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Flat Pack Vs Custom

What's the smart way to save on the priciest room to renovate?

Kitchens are big ticket items and it’s a room that you can make big savings on, if you choose the right materials and finishes.

You just have to be sure that what initially may look like a tempting budget saving doesn’t pan out as an expensive DIY blunder.  So when it comes to kitchen renovating, what are the pros and cons of a flatpack kitchen? And where can you save money through astute DIY?

It’s important to remember that flatpack doesn’t mean inferior quality…

…it just means you won’t have the flexibility to get the precise size, finish and colour you’re after. That’s why people pay a premium to have a kitchen custom-made. Just like anything you buy off-the-shelf, it’s going to work out cheaper than if you had the same thing custom-made to your own specifications. The thing with kitchens is that the custom-made and flatpack options are virtually identical in their construction methods – you just have a load more flexibility when something is tailored to your own specs.

Jump online and you’ll find many companies now offer flatpack kitchens; way beyond just the likes of IKEA or Bunnings. Where you make the big savings is if you assemble the flatpack cabinets yourself, which is relatively straightforward, and then get a kitchen installer to fit the kitchen for you, including the benchtop and appliances (he’ll need the sparkie and plumber for these). I never recommend you do the install yourself. It’s far trickier than you think.

A badly installed kitchen … with lopsided doors and cupboards and glaring gaps, will likely devalue your home rather than add value.

You’ll also save big dollars by sourcing all the fixtures and fittings you need for your kitchen renovation, such as appliances, benchtop, tiles, handles, etc, and then coordinating the trades yourself. If you do your kitchen renovation through a kitchen company, then of course you’re going to pay a hefty premium for them to manage all of this for you.

A tired dated kitchen
A tired dated kitchen
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Totally transformed with a new layout and flatpack cabinetry installed

Remember the higher the value of your property, the higher your kitchen quality should be. There are plenty of ways you can save money.

  • Using resurfacing products such as specialty tile, cabinet and appliance paint, and even benchtop resurfacing, achieves amazing results on a ridiculously low budget, but it’s not for everyone.
  • The next step up is to look at whether you can get away with keeping the existing cupboard carcasses, if they are still in sturdy shape, and just replacing the cupboard and door fronts. You’ll probably want a new benchtop and sink as well.
  • If you’ve decided to ditch the lot and start from scratch, then sticking with the current layout will save on additional plumbing and electrical costs.
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This small kitchen received the full treatment with a wall removed to open up the entire living space
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Costs were kept to a minimum by using flatpack cabinetry assembled DIY and installed by a carpenter.

If you think you’re up to the task of project managing the kitchen renovation yourself, then you’re talking big savings. It all depends on the time you have to invest, the level of responsibility you’re willing to take on, how much you trust your creative and organisational abilities, and the budget you’ve allocated.

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