rehab for kitchens - Posted by brian

Posted by GL(ON) on March 06, 2002 at 14:33:34:

Thanks for the info, you can’t tell them from brand new cabinets and they save a lot of time as well as money.

By the way if you have a router and a little artistic talent you can rework particle board doors yourself. Then paint, woodgrain or do some fancy overpainting. Some expensive handles, and the old cabinets look like a million $$$ bucks.

By the way I saw something funny on some expensive cabinets lately. They were done in the style of a 19th century country store. Some of the lower doors had glass fronts with a backing an inch behind the glass. The spaces were filled with beans, oatmeal etc. to resemble bulk food bins.

rehab for kitchens - Posted by brian

Posted by brian on March 06, 2002 at 05:56:04:

Hello All,
For those of you that rehab homes, how do you typically approach the kitchens? Do you usually replace the cabinets or do you repaint or have another tactic? I seem to feel that people who would be buying the house would almost expect to see new cabinets.

Thanks for the help


Marketing plan dictates rehab and everything else - Posted by Mitchell

Posted by Mitchell on March 06, 2002 at 10:24:40:


I notice that most people ask general questions to a specific real estate problem. There are no general answers that are good in REI because the situations are different with each property.

You cannot be all things to all people. You MUST determine beforehand what your marketing strategy will be and then devise what will best implement it.

If the property is for quick resale, then do as little as you can, thus keeping the cost down, enabling you to sell quickly, at below market. I use P,P & C. Paint, Patch and Carpet. This allows a below $5,000. rehab, depending on the amount of carpet.

Kitchens can be color coordinated inexpensively, lets say in green. A counter is under $100. A new floor is $1. per square foot, so a large 10 x 20 kitchen is $200. Cabinets can be painted a color to match the counter and floor. Top notch cabinet door handles total $20. . A new matching porcelain sink with four holes is $150. Get a nice faucet with a soap dispenser and water hose, $75. Put up a matching wallpaper border for $20 and curtains for $20. This is one to two days labor. I am currently paying a competent person $26. per hour. For painting and cleanup I go to the local church related homeless shelter for men and pay $6. per hour cash, plus a meal and transportation. That works out to be $9-$10. per hour if taxes were included. The above is a $1,000. kitchen rehab project with purchased labor.

>> I seem to feel that people who would be buying the house would almost expect to see new cabinets.

This seems to indicate that you are going for a higher priced area, where higher standards are expected, unless you are making the common error of imputing your personal expectations onto your investment. You MUST divorce these two items. That is why determining the marketing strategy is so important.

For high cost rehabs, $10,000 plus, you had better have purchased correctly. If you are going for the highest amount, then do items which will be flashy, even ostentatious. You will be better off doing 10 showey items at $200. each, rather than doing one $2,000. item, like a water filtration system or new windows. Curb appeal and landscaping should be high on the list. They are relatively low cost but have high impact. Do not get into situations where you must fix basic systems, like foundations, because you will not get your money back. Americans, today, want comfort and impression. That is what they will pay for, not a new roof. They will ask about the roof, but they will make their buying decision based on the glitzy impression of the kitchen, bath and grounds.

You can add a complementary third color on the outside by using an automobile detailing tape. The thin stripe can be used to create depth. Pressure wash the outside. We all respond to being clean and made up. Do something with ceilings, perhaps fake beams. Replace average ceiling lights with nice looking ones. Ceiling fans are always a good idea but get better looking ones for higher priced homes. The lever door handles are very pretty, though costly. Install a new, keyless front door lock. Paint with boldness, not just plain eggshell. In that way, your new basic tan berber carpet will not look so bland. Do not paint in one color. Make walls a different color than the white molding. I use a high gloss french vanilla color, similar to a file folder with high gloss white moldings. It matches everything and looks nice. High gloss paint makes rooms look larger and you can scrub it. I give occupants the paint formula and where to buy it.

Replace bland ivory outlets and switches with white electrical outlets. Put in dimmer switches. Go to electrical wholesalers and see if they have any items on closeout. Buy things that match. Beautiful items that clash ruin the money spent. Example, a closeout post light in brass and a set of closeout garage lights in black or rust. They may not be terrible but they do not go together wonderfully well. To get high prices for a home, “good taste” is the impression you are after. If you have an eatin kitchen, for light over the eating area, install a candellabrum. Then, put in a ceiling fan with a light fixture in the work area. The blades must complement the cabinets. Both of the fixtures should have matching globes. Make sure that the finish on both fixtures match, i.e. the polish brass usually conflicts. It makes a great impression.

Consider putting crown moldings in the living room and the dining room. They are costly but are very dramatic. Get a very striking candelabrum and mirror for the dining room. Tell prospects that they do not come with the house, but the impression has been made. Paint all areas, even the garage. Nothing looks more incomplete than seeing those joint compound patches all over the garage or basement. Do something nice with the closets. Put phone, cable and stereo hookups in all rooms, including bathrooms. See if you can install security and intercom systems cheaply. If you look, you can get a used spa for under $1,000. They install easily. This will sell a home by itself.

If redoing the kitchen, consider NOT buying appliances. Let the new buyer determine their preferences, giving them the impression that they would get if they were purchasing a new construction house. You buy and install the appliances they choose and include these appliances in the price, and at no up-charge to the buyer. This will make a very good impression. You can get prices for a range of appliances, at wholesale, and give those choices to the buyer with your up-charge built in. Then, send the buyer to the store or the distributer, knowing that they are going to pay retail. Example: “If you choose item #1 and #2, it will be included in the price, but if you want items #3 and #4 the price rises $1,000. and items #5 and #6 raise the price $2,000. You can also pick something completely different or use the appliances that you already own and you will get a $1,000. credit.”

If new cabinets are in order then you have five basic choices.

One: if the cabinet is light to medium dark in stain shade, you can over spray with a darker stain and then spray with lacquer. This is an absolutely wonderful way to upgrade without spending big money. I paid a pro $500. including materials, to restain my 15 kitchen cabinets, versus refacing for a minimum of $3,500. or buying new at $15,000. When making the new countertop, stain the wood edge molding the same color. Similarly, use the same stain for the ceiling wood molding and add a coordinated border. I spent $600. (extra $100. for countertop and molding) but got a $15,000. look. That is what you are seeking to do with any rehab.
Two: Reface, but if you reface you might as well paint. To me there is no real difference.
Three: Buy new unfinished cabinets from the manufacturer and finish them yourself. This will save some money but you can do just as well if you,
Four: Buy new at a wholesale distributor paying 30-50% less, especially if you are buying a closeout model.
Five: Get used cabinets. They used to be cheap. No longer. You can get new, low end starter sets for the same money.

Be very specific in your goals and the steps to achieve them will easily appear.

Good luck,

Re: rehab for kitchens - Posted by GL(ON)

Posted by GL(ON) on March 06, 2002 at 08:13:20:

It depends on a lot of things like how bad are the cupboards now, and how much you want to spend, how expensive a house is it etc.

Buyers don’t know if the cabinets are new or old. As long as they are nice and in keeping with the decor.

You can also put new doors on, or get overlays or covers for the old ones. At least they used to have them, has anyone seen them lately?

Re: Marketing plan dictates rehab - Posted by Matt_MPD

Posted by Matt_MPD on March 06, 2002 at 19:39:32:

I am in awe! Very impressive post and a spectacular show of creativity! Thanks a ton!

Another perspective - Posted by DJR-NV

Posted by DJR-NV on March 06, 2002 at 17:57:02:


Great post!! I agree with everything you said except your thoughts on paint. I disagree with trying to anticipate the tastes of your potential buyers. I’m a firm believer with just painting everything with a semi-gloss white. It saves time and money. I doubt that a color coordinated color scheme will make the difference in a sale especially if you have some color thrown around in the form of accessories (towels, rugs, soap dishes and candels ect.) I do believe that the wrong color scheme can kill a deal however. I say keep it simple.

Thanks again for your post.


GREAT post! NT - Posted by Anne_ND

Posted by Anne_ND on March 06, 2002 at 11:12:16:


Bookmark Mitchell’s post!!! - Posted by JJJ - FL

Posted by JJJ - FL on March 06, 2002 at 10:41:11:

Excellent post Mitchell. I’m a relative newbie trying to get my feet wet, and I will definetly come back to this post when the time comes to rehab my first home.

A lot of what you said can be applied to more than rehabbers as well…like if you plan to “spiff up” a pretty house for a quick resale.

Also to the original poster, you might want to take a look in the “kitchens” section of the book “Buy It, Fix It, Sell It, Profit”. It should be in the real estate section of your local bookstore, and has some decent information on rehabs in general.

Thanks for a well thought out post Mitchell, and for revealing some of your “secrets” :slight_smile:

Re: rehab for kitchens - Posted by Frank

Posted by Frank on March 06, 2002 at 09:32:32:

We put new doors on our kitchen cabinents in our 45 year old house. Painted everything, tiled the counter tops and they look brand new. I plan to put new doors in a house I am rehabbing now, and with paint, hinges and new handles it should look great. We went to Home Depot with measurements and they made the doors for us in about two weeks or less, I don’t remember the cost but it wasn’t bad.