Flat Pack vs Custom Kitchen

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

Let’s face it, renovating a kitchen is not for the faint-hearted. This engine room of the home can be out of action for weeks on end, as tradies come and go.

While it might be tempting just to outsource the job and pay a kitchen showroom to design and project manage the whole thing for you, expect to pay a premium for that one-stop-shop service.

With the average cost of a new kitchen sitting at around *$26,000 (excluding appliances), the potential savings are huge if you can cut out the middle man and project manage your own kitchen reno. You just need to be knowledgeable and confident enough in your own abilities to see a kitchen reno through from start to finish.

A Kaboodle flatpack kitchen from Bunnings is perfect for homes under $1 million in value.

So how do you tackle your own kitchen reno? What’s essential is this – you’re going to need the skills to plan out your renovation in detail, set a budget and a time line, schedule tradies, order in all the materials… basically take on everything required to professionally manage a kitchen renovation.

A custom-made kitchen with stone benchtops, done through a cabinetmaker. This is a good price compromise between basic flatpack and outsourcing your reno to a kitchen showroom.
Flatpack Vs custom-designed kitchen

If you’ve decided to go down the DIY road, you’ll have 2 basic options when it comes to your cabinetry – which is the single biggest cost of your reno.

Flatpack kitchens are your cheapest. They’ve come a long way in recent years, with numerous companies now offering cabinets you can order online and have delivered. They come in a variety of finishes (shaker style, traditional flat, handleless… ) and in a range of fixed or custom widths and heights.

A DIY-installed kitchen, not installed to a good quality standard… can devalue your property.

Then there’s traditional stores like Bunnings and IKEA, where you can buy your flatpack cabinets in standard sizes, straight off the shelf. I’ve used Bunnings’ Kaboodle cabinetry in more kitchen renos than I can remember. They’re a great option if you’re renovating properties, say $1 million or less in value.

Project managing your own renovation requires good communication skills and a fair degree of personal organisation. You’ll need to manage numerous tradies throughout the process.

A big saving with flatpack cabinetry is to assemble the cabinets yourself. If you know how to assemble any IKEA piece of furniture, you’ll find assembling Kaboodle cabinetry an absolute breeze. By assembling the cabinets yourself, you reduce your cabinetry labour costs just that little bit more.

Now take note, NEVER try to install your kitchen cabinets yourself. I’ve seen DIY disasters over the years where rookie renovators attempt this in a bid to save a few bucks. It takes a lot of carpentry skill to make sure your cabinets are plumb and level, particularly if you’re dealing with an older property where your old floors and walls aren’t perfectly straight. Make no mistake about it,  installing your cabinetry isn’t as easy as “just pushing your new cabinets up against your walls”.

A DIY installed kitchen… not installed to a good quality standard, can devalue your property.

MIDWAY price point

If the flatpack option seems like too much hard work, and you want an option that’s a midway point between DIY & outsourcing the whole job to a kitchen showroom, then creating a custom-made kitchen through a cabinetmaker may be the way to go.

In this scenario, a cabinetmaker will come to your property, measure up your kitchen, custom make & install all your cabinets for you. This gives you complete flexibility over what cabinetry you want, precisely where. What most cabinetmakers won’t do, however, is make any structural room changes,  get too involved in electrical or plumbing changes. For the most part, cabinetmakers can do a chunk of the work but typically not all of the work. Most will happily work with your trades to get works progressed to certain levels.

The size of your kitchen, as well as the finishes & fixtures you choose, will dictate the final price of your kitchen.
Top tier option

If going down the DIY or cabinetmaker path doesn’t float your boat, you can outsource the whole shebang to a kitchen showroom company. This can be a great option for people in numerous situations where knowledge gaps exist, they’re time-strapped or they simply can’t be bothered doing part or all of the project management themselves.

Whatever option you choose, just remember that the higher the value of your property, the higher your kitchen quality should be. A basic laminate kitchen in a multi-million waterfront property definitely won’t cut it! On the flipside, spend too much and you risk overcapitalising on your property.

If you’re thinking of installing a new kitchen to your own home or investment property and don’t have the financial luxury of engaging a kitchen showroom, register your interest now for my new “Create Your Perfect Kitchen” course, launching this December. By registering your interest, you’ll get first dibs at a great earlybird price. You’ll have all the skills and know-how to confidently design, plan & install your very own kitchen reno, whether it’s a $10,000 or $50,000 one.

ENROL NOW in our Create Your Perfect Kitchen course to learn how to project manage your kitchen reno & save thousands of dollars.

5 Responses to “Flat Pack vs Custom Kitchen
  1. Cherie Great Advice with various options to suit different skillsets.

    Mark 1 Fogerty. Kawana Island Villas QLD

  2. Awesome advice!

  3. Two things…. installing a kitchen is not difficult – especially if it is a simple layout without overhead cabinets. I think it is a shame to tell students that they must not do it themselves.
    Second – I have done MANY Kaboodle kitchens, but not in the last couple of years. I am absolutely shocked at the cost of hardware. eg I went to a joinery supplies business and purchased push to open drawer slides for less than half the bunnings price – the EXACT same product. This is REALLY worth promoting to students.
    Thanks a lot for your work Cherie – you’re doing great things.

    1. Hi Jen,

      Yes if your kitchen is a very straight forward kitchen with not many cabinets, it can be done DIY but I truly do believe its a job best left to professional carpenters, especially if walls & floors out of level. The average homeowner is not skilled in these things. Thank you for your feedback on Kaboodle, I’ll be sure to pass that info on to relevant people. Cherie x

  4. Hi Cherie You probably don’t remember me but I am now 90 years old and built all the cabinets for a Bunnings kitchen and my son installed them . This included an oven tower , corner cabinet , wine rack which you can get wire baskets to pull out for those like I am who don’t keep wine , the drawers were difficult for the first kitchen but by the time I was onto my 5th one they were easy – more or less.The small Ozito drill makes it so easy and it is so light you don’t get tired .Thanks and keep going . You are doing a fantastic job Regards Meredith Osborne

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