has the potential to cook up the perfect kitchen.

Just as a professional chef gathers food from many suppliers, so should you gather estimates from many sources. There are proverbial “bluebooks” for material and labor, just as there are “bluebooks” for cars. Craftsman puts out a yearly “National Construction Estimator” that is 700 pages of material and labor estimates for every facet of a kitchen remodeling project. You can likely find it in the reference section of your city library. Plumbing, electrical, lumber, tile and masonry costs are just a pinch of the comprehensive resources available. Comparing these prices to the estimates from big-box retailers such as Home Depot and Lowes, as well as to local material and labor suppliers, will give you a shelf of estimates to pull from. Mix and match, put everything on a spreadsheet if you can, and you’ll find the perfect kitchen remodeling budget that will awe and inspire your kitchen guests for the lifetime of your home. You might even have enough to treat yourself to a nice dinner out.

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