Variations on a theme: Kitchen Remodeling Considerations
By Mike Frost
We all dream of one day remodeling our kitchen and relish the thought of picking out appliances, countertops, cabinets with all the colors and styles to choose from and making it all come together in a grand piece of art. Art? Itâ€™s a kitchen, not a picture.
Alright, it can be anything you want, but have you ever thought about what it takes to have a kitchen remodeled? Do you know all of the considerations and decisions that have to be addressed before you can get to the point of using your new kitchen? I will try to help by breaking down the kitchen remodeling process into identifiable parts and add a few of my own observations. There are three main components to this process: planning, execution, and completion. Now this is by no means a complete list but letâ€™s look at few things.
Before any cabinets are installed, there may be several weeks of work that must be done before a successful outcome can be realized. You need to:
Be on the same page as your partner; this is critical!
Set a timeline for completion.
Secure the services of a qualified contractor and kitchen designer as they can help with planning.
Define the function of the kitchen which in turn defines the form it should take.
Think about lighting options. Not just style, but how best to light the workspace.
Settle on a style; contemporary, retro, classic, whatever.
Gather pictures, website links, brochures, samples, and colors.
Learn about the remodeling process and how it will affect you and your family while underway!
With planning out of the way and you are ready to go, here are some things that you had better be aware of since they can cause problems.
Consider setting up a minimal kitchen somewhere in the house. When you have no water in the kitchen, the bathroom sink becomes the dishwasher and the toilet is the disposal. Yucky! But you canâ€™t go out to eat every night.
Find a place for all the â€˜stuffâ€™ that you have to remove from the kitchen since it could be several weeks before the kitchen is usable. Identify cabinets or counter sections that you want to save and have a location ready.
Be prepared for the unexpected. When work is done by professionals, building codes must be followed. Much of the electrical and plumbing service in homes is not to code and sufficient for the requirements of a new kitchen. Extra costs could be incurred when these issues have to be corrected. Opening up walls and floors can reveal problems with previous work or problems that could not have been foreseen.
Be prepared for mistakes, back orders, and delays. They all can happen and who is at fault is not as important as getting it resolved quickly and move forward. Take it out of their hide later.
Understand that not everything will come out as you anticipated. Standard methods and results are used by the trades and suppliers. For example, if you donâ€™t know that almost all natural stone countertops come with a backsplash as thick as the counter itself, you may be disappointed if you donâ€™t realize that until it is installed and you donâ€™t like it. How can you blame anyone in the process if you didnâ€™t know to ask and they didnâ€™t tell you about it since it is standard?
Accept that the process takes time. Demolition has to happen before new work starts. Cabinets could be 3-12 weeks before delivery so ordering ahead is critical. Countertops needs to be measured but not until the cabinets are in, and then the fabrication could take days or even weeks. After that, trim, appliances and fixtures need to be installed. Then painting, touch ups, clean up, and punch list work.
If you want to make changes during the process, fine. Just be aware that there will probably be additional costs associated with those changes and some changes may not be able to be made due to the state of the work that has already been completed. For example, it is very difficult and expensive to move a sink from one counter to the island when the countertop has already been installed.
Everything is in and working so you are done, right? Well, not really. Consider these items:
Do a walk-through with the contractor to identify items that need correcting or finishing and get a commitment for when those items will be done. Confirm that the warranty supplied by your contractor is in force, for how long, as well as exactly what is covered.
Gather all documentation supplied by the manufacturers for all the items installed. Warranty cards, operating and installation instructions, and cleaning recommendations should be reviewed and stored in a suitable place.
Learn about what changes were made to your systems such as shut-off valves and switches, new electrical circuits and new circuit breakers as well as the function of GFCIs.
Become familiar with how the new appliances work.
Consider having everything professionally cleaned before you return items to shelves and countertops, especially if you have concerns about residual chemicals and dirt.
Learn about your new kitchen, enjoy it, and get ready to start on the bathrooms!