What makes a kitchen more or less expensive?

Kitchens can be very expensive, depending on a number of factors. For instance, kitchen sinks and faucets can be purchased for $200 up to $1500. Floors, countertops, appliances, lighting, and cabinets follow the same pattern. You can go low-end, to high-end, and everything in between. The price of a kitchen remodel is mainly determined by the finishes that are selected. We can help guide you to select the best products and finishes for your money.

What can I do myself to help cut costs?

The first way to save money on a remodel is to select less expensive finishes and items. Planning out exactly what is important to you and prioritizing those items ensures you get exactly what you want and don't pay for what you don't. Another significant way to keep costs down is to keep the same footprint of the room as discussed above. Whether it may be a kitchen, bathroom, etc. if you don't have plumbing to move or structural walls to add or eliminate this greatly reduces the amount of labor involved.

What is GFCI and do I need it?

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter and yes, you do need it. The GFCI is a safety device mandated by building codes. With GFCI, if an appliance fell into a sink full of water, the circuit would be tripped and would be rendered off, so no one would be electrocuted.

I've heard stories of contractors starting a job and then leaving before it's finished or taking forever because they come and go. When you start my job will you stay until it's finished?

We have heard these stories too and we do absolutely everything possible to keep your project moving along quickly. Many of these stories stem from contractors spreading themselves too thin. We never take on more projects than we can handle at any given time and therefore our projects rarely sit idle. If there is work that can be done on a given day, someone will be there working.

Should I anticipate any costs beyond the contract price?

The only cost that a homeowner should anticipate beyond the contract price would be if there are any allowance items on which the homeowner has not made final selections. These items could go over the price or could go under. If there are items that are added, that could change the price. The only exception to this is, if we discover hidden problems or damage. For instance water damage, which could not be reasonably foreseen. If we encounter any kind of hazardous material that could not have been reasonably foreseen, that could also change the final price.

How do you handle change orders?

If a homeowner wants to make a change, we will write up the change and produce an estimated cost for that change and present that to the homeowner. At that time, the homeowner can decide to proceed with the change or decline the change.

Do you guarantee your prices?

The price we quote is guaranteed as long as the scope of work and specifications don't change. If you ask for different materials or
additional work is needed, the price may change. You will be informed immediately if and whenever this occurs. Also the prices are only good for the reasonable amount of time, which is stated in each proposal, due to the cost of materials going up with time. In order to know whether something has changed requires that every task and item be clearly spelled out in writing so there is a clear record of the agreement. Johnston Remodel provides very detailed proposals so you will know exactly what was included and what wasn't. As a result, we rarely have any misunderstandings.

What's the difference between an estimate and a price?

An "Estimate" is just that "an Estimate". It can and most likely will change. Many contractors lack the ability and/or patience to produce accurate estimates and tend to "guesstimate" the costs based on very little information. This method offers you no protection against cost escalation. A "Price" is generally fixed (depending on your written agreement) and usually is based on more detailed information taken from the site visit and/or drawings. A price generally requires a fixed set of specifications and scope of work and therefore requires a great deal of "pre-planning" and designing. This method offers the most in the way of price protection. Usually the client and the contractor agree (in writing) on a fixed scope and fixed price. These are general definitions. It all depends on the terms set forth in the contract. Johnston Remodel does almost all jobs on a "fixed" price.

Should I get other estimates before proceeding?

Getting other estimates is a personal decision. Only you can decide if will you feel comfortable having not gotten other estimates. It's very easy to compare prices but very difficult to compare scopes of work and specifications and even more difficult to compare service and craftsmanship. All too often people are tempted by a lower price and live to regret it when they don't get the job they expected or worse, things start falling apart. Our advice has always been - hire a contractor you trust and feel confident will do a professional job for you. Gain this confidence by doing your due diligence - check references and ask lots of good questions.

A recent report published by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry confirmed that 91% of the homeowners that "seriously considered only one or two remodeling contractors" were completely satisfied. Satisfaction rates dropped significantly for those considering several contractors.

Will I be able to select the actual products for my project?

Yes. All products like doors, hardware, trim, windows, siding, plumbing and electrical fixtures, flooring, paint colors, you select all specialty items, etc., with our guidance. These are normally chosen, to closely match the existing items in your home or specific design style or tastes. We will provide a special worksheet and checklist that will identify all of the products that need to be selected by you.


Kitchen remodeling can turn a ho-hum room into your home's pride and joy. A kitchen is often the central gathering point of any home. The quality of the kitchen will either appeal to buyers or turn them away from buying your home when it is for sale. Most kitchen remodel projects will increase the value of the home. Here are strategies to help your project run smoothly and maximize your return

1. Establish priorities

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends spending at least six months planning your kitchen remodeling project. That way, you won't be tempted to change your mind during construction, create change orders, and inflate construction costs. Here are planning points to cover:

Cooking traffic patterns: A walkway through the kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide. Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks. For child safety, avoid sharp, square corners on countertops, and make sure microwave ovens are installed at the proper height. Outside access: If you want easy access to entertaining areas, such as a deck or patio, factor a new exterior door into your plans.

2. Keep the same footprint

No matter the size and scope of your kitchen remodel, you can protect your budget by maintaining the same footprint: Keep the walls, locate new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, and forget bump-outs. Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you'll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

3. Get real about appliances

It's easy to get carried away during your kitchen remodeling project. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand
refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle. High-priced appliances are worth the investment if you're an exceptional cook. Otherwise, save thousands with trusted brands that receive high marks at consumer review websites, like www.ePinions.com and www.amazon.com, and resources such as Consumer Reports.

4. Light your way

Good kitchen lighting helps you work safely and efficiently. Install task lighting, such as recessed or track lights, over sinks
and food prep areas; assign at least two fixtures per task to eliminate shadows. Under-cabinet lights illuminate cleanup and are great for reading cookbooks. Pendant lights over counters bring the light source close to work surfaces. Ambient lighting includes flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights. Pair dimmer switches with ambient lighting to control intensity and mood.

5. Be quality conscious

Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they'll look great for a long time. If you're planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.

6. Add storage, not space

Here's how you can add storage without bumping out walls: Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more--and you might need a stepladder--but you'll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won't have to dust cabinet tops. Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

7. Communicate early and often with your contractor

Establishing a good rapport with your construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project drop by the project during work hours. Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality. Establish a communication routine. Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communication. Give your email address and cell phone number to your team. Set house rules. Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.