This question is crucial to deciding the quality and cost of goods for the project- more on this in a bit!
Sticking with the same layout is always the most economical option. However, if you want to change the layout- be aware of extra costs: electrical, plumbing, flooring, framing, drywall, paint, etc. Layout changes typically require a permit and possibly architectural drawings.
Essential question! Even if you don't want to max out your budget, be prepared to discuss your allowance with the contractor. A reliable contractor will be able to work with your budget and your preferences to create the kitchen you really want. Realistic expectations and budgets are easier to work with up front- otherwise, cutting corners may end up costing you more in the long run, leaving you with an unfinished project.
A qualified builder will guarantee a professionally finished product that will meet your budgeted expectations and time-frames.
BEWARE of hiring a builder without a contractor's license. Without it, you have little to no recourse if problems arise.
The purpose of remodeling or building a home is to increase the value in the home itself as well as create a space for those who will live there to enjoy.
BEWARE of hiring someone who doesn't have the ability to make that happen or someone who doesn't care to make it happen.
If you're looking to resell or make a return on the remodel, design something with massive appeal- not something selective to just your taste.
To get ideas, think about scoping out remodels or houses for sale around your neighborhood- stay in competition with those upgrades to ensure maximum ROI.
How big of project can you afford; what is your time-frame for the construction period? This is when having a budget is helpful for a contractor. You may have certain desires for you space and the time-frame you wish to make it happen- but a limited budget. A qualified contractor will be able to take your ideas and the reality of building supplies, and create a crafty alternative that you'd love!
Once the layout is agreed on... we get to the fun part! What kind of cabinets do you want? Builder grade cabinetry should be the lowest quality that you would put into any project. Upgrades vary and include all materials and quality of craftsmanship. You and your contractor will work together, and can discuss common upgrades.