How To Tell If You’re Paying Too Much

By Women Designing Kitchens at Royal Kitchen Designs

Smart shoppers know it’s important to get more than one estimate before beginning any remodeling project. So, you’ve asked around, checked references, seen actual completed projects and finally narrowed it down to two contractors. They may be bidding on the same project, but often times you’ll find you get two totally different price quotes. How do you know if you’re paying too much?

Some contractors give you one overall price, while others will break down every single project and purchase. These strategies can give the appearance that one estimate is significantly less than the other. It’s crucial that you make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

The products being used can make a huge difference. You want to make certain that you are not losing quality to gain savings. This is particularly true with cabinetry. We have seen many cases in which a customer thought they were saving money by using less expensive cabinets, only to find out these needed to be replaced after just a few years. This can be a very costly mistake. Be sure you are buying quality cabinetry.

You must pay close attention to the cabinetry design as well. Contractors often cut corners by using smaller cabinets and fillers. We had one client who had originally gone to a large, national company to design their kitchen. Without ever visiting the home, the so-called designer came up with a plan using 29 fillers. These are the small pieces typically used on the ends of cabinetry sections. The average kitchen may have six to eight fillers. This client would have lost about 90-inches of usable space had they hired the national company. We were able to create a truly, custom-kitchen, using better quality materials, for the same price (because we pass along our discounts to our customers).

It’s also important to make sure that your contractor has actually seen your home. To keep costs down, some kitchen design companies will create designs based strictly on a floor plan. This is never a good idea. A renovation is a big investment and you want to make sure you are maximizing every dollar spent. Only after seeing the home, your taste and style, and learning about your lifestyle, can a functional, custom kitchen be created. You certainly don’t want to waste money on things you don’t need or will never use.

That said, it is important to know exactly what is going into your renovation project. When comparing bids you want to be sure that everything is included. In addition to the actual construction costs, does the estimate include repairs (such as patching a ceiling when cabinets have been moved), as well the finishing touches to the project such as painting? Not only does this allow you to compare apples to apples, but it ensures that you will not have any costly surprises after you begin remodeling.

Look to see if your estimate includes all the product costs, as well as labor. Some remodelers are full-service companies and do it all, while other use subcontractors. If you will be using subcontractors, find out if you are responsible for paying them or if your remodeling company will pay. Either way, be sure that you know the full cost to complete the job.

This can all be quite overwhelming, but it is important to know exactly what you are paying for. Only after you have determined all of the costs can you actually compare apples to apples and make an informed decision.

Royal Kitchen Designs understands hiring a contractor can be confusing. As a homeowner you are often unaware of all that goes into a remodeling project, and some contractors prey on that naiveté. Unfortunately, in our line of business we have seen too many homeowners make costly mistakes while trying to save a buck. That’s why as professional kitchen and bathroom designers with over 75 years of experience, we will gladly examine your plans and estimates, to compare pricing and qualities of products. For a nominal fee, we will review your bids to make sure there are no hidden costs and that nothing has been overlooked. We will also offer suggestions if we think the project could be done better. We hope this service will help you make a wise decision.

Royal Kitchen Designs is a full-service interior design and renovation company specializing in kitchens, bathrooms and luxurious living spaces. The company has been serving Broward and South Palm Beach counties for almost a decade. From custom kitchens and beautiful baths to designer draperies, every Royal Kitchen Designs project receives the royal touch. With over 75 years of combined experience, owners Margie Levy and Eliane Berdah can turn any home into a castle. Call Royal Kitchen Designs at (954) 717-1805 to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Royal Kitchen Designs writes a monthly advice column answering your questions about interior design and home remodeling. Please e-mail your questions to or mail to: Royal Kitchen Designs, 5608 Travelers Palm Lane, Tamarac, FL, 33319. For more information visit