Thinking about remodeling your kitchen? This can be one of the most effective ways you can invest in your house. In fact, many realtors say that the kitchen often makes the difference between whether a house sells or it doesn't. Before you get started, consider these tips.

Figure out your function

Figure out your function. Though it sounds self-evident, it is critical to your project to understand how your kitchen will be used. How many people will use it? What kind of wear and tear will it see? What kind of storage will you need? Are you a gourmet cook or purely functional? Does the kitchen serve as the main gathering place in your house? Questions like these are important to answer so you can start determining what kind of materials, storage, fixtures, and space you will need.

Assess your space

Take a good hard look at your kitchen and ask yourself if the way the space is organized works for you. Next, look for things you don't like. For example, is the countertop too low? Does it show wear and tear easily? Do you have enough storage? Is the room too dark? Are the finishes outdated? Determine what you need to fix, what you want to change, and what will work just the way it is. Having a good sense of understanding what you want to do with your space will help you determine if you should undertake a cosmetic update or a full-scale remodel, or something in between the two.

Set a budget

Knowing up front how much you have to spend will make it easier to know when you can splurge a little on a special fixture or when you need to put on the brakes. The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends that you should plan to spend 5-10% of your home's value on a kitchen remodel, with the ultimate goal of a 70% return on investment.

Expect the unexpected

It's usually wise to build a 10-15% cushion into your budget to accommodate hidden issues. You never know what your contractor will find behind a wall or under a floor, and you'll need to take care of unexpected pitfalls before you can finish the job.

Don't rush it

Once you decide on a new kitchen, you'll be excited to see the finished product. It will be tempting to move quickly, but go so fast that you cut corners or overlook details. Ultimately, your budget will suffer for it, as inadequate planning is the leading cause of cost overruns on projects like this. Make sure you take time to get the job done right so you can enjoy your kitchen for years to come.