Let the Pros Guide Your Kitchen Renovation
Like many homeowners considering a kitchen renovation, you most likely have been influenced by the makeover shows on HGTV with their impossibly low budgets and unreasonably fast timelines. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is normal. Many kitchen design and remodeling professionals report that consumers have formed unreasonable expectations, thanks to these shows.
Don’t Be That Guy or Girl
So, let’s take a look at how you can bring your expectations into line with what actually happens during a kitchen renovation. And avoid the mistakes other homeowners have made during their remodel projects.
SETTING EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR KITCHEN REMODEL
Ultimately, it’s up to your kitchen designer to set expectations for how the kitchen renovation project will go. Your first conversation should include details about the timeline and the cost.
Right from the beginning, you and your designer should go over when each of you is available to take calls and answer emails and texts. Your designer should be available for you, but on flip side, you need to tell him or her about your schedule and when you’re available for their phone calls and/or meetings.
Kitchen Remodel Project Timeline
If you’re a remodeling newbie, your kitchen designer should be explicit when explaining what all goes into a kitchen project and how long each phase takes. How much time does it take to plan the lay-out and make selections? How long does it take to do the demolition, build out and installation? (Hint: Lots longer than you think.)
Your designer may provide you with a written schedule for the various stages of the project and target deadlines for completing each phase. Or, they may use a software program to outline your project with expected start and completion dates, as well as to track communications and approvals.
And at this time, you should be informed concerning how any changes you request will affect the project’s schedule and cost.
MISTAKES TO AVOID
1. Hiring the Wrong Contractor
You might be tempted to go with the first contractor you find to head up your kitchen renovation just get it over with. But choosing the wrong contractor can set you up for much bigger headaches in the long run.
Get estimates from at least three contractors before ultimately deciding which one to hire. Do your due diligence and check references, read online reviews and verify that each contractor is bonded and insured.
And, beyond that, you’ll also want to choose the contractor you feel most comfortable with. The contractor you choose should be easy to contact, answer your questions in a way that leaves you feeling comfortable, and is willing to sign a contract.
Be wary of the contractor who’s cheap and available right away.
Hiring a contractor who doesn’t have proper credentials means you’ll give up certain protections from your state license board. Plus, Consumer Reports found that licensed contractors are better at holding down costs on remodeling projects when unexpected problems arise.
2. Trying to Be Your Own General Contractor
A good general contractor has experience with construction, materials and sources. You won’t have much influence over an electrician or dry waller, but sub-contractors have relationships with general contractor that will suffer if they don’t get the job done right.
3. Skipping Permits
Getting permits can be a pain. They add another cost to your budget and inspections by local authorities can slow down the work.
If you’ve hired the right contractor, he or she will take care of getting the proper permits for you. However, it’s your ultimate responsibility, as the homeowner, to verify that all of the correct permits are in place and that the work is being done to code.
4. Not Making Kitchen Function Your #1 Priority When Remodeling
Everyone wants a kitchen that looks fabulous, and paint colors and backsplash tiles are more fun to choose, rather than storage, ventilation and lighting. However, function should be your first priority and will influence your long-term satisfaction.
Before your first meeting with your kitchen designer, you should have prepared answers for these two questions:
- What do you like about the way your kitchen functions or doesn’t function now?
- What do you want to be different in your newly renovated kitchen?
Your designer will most likely have a detailed questionnaire that will give you the chance to communicate all of your wishes for a new kitchen, both in functional and looks.
5. Not Planning for the Unexpected
Every kitchen renovation project has something that goes wrong, no matter how carefully you and your remodel team plan. Opening up walls can often lead to electrical, structural or plumbing surprises. Remodeling older homes can often uncover mold, leaking pipes or rotting wood.
The best thing you can do to prepare yourself for unexpected problems is to leave a buffer in your budget for these issues. Experts recommend budgeting 15% – 20% for these incidentals. That way, when something happens, you have the money to cover it.
6. Overpaying for High-End Materials
Natural materials, like marble countertops and hardwood floors, create a luxurious look. But besides being pricey, these materials can be susceptible to wear and tear. Instead of marble, consider low-maintenance quartz, which is the #1 most favorite countertop material. Some versions are as expensive as natural stone, but many manufacturers offer entry-level lines that combine looks, durability, and a competitive price tag.
For an alternative to hardwood flooring, consider a porcelain tile, like Lumber Liquidators’ Avella Brazilian Cherry. It looks like the real thing, earned near perfect scores in Consumer Reports’ tests, and costs less than $4 per square foot, which is half what you’ll pay for some solid hardwood floors.
7. Continually Changing Your Mind
Changing your mind while your kitchen renovation project is underway can cost you time and money, especially if the contractor was already working on the feature you want to change. Your best bet for keeping your project on schedule and on budget is to make a plan for the work and stick to it.
Changes that seem simple to you may require a lot of work. Even moving a light switch can cost you, so be sure to check with your kitchen designer on even small changes.
8. Hiring A Professional Who’s Not A Good Fit
Just because someone looks good on paper and has a nice website doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you. This goes for the kitchen designer or contactor you’ve found.
Does this person have the same priorities as you do for your project? Listening skills are crucial. Both contractor and designer are going to be part of your daily life for several weeks, even months. You have to be compatible.
9. Not Asking Enough Questions
Ask lots of questions. This is your money you’re spending, and it will be your kitchen in the end. There’s no such thing as a dumb question. You should know what, when and why things are happening with your project.
10. Making Impractical Choices for Your New Kitchen
Another factor to consider when choosing materials is practicality. For example, hardwood is a beautiful flooring choice that can increase the value of your home. However, it’s not the best choice for families with pets since it is not resistant to scratches. You’ll have to keep restoring your hardwood floors over the years, especially if you plan to ever sell.
You may love the color purple now, but will you love it in five years from now? The cabinets you choose for your new kitchen may come with a lifetime guarantee – that’s a long time to look at purple cabinets.
It’s importance to keep your family and lifestyle in mind when choosing materials and colors during a remodel.
11. Skimping on Quality
Some good advice: spend your money on the things you will touch every day in your remodeled kitchen. Hardware, doors, faucets, appliances and cabinets will remind you on a daily basis that you chose solid, well-built, quality materials for your new kitchen. And that they will last.
12. Choosing Trendy Items
Some more good advice: don’t spend your remodel budget money on trendy items that will go out of style. Trendy choices can make your home look outdated very quickly,and can lower the value of your home in the future.
Do you think you’ll love those sliding barn doors five years from now? Or those industrial styled hanging light fixtures? Your kitchen designer will help guide your selections. And keep you away from choices that won’t stand the test of time.
13. Not Checking References
Any reliable contractor you’re considering to head up your kitchen remodel should be able to provide plenty of references. And you need to check them. Ask past clients about their overall experience working with the contractor and also how their work has held up.
The same goes for kitchen designers. And any kitchen designer worthy of consideration will happily provide references and may even take you to homes where they’ve remodeled the kitchen. Not only can you see the finished work, but hear first hand from the homeowners about their experience.
Of course, Kitchen Design Partner-recommended designers come pre-qualified. We hold our designers to a high standard, so you get the best results.
Let the experts at Kitchen Design Partner pair you with the kitchen designer who will guide your selection processes and help you avoid the mistakes that bring misery to unprepared homeowners remodeling their kitchens.
Working together, we’ll to bring your dream kitchen to life.