Thinking about a DIY kitchen renovation? Let’s look at the REAL cost of doing it yourself

We’ve all seen the glossy catalogues and smiling people on the TV commercials showing off “easy and beautiful” flat pack kitchens and we completely understand why they look so enticing. The idea they present of being able to have a brand new kitchen in a flash at a “fraction” of the price certainly sounds good. But let’s take a closer look at these supposed savings of time and money and see how they really stack up.

Cost and quality of materials

On the face of it, it may seem cheaper to buy these kinds of kitchens, especially when you’re just getting the flat pack but beware of the hidden costs. Like most things, the quality and finish is in the details so when you take a closer look at these “cheap” products you start to notice that generally speaking, the quality is just not there.

Some things to be on the lookout for:

  • Cost comparison – make sure you don’t just assume that flat pack kitchens will be cheaper. When it comes to kitchen cabinets and benchtops many of the quality brands we supply are available at a comparable price, but the quality is exponentially better.
  • Predrilled holes – when you first think about it, it probably seems extremely helpful to have all those holes predrilled to allow things like handles and drawer runners to be easily attached. But in order to give you maximum flexibility there will be A LOT of unused and unnecessary holes which you’ll need to cap off and which quite frankly, reduces the integrity of the product.
  • Support for your cabinets – Some flat pack kitchens come with basic plastic supports or need to be mounted on a wall via a suspension rail. Take a moment to consider the weight bearing down on these supports including the benchtop (particularly if it is something solid like stone or cement). You want to make sure that whatever system is used it will be able to withstand the weight and evenly spread the load. All our kitchens are mounted on load bearing solid bases for lifelong stability.
  • Make sure that the materials being used meet Australian chemical standards. Many are manufactured overseas, some may contain more nasties than you’d expect and you’re left with a stinky and potentially toxic kitchen!
  • Are the materials made using High Moisture Resistant (HMR) board? The brands we use are. This means a little water is not going to result in them falling apart on you.
  • Can you be flexible? Most prefabricated or flat pack kitchens generally only come in certain sizes/dimensions which means that you might not actually get the most out of your space.
  • Quality of fixings like screws, hinges and drawer runners – you use your kitchen every day so the wear and tear on these components can potentially be quite high. You want them to last so if you need to purchase better quality parts this will add to the costs on top of the flat pack itself.

Hidden Costs

Your time is valuable so be sure to factor in the cost of your own time when you’re doing the calculations of how much you’re “saving” by DIY. Don’t just think about the time you’ll actually need to install the kitchen itself, remember to think about:

  • The planning stages – many places that sell flat pack kitchens have software in store that allows you to plan out your design. But generally this is a cumbersome process, especially if you’re not familiar with how it works so you’ll likely need to allow quite a bit more time than you initially think.
  • Measuring and remeasuring – are you 100% confident in taking the measurements of your space and that everything is level? Being even just a couple of millimetres off can throw things out completely which doesn’t just waste your time but potentially materials too.
  • Project management – unless you’re a master planner and organiser you’ll be surprised at the time it takes for the logistics of organising several tradespeople to do the tasks you can’t. Tasks need to be completed in a certain order during a renovation so the task of organising everyone to be where they need to be at the right point in the process is time consuming. So be sure to factor that into your cost planning.
  • Marriage counselling – we’re kidding! Sort of… Renovations have the potential to add some stress to your life for a short while when done by professionals, but when you factor in all of the above as well if you’re DIY-ing, that’s a lot of extra burden on you and your family that shouldn’t be overlooked.

At Nu Look, renovating kitchens and bathrooms is what we do every day. We know exactly what we’re doing and take care of the time consuming logistical tasks for you so you don’t have to learn the lingo, worry about dealing with tradies (especially unprofessional ones as we only use ones we know and trust), or deal with all the stress that undertaking a task like a DIY kitchen renovation entails.

What you get is a custom designed space, made from exceptional quality materials that will stand the test of time all while supporting a local Canberra business who in turn supports a local Canberra cabinet manufacturing company and benchtop supplier.

If you have your heart set on building and installing your own kitchen, no worries! Give us a call and we can help you design your kitchen for success, supply you with quality cabinets that will last and provide you with some advice to get you started.


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