How Much Did That New Kitchen Cost? No One’s Going to Tell You.

They speak in a code that is familiar to anyone who has ever danced around the topic of money. They talk in a language that is familiar to anyone who has ever danced around the topic of money. Prentice, a 49-year-old elementary schoolteacher, is currently enrolled in a graduate program in special education. She initially answered their questions with similarly veiled responses. She had long ago learned the rules for talking about home improvement costs. The main rule being: Don’t talk about it. While everyone knows that a new kitchen can cost a lot, not many people are comfortable showing receipts. You might find yourself asking your neighbors or friends for a rough estimate. Or, you may find yourself navigating through conversations that use euphemisms such as “it wasn’t that bad” (code meaning “it wasn’t as much as you think”) or “we did quite a bit of it ourselves” (roughly translating as “I paid my cousin, brother and best friend in beer to remove this wall”. You might feel offended, flustered, or even annoyed if you are the one being asked. You might find yourself reducing the final numbers to make the project and yourself more manageable. You know how Emily Post says not to talk about politics, money, or religion? If you’re looking to remodel your bathroom and get back-of-the envelope numbers, it may be difficult to find someone willing to share the cost estimates. Although the purchase price of a house can be found on Zillow, it is not an exact figure. Wendy Zeilstra, a 43-year-old mother, was struggling to price her Montclair, N.J. kitchen when she started to read tea leaves. She was a stay-at home parent from the Netherlands and had grown up speaking bluntly about what things cost. She said, “We’re Dutch. We’re direct.” She quickly discovered that Americans were far from direct. She found herself in a maze if she tried to navigate it by asking questions. She was forced to rely on contractor estimates and calculated costs based upon what workers would tell them. She settled on quartz countertops and Ikea cabinets, keeping her budget below $55,000, including architectural fees. Zeilstra stated that she is happy to share her experiences and how much she has spent. However, she said that only one person has asked her about it. He was a neighbor who flips houses to make a living. She said, “I’m very proud about the kitchen.” It was a hard work. Dr. Dr. Sherman, chairwoman at the New School for Social Research’s sociology department, says that these conversations make people feel uncomfortable because they are actually conversations about income inequality. Your splurge can bring inequity to the forefront, especially if you can afford quartzite countertops or custom cabinets in a time when millions of Americans are living in poverty. If you go to a friend’s home and see a kitchen that costs more money than your annual salary, it may be a sign of class inequality. Dr. Sherman said that class inequality is hidden because we don’t talk much about it. Asking someone how much they spent on renovations is generally interpreted as inappropriate. This is good for capitalism, as it means that inequalities like this can continue to grow. Dr. Sherman stated that there is shame associated having debt. “We live in a society where people are deeply ashamed to be poor.” This may explain why we lie to ourselves and sometimes even our partners about it. Lisa Gilmore, an interior design professional in St. Petersburg, Fla. had a client who once kept the cost of a dining-room chandelier secret from her husband. The client wanted to avoid having to admit that the brass chandelier and handblown glass cost $15,000 so she asked Ms. Gilmore for $5,000. She would then pay the balance from a separate account. Ms. Gilmore stated that the chandelier was “a nonnegotiable item for her and she didn’t want to deal in the argument.” “Even with their spouses they don’t want them to tell.” Ms. Prentice has seen a shift in her outlook on money since she started working on her house of endless fixes in West Palm Beach. She no longer shuns questions and is afraid someone will tell her she has overspent. She said, “At this stage, it’s almost comical, because so many things have fallen apart with this house,”. She recently encapsulated her foundation, a waterproofing job she didn’t know existed until a few weeks ago. She didn’t have anything to compare the waterproofing bid she received for $39,000. Is this a great deal? She began to talk to other homeowners who had done similar work to her in an effort to exchange information. What was their spending? What was the area? What was included in the job? “I just want it to be in the right places. Follow us on Twitter at @nytrealestate