Your Guide to a DIY Kitchen Renovation

With shortage of trades and rising inflation, many people have turned their attention to undertaking a Kitchen Renovation themselves.

That’s a big task and it includes kitchen design, sourcing kitchen cabinets or flatpack kitchens,  and kitchen installation.

It also requires a degree of creative and technical skill to get a good result and achieve your dream kitchen.

To help you achieve a high-quality kitchen, we have produced this guide on going down the DIY route. We cover off the benefits of DIY, kitchen planning, timelines, mistakes, costs and installation. Often we find, installation is the part of the process that people like to outsource.

Why DIY Kitchen: The Benefits of A DIY Kitchen

With shows like The Block and House Rules taking over our TVs, it seems that Australia has DIY fever more than ever before. Ready-to-install kitchens are just one way that everyday people are able to achieve professional results with their kitchen renovations for a fraction of the cost, giving you a project that can look fantastic just like the TV Shows.

So let’s look at the main reasons why DIY kitchens are a smart idea for the savvy renovator, and the benefits that they offer.

Saves Money

The number one reason why people go the DIY route everytime is to cut costs, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with a complete kitchen. Provided you’re buying from a reputable brand and taking the time to follow installation instructions, there is the potential to save thousands from the cost without anyone ever being the wiser. Even if you decide to use the professional installers for the ready-made kitchen, you’ll still walk away saving thousands of dollars.

Freedom of Design

Gone are the days when the DIY kitchen came in one style and one style only, as customers are now able to have full control over the design. You’ll have options for every detail, including cabinets, handles, benchtops, sinks, taps – and more if you want it. For those without an eye for design, there are now countless options to choose from with kitchens that will perfectly suit your space.  A professional designer is key here to help you with your decisions.

High-Quality Materials

Unlike some brands of flat pack kitchens that are made with cheaper materials to keep costs down, the materials in a DIY complete kitchen, like ours here at Kitchen Shack, are the highest of quality. There’s the option to use something more cost friendly like laminate benchtops or use varying types of stone benchtops if you have a little more to spend.  Best of all the design is fully customised to suit your kitchen space.

A Sense of Achievement

Especially when renovating a house, there’s nothing quite like seeing a job you’ve been working on finally finished. Installing your own DIY kitchen might seem like a big job at first, but when you see the results and get a chance to use your shiny new kitchen, benchtops, and cabinets, you’ll get a sense of satisfaction that’s hard to match. Even those who enlist the help of professionals for some of the process will still feel accomplished at something they helped to create and install.

The Kitchen Shack Difference

Kitchen Shack is proud to offer Assembled Kitchens that will save you money without skimping on quality, and make the kitchen renovation process easier than ever. Our complete DIY kitchen can be customised to suit your taste, space, and budget, and give you as little or as much control over the installation process as you want.

If you’ve been considering a DIY kitchen for your home renovation, Kitchen Shack is your one-stop shop. Call one of our showrooms today or book a design to discuss our custom range and modern ideas for your home.

Planning for a DIY Kitchen Renovation & Timeline

DIY kitchen reno takes time and there’s no doubt considerable savings can be made doing it the DIY way. Some customers are confused or concerned about the actual timeline for their DIY kitchen renovation, some having never done this before. It can be a stressful time and knowing what is involved and how long this will take is important.

At Kitchen Shack we believe it is important to educate DIY customers from the beginning to assist them in their kitchen journey. The following is a general DIY Kitchen Reno timeline regarding your expected timeline with Kitchen Shack.  You can choose to do as little or as much as you prefer for additional savings.

Note: the timelines below are usual timelines pre COVID. Changes in the supply chain during the pandemic and post COVID has meant these timelines are longer. The timelines are realistic under normal circumstances. Please speak to our kitchen design team to get current timelines.

Research (1 week to 2 months)

This initial phase is key to gathering your likes and dislikes. Surf the internet, gather inspiration and write a list of why you are renovating your kitchen and what you need in the new kitchen space that is lacking in the old one.

Visit showrooms to feel the quality of the products on offer, this is time well spent. It is at this point that you will also gather the type of service on offer, the guarantees they offer on their products and whether they offer a free Kitchen Design and quote service. Also, check out their approximate pricing although this should be transparent from their website.

Next as part of the research phase set a budget that you can afford and then the kitchen renovation will stay on track. As part of this budget think about any areas you can do work to save costs this will allow you some extra should you wish to upgrade your cabinets or benchtop to a slightly more expensive alternative. Always remember there may be additional costs required along the way such as extra plumbing or electrical costs etc.

Narrow down all your ideas and have a clear goal of what you most want in your kitchen space, one or two colours at the most, the type of cabinets – matte or gloss, benchtops, handles, accessories, appliances – in fact everything that you require, the rest the professional designer will look after. The kitchen designer will also be able to guide you on colour selections etc. to help you in the design phase.

Kitchen Design and Quotation (1-2 weeks depending on demand)

Having completed the kitchen research, you now need to measure your kitchen space including measurements of all existing or new windows, architraves, doorways, appliances such as fridge, oven, hotplate, rangehood, microwave etc. and any other key elements that are important for the design of your kitchen. Draw up a sketch of your proposed kitchen analysing your kitchen space.

For more detailed information Download our Design Guide on “how to measure” and cabinet range.

Next book a free in-store design appointment with a professional kitchen designer or contact your nearest showroom to make an appointment.  When you book an appointment online you will receive a complete Checklist of all items to measure and what to bring along to your Kitchen Design Appointment. A free of charge final check measure is provided after you place your kitchen order.

During the kitchen Design which will take about 2 hours, you will select your final kitchen layout and materials and colours to be used for your kitchen. Our professional Kitchen Designers are experts in product and design options and will assist you all the way with your decisions. The 3D World class software will display your kitchen in “real life” to help you visualise your new kitchen space.

Should you have any other quotes it would be worthwhile to bring along to the appointment remembering our Lowest Prices Guaranteed promise – we will beat any price for the same product and service by 5%. Once confirmed you are happy with the design and price and all confirmed with your deposit, your kitchen is then put into production with our Manufacturing plant.

This process from design to lodgement normally takes about 1 to 2 weeks depending on whether you require a check measure of your job and once again depending on demand.

Production commences (2 to 6 weeks depending on demand)

Following the kitchen design and lodgement, our manufacturing will be busy making your kitchen. It is at this point you can contact the provided recommended installer who you can enlist for your kitchen renovation. They will also be able to provide any sub trades such as plumber, electrician, tiler etc. It is at this point you can decide which areas you may do yourself although we do recommend using our installers for a quicker problem-free installation. They will schedule your job including sub-trades who you require during the kitchen renovation period.

This is the time that you may also want to consider whether your old kitchen is still in good enough condition to sell off – it may be worth the extra $s!

In-Home Kitchen Installation (1 – 2 weeks)

Here is a brief outline of the kitchen installation process.  Pulling out and removal of the old kitchen: 1 to 2 Days

Before your kitchen cabinets are ready you will receive a delivery date so you can prepare to take delivery. This demolition stage is noisy, dusty and disruptive so be prepared. All old cabinets and benchtops will be removed, and you will have limited access to your kitchen during this process.

Cabinet Installation with laminate benchtops: 2 to 3 days

The kitchen cabinet installation will commence, and your installer will work hand in hand with the electrician during this time. You will finally start to see the beautiful kitchen design come together!

Electrical Layout: 1 to 2 Days

At the initial stage along with the installer, the electrical groundwork will be laid out – new lights, powerpoints etc. This is where you will work with the electrician to discuss your lighting needs in your new kitchen space. The Electrician is experienced in kitchen renovations, so they will be able to guide you with any questions you have. This will take approximately one day to complete before the Electrician returns when cabinets have been installed and completed the finishing details.

Benchtop template and Installation: 7 to 20 Days

A separate specialised benchtop company will create a template from your kitchen after the cabinets are installed. The fabrication of your benchtop will take approximately 7-20 days depending on the type of stone to complete before they return to fit your benchtop, which takes about half a day.

Plumbing and Appliance Installation: 1 to 2 Days

Once all have been installed, a plumber will take 1 or 2 days to connect any plumbing and install your appliances.

Splashback 2 to 3 weeks and Tiler: 2 to 3 Days

Depending on whether you choose a splashback or tiles will depend on this stage. A splashback will take around 2 weeks whereas a tiler will take up to a day to complete after the benchtops are installed.

The final finishing touches of paint and floor if required to make your kitchen look outstanding. The painting can be done prior to the kitchen cabinets being installed but we recommend after as there will be many tradespeople including plastering in most cases that you leave it until the end and the dust has settled.

You are now ready to enjoy your DIY Kitchen with family and friends!

How to start a DIY Kitchen Renovation after planning?

For someone who watches The Block or House Rules but who doesn’t have much of an idea about construction or renovating, the idea of a DIY kitchen renovation can seem daunting.

It doesn’t have to be. Renovations of a kitchen, like any DIY project, are all about breaking down the project into smaller, more manageable chunks. And while every kitchen is slightly different, we’ve set out the major steps that you should consider to get you started (or at least give you an idea).

Removing the Old Kitchen

Unless you’ve purchased a new home and your kitchen renovation is starting from a ‘blank slate’, then you’re going to have to do some removal and demolition first.

The first and most important step here is to turn off the power to the home. All electricity should be off and double and triple checked before any removal or demolition takes place. A voltage tester is a small investment in your safety, and you should purchase one well before you actually get started on any removal activities.

There’s DIY, and there’s leaving some things to the experts. If you want to remove, change, or relocate any power points or cables, this is absolutely a job for a qualified electrician.

It’s also important to turn off the water. The last thing you want is a knock to a pipe or tap resulting in a torrent of water flooding your kitchen as you are trying to transform it!

If the kitchen is fitted for gas, make sure this is turned off at the valve. This might be behind where the appliances used to sit at the wall or the gas meter.

Protecting the Space and House

The other thing to do pre-renovation is to invest in protective materials for the house and the kitchen. Drop cloths both serve the purpose of protecting against scratches, damage from dropped materials, and stains from spills.

Don’t just cover the floors in the work area. Because of dirty shoes and dust, the grit from renovating can go through a house pretty quickly. That’s why drop cloths across any foot traffic areas (e.g. from the back or front door to the kitchen) and plastic sheeting to seal off adjoining rooms can be really useful.

Installation Tips

While we recommend that you contract the services of a professional kitchen installer (we can put you in touch with our recommended ones), should you decide to undertake this on your own, we have some tips to help guide you.

While installation tips are many and varied, we think the most common things to do right definitely fall into the ‘prepare well’ category.

First of all, you’ll want to check and double-check the measurements of any new flat-pack cabinets that you’ve ordered against the plan provided and empty space into which they are meant to go. Even if you were super careful in your initial measurements when you ordered your new DIY cabinets, there’s always a possibility that you made a mistake. So it’s worth double-checking that your pre-assembled Kitchen Shack cabinets are going to fit in the spaces before beginning the install.

Using the plan provided and a builder’s pencil to mark all the positions of where the new cabinets and kitchen components are going to go, as well as a  spirit level to ensure everything is lined up correctly.

It’s also a good rule of thumb to start the installation with a corner cabinet and work outward from there as the right angles of a corner give a solid ‘anchor point’ for your new kitchen.

Of course, this is just a brief summary to installing a new DIY kitchen, and your circumstances and home may vary. You will always receive a DIY Installation Manual to complete your Kitchen Reno project.  The majority of customers contract a Recommended Installer so their kitchen will be finished in a quicker, easier timeframe.

If you’d like some more personalised advice, our team of professionals at Kitchen Shack can help with our many years of experience. Our three conveniently located showrooms in Preston, Maribyrnong, Moorabbin and Kilsyth are staffed by a friendly, experienced team who are here to answer all of your questions.

Can I Install Kitchen Cabinets Myself?

If you’re renovating on a budget, doing most of the work yourself can save you serious money. However, there are a few important things – like plumbing and electrical work – that need to be done by a qualified professional. There are also several other activities that are best left to experienced tradespeople – like most carpentry.

Generally speaking, installing kitchen cabinets is included in this last category. While it’s possible to do the work yourself, it can be quite an intricate process and one that we don’t recommend. This is because it can also be hard to get right and costly if you get it wrong.

Here we look at what it takes to install kitchen cabinets correctly and the risks associated with doing it yourself.

The skills you need to install kitchen cabinets

The exact process for installing your new kitchen cabinets will depend on the type of cabinets you’ve chosen. For example, many DIYers choose flatpack cabinetry, which needs to be constructed before being installed. Other cabinetry comes pre-assembled (either completely or partially) but still needs to be fixed together and bolted in place. Buying fully assembled cabinets is easier as it will save a lot of time and is often around the same price as flatpack cabinets.

Regardless of the type of cabinets you choose, correctly installing them will take a certain set of skills. Before deciding to do it yourself, you should consider these and make sure you understand what you are taking on. Specifically, you need to make sure you are:

  • Able to follow the installation instructions: If you’ve put a flatpack together before, you understand how complicated the instructions can be. As you need to follow each step carefully, it’s important you comprehend and can do what they say.  Even with fully assembled kitchens you still need to follow instructions to get it right.
  • Confident using the necessary tools: At a minimum, you will need to be comfortable using a power drill and a range of hand tools including a jigsaw, electric plane, spirit level, mitre box to name a few. Also, while most cabinetry will come pre-cut, it’s best to be good with a saw (electric and hand).
  • Patient and persistent enough to get things perfect: There is only a small margin for error with most cabinetry. If things are even a few millimetres off, it can have serious repercussions.
  • Physically strong enough: Installing cabinets is a labour-intensive job. Individual units can be upwards of 20 kg, and they need to be moved and carried. Upper cabinets are particularly taxing as they need to be lifted and held up until they are fixed in place.

The dangers of DIY cabinet installation

If you’re planning to do the work yourself, you’ve probably accepted that the renovation won’t be perfect. However, when it comes to kitchen cabinets, near enough will not be good enough. Small issues can quickly become major problems – ones that are expensive to fix.

For instance, we recently had a customer who, despite having no previous carpentry experience, chose to install their own cabinetry. While they followed the instructions carefully and got most things right, some of their alignment was out. They didn’t realise this until they tried to fit the benchtop, which cracked as a result.

While this is an extreme example, it’s not an uncommon one. Many DIYers experience issues and end up needing to pay for repairs or replacement materials. This often ends up costing much more than if they’d just paid for professional installation.

Keeping your installation cost down

If you are thinking about installing your kitchen cabinets yourself to save money, there are other alternatives you should consider. For example, fully assembled flat pack kitchens are usually still cost-effective but are significantly easier to install. As such, it should take an experienced tradesperson no time to fit them, helping keep the cost down.

At Kitchen Shack, we specialise in providing fully assembled cabinets that are both sturdy and budget-friendly. We also have a list of recommended installers who service all parts of Melbourne and are familiar with our products. So, if you’re unsure about installing your kitchen cabinets yourself, call Kitchen Shack to discuss your options and arrange a free in-store design.

The 3 Biggest DIY Kitchen Renovation Traps

When it comes to kitchen renovations, there’s no shortage of things that can go wrong. From minor delays on materials to major issues that blow out the budget and timeline, there’s plenty of potential problems to keep you on your toes.

The good news is, with a little planning, you should be able to avoid – or, at the very least, minimise the impact of – the most significant concerns. To help with this, we wanted to share the three decisions that cause the downfall for most renovators.

Layouts that don’t work

It doesn’t matter how beautiful a kitchen is if it doesn’t function well. A good layout is the basis of a great design and will determine how much you enjoy living and working in the updated space. And fixing a bad layout is one of the most common reasons people choose to undertake a renovation.

As such, getting your layout right is one of the most important parts of designing a kitchen upgrade. In fact, most kitchen designers recommend you lock down your layout before you start thinking about fixtures and fittings.

When planning your updated layout, you should think about how you will use the space. Do you do a lot of cooking and need a lot of bench space? Is it truly the heart of your home and the place where your family comes together? Do you love entertaining and need to be able to socialise while you’re whipping up your culinary treats?

Also, think about the placement of things like the lighting and power points. These are often overlooked, or left to last, but can have the biggest impact on the practicality of the space.

Trying to do too much yourself

Many believe that the best way to keep renovation costs down is to do as much of the work themselves as they can. While you definitely can do some parts of the renovation yourself, like measuring, removing the old kitchen, and painting, taking on too much can cost you dearly in the long run. Also, to meet Australian standards, some things – like plumbing and electrical – must be done by a licensed and qualified professional.

You also need to consider how much your time is worth. While doing things yourself may mean outlaying less cash, the time you put into the renovation is still an expense. Plus, unless you’re an experienced professional, it will probably take you longer to do things than if you got a qualified tradie in. This means longer without your kitchen space and greater disruption to you and your family.

Using flat pack cabinetry

The success of stores like IKEA and Bunnings have made flatpacks extremely popular. However, as most people who have bought a flatpack kitchen will tell you, while they may be cheaper, you generally get what you pay for.

With that in mind, pre-assembled cabinetry is usually a much better option. Not only will it save you the stress of having to put everything together, you know that it will fit right, and it will usually be stronger and more durable. It will also make choosing and fitting other fixtures and finishes, like benchtops and tiles, a lot easier.

Need help planning your kitchen renovation?

A professional designer – like those we use at Kitchen Shack – can help you with you everything from the layout to your choice of fixtures and fittings. They can also advise on things like lighting, ventilation, storage space, and durability of materials. They will even help make sure that the materials and colour scheme you choose will work together, match the style you want, and won’t date quickly.

How much Does a DIY Kitchen Renovation Cost?

If you’re thinking about updating your kitchen, your budget will be a major consideration. How much you have to spend will impact the scope of work you are able to complete. It will also influence the materials you can use and the quality of finish you can achieve.

But how much should you expect to spend on a new kitchen? Here we look at the average renovation budget and the factors that will influence the exact cost of your project. We also share a few tips on keeping the total price down without significantly compromising the final design.

The average cost of a renovation

Based on research over the last couple of years, we know that the average kitchen renovation costs roughly $20,000 – $25,000. However, the exact price will depend on a few important factors, like:

  • The size of the kitchen space
  • The quality of materials used
  • The amount of new cabinetry required
  • If any services (plumbing, electrical, etc.) need to be relocated

With that in mind, if you are simply updating a smaller kitchen, you may only need $8,000 – $10,000. But if you’re completely overhauling a large family kitchen, including redesigning the layout, it could cost you $25,000+.

At Kitchen Shack in 2023 the average kitchen cost was $12,500 – $14,000 for cabinets and benchtops so we know we are very competitive in diy kitchen renovations in Melbourne. For a detailed case study see how much a kitchen renovation costs in Melbourne.

Interestingly, there has also been a trend towards larger scale kitchen renovations over the last couple of years. As people are spending more time at home, they are willing to spend more on getting the perfect kitchen space. This has increased the average kitchen renovation budget, though it remains to be seen whether this trend will continue.

Add another heading on information on flat pack alternatives/installation – to save money but important to compare apples with apples – flat pack kitchens need more time to install so installation costs are much higher compared to Kitchen Shack assembled kitchens.  This is a big aspect on any kitchen renovation cost.

Consider other low-cost alternatives

Many people consider flatpacks kitchens as an alternative to prebuilt cabinets. But these days you can buy pre-assembled cabinets at similar prices to flatpacks. In fact, pre-assembled often works out to be the cheaper option.

This is because when you consider the time and cost involved in putting together one cabinet, let alone 20, you save on labour costs. The fact that they are pre-assembled saves time and therefore labour cost.  Labour costs are a big aspect for any kitchen renovation costs.

Other ways to keep your costs down

Regardless of the size of your kitchen space, there are a few simple tricks to getting the most from your renovation budget.

Most significantly, doing more of the work yourself will reduce the need for professional trades. As this is one of the biggest expenses, minimising trade hours can significantly impact the final bill. And there are plenty of activities you can easily do yourself, like removing the old kitchen and measuring the space.

Other ways you can reduce the cost of your kitchen renovation include:

  • Choosing more cost-effective materials, like laminates rather than natural wood or stone
  • Maintaining the existing layout and focusing on optimising the functionality of the design including additional storage
  • Choosing to keep your major appliances (e.g. fridge, oven, dishwasher) and existing flooring
  • Opting for more affordable tapware and handles, knowing these can be easily upgraded at a later date

Want to discuss this further?

If you’re considering upgrading your kitchen but need help working out your renovation budget, give Kitchen Shack a call. We’re one of Melbourne’s leading suppliers of high-quality, low-cost kitchens and experts in creating beautiful but affordable designs. We also deliver all our kitchens fully assembled, making it even easier to renovate your kitchen.