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Kitchen Renovations – 10 Tips You Need to Know Before You Start

Kitchen Renovations – 10 Tips You Need to Know Before You Start

You’ve binged watched dozens of home renovation programs. You’ve read several home repair and maintenance books. You’re handy with tools and love DIY projects. Naturally, the next step is for you to undertake a kitchen renovation, right? Before you plan a kitchen demo day, there are several things you should be aware of.

1. Are you doing this yourself or are you hiring a professional design build company?

Fair warning: if you try to do this kitchen renovation yourself, YOU will be the general contractor. This means that it will be you who is responsible for ordering materials and products and ensuring they arrive on site in time for each of the trades to do their portion of the work.

Not only that, you will be responsible for quality control, which means you’ll be firing the trades people if and whentheir work is not up to standards. You will be the one returning and rejecting any defective products or building materials that you have had to accept delivery for.

Scheduling and organization will be your new best friend as you’ll also be responsible for coordinating the overall schedule of the job and staying ahead of the steps in the project. There is an order that the trades must be completed in. The electrical and plumbing work needs to be done before the cabinets go on the wall and the drywall is installed and finished and so on.

You may safely assume that more storage space, a larger food preparation area, and an eat-in island are needs for your kitchen. Do you need quartz countertops? How about a magic corner instead of a Lazy Susan? Would an industrial range hood be the difference between delicious, home cooked meals and TV dinner fare? Well, we’ll leave that to you and your spouse to decide. There are countless options to consider when you renovate your kitchen. This is where a design build company will come in very handy, as they will lay out the options for you based on your input and help you make good decisions.

Like a general contractor, when something goes wrong, when something is delayed, or when someone makes an excuse, it will be your responsibility to fix the problem while keeping the train on the tracks.

When managing or acting as a general contractor for your own kitchen renovation, expect to budget an hour or two of your day to the management, scheduling and trade oversight of your project. Not to mention some time for communication with your designer. So, if you’re already working an 8 hour job, managing your own kitchen renovation means you’re probably working 10 hours a day for the next four months and on weekends. Who needs sleep, anyway?

Keep in mind that because you are not actually a general contractor with connections in the industry, you may not get the priority on your job with trades that a full time general contractor gets.

Finally, unless you have a really large home or unrented secondary suite,you probably only have one kitchen for you and your family to use. It’s easy to go without one bathroom for a few months while you renovate the other one. It’s easy to take your time redoing a bedroom. What is not easy is cooking in a kitchen that is a construction zone. The cost you spend on eating out during the kitchen renovation that takes longer than it should take could add up. Not to mention the fact that your family will be putting pressure on you to hurry up and get it done. It can be very stressful to be caught between your family and the suppliers and trades people who are not complyingto your schedule.

For these reasons, if you can hire a professional design build company to renovate your kitchen, by all means, do so!

2. What are the needs of your new kitchen and what are the wants?

Are you a home chef? Is there no room in your kitchen to prepare food? Are your cabinets and appliances outdated? Separating the wants and the needs of a new kitchen is very tricky.

 

You may safely assume that more storage space, a larger food preparation area, and an eat-in island are needs for your kitchen. Do you need quartz countertops? How about a magic corner instead of a Lazy Susan? Would an industrial range hood be the difference between delicious, home cooked meals and TV dinner fare? Well, we’ll leave that to you and your spouse to decide. There are countless options to consider when you renovate your kitchen. This is where a design build company will come in very handy, as they will lay out the options for you based on your input and help you make good decisions.

3. What is your budget?

A typical kitchen renovation in BC is going to start at $50,000 and go up from there. The average price will be between $75,000 and $100,000.This will vary greatly depending on the type of materials you use in your renovation. Before you start looking at show room kitchens for inspiration for your renovation, have an honest conversation with your spouse to determine what your budget is. Knowing your budget ahead of time will help you make decisions with your head and not your heart. Be forewarned, as you go through the process with your design build kitchen company you may have to make some tough choices such as cutting some of the items on your “wants” list to keep your project within budget.

4. Are you replacing your appliances?

40 years ago, practically every kitchen appliance on the market was the exact same size. One size of refrigerator, but it comes in two colors: white and olive! Flash forward to present day and not only can you buy your appliances in many different colors, but some of them come in a huge variety of different sizes. The dimensional choices of refrigerators have gone up exponentially. What that means is if you are redesigning your kitchen, you will almost certainly need to purchase new appliances.

Let’s be honest: you want new appliances anyway. When you install brand new, sparkling, beautiful cabinets and countertops, your tried and true, old appliances will stand out like a sore thumb. We wish it wasn’t so, but it is.

If you are replacing your appliances, spare a moment to consider what type of refrigerator you will purchase. Firstly, will it be a standard depth refrigerator or a counter depth one? Standard depth refrigerators typically measure 30 to 34 inches deep, whereas counter depth refrigerators typically measure between 23 and 27 inches deep. A standard depth refrigerator will generally have more square feet of food storage than a counter depth one. However, a standard depth unit will also jut out further into your kitchen than a streamlined counter depth one. A counter depth refrigerator is more costly than a standard one is, however, you will have a little more floor space in your kitchen with the counter depth size.

Let’s not forget the ice and water features of modern day refrigerators! Approximately half of all new refrigerators have a built in ice maker. Many others also have a built in water dispenser as well. You will need a plumber to run a water line to the back of your refrigerator to access all of the bells whistles. It is most certainly worth it. The joy of never having to fill the ice cube tray again is paradise on earth.

5. Are you redesigning the entire kitchen, or just updating it?

A kitchen update is more economical than a kitchen redesign. With an update, all of the cabinets and appliances stay in roughly the same place give or take a few inches so you won’t have to do any major plumbing or electrical work. Significantly moving the location of appliances often requires the costly process of removing and reinstalling drywall, concrete and other finishes.

A good design build company should be able to get much more out of your existing kitchen layout than a regular contractor would. A redesign costs more but may be required to get the design that you’ve always wanted. Permits and inspections are needed in the event of a kitchen redesign. They take more planning and more time to complete. In British Columbia once you touch one electrical circuit in the kitchen, you must upgrade the entire kitchen to meet current electrical code. You’ll have to add more plugs and appliance circuits to the kitchen, which will require you to run new wire back to the main electrical panel in your basement or garage, which will necessitate the opening of drywall and then the re-installation of the drywall.

If you’re happy with the current layout of your kitchen, there are savings to be had. You can install new cabinets and get more drawers and have a better overall kitchen design while still keeping your appliances in relatively the same place. Appliances can often be moved a few inches one way or the other to make room for a larger fridge or pantry without requiring significant additional plumbing and/or electrical work.You may replace lower cabinets with drawers. You can replace your countertop with quartz and retile the sink backsplash with a new pattern and/or color. Replacing the lighting in your kitchen may also be affordable and can change the entire look of the area. It is definitely worth considering an update versus a redesign when it comes to your kitchen.

6. Are you renovating any other rooms in your house? You want the kitchen to fit in with your house, not stand out and put the rest of the house to shame.

Ifyou’re renovating your kitchen, you should consider renovating the main floor of your home as well. This way, you’ll have a consistent theme throughout your home with finishes that match in quality and newness. It is cheaper to undertake two renovations at the same time than to spread them out. Not to mention the benefit of having your home exactly the way you want it – all of your home, at the same time.

A kitchen renovation takes an average of four months to complete. During those four months an entire renovation of your whole main floor can be done at the same time. The demo would be done at the same time. The electrical, flooring, drywall, and painting would be done at the same time. Installing kitchen flooring typically takes one day. Installing new flooring in the rest of your house typically takes 3 days. That means you can have the flooring done in your whole house or an entire floor in just 4 days’ time. While the kitchen cabinets are being installed the finishing carpenters can be installing the baseboards and mouldings in the rest of the home. The plumber can be working in the bathroom while he does work in your kitchen, saving him an extra trip and saving you money. Cabinets must be installed prior to measuring quartz or granite countertops. You have to wait for them to be measured and then wait another two weeks for the countertops to be fabricated. In those 2 weeks a lot of work can be done to the rest of the home. It’s worth considering. There are other instances like this that can be taken advantage of.

7. Cabinets vs. Drawers

Gone are the days of lower cabinets with doors. If you have lower cabinets with doors you are only using about half of the available space. You have to bend down and reach in to get at whatever is buried at the back of that cabinet. However, with drawers you are using about 90% of the space. This is because you can slide out a drawer and see everything that is in there. You can also easily organize everything inside the drawer and access it whenever you need to. Consider the wear and tear on your knees after years of crouching down on the floor to track down that elusive rice cooker or electric knife.

Drawers are more expensive than doors, yes, it’s true. It is understandable that you would be tempted to cut costs here and just install cabinets with doors. I beg you – don’t do it. The cost of difference between door units and multi drawer units is not that great when considering the overall cost of the renovation. It is certainly not an enormous cost to gain the ease of use and maximization of space.

Corner cabinets present the unique challenge of using the space effectively while keeping the space accessible. Although Lazy Susans were unreliable and wobbly in the past, they have now become a very solid, dependable part of any kitchen storage solution. While magic corners, the other main choice for corner cabinets, offer greater accessibility for items, their mechanical mechanism requires the sacrifice of the additional storage space a Lazy Susan provides. Like anything, there are better and poorer versions of Lazy Susans and magic corners on the market.It’s worth taking the time to figure out which one is best for you.

Like many kitchen renovation and design decisions, a good design build company will lay out all of the options and help you make the right choices.

8. Maximize the space

A good design build kitchen renovation company will listen to your needs and desires and then present kitchen designs, options and choices that meet those needs. For example, someone who loves to cook soups, stews and broths will have different kitchen design needs than someone who primarily uses the oven to bake meals. This will require different layouts.

If your kitchen is primarily used to prepare food strictly for your family, your kitchen needs will be different from those of someone who loves to host dinner parties. If you entertain, you need to store more dishes, utensils, serving plates, platters etc.

If you regularly have house guests, you’ll want to own a 4 slice toaster versus a 2 slice one. You’ll want to own a big coffee maker such as a Keurig and you’ll likely want to have a good selection of Keurig cups on hand. These are all more things to store in your kitchen, so be mindful of not only the need and purpose of these items, but the storage needs of them as well. You will likely need a larger refrigerator to store more food if you are a super host. Instead of a 30” width refrigerator, you probably would desire a 33” + width one.

9. Colors, layouts – decisions, decisions.

You’ve been itching to reach this one, haven’t you? And who could blame you! This is the fun part. Firstly, what type of layout will you have for your kitchen? There are basically 6 different ones.

  • Galley: If you don’t like Lazy Susans or magic corners, this kitchen’s for you. A galley kitchen is a svelte, highly-efficient use of space. If you do not have a great deal of square footage to work with or there is only one cook in your family, this layout should be at the top of your list. There are no corners in a galley kitchen, therefore, there is no need for a Lazy Susan or a magic corner. These types of kitchen are clean looking cost effective.
  • Peninsula: A peninsula kitchen layout is what I like to call the “Almost Island” kitchen. In essence, an island is connected to the rest of the kitchen. This is a space saving design for a room that does not have enough square footage to host an island. Peninsulas may have both upper and lower cabinets oronly lower cabinets. Many peninsulas have an extended ledge on one side to serve as a breakfast nook.
  • Horseshoe: This type of layout features three walls of cabinets, shelves and appliances.A horseshoe kitchen may also contain an island that acts as one of the three walls. The horseshoe layout of kitchen has a very cozy feel as it feels like its own room.
  • One Wall: A one wall kitchen is the most cost effective layout type. All of the cabinets and appliances are on one wall. These types of kitchens are frequently seen in lofts and studios and often have a minimalist feel to them.
  • Island: The kitchen layout of many home chefs’ dreams. The island layout is wildly popular and incredibly functional. The island portion of the kitchen may or may not have a sink, stove, dishwasher, wine cooler or more. It may have an overhang with stools to be used as a breakfast nook. If you are lucky enough to have the square footage to have an island kitchen, you are truly blessed.
  • Two Island: The family that cooks together…eats together? Two islands is double the space of one and double the options! With two islands, you have an extra food preparation area and extra storage as well. This type of kitchen can be as extravagant as you wish. You may have one island for eating and one island with a stove top for cooking. Or you may have a kids’ island and an adults’ island. The options are nearly endless if you have a very large amount of space to work with and a matching budget.
Look for a solid design build company at the very beginning so you know you can afford to build what you have paid to have designed. Having one designer and then another builder means you may have a gorgeous kitchen design that you have fallen in love with but that is too expensive for any builder to create. A quality design build companywill design and build a beautiful, functional kitchen that is in your price range. They will coordinate all of the details of the project and take the stress of the renovation off of your shoulders. 10. Faucets & Finishes

Quality is king when it comes to faucets. Choose quality faucets and fixtures as defective products may take five years to show up. Cheap sliders may break, low cost hinges may tarnish and affordable cabinets may not have enough varnish on them and chip or fade.

Kitchens are more mechanical in nature than other areas of your home. For this reason you should seriously consider hiring a quality design build firm that listens to you and your spouse. Your needs and desires should be heard and suggestions should be made based on those needs and desires.

Look for a solid design build company at the very beginning so you know you can afford to build what you have paid to have designed. Having one designer and then another builder means you may have a gorgeous kitchen design that you have fallen in love with but that is too expensive for any builder to create. A quality design build company will design and build a beautiful, functional kitchen that is in your price range. They will coordinate all of the details of the project and take the stress of the renovation off of your shoulders.