10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Begin a Kitchen Remodel

Remodeling a kitchen is an exciting project. Unlike replacing a roof or that worn out air handler, a new kitchen looks great and instantly makes your home feel upgraded. Depending upon the extent of the remodel, this can turn into a big job and it can also get expensive. But it's a good idea to put soem careful thought on the front end before investing all those hard-earned dollars. What creates a functional kitchen? Aesthetics, functionality, and capacity are some serious considerations, as well as the size and layout.  Here are 10 questions that you should ask about a kitchen remodel 

 1. Why are you remodeling your kitchen?The reason for the remodel is very important. This sets the tone for the nature of the project. Do you need a more functional layout? Is it mostly the aesthetics of your old kitchen that bothers you? Does your kitchen look outdated as compared to your neighbors and you want your kitchen to look just as nice or nicer? The answers to these will affect the approach and often the bottom line.

 2. How much space do you have to work with?The next question to ask yourself is how much space you have to work within your kitchen. Take the measurements so you know the square footage. This is especially important if you’re planning to make changes to the floorplan or to add new cabinets and drawer systems. It's best to work with a seasoned design professional to help you get the best bang for your buck. 

 3. Are you planning to stay in the home?If you’re planning to live in the home for a few years and then sell or rent it, you may want to consider a remodel that will update the home without costing you a fortune. Putting too much of your personality into a home you’re going to sell may not make it attractive to prospective buyers and the kitchen can be a great selling point. If you’re not planning to sell the home soon, let your creative juices flow and make it your own space. 

 4. Do your remodel plans respect the architectural integrity of the home?What is the current architecture of the home and what style was it designed with? What elements of the architecture need to be retained in order to maintain the integrity of the design? This is a very important question to ask when it comes to the final outcome. While some styles can be combined, others simply don’t work well together. It’s important to make sure that all of the planned design elements fit in with those that you will retain. This is one reason why shaker cabinet doors are so ubiquitous. They work in pretty much any home.

 5. How much cabinet and storage space do you need?Another important question to investigate is how much cabinet space you need to have in your kitchen. Some cheap cabinets may be aesthetically pleasing, especially if you’re going for a minimalist look, but in the end, you still need to have enough storage in the kitchen or you’ll face frustration and the kitchen will not be as functional or efficient as it could be. Whether you’re planning to remodel a rental or your residence, make sure that you go with cabinets that will give you the length and depth required to store everything that you’re going to need and use. 

 6. What is your budget?Work with a remodeler who will take the time to carefully put together the numbers so that you know what you will pay and not have the pricing change on you over the course of the project. Ther are ususally only two reasons the final cost should change from the original quote. One reason is when you, the homeowner, ask for a change during the project. The other is the rare situation when rot, faulty plumbing or faulty electrical is discovered that couldn't be detected before the start of the project. You should plan an extra 15% as a buffer so that you can cover the unforeseen.

 7. How often do you cook and entertain?The type of appliances that you will need really depends on the amount of cooking and entertaining that you do. If you’re a weekend chef and don’t use the kitchen much then you won’t need to buy top of the line appliances, but if you’re a chef or you do a lot of meal preparation or entertain guests frequently, your remodel should include a functional layout that gives you easy access to the items you use the most and your appliances should probably be top of the line professional grade. This is particularly important if you wash a lot of dishes. Your dishwasher should be built to accommodate large loads if you have a lot of dirty dishes. This is just being practical and planning ahead. 

 8. What are your must-haves?This is another important question that you should ask yourself. In any kitchen remodel you must consider the basics, or elements that you cannot do without. For some, it is an island in the center of a larger kitchen to provide extra workspace for larger cooking projects, and for adding more storage for pots, pans, dishwasher or other items. For others, it is a wall oven, built-in kitchen appliances, a convection oven, built-in microwave, stacked ovens, and so forth. Consider the things you must have for functionality and that fit in with your current lifestyle. 

 9. What are your lighting needs?This is a big one because every person has their own individual needs and preferences when it comes to kitchen lighting. If you do a lot of intricate design work in your meal preparation or baking, then you will need an area with excellent lighting. While it’s not a big deal for some people, others need to have adjustable lighting installed in the kitchen. You might also address any poorly lit or darker areas in your kitchen that you’d like to improve and include this in the remodeling plans. 

 10. How can you maximize storage space?This question is different than how many cabinets do you need, but it fits into the same overall thinking process. If you need a lot more space there are ways that you can maximize the available space that you have in your kitchen by adding shelves and smaller cabinets towards the upper part of the walls. Some homeowners have even gone so far as to move a wall back a few feet to obtain a little more storage space for an extra-long cabinet or even a pantry addition. Most kitchens have underutilized space areas and it doesn’t take much to maximize every inch of open space. Again, this is where having a remodeler who works with a professional designer helps.


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How To Remodel a Kitchen

Outdated cabinets. Dingy flooring. Lack of storage. Worn out appliances. If these words describe your kitchen, then a remodel is probably on your wish list. But what exactly is involved in a kitchen remodel? To be honest, it can be an enormous undertaking. The key is to understand the process before you begin. 

Your success is contingent upon taking the right steps in the right order. 

 Safety Considerations

Before you begin, it's important that you commit to prioritizing the safety of anyone and everyone involved in the renovation process. 

Important safety measures include things like turning off the water and power before you start the demo, wearing protective gear (like gloves, heavy-duty shoes and eye and hearing protection) and using the proper tools. Consulting professionals for tasks that are above and beyond your skill set will also help ensure your safety. 

Ready to get started? Here’s my step-by-step guide to remodeling your kitchen.

 Step 1: Create a Plan 

Proper planning prevents…

As eager as you are to get started, don’t remove that grimy old sink or order a new smart refrigerator until you’ve mapped out a detailed kitchen remodel plan. This all-encompassing plan gives you the opportunity to merge your vision with your budget, and it allows you to determine whether you can tackle the project on your own or if you should consult with some remodeling professionals. 

The planning stage is also the time to determine the scope of the project.Scope, also known as extent, can range from a basic cosmetic refresh to a “total gut,” which likely entails tearing down walls and reconfiguring your layout. Somewhere in between the two is pretty typical, but it all depends on the objectives you’ve set for your kitchen. 

Once you've determined your scope, you need a design. Some homeowners feel confident in their design skills and can do a nice job of it. It's always a good idea to at least get a professional cabinet designer to help with the layout. A competent design professional will ask you questions that might not occur to you to help guide the choices of layout and all the options available. 

This is also the time to order all your appliances, order the cabinetry, select your countertops, purchase your tile (if any) for the backsplash, get your flooring selected and ordered, and even purchase your cabinet hardware etc. This is more important now more than ever as the are many delayed lead times and availability of certain items can be limited. 

Once you know the lead times of your selections, you can plan when to begin the remodel. This will prevent you from having a torn up kitchen that's unusable for months because you're waiting on cabinets. 

 During planning you will want to meet with any contractors you might need to help you with this project. 

 Step 2: Demo and/or Prep Your Kitchen

 Now that you have a plan and know your scope and design, it’s time for the demo. 

 But wait! Not so fast! 

 Protect, protect, protect

 If you plan to save your existing floors you will definitely want to protect your floors really well. A little bit of extra work and a few extra dollars spent at protecting your floors now will save you a lot more money and labor later. So, you will want to lay down some ram board and tape all the strips together. That is minimum protection. My professional recommendation is to go beyond that. I prefer to lay down rosin paper on the floor taping all the seams together. Then over that I lay down sheets of Masonite's hardboard and tape those together with duct tape. That creates a floating shell over your existing floor. Hardboard is amazingly resilient to dropping tools, and all the damage that can result from the demolition phase of the project. That shell on your floor can stay down all the way until the end of the project. And those Masonite board pieces can't be reused for other projects where you want to protect your floors. 

Also you will want to create a dust barrier between the work area and the rest of your house. it's astounding how much fine dust will travel all around your house during demolition phase and also during the drywall phase. So, tape up plastic barriers and use Zipwall to create a zippered opening to come in and out of your work area. 

Now, stop and congratulate yourself. You've just done what 90% of homeowners don't think of and even all too many professionals don't do properly. The degree of success you'll have in your remodel is heavily dependent on what you've just done. How you protected surfaces and all the planning you put into your project on the front end will pay off with a much smoother process and great results at the end. 

 Down and dirty 

Now the fun begins! At this point, you get to rip up your dated vinyl flooring, take away that ugly, dilapidated range hood and remove all of those dingy oak cabinets circa 1985. (If your scope is minimal, you might simply prep walls for paints or remove your old backsplash). 

You'll want to plan on disposal of debris. For a total gut, a dumpster is worth the cost. If you're only doing a very light renovation, you might be able to get away with just using a Bagster or two by Wast Management. 

After you complete the demo, you can prep for the rest of the project by starting on any changes to the framing. If you have opened up your walls completely at this point, it's a great idea to add blocking between studs to make it easy to install cabinets later. 

 Step 3: Plumbing and Electrical 

 Don't get hosed (or electrocuted)

 Next up is plumbing and electrical. Why so early when you won’t actually be running the dishwasher or turning on the lights anytime soon? At this point, your cabinets are out and the inner workings of your walls are exposed, making it the perfect time to deal with pipes and wires.If you wait, you’ll probably find yourself drilling into the backs of those brand-new cabinets or cutting holes into the drywall so you can install pipes or connect the wires to your under-cabinet lights. 

This is one place where having a good professional set of cabinet plans will come in handy. You will want to know the exact location of all your appliances down to the fraction of an inch at this point so that your plumbing can be roughed out to the right location without having to change it later when the cabinets are in. 

Step 4: Hang Your Drywall 

 Time to get board (and bored)… 

 Before you get started on drywall, make sure your measurements are accurate. You’ll need enough drywall to cover all the walls and ceiling.You’ll need:48-inch T-squareTaping knivesDrywall tapeScrewsScrew gunDrywall sawSanding poleMixing paddleDust mask

 Be sure to factor in some time for clean-up at this stage, because drywall dust is unrelenting. You’ll want to be rid of it before moving on (a shop vacuum is your best bet for this job). And for the sake of the rest of your house, hopefully you did your plastic barriers thoroughly at step one to prevent as much dust from migrating into the rest of the house as possible. 

 Step 5: Paint Your New Walls 

 Show your true colors

 Painting is the stage where you finally start to see your vision take shape. Plus, painting is fairly straightforward. (You can select your paint colors and do the painting yourself on the very same day.) 

 TIP: When considering paint color, think about the color and style of the cabinets you intend to install, as well as the overall ambiance you wish to create.

 I recommend Sherwin-Williams paints. They are an excellent all-around brand for all your painting needs and their prices are typically quite a bit better than Benjamin Moore brand. 

The reason I place painting at this phase in the remodel and not later is because it's a lot easier to paint your ceiling and walls when your kitchen is not cluttered up with cabinets yet. It takes a lot less time to cut in and roll out your ceiling and walls when you don't have to cut in all around your cabinets. But plan on a little bit of time at the very end after the cabinets and countertops are in to do touch-ups. Inevitably you will get some scuff marks on your walls and maybe ceilings due to cabinet installation and countertops. But it's a lot easier to touch up already painted walls and ceilings.

 Step 6: Flooring 

Getting floored

 Some experts prefer to install cabinets first while others say flooring first is the way to go. Ultimately, it’s up to you. When it comes to function, flooring first is perfectly acceptable. But my recommendation is to install flooring first always. For one, it is much easier to install a wide open room than it is to install around the footprints of your base cabinets, depending on how complex your cabinet layout is it can be a complete nightmare that only a professional flooring installer could pull off well. But, also if you ever decide in the future to remove your cabinets and your flooring is still usable, you will be stuck with following the exact same footprint of your old cabinets. 

 Step 7: Install cabinets. 

 Getting boxed in 

 Now your kitchen will really start to look like one.

There are two opinions on how to install cabinets. Some professionals like to install the upper cabinets first while the majority prefer to install the base cabinets first. There really is no right answer to this. I prefer to begin with base cabinets however. One reason I do is because as soon as the base cabinets are installed I have my countertop fabricator already scheduled to come and template for the countertops. I don't want to delay this process one more day then is necessary. 

 While plumbing and electrical take a good deal of technical knowledge, this step takes a lot of skill. Be sure to watch some instructional videos on proper cabinet installation and take your time. Damaging a prefinished cabinet can cost a lot of money and time lost due to having to replace it. 

 Step 8: Install Countertops 

Counter offer

Once your base cabinets are installed, you can measure for your new countertops. This step occurs after the base cabinet installation because of the level of precision required in measuring. Your countertop fabricator will need your sink and faucet on site to be sure they cut the right opening for the sink and drill the correct spacing for your faucet.

At this point, there might be a bit of a low as you wait for the countertops to arrive. Some fabricators are only a few days out on lead time. Other fabricators might make you wait 3 to 4 weeks. It all depends on how busy that particular shop is and how well staffed they are. 

 Step 9: Install the Backsplash 

Making a splash

 The kitchen backsplash is a functional piece of your remodel and has the potential to really shine when it comes to design. 

Hopefully, you already have your tile and grout on site so they can be installed right after the counters. 

 Step 10: Install the Sink and Bring in Your Appliances

 Sink or swim

Finally, it’s time to install your new sink and set up the dishwasher, refrigerator, range and any other appliances.At this point, the bulk of the work is done. However, it wouldn’t hurt to call a plumber and/or electrician just to make sure everything is good to go. For example, a plumber will know how to connect your sink to the previously-installed plumbing fixtures, and an electrician can verify that your new gas stove is installed correctly. 

 Getting punchy 

Now look around and find all the flaws. It's easier to spot them now than later when you're used to them. Fix them all now and not later. If you're like me, later doesn't usually come. You've made it until now and your tired. Give it one more small push and get all those annoying little touch ups and repairs done.Once these installations are done, your remodel is complete and it’s time to move on to the most important step—relaxing and enjoying your new kitchen. 

 Now, call your friends and have a party and pretend your not showing off your handy skills. In fact, this might be what you need to motivate you to finish those last pesky details. You're hard work paid off!

 When to Call a ProFor smaller remodels, an experienced DIYer can likely handle most of the projects mentioned above, such as painting and installing a backsplash. But for larger projects like plumbing and electrical, consult a contractor to ensure safety and proper completion of the renovation. The last thing you want to do is affect the integrity of your kitchen’s structure and function.

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What is the Cost of a Kitchen Remodel?

I’m asked this question pretty regularly. You might have googled that question in the past only to pull up a bunch of disparate answers. The problem is that most sites that present themselves as authorities on this subject are not even in the industry. So you often get unhelpful information given by data aggregators and not by seasoned veterans. 

What's in a name?

 There is a wide range of projects that the term ‘kitchen remodel’ can refer to. On the simpler end, some people just want to replace counters, paint their cabinets and maybe tile a backsplash. Way on the other end of the spectrum is to gut the existing kitchen and open up a wall, completely redo electrical, and do all custom high-end cabinetry and quartz counters. Most homeowners will do something in the middle of that spectrum. Usually, the remodel consists of removing all existing cabinetry, counters and appliances, adding lighting, replacing the flooring and installing new semi-custom cabinets, counters and finally painting. This typical kind of remodel will cost in the range $75,000 – $145,000. 

Why the price range?

The exact cost is dependent on variables:

  •  The complexity of the particular kitchen. Some kitchen have a simple L shape with few upper cabinets. Other kitchen designs consist of a U-shaped kitchen with an island, a two-layered crown molding, light rail moldings, etc.
  • the level of cabinetry selected
  • type of flooring selected
  • the level of stone desired for the counters. For instance, one kitchen with a budget-friendly cabinet line will cost $20,000 for the cabinetry. While another more complex design with high-end cabinetry can easily cost $60,000 for just the cabinets. Stone counters can run from $80 - $130+ per square foot. So on a modest sized kitchen with 75 square feet of counters, that range is $6,000 - $9,750. 

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about your kitchen. 

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How to plan for a kitchen remodel

Remodeling a kitchen is an exciting time with a beautiful and functioning kitchen to look forward to at the end! But in the meantime, you need to know what to anticipate and how to handle it. 
Here is what to expect if you live in your house through a kitchen remodel and how to prepare for it: 
 Make Preparations and Get Organized 
 Plan to do the following before demolition begins: 
  •  Carve out time to pack up the kitchen properly or arrange for movers since it's a big task. 
  • Think about whether some sort of refrigeration will be possible.
  • Perhaps there's an old fridge in the garage or a mini-fridge elsewhere in the house. It may be worth renting a small one or buying one secondhand. Just be sure there is a place you can plug it in outside the kitchen. 
  • Include takeout food and restaurant expenses in your overall renovation budget. 
  • Get in the mindset of getting the groceries you need daily as opposed to shopping for the week or month. A lot of times, you just won't have the space for that! 
 Set Up a Makeshift Kitchenette 
 If possible, set up a mini kitchen in another room. Think about what equipment might come in handy for throwing together meals. Suggestions include: 
  •  Coffee maker 
  • Electric teakettle 
  • Toaster or toaster oven 
  • Slow cooker 
  • Portable electric grill 
  • Electric frying pan (if you have a place to clean it) 
  • Mini-fridge 
  • Find portable kitchen appliances 
 If your house has a mini kitchen or a wet bar elsewhere, you're in luck. This is a great spot to set up. 
 Think about how you're going to handle a small-appliance cooking mess before you make it - this may involve the patio, a hose and a dishwashing tub. 
Final Note
I Care About You and Your HomeYes, it can be a bit of a hassle to live in the home while a remodel is taking place, but that is why I care so much and put a lot of effort into making sure we:
  1.  Contain dust and keep our jobsite clean and organized
  2. Focus on great communication
  3. Work tirelessly to keep the project on schedule to limit the disruption to your home and life.

How can I help you? I love what we do and love helping homeowners through the remodeling process! If you have a project in mind, don't hesitate to reach out. I'm happy to answer any questions you have. 
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