Buying a new home is exciting. It’s a chance to start fresh and maybe even get a few upgrades that you’ve been dreaming about. The kitchen is a room you must evaluate when you are shopping for a home. It is estimated that women and men spend a combined 110 minutes cooking each day. This makes it one of the most important rooms in your home. To make sure the room is going to work for you and your family there are several things to consider. Here is a list of what to look for in a kitchen when buying a new home.
With as much time as you are going to be spending in the kitchen, you want to make sure it is a space you enjoy being in. Make sure you take the time to carefully observe the design of the kitchen. You want to look beyond the color of paint on the walls or the curtains hanging in the window. Instead, focus on the aspects of design that will be time-consuming and costly to replace.
Countertops come in many different materials, each with their own benefits and maintenance. Laminate countertops are some of the most affordable on the market but are prone to greater wear and tear. They are susceptible to scratches, melting, and burn marks. Meanwhile, one of the biggest trends in kitchen design over the last decade has been the integration of natural stone countertops such as marble, granite, or quartz. Installing natural stone countertops can range from $40-$100 per square foot, a project costing around $3,000, as described here. Regardless of the countertop material, you want to inspect whether they have been maintained properly if there are any flaws (etching, scratches, chips, etc). If the house does not have the kind of kitchen counter you are wanting, consider whether you are willing to compromise or if you would want to replace them.
The flooring used in the kitchen is just as important as the countertop. It undergoes a huge amount of wear and tear. The way the floor has responded to such use will depend on the material used. You’ll want to carefully consider the type of flooring that is installed in the kitchen. Is it damaged? Does it need to be refinished? Is it a material that you want or would you consider putting in new flooring? Just as with countertops, pricing will vary based on the material you select. Vinyl or linoleum is often the most affordable flooring option (and is relatively durable) with prices steadily increasing as you begin to explore tiles, natural stone, and wood. Porcelain tiles, which are the most durable for kitchens, average $2.50-$3.00 per sq ft., with an average installation fee of $6 per sq ft.
Cabinets are another important aspect of kitchen design that you want to consider when buying a home. The first thing you need to think about is the material. You want to make sure that the material is of high quality and will last. For instance, cabinets made from hardwood are going to be more durable and long-lasting than cabinets made of fiberboard or particleboard. Additionally, you want to consider the quality of the smaller parts that make the cabinetry functional (i.e. hinges, runners, hardware, etc.). You also want to look for those additional features that the previous homeowner has added to the kitchen like pull-out drawers, a lazy Susan, built-in wine racks, etc. Keep in mind, that if you don’t like the cabinets now, it’s a major job to change the cabinetry and often accounts for 30-50% of a kitchen remodel budget (around $5,000).
Not all kitchens are designed alike. You want to make sure you consider the space and how you use the kitchen (or anticipate using the space). Key aspects of kitchen functionality include the layout and appliances.
Consider the type of layout that you want. Are you looking for an open floor plan or do you prefer a closed kitchen? Do you use the kitchen extensively to entertain and cook meals or do you microwave your meals and need less space? Everyone’s needs will be different, so you need to consider what your exact needs are. Changing the layout of the kitchen is a major remodel that is often quite costly.
Carefully think about the appliances that are included versus the appliances you want and need. Is there a gas range or an electric cooktop? Does it matter to you? Will the appliances need to be replaced soon? Do you need to install your own dishwasher, garbage disposal, or exhaust hood? The condition of the appliances can be a bargaining chip when negotiating the price.
It’s unlikely that you’ll find a kitchen that ticks off all your boxes and has the kitchen of your dreams. Be sure to decide what your “must” haves are versus your “want to” haves. Always make sure you consider what you need and what you want and the cost of getting them if they are not already featured into the kitchen.
Keeping all of this in mind can help immensely in the home buying process. If you are looking at several homes, you want to take specific notes about each kitchen and the features that they have. Many kitchens have similar features and once you get knee-deep in house hunting they can begin all blending together. Keeping detailed notes on each home, and specifically the kitchen, can help when finalizing which home to make an offer on and can help identify points for negotiating down on price.