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10 Things to Know Before Beginning Your Kitchen Remodel

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Remodeling your kitchen is a major project. It is, at times, exciting, frustrating, and terrifying, and in the end, it is hopefully deeply satisfying. While a kitchen remodel can run you through the gamut of emotions, there are some things to know before your kitchen remodel that can make the project smoother and more enjoyable. And if you go into the process with these tips, hopefully, you can avoid some problems and get better results. After all, that’s what it’s all about, fabulous results.

10 Things to Know Before Beginning Your Kitchen Remodel [infographic]

1. Kitchen Remodeling Is Expensive

You probably have an idea of how much you want to spend. But you need to know going in that kitchen remodeling is really expensive. According to HomeAdvisor.com, the national average cost of a kitchen remodel is just over $25,000. If you want to add any extra niceties, like high-end appliances, a top-of-the-line sink, or anything else beyond your average remodel, expect to spend $30,000+.

When setting your budget, you must leave room for cost overruns. It is almost impossible to get through a kitchen remodel without running into some unexpected costs. But don’t worry, you can budget for that. First, determine your budget or how much you are able to spend. Then calculate 80% of that. That is how much you can plan to spend on your kitchen; the extra 20% will be spent on unexpected expenses. If you plan this way, you can avoid breaking the bank with the inevitable cost overruns. Examples of cost overruns include components that don’t fit exactly as you expected, structural issues that you can only see once you demolish the existing kitchen, and wiring or plumbing issues that need to be corrected before you complete your remodel.

One of the best ways to control costs is not to stray too far from your current kitchen layout. Moving gas, water, and electrical hookups can get pricey. Also, don’t blow your budget on top-of-the-line new appliances. Do you really need a six-burner commercial-grade stovetop? Consider how you will actually use your appliances, and purchase what you need, not what you dream of. Also, consider used, refurbished, or open-box appliances to stretch your appliance budget.

2. Get Professional Design Help

Designing your dream kitchen is the first step in your remodel. But don’t go it alone. While you may have an image in your mind of your new kitchen, that’s a far cry from a blueprint. It may be tempting to save money by skipping this step, but we don’t suggest it. A professional designer can help you plan a kitchen that you will love and take care of fleshing out all the details. Starting your project with a detailed design and blueprint will make every other step more efficient and cost-effective.

3. Design for Function

As you design your dream kitchen, you may be inspired by those Instagram perfect kitchens you see on HGTV or social media. But remember that your kitchen is, above all else, a tool. It is a place where you will spend a lot of time on tasks, from cooking to cleaning to eating. So as much as you want a beautiful kitchen, it also needs to be functional. Take time during the design phase to think about how you will use your kitchen.

For instance, a single large sink may look luxurious, but a double sink has a lot more functionality. Also, consider where your trash and recycling will be. It seems like a small thing, but you need to have the trash accessible while you cook, so it makes a big difference. Also, resist the urge for open shelves. They look pretty in pictures, but unless you plan to keep all of your dishware and cookware neatly stacked at all times, cabinets with doors will keep your kitchen looking neat. Also, consider the value of drawers. Of course, you need the standard drawers for flatware and other such things. But also consider pull-outs for trash or even for your pots and pans. It’s so much easier to pull out a shelf of pots and pans than to bend down and rummage in a deep cabinet.

4. Make Sure You Trust Your Contractor

Before you begin work, you will need to find a contractor. We recommend hiring a general contractor to oversee all of the various tradespeople. Trying to schedule all the subcontractors yourself can be a headache, and may be more technical than you expected. Do you really feel comfortable deciding at what point to bring in your plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc.? Also, coordinating yourself means dealing with everyone’s schedule, and possibly long waits between different tradespeople. A general contractor has relationships with all the subcontractors you need and will get them there on time and at the right time.

However, be very selective of your general contractor. This is the person who will be overseeing the implementation of your kitchen remodel. Make sure that this is someone you can really trust. Get personal recommendations from friends or family, and also ask the contractor for references that you can call. Do your homework, and meet in person before committing to anything. If you want to skip the research phase, you can use a TrustDALE certified kitchen remodeling company. We’ve already run every business we certify through Dale’s thorough 7-point investigative review. And every TrustDALE company is backed by Dales trademark $10,000 Make-It-Right™ Guarantee.

5. Over-Communicate

Even if you trust your contractor, your contractor can’t read your mind. Make sure to communicate, then communicate again, then double-check to make sure everything is clear. Your contractor needs to know exactly what you expect. Starting with a detailed blueprint is a great first step, but it’s not the last step. Check in on the work frequently, ask questions, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. It is much easier to correct misinformation before the work is done than to correct work after it was done incorrectly.

6. You Can Add On Extra Projects

Got a few small projects in the house that you just haven’t gotten to? Now is a great time to knock some items off your honey-do list, while your house is full of highly-skilled tradespeople. Need a light switch installed? Want a door fixed? Need some touch-up paint? Don’t be afraid to ask your contractors. In many instances, your contractors can do a little extra work in very little time, and the additional cost is minimal.

We’ve even seen cases where a general contractor is willing to throw in a couple of side jobs and just roll them into the cost of the remodel. After all, you are paying tens of thousands of dollars for a big job. If the contractor has to pay their workers and for an extra hour or two of labor, they may just include it in the price of the remodel.

7. Pick One Showpiece

This is your chance to show off your unique style. But don’t go overboard. Usually, one standout showpiece is enough. For instance, if you select a bold or unusual tile for the floor or backsplash, don’t get too adventurous with the other parts of your kitchen. We don’t want to quash your creativity, but you want to avoid a kitchen that looks like a circus tent. If there’s something you really like and want to incorporate into your new kitchen, go ahead and add it to the design. Just make sure to do this during the design phase, not the work phase. If you include it in your initial design, you can plan out how it will be incorporated into the overall look of your new kitchen. Also, adding new details during the work phase is a recipe for cost overruns and design flaws.

8. Don’t Ignore the Unexciting Details

Backslashes and cabinets get a lot of love. You can spend days or weeks picking out tile or drawer pulls. But don’t forget the boring stuff. The little things can make or break a fabulous new kitchen. For instance, make sure you consider where the trash will go (we mentioned this above, too). Think about the location of outlets. Are they near your best counter space? The last thing you want is to go to your workspace and find that you can’t plug in your mixer or other appliances. Also, don’t overlook venting. Venting is not sexy, but it is crucial. Proper venting will keep steam, smoke, and smells from filling your home. On the other hand, an improperly vented kitchen can lead to singing smoke alarms every time you try to fry something. Talk to your designer and contractor in both the design and work phases to make sure you aren’t missing any critical but un-fun details.

9. Unpack Everything As It Arrives

If you are working with a good general contractor, they should know to do this. But you can still stop in and make sure it’s being done. And if you are playing general contractor to all your tradespeople, don’t skip this vital step. You can order your kitchen components in a showroom or online, but there is no guaranteeing what you will receive. In most cases, you will get what you wanted. But it’s always best to check your materials and components as soon as they arrive, so if there is a problem, you can deal with it swiftly.

Are your tiles the right size, shape, and color? How about your flooring? Are the cabinets the ones you ordered, and are they all undamaged and in perfect condition? Be sure to unpack promptly to avoid nasty surprises when you go to do the installation.

10. Document the Process

Before you touch your kitchen, before the first swing of the demolition sledgehammer, take pictures. Take lots of pictures. Capture your kitchen from every angle. Is this necessary for a successful remodel? Not really. But it will give you the opportunity, when all the work is done, to look back at your old kitchen and see how far you’ve come. You might also want to take some pictures of your kitchen after the demolition, but before installation begins, just to see what is behind all those cabinets and appliances. Finally, when the work is done, take lots more pictures from every angle. This is a long, messy, tiring, expensive experience, and you want to capture that. It’s not a crucial step to creating the kitchen of your dreams, but it’s lots of fun to compare the before and after pictures and see how far you’ve come.

If you’re ready to start your kitchen remodel, contact a TrustDALE certified kitchen remodeling company today! You’ll be glad you did.