Simplify the Kitchen Remodeling Process
The kitchen remodeling process that will get you your dream kitchen can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve assembled this six-step guide to simplify the remodeling process. As a result, you will be able to determine what you need to know and what your options are at every step of the way.
Step 1 of the Kitchen Remodeling Process: Your Wish List
Imagine what your remodeled kitchen will look like. This is the first step toward bringing your dream kitchen to life. Inspiration is just a click away on social media sites, such as Instagram, Pinterest and Houzz. You’ll get ideas on space planning, products and materials, colors, appliances – everything you could possibly need.
Before you start, ask yourself the following questions about “why” and “how you want to live in the remodeled kitchen”. Does anything in this list match your situation?
- Do you wish for a more attractive kitchen?
- Is your family growing? Do you need more room?
- If your current kitchen is outdated, is a style update what you want?
- Does your kitchen layout work for your lifestyle?
- Would you say your existing kitchen is inefficient?
- Do you want to repair and/or replace non-working appliances, cracked floor tiles, splits in wood cabinets and other items in your current kitchen that are broken?
Make a list of the specific things in your existing kitchen that are causing problems for you and your family. Nothing is too small – everything from shoes at the door to not enough storage space in the cabinets.
Then list the things about your existing kitchen that you do like. For example, the window over the sink.
These details will help your kitchen designer create your ideal kitchen by providing insight into what is important to you and what are your must-haves.
Plan for the Future
Think about what your life will look like 5 or 10 years from now. Consider:
- Family dynamics and how they will expand or contract.
- How you want to address changes to your family’s physical capabilities over time.
- Your finances and how much you’re comfortable saving to pay for your remodel.
- The impact of the remodel on your energy usage.
- Your neighborhood and comparable property values.
- Technology and the role it plays in your everyday life.
- Needs versus wants.
- Where to save costs and where extra costs will pay off over the long-term.
Step 2 of the Kitchen Remodeling Process: Budget Planning
Establishing and staying within a specified budget is key to a successful kitchen remodel project. Many factors determine a budget. Project cost will vary depending on your location, the size of the room, and the features or options you choose.
However, square footage alone is not the indicator of cost; kitchens may be smaller but require appliances, plumbing and electrical features.
TV make-over shows make structural changes look easy. Consequently, removing walls or adding additional square footage requires more time, money and resources.
Your project budget can vary greatly, depending on the products you choose. When selecting cabinets, countertops, lighting, appliances, flooring, backsplash tile and all other items that go into a new kitchen, your kitchen designer will be your guide. Consequently, you and your designer become a team. Together, you can discuss the pros and cons and costs of your selections. The good news is there is a product for every every budget.
Age of Your Home.
The age and condition of your home must be taken into consideration. Structural issues will have a huge impact on the cost of your project.
Craftsmanship and Quality.
Like any other area of your life, you get what you pay for. Top-of-the-line cabinets, professional-grade appliances and high-quality workmanship will cost more.
Step 3 of the Kitchen Remodeling Process: Remodeling Professionals
Hiring the right professionals for your project is critical to getting it completed on time and within your budget. Choose the ones for your job based on their specialties, experience, education, certifications, industry knowledge and quality of work.
The General Contractor
A general contractor is an experienced remodeling contractor whose knowledge of materials, methods and reliable sub-contractors has been gained from years on the job. General contractors are the right choice for your project if your project was designed by a kitchen designer, and you now need someone to manage the construction of the design.
Some kitchen designers have a contractor they work with and will recommend for your project. The decision is yours to make.
The Kitchen Designer
A kitchen remodel is a huge project. You will need a kitchen designer to bring your dream kitchen to life and help you navigate the process to get it.
The skills and expertise required to put together all the parts of the project are very specific. And a kitchen designer has both skills and experience. He or she is a specialist who understands design, materials and finishes found only in a kitchen.
The kitchen is one of the most complicated rooms of the house to lay out. Each one is filled with appliances, doors, windows, walkways and utility lines. Kitchens aren’t like a family room or bedroom; they are workspaces with specific functions.. And because cabinets are built in, you can’t move the kitchen around once it’s built, like furniture in a living room. That makes it especially important to get it right.
This is why you need a kitchen designer.
Kitchen designers have expertise in the specific area of the kitchen. They will create the drawings your contractor needs to complete the kitchen remodel.
The Design/Build Contractor
A design-build firm has the same responsibilities and must perform the same duties as a general contractor. However, the design-build firm oversees the entire project from start to finish. In other words, the design-build firm contributes to both the initial vision and design of the project to the final, completed project.
If you want only one company for design and construction services, your will want to hire a design/build firm. Design/build is a concept developed to benefit the remodeling homeowner by providing both quality design and construction services within the same company. A design/build contractor will be able to see your project through from start to finish, keeping design, construction and budget in mind. Some design/build firms have architects on staff, others use certified designers.
Step 4 of the Kitchen Remodeling Process: Selecting a Professional
The best way to find qualified help is through word-of-mouth referrals. Common sources for qualified remodelers or contractors include business colleagues, real estate agents, local material suppliers, such as lumber yards or hardware stores.
Tips to Find a Qualified Remodeler
Stay Local. Local remodelers want to be known for quality work that satisfies their customers so their business can survive in their community. Local firms can be checked through references including past customers (names provided by the remodeler) or the Better Business Bureau.
Follow Local Building Codes. An advantage to hiring a local remodeler is that they will know the local building codes and permit requirements for your town or city. Building codes vary considerably for each jurisdiction. They even change from year to year. Structural work or footprint expansions require permits.
Check for License and Insurance. Many states require contractors to be licensed, bonded and/or insured. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure the contractor meets all requirements. Most states require a contractor to carry worker’s compensation, property damage, and personal liability insurance. Ask for a copy of their license and insurance certificate to make sure that it is current.
Check for Violations and Complaints. Check with your Consumer Affairs Office and the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no complaints on record for the contractor.
Compare Apples with Apples. If you get estimates from more than one remodeling contractor, be sure they are working off the same scope and quality of work. Discuss variations in prices, and beware of any estimate that is substantially lower than the others.
Be Informed. A good remodeling professional educates clients on “green” remodeling, universal design, lead safety, new products, building techniques and trends. Make sure you’re hiring someone who has knowledge and expertise relevant to your kitchen remodel.
Always Check References. Don’t rely on a contractor’s personality. If a professional does not offer references, ask for them and follow up with a site visit or phone call.
Step 5 of the Kitchen Remodeling Process: Project Best Practices
Communication. We can’t say it often enough. Communication.
To work successfully with your kitchen designer and remodeler, you will need to establish open and clear communication. We’ve provided a list with topics you can discuss with the contractor to get your project off on the right foot — before work gets started. A little advance work can go a long way to avoid frustration and miscommunication during the course of the project.
Here’s some items to discuss with your contractor / remodeler. And don’t be afraid to ask questions!
- Ask what inconveniences to expect while the project is under way. Then plan for them accordingly.
- Tell your contractor of your vacations or any special events coming up so that he may schedule their job site time appropriately.
- Advise the contractor that your children know work zones are off-limits. Ditto for pets.
- Get assurance that you will receive a written change order if your project is modified while work is being done. Both you and the contractor should sign the change order.
- Request an Affidavit of Final Release at the time you make final payment and a final waiver of mechanic’s lien. This is your assurance that you will not be liable for any third-party claims for nonpayment of materials or subcontractors.
- Decide how to communicate with each other. Phone, in-person, text or e-mail. Also, how often you will communicate with your remodeling contractor.
- Promise to keep the lines of communication open.
Further – Keep a job file that includes your contract, plans, specifications, invoices, change orders and all correspondence with the contractor.
Step 6 in the Kitchen Remodeling Process: Project Wrap Up
The end of the project brings joy. And relief. However, don’t skip the final steps of the kitchen remodeling process.
Understand your contractor’s guarantees of quality and warranties. Often, contractors will provide free repairs up to a certain point. Be clear that you know exactly what those guarantees cover and the length of time they are covered.
Final Document Review.
Look over the contract again. Make sure you have all of your signed permits, receipts, change orders, lien waivers, warranties and manufacturers guides to your products.
Ask your contractor if there are any maintenance schedules you should know about for your new appliances and/or other installed systems.
Make a list of necessary adjustments, known as a punch list. If you’re unsure about something, ask your contractor if that is normal or if he has a suggestion. It’s best that this is brought up during the final stages of the project while your contractor is onsite.
Reward a job well done. As you know, reputation and references are the best marketing assets a kitchen designer and contractor can have. Offer to have your beautiful new kitchen photographed. You can provide a testimonial, or showcase your home in a Parade of Homes tour.
Our six-step guide is designed to help you get going in the right direction with your project. As a result, you will see your project through to a successful completion.
- Develop your wish list
- Plan a realistic budget
- Determine the right professionals for your kitchen remodel
- Hire the right professionals
- Review and live by remodeling best practices
- Be prepared for the project wrap up
KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.