Unless you’re a professional contractor, chances are you won’t undertake many major home renovation projects. If that sounds like you, you might feel a little lost when it comes to knowing all the things that you should do before you begin such a significant remodel. This guide aims to make that process easier by helping to shed some light on how to get started and provide a few tips and best practices that’ll make your kitchen remodel a little less intimidating.
Like anything of consequence, the planning phase of a kitchen remodel is directly correlated with the success of the final product. This stage begins the moment you start fantasizing about your dream kitchen and doesn’t truly end until the final coat of paint dries.
Before you start putting your plan down on paper, there are a few important things that you should keep in mind. The first is to not rush the process. Your thoroughness during the planning phase will have a direct and positive impact on how smoothly the project goes, but also on how closely you stick to your budget. If you’re having trouble deciding on one fixture over another, on granite or laminate, or whether or not to include an island, you need to give yourself adequate time to weigh the pros and cons. Making decisions hastily increases the chances that you’ll change your mind once the project has begun, which will of course inflate your costs.
The first thing you should document is your goal for the remodel. List all the things that need to be included in the final design, and deprioritize “nice to have” items. Knowing exactly which of the remodel outcomes are “need to have” versus “want to have” will give you a crystal clear picture of what your finalized plan will look like. Of the “need to have” list of items, it might also be beneficial to prioritize them by importance. That way, should the unthinkable occur and you need to scale back the project, you know the order in which things can be eliminated.
Additional things to consider during the planning phase include:
- Workflow: Where to place your appliances for improved functionality.
- Physical measurements.
- Look into whether you’ll need to get permits for the desired work.
- Determine a project end date.
- Create a list of potential contractors, builders and demolition experts.
- Create a rough timeline for when things such as the demo, delivery and installation of appliances, flooring installation, etc. will occur.
With your plan close at hand, it’s time to determine who will be trusted to bring your vision to life. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t simply hire the first person you meet with, but rather take the necessary time to do your due diligence to find the right contractor. There are a few things that you can do to help shorten the list of potential applicants. First, read as many reviews of the contractor as you can find. While they may not be an entirely accurate representation of their work, you’ll likely want to meet with the contractors that have the fewest bad reviews, all else being equal. Have each contractor come in to your home to access your vision, view your space, and to provide you with an estimate. At this time, feel free to ask for a list of referrals that you can contact. If they’re hesitant to provide such a list, consider it a red flag. While they’re in your home, ask them questions about other projects they’ve worked on and ask them to speak frankly about your project. The ease in which they’re able to answer your questions as well as the answers themselves can help you determine their level of expertise compared to the rest of the field. Finally, a good contractor will be able to provide proof of liability insurance so that your home is protected.
When all that is said and done, sign a contract with your contractor of choice and ensure the payments are made in stages as work is completed.
When planning out what your final kitchen space will look like, draw out the scaled down dimensions of your kitchen and begin to design the final layout. Sketching it out can help you determine what layout will work best for you and your family. The metrics you use to determine the validity of your design should consist of a mixture of your style and practicality. Decide on your countertops (note that more exotic materials will require a longer lead time), and choose your appliances so you can add their dimensions into your diagram. While your contractor can help you with many of these things, you should do your own research to compare the price and availability of materials to keep your costs in line with your budget.
Once you know all of the different tasks that will need to be completed, create a calendar to chart all of the anticipated start and expected finish times. This visual representation of the work will not only help you remember when each task is set to begin, it will also help you identify efficiencies. For example, schedule appliances to arrive after the electrician and plumber have completed their tasks. Different sized kitchen remodels may require different time frames to complete, but all remodels have one thing in common: the unexpected. Plan for the unexpected by tacking on an extra day or two to each major task. Typically, you can expect your kitchen to be ready anywhere between six and 12 weeks.
To break things down even further, here’s a very high-level list of the items that you’ll likely need to complete before your kitchen remodel is done. Though an attempt was made to list these in order, your project may differ slightly.
- Replacement of old plumbing.
- Replacement of wiring, electrical hardware, and the installation of new lighting.
- Installing drywall.
- Flooring and baseboards.
- Installation of cabinetry.
- Installation of countertops.
- Installation of appliances.
There’s no doubt that a lot of work goes into a kitchen remodel, but by taking the time to plan out your goals, choosing the right contractor, and creating a detailed timeline for the work that needs to be completed can make this arduous home renovation project just a little bit less stressful.