Mother-In-Law Moving In? Here’s How Much It Costs to Add a Small Kitchenette

Maybe your mother-in-law is moving in or your adult child is living at home until they find a job. Or perhaps, you’re looking to start an Airbnb side hustle. For whatever reason, you’ve decided to build a kitchenette and are wondering how much it’s going to cost.

Despite their small size, kitchenettes cost $45,600 on average — though costs vary widely depending on size, features, and finishes. To help you get a better idea of what your miniature kitchen will run you, HomeLight spoke with an experienced contractor and analyzed project data from reputable sources on the web.

A kitchenette that you might build in your house.
Source: (Fred Kleber / Unsplash)

Here’s the average cost of a kitchenette addition:

According to HomeAdvisor, a website that records millions of remodeling estimates, the cost to build a kitchenette ranges. A basic kitchenette may cost only a few thousand if plumbing and wiring are easily accessible. In areas like the basement where you need to install new plumbing and wiring, kitchenettes cost $45,600 on average. Outdoor kitchens — projects with similar scopes to kitchenettes — run between $5,000 and $21,500 on average.

Based on this data, your kitchenette could cost anywhere from $3,000 to north of $45,000 — that’s quite the range! According to design consultant and certified Master Builder Chad Ruhoff, the cost of your kitchenette depends on two main factors: what you want and where you want it.

“The two basic things are infrastructure — which is very site-specific and depends on how you’ll run plumbing and electricity to the site — and what level of finish you want. Is it a temporary thing or something that you want to look really nice?” explains Ruhoff, who has 26 years of construction experience, specializing in small renovation projects.

To help you estimate how much your project will cost, let’s take a look at kitchenette cost factors:

Plumbing

Even in more simple kitchenette designs, a sink is fairly standard. The average cost to install a new sink in a room with existing plumbing ranges from $100 to over $1,000.

To install one, you’ll need access to your home’s water supply and drainage. So, if your kitchenette is near a bathroom or the main kitchen, you’ll pay less to install a sink than if you’re installing one in an ADU that’s 40 feet away from your house.

Additionally, if you need to run pipes underground, whether or not you have a concrete slab or crawl space underneath significantly impacts the price. Ruhoff shares that, with a crawl space, adding new plumbing is easy, but if your contractor needs to break concrete, you’ll pay more for the additional labor.

Additionally, Ruhoff tells us that the type of pre-existing pipes in your home influences cost. Homes with old pipes require more complicated (and, therefore, more expensive) plumbing jobs.

Electrical

If you want to install an electric stove or add appliances like toasters and microwaves to your kitchenette, you’ll need to wire electricity to the area.

If the room is already wired, you’re in luck. The national average to install an electrical outlet is just around $141.

However, if your kitchenette is further away, you’ll need to pay for additional wiring and labor time. The cost of new wiring and labor runs between $6 to $10 per square foot on average.

Running power to an ADU is even more expensive. In this case, you’ll have to install a ground wire and possibly a new electrical panel. Together, these expenses can cost you $2,000 to over $4,000.

A kitchenette that could be built in your home.
Source: ( Dinh Ng / Unsplash)

Cabinetry and countertops

When it comes to cabinetry and countertops, it’s more affordable to install prefab than custom units. A small prefab cabinet from IKEA costs as little as $108, whereas custom cabinets from a high-end cabinet designer range between $500 to $1,200 per linear foot.

Likewise, countertops vary in price depending on the material. Here’s a quick rundown of the prices of popular countertop materials per square foot:

  • Stainless steel: $80-$225
  • Marble: $75-$250
  • Porcelain: $60-$100
  • Engineered quartz: $55-$155
  • Butcherblock: $55-$200
  • Granite: $45-$200
  • Tile: $18-$35
  • Laminate: $15-$40

Remember that these cost ranges are averages. High-end options like unique slabs and handmade tiles may exceed the upper end of these ranges.

a gas range that you could add to a kitchenette.
Source: (Callum Hill / Unsplash)

Appliances

Appliances are another major cost factor. Tally up how much appliances will cost for your kitchenette with these average cost ranges:

Don’t forget about permit costs

Before you start ringing up contractors, check to see if kitchenettes are legal in your area.

“Depending on your city or housing jurisdiction, you may not be allowed to add a second kitchen,” Ruhoff notes.

“The reasoning behind this is that governments often don’t want a situation where you’re turning a single-family dwelling into multi-family property without going through the proper steps … They might allow you to build a kitchenette, but it might not be able to have all of the features you want.”

If your county allows kitchenettes, you’ll need to obtain a permit for the addition. Ruhoff estimates that permits can cost as much as $1,000. To determine what permits you need and how much they’ll cost, check out your city or county’s home construction ordinances. If you aren’t sure where to look, ask a local contractor.

Don’t skip this step — if you build without a permit your jurisdiction could hit you with a hefty fine and require you to apply for a retroactive permit that’s double or even triple the standard fee.

A couple looking at the costs to add a kitchenette to their house.
Source: ( DocuSign / Unsplash)

Kitchenette adds value, so you may recoup some costs

While kitchenettes cost a pretty penny, they’re a worthy investment for many homeowners. On top of enjoying the benefits of an additional cooking area, you can increase your home’s value and marketability.

Homes with accessory dwelling units that include kitchenettes are in high demand. Pew Research Center reports that 64 million Americans, or around 20% of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof in 2016. And in 2020, more than half of adults aged 18 to 29 lived with their parents.

Kitchenettes are also popular with buyers looking to run a short-term rental. Airbnb reports that its site currently has 660,000 listings in the U.S. alone. An increase in popularity of Airbnbs can only mean more demand for kitchenettes.

With this in mind, the cost of your kitchenette addition could pay for itself in the long run!

Header Image Source: (House Method / Unsplash)