Repair Or Replace Kitchen Cabinets?

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I'm preparing to sell my house. It's a modest dwelling, 2br 1 bath. My kitchen cabinets are slab particle board with a thin veneer. They look "ok". Some parts have the veneer starting to come off if you look closely, which a prospective buyer probably would. The bathroom vanity looks worse as moisture has taken it's tool on the particle board; I'll probably just replace that outright.
I'm just trying to get a feel for which direction I should go in the kitchen. I've heard of cabinet refacing and if that would make it look decent at a lower cost I'd go with that. I think I could install everything myself even if I got all new cabinets. My main goal is that the house shows well enough without me having to spend thousands of dollars that I won't get back on resale.
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paint the cabinets, use a theme consistent and complimentary to your home's interior, add new knobs and visible hinges, if any to give it an upgrade look; the sales persons who sell you this stuff should be able to tell you how to use it (key word "should", doesn't mean will)
recover any counter surfaces if necessary to maintian the theme of the kitchen
consider new lighting, like track lighting, avoiding recessed lighting unless it has airtight housings (and then they may not be 100% airtight)
cost should be a couple hundred bucks if you get great deals
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Oh god there she goes with her can lighting again.
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:-) :-) :-)
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He said the cabinets were covered with veneer. Painting would not be a smart option, unless your goal is for prospective buyers to whisper to themselves "Jeez...what a cob job....next house".
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He said the cabinets were covered with veneer. Painting would not be a smart option, unless your goal is for prospective buyers to whisper to themselves "Jeez...what a cob job....next house".
And he also said they look ok. I'd fix any things that were not ok and would clearly detract from the sale. Sounds like the bathroom vanity fits that description. As for the kitchen cabinets, IMO, unless they stand out as noticeably bad, I wouldn't fool around with them. To do a decent job, it's going to cost a lot more than a couple hundred bucks. And who knows if what you wind up with is what a buyer wants anyway. Personally, I'd prefer to do my own upgrade after I purchased the house rather than have someone else choose what to do.
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We just did a remodel of our kitchen from 1978 cabinets. In 1984, I built a house, and custom cabinets were $4300, I believe. These ran $22,000. Even at Home Depot, cabinets are spendy, and I do not believe you would recoup the cost. And then, you have to do the countertops, and all the stuff that gets messed up when you take out old cabinets.
Just MHO. The new cabinets look like a million dollars, though. They should.
Steve
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I would suggest not fixing them (unless they're really bad). the realtor will probably try to pressure you into spending money to make them look better. when I've been selling or buying properties, I'v always left things as they were (as long as they weren't too bad), and had the realtor explain to prospective buyers that the (insert item here) is a bit "used", but its also 20 years old. Rather than fixing it up tio what I think a buyer would want, I adjusted the price down to allow them enough $$ to do what they want. If a buyer really wants me to replace the item before they buy, I'll take care of it, but add theprice to the cost....
when I've bene on the buying side, I've walked away from properties because the "fixing" was clearly a quick and dirty "make it pretty to sell", or because the taste of the seller was very different from mine, and I wasn't going to pay the seller the cost of the fix, knowing that I'd just be ripping it out. I *have* made offers on properties where I've subtracted the cost of making a seller-made fix into something I could live with. On the other hand, I have had a number of good discussions with sellers that have left things as they are, and reduced their selling price accordingly. I have owned a number of these properties, andthink that they're the best all around solution. Typically, the seller underestimates the cost fo the fix a bit, but its such a small amount that it gets lost in the overall prioce of the buy. So I pay a little bit extra, but get to renovate into what I want.
YMMV --JD

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First things first: Interview some realtors, and pick one who will be your selling agent. He or she should be able to offer some guidance. When I was looking at houses, I saw quite a few upgraded kitchens that were obviously done for the sole purpose of selling the house. While all the cabinets were at least of acceptable quality, the choice of color & style was often not what I would've chosen. It was impossible to negotiate big bucks with people who'd spent time & money on these upgrades. It would've been easier if they left in place the old built-in-place cabinets. At least that way, both parties know what's worth what.
Visit some open houses, which I assume you have in your area. See what other people have done to their kitchens. You'll be surprised to find that although kitchens don't have to be palaces in order to sell the house, they can't be disgusting, either. With that in mind, you might want to check the yellow pages for places that work on countertops. You should be able to find someone who can come out and reglue the cabinet laminate, unless it and the underlying particle board are damaged.
I think you're better off adjusting the price of the house to take into account the fact that the buyer will probably want to remodel the kitchen, and be honest about it. Either that, or go over the top and do an amazing design/remodel job on the room. Most sellers I saw did sort of a halfway job - nice, new cabinets, but not much effort on the rest of the room. Matter of fact, the house I bought is like this. If I stand in the kitchen and turn around 360 degrees, it's like I'm seeing the work of 3 different minds at work.
Bathroom: Your idea sounds good.
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" I saw quite a few upgraded kitchens that were obviously done for the sole purpose of selling the house. While all the cabinets were at least of acceptable quality, the choice of color & style was often not what I would've chosen."
I can say that applies to other parts of the house also, and that the quality of the parts was usually the cheapest obtainable.
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Right, but in other parts of (most) houses, you're probably not talking about huge, expensive objects bolted to the wall, like cabinets. In other rooms, the stuff you don't like usually involves things you can fix yourself, like paint colors, or hideous light fixtures, chandeliers with so much crystal that you wonder "just which of the servants is going to dip all that crystal into cleaning solution a few times a year".
My realtor and I got into a pretty good pattern when looking at houses. Most of the stuff involved things that the professional inspector would look at, too, but you need to know whether you should even make an offer on the house, so you have to check these things yourself. For any defect found, deduct an amount of money that reflects what your weekend time is worth. I'm a fisherman and a gardener. One weekend day is worth $1000.00.
1) Roof: I brought binoculars
2) Basement: I brought a huge flashlight, and a very sensitive nose. If I was going to make an offer on a house whose basement raised doubts, I would've brought halogen work lights. Basements are shadowy places. You want to illuminate, and very thorougly.
3) Furnace: Check the dealer stickers, take notes, research the make & model. If you're getting close to making an offer, insist on having YOUR favorite HVAC person inspect the system. That cost me $75, and was worth every penny.
4) Windows: Besides being relatively modern, make sure the ones you want to open in nice weather actually WILL open. If not, find out why not. If they're painted shut, insist on being able to bring tools for opening them. If you can't get them open using normal measures, and you know what happens to wood frame windows when they need to be brutalized, deduct $1000 per window to cover the bullshit you'll have to go through to make them work, and repair the cosmetic damage from getting them opened.
5) Electrical outlets: Bring a 3-prong circuit tester. First, you want to check for proper wiring. Equally important, you want to see if the outlets seem like they're going to pull out of the wall because some dumb wanker didn't have to sense to install the box up against a beam as god intended. If they flex the wall when you pull out the tester, that's $1000 per outlet if you intend to move the outlet and you're doing the work yourself.
6) Check ceilings very carefully for any signs of irregularity, especially if they're textured. It may indicate water damage from roof problems or ice damming. If the current owner has been there for many years and claims to know nothing, insist on a polygraph examination, or move on to the next house.
7) Toilets: Make sure they flush energetically. Also, see if they rock - not correctly attached to the floor, in other words. If they do, call a plumber and find out what he charges to install a toilet. Deduct that amount, based on the assumption that if they're going to be checked, tightened, whatever, it's not a bad idea to uninstall, replace the seal...the whole routine. Deduct $2000.00 if you intend to do it yourself, especially if you've never installed a toilet before.
8) Does the current owner smoke indoors? Do you intend to paint after you buy the house? Deduct $1000 per room.
The reality is that the major stuff you look at - the kitchen cabinets, carpet, these are things that are relatively easy. You just need the money to do them, and most of the time, you pay someone to install. The stuff I've mentioned - these are things that will drive YOU crazy. You need to get paid for the trouble.
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Now is some funny shit to read. 1000.00 an outlet???
New toilet bowl and wax seal 2000.00????
If a seller would EVER accept this, run from the house because there are probably more major things wrong on the house than you even expected.
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Funny shit? :-)
Remove outlet, and damage the wall in the process. Whether it's plaster or sheetrock, you've got at a day's worth of work, if you add up the "spackle, let it dry, spackle again, let it dry, sand it, paint it, paint it again..." Now, if you're lucky, the previous owner left you some partial cans of paint, which were sealed properly, and maybe even labeled as to which room they belong with. If you're really lucky, maybe you only need to paint the one wall. But, probably not.
Now, make a hole in the correct place for the NEW outlet. Will it have access to the same vertical wall cavity as the wire that went to the old outlet? Murphy's Law says probably not. Pull the wire down into the basement (if you're lucky). Is it long enough to reach the new box? Probably not. Deal with that issue in the basement, one way or the other.
Upstairs again: If the wall is plaster, making the hole for the new box will be interesting. I'm real good with plaster, but I still got some jagged edges when making holes for outlets. So, more spackle/wait/spackle/wait/sand/prime/etc.
I don't know what YOUR time is worth, but weekend during fishing/boating/gardening season is worth $1000.00 to me. :-) And...you KNOW one project ALWAYS leads to another for some damned reason....
Toilet bowl: Who said anything about "new toilet"?? I'm talking about a toilet that's loose from the floor, which (if you have a brain) makes you think "I could just tighten it....but since it's been rocking for god knows how long every time someone sat on it, I wonder if the the seal's not good any more. Hmm. Would I rather replace it, or clean sewage off the ceiling below, and the living room carpet?"
I've never done a toilet removal/reinstall, but it sounds like a whole weekend to me. Penalty to owner for not dealing with it: $2000.00. Hey...I'm funny that way. Works sometimes, though. I got $5,000.00 off the asking price of my house for various little bullshit things.
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A trick I have used when selling homes is to tell potential buyers you will have the problems repaired. Then get some quotes and leave the money in escrow so that the buyer can have the work done themselves. This also empowers them to be in control of not only the colors and finishes but also the contractor. As you know, once the seller leaves the contractor is not answerable to the buyer since the buyer did not hire them. It will also limit your liability to future repairs if you word the contract correctly. This is particularly import for section one termite repairs where the only person they have to satisfy is the termite inspector, who also does not work for the buyer.....good luck on your sale....Ross
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workinprogress wrote:

If I were your prospective buyer I would perfer to take some $$ off the price and redo myself, at least in the kitchen. If the bathroom is really bad your idea to replace the vanity is good, shouldn't be too expensive, doing this in the kitchen would be expensive. Clean things up in the kitchen, make whatever minor repairs you can (like reglue veneer that's loose), and put her out there! To me this would be much better than if you do a half-fast remodel job.
Good luck, Eileen
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Thanks so much to everyone. Based on all of the suggestions I think I'll stick with leaving the kitchen cabinets and replacing the bathroom vanity, which is really the answer I wanted to hear so I'm doubly happy. I'm going to re-paint inside and out myself also so that should sparkle things up too.
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hoping all the time that some buyer decides not to buy the house in the future because they dont like the color(s), but you want to get the cost of the paint job out of the sale.
this is just my opinion, but unless the paint is literally falling off, i think you are wasting your time. let the new owners paint it how they want. they probably will anyway....
randy
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I've read many articles about pre-sale fixing up of a house. The payback is minimal or non-existent on expensive items, but the payback on some fresh paint can easily be 100 fold. This does not mean the entire house must be done, but any questionable rooms are worth the $30 investment.
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Clean, neat, bright. That is what will sell. Putting in cheap cabinets to make the house sell will often end up with the new owner tearing them out anyway. Paint if needed, clean the cabinets well, get the stuff off the counters. Now see if anything more needs to be done.
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workinprogress wrote:

I would be inclined to leave the kitchen as is. A purchaser of a "modest" 2BR is likely bargain shopping. Repair or replacement can be the buyer's choice. Take care of defects, like the water damaged vanity, patch holes, fix what is broken, tidy up the landscape and give the place a clean, neat presentation. Needed repairs are not a turn-off, as long as folks can see what needs to be done. The last time I sold a house (14 years old), it was in very good condition but needing a new roof and some interior paint. Neither was considered a problem and it sold quickly. The interior had the original paint job, one minor wall crack, so it was easy to see that nothing had been concealed.
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