Christine and Al Hernandez of Gilroy stand in their recently refurbished kitchen. The makeover cost them $60,000, but the couple says they’re happy with both the aesthetic and functional changes.  
After years of living in a tract home, Gilroyan Christine Hernandez and her husband Al were looking for a change of scenery. The couple figured they could spruce up their kitchen, sell their home and invest in a new place, but one look at local real estate prices quickly changed their minds.

"We decided maybe we should just remodel, so we could get the kitchen we really wanted, but we wouldn't have to move," said Christine Hernandez. "The house is 1,700 square feet, but the dining room, front room, kitchen and family room were all separate, so all of them were pretty cramped. We decided to open it all up to make one great room."

With the help of contractor Curtis McCowan, the Hernandezes created the kitchen - and living space - of their dreams. They poured $60,000 into their kitchen, but despite the heavy price tag attached to the remodel, they're coming out in the black.

That's because kitchen investments, although pricey, are also functional improvements that can increase the value of a home. To get the biggest return on an investment that large, there are a few decisions to make, according to local contractors.

Partial kitchen remodeling jobs for this area usually cost $16,000 to $20,000, and larger jobs involving a total gutting of the kitchen can cost $40,000 and up, according to McCowan, owner of A-1 Service and McCowan's Construction. However, remodeling a kitchen can return 97 to 108 percent of value on a total remodel and 110 or 111 percent on a smaller change, he said.

For those who do decide to go a bit farther with their kitchen makeovers, cabinets are often the first thing homeowners decide to change, said McCowan. Rather than pull down existing structures, he suggested homeowners who simply want to refresh the look of their storage space try refacing their cabinets or replacing some cabinet doors with glass centerpieces.

"A cabinet is just a box," said McCowan. "And you're better off having a plywood box than a particle-board box. One thing I've found people doing that's a major mistake is they're taking down solid wood cabinets and sticking in these particle board things they get at Home Depot or Lowe's or Sears. Sure, they look good on display, but the quality's not there."

The only time that full cabinet replacement is a good option, McCowan said, is when a homeowner is gutting and significantly remodeling his or her kitchen, or if he or she wants a significantly different style of cabinet.

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In The News
Reprinted from The Gilroy Dispatch Newspaper
General Contractor Lic# B-633475
Christine and Al Hernandez
Kitchen Remodel Photos