I have always considered myself to be a cost-saver. I browse the Target website while I shop in-store and have the cashiers match prices at checkout. When I shop online, I always check my Rakuten offers for cash back, and I do quick searches for promo codes before placing orders. Call it what you want, but I have never been a fan of paying full price when I know better deals exist.

When it comes to the home, the same frame of mind applies. In the spirit of National Kitchen and Bath Month, I decided to focus this week on how to cut costs in your kitchen or bath remodel. To do so, I went straight to the source: Bonnie Oda, of Graham Builders.

Start with a plan

Planning is key for any remodel, but strategically planning involves much more than the basics. Oda recommends planning for the basics (needs, budget, timelines), but also incorporating less conventional strategies, such as educating yourself in regards to how the renovation can impact your family’s routines, finances and lifestyle. Without a kitchen, for example, you may need to incorporate more restaurant meals into your budget. Graham Builders offers free educational seminars for homeowners to help them understand the essentials for a successful construction project. She also recommends assigning a spokesperson in the family to handle communication with contractors and things like background checks.

Stick with standards


For cabinetry, this means going with standard sizes, colors and finishes, which will always cost less than custom. The same holds true for backsplash. “Standard 4-inch backsplashes are generally less expensive,” Oda said. “Sometimes that extra 1 to 2 inches of backsplash height could mean that your counter contractor will need to purchase another full slab of material to meet the additional height.”

Minimize change

Moving things like electrical and plumbing can be costly and can also come with additional, hidden costs such as changes to the ceiling, floors and walls, Oda said. Instead, keep your appliances and plumbing where they are. She also recommends that homeowners pull off old carpet or vinyl to expose the concrete underneath. You can refinish the existing concrete for a fraction of the price of installing something new.

Be open

When it comes to shelving, incorporate open shelving wherever possible. It costs less than enclosed cabinetry, and can also help to make a small space feel larger. Be open in other ways, too. Use furniture for a kitchen island, and shop at antique stores, garage sales and estate sales for unique finds to repurpose, such as mirrors or even makeshift bathroom vanities.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.