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Kitchen Remodeling 101 | 13 Rules To Simplify Your Kitchen Renovation

By on October 12, 2015

kitchen remodeling

One of the top 5 most emotional, stressful and life changing events is doing a kitchen remodel

Others on the list includes public speaking, divorce, death of a family member… Crazy right?

And as crazy as it sounds, I’ve been working with home owners to create amazing kitchens for years, and have personally experienced the above fact myself…

And with the hundreds of clients I’ve helped, I’ve come across a few simple things that you as a home owner can do to simplify your kitchen renovation and avoid the unnecessary stress…

KITCHEN REMODELING RULE #1: $#*! HAPPENS

kitchen remodelingThat may sound a bit harsh, but you know what… It’s the absolute truth…

I have remodeled and managed the remodeling of more than 400 kitchens over the last few years, and out of all of the 400+ kitchens, there was one thing that they have all had in common…

Unexpected events and finds occur that are out of the homeowners control… And many of these are out of the contractors control as well…

So getting upset and stressed out about unexpected delays and costs due to mold, out of code plumbing/electrical that MUST be fixed that you didn’t initially know about until you demolished your kitchen, delays in manufacturing of materials, etc. is nothing more that a waste of time & energy and is something that you as the home owner MUST expect…

I’ve found that once I establish this as the foundation with my clients, whether I’m designing, consulting or I’m picking up a power tool, when the moment arises, everyone is more likely to keep their cool because of the “I Told You So” factor…

The easiest thing we can do while being in this working relationship with you the client is to asses and move forward…

KITCHEN REMODELING RULE #2: Pay For A Kitchen Designer Now, Save Money & Time Later

Kitchen designer

Many home owners we’ve spoken with insist on trying to design their kitchen on their own… This includes measuring, making assumptions on structural walls, shopping for materials, laying out cabinets & appliances, etc…

Many of these same homeowners end up hiring us mid job once they’ve realized that they’ve made some pretty serious mistakes and end up spending MUCH MORE money on hiring us to undo, fix and redo their design when they could have paid $500 to have their kitchen professionally designed correctly the first time…

Not only can you potentially save thousands by having your kitchen designed properly the first time, but you’ll also save more of the one asset you can never get back…

Time…

KITCHEN RENOVATION TIP #3: The Value Of Kitchen Cabinets – Prefab/Semi-Custom vs Custom Cabinets

semi custom kitchen cabinetsWhen we first met Donna, we were visiting her Palm Springs home for a kitchen design consultation… And this was after she had shopped a few cabinet manufactures through Lowes & Home Depot…

The reason she called us was because we offer high end semi-custom modern cabinets that are manufactured to order and because with us offering a semi-custom alternative for her cabinets she was able to complete her kitchen, with new appliances, countertops, and everything else for about $35k…

Which was the same quote she received from Lowes & Home Depot for JUST THE KITCHEN CABINETS…

Most home owners just want a beautiful kitchen and don’t really need the excess expense of using custom cabinets in their kitchen when they could spend a fraction of the price using semi-custom cabinets. (And a quick FYI, Donna’s $35k cabinets from Lowes/Home Depot costed her about $13k when she went with a semi-custom option…)

The “beef” with semi-custom vs custom is amongst contractors… Contractors that do custom cabinets have NOTHING but horrible things to say about semi-custom cabinets, and contractors that use semi-custom cabinets think custom cabinets are simply a waste of money…

We offer both for our clients, but for the best value for your money, semi-custom is the way that we’d recommend you to go…

KITCHEN RENOVATION TIP #4: Quartz Countertops, Granite Countertops & The Benefits Of Prefab

There are beautiful countertops everywhere you look, but what you may not know if that many of the kitchen you adore actually used prefab countertops vs purchasing full slabs and paying for expensive fabrication…

Now whether its prefab or custom countertops, the materials are EXACTLY the same…

The key difference’s between custom & prefab are:

  1. The Cost
  2. Time For Installation
  3. Method Of Fabrication

The difference is cost comes from the fact that with prefab granite or quartz countertops, the materials are machine fabricated by the 1,000’s… Which means the slabs are cut and the edges are fabricated…

The time for installation of prefab is cut in half because of the pieces already being cut and having the edges fabricated in advance… I can actually complete a cabinet installation on Monday and have my fabricator on site to install on Tuesday (If you’re in a condo, then we have to template your kitchen then cut and polish off site… You’re still saving time & money, you just don’t have space to cut on your property which may add a day or two to the installation…)

Ex. Of Price & Installation Time Difference

-Custom: $3,599 vs Prefab: $2,249.55

-Custom: 7-10 days vs Prefab: 1-3 days

Kitchens we’ve done using prefab countertops…

prefab quartz countertops prefab quartz countertops prefab granite countertopsprefab quartz countertops

KITCHEN REMODELING RULE #5: Project Managers Are Worth Their Weight In Gold

construction project managerWhether you have kids, work 2 jobs, own a business, or love spending time with your spouse, there’s one thing that you can save TONS of, especially if you don’t have too much of it to begin with…

Time… (See a theme yet? :))

Many of our clients (and this more than likely includes you) don’t have the time to manage ordering materials, manage contractors, schedule contractors, schedule deliveries, inspect materials, inventory materials, schedule inspections, or anything else that requires an investment of time in regards to their remodel project…

And with this being the case for most people, hiring a project manager (or even a really good general contractor) will save you hours and hours of time that you can spend on doing things you love or REALLY need to get done (like generate profits or build up a savings to pay for your kitchen remodel)…

Now this doesn’t mean you wont be involved in your kitchen renovation, it just means that you’ll only need to communicate with 1 person vs 10-20…

You report to your project manager, and your project manager cracks the whip and runs the entire job on your behalf… Again, this will save you time and headaches that often times can come along with doing a remodel… See Rule #1 🙂

KITCHEN RENOVATION TIP #6: Time Save Tips For Shopping Four Your Materials

tile samplesThe beautiful thing about following Rule #2 on this list is that you’ll have a designer that can bring you samples and incorporate them into your design for you… Without you ever having to leave the house…

You can jump on Google and do some preliminary searching on your own, and then give that information to your designer…

One of the other cool and efficient things you can do is to meet your designer at a design center (we have 2 that we use to meet with our clients…)

A design center is essentially a showroom with a large variety of materials, finishes & colors… It’s normally centrally located and can be a great place to meet with your designer to hash out the vision of your dream kitchen…

KITCHEN REMODELING RULE #7: Estimates, Deposits & Additional Charges You Didn’t See Comingkitchen estimate

  1. Trip Charges-trip charges occur when a homeowner doesn’t follow Rule#2 and makes a mistake that adds additional trips to your property outside of the original scope of work… For example, if you contractor has allotted 3 days for cabinets installation, but you ordered a few cabinets in the wrong size, and your contractor has to come back a 4th day, you can expect to pay upwards of $500 for the additional trip…
  2. Change Orders-a change order occurs when after you and your designer/contractor have agreed on a certain scope of work, and in the middle of the project (say, half way through the installation of cabinets for example) you change your mind and want to change, add or take away from the work already agreed to, your contractor has the right to charge for the change. This price can vary, but the more of a headache you are for your contractor, the more you’re going to pay for your change order fees…

And now that I mention it, lets take a second to discuss pricing and how many contractors will bid out your project…

AVOID PAYING STUPID TAX ON YOUR KITCHEN RENOVATION…

In the industry, it’s an unspoken rule to have a “headache” fee attached to your estimate without you knowing it IF and when you position yourself as being a pain-in-the-ass client…

Now some contractors are idiots and have ZERO customer service or people skills… I’d recommend you pass on them…

But for the rest of us that constantly produce high quality work, I would highly advise that you be as kind as possible, and try to have your ducks in a row without portraying yourself as someone who is impossible to please… You’ll either get a bid that’s triple the normal price, or you wont get a call back at all…

Another way we find out how much “work” a client is going to be is by asking them what they do for a living… Lawyers and engineers (no offense to any lawyers or engineers) tend to have the personality types that involve tons of micro-management… There’s always an exception to this rule, but it’s a common theme we see all the time…

Micro-management will not only get you a higher price, but you’ll also find yourself standing over your contractor making sure he gets everything done perfectly and yet he wont get much done at all…

We’ve had 3 clients over the last 6 months that I can remember off the top of my head that were absolutely HORRIBLE when it came to micromanagement and their 7-10 day remodel projects turned into 15-30 day projects, simply because the client was always standing in the way, asking questions, making suggestions, etc…

It’s a good way to upset your contractor, spend more money than you have to and add MUCH more time to your project…

KITCHEN RENOVATION TIP #8: When You Need Permits, And When You “REALLY” Need A Permits…

construction permitPulling permits can be a tricky thing when it comes to doing a kitchen renovation

This next section is in no way legal advice… I will simply explain to you what some of our clients have done when it comes to pulling permits for their renovation…

Most of our clients NEVER pull a permit for a kitchen remodel… This is usually because when doing a kitchen remodel you’re not adding any sqft to the home or changing a living room to a bedroom… Pretty much anything that will hinder the sale of your property because it was an unpermitted addition is something that you should pull a permit for…

Outside of the realm of additions, and back into the realm of upgrading cabinets, countertops, and even changing the layout and removing a wall or two in your for your kitchen remodel… These are things that many of our client will not pull permits for…

  1. Because is wont affect the sale of the property
  2. Because pulling permits and waiting for inspections can take an ungodly amount of additional time and delays

The one thing that I highly recommend you pull a permit for, even if you’re just updating the kitchen, is if you’re replacing any windows… That’s a dead give away for a random inspector driving by, and if they discover you replacing windows without permits, you’ve just opened up a can of worm for the inspector to also report any additional unpermitted work being done in your home…

(The other reason we pull permits for windows is because its a safety issue… You need to be able to escape through a window in case of an emergency…)

KITCHEN REMODELING TIP #9: Order Everything In Advance So You Can Keep Your Project On Schedule…

Some home owners have a problem cutting checks for materials in full to their contractor or project manager…

Here’s a couple of things you have to remember…

  1. If you pay vie credit/debit card, your bank will give you an added measure of protection through means of a charge back just in case anything goes wrong…
  2. If you write a check, and your contractor bails, you can place a stop check order with your bank…

shoppingNow that you understand how you’re protected, lets discuss the benefits of having your project manager/general contractor ordering everything for you…

First, you’re giving the responsibility of ordering from, emailing, calling, and scheduling deliveries from all of the vendors needed to complete your project… Now a project manager will charge you a percentage of the materials purchased, sure, but you’ll free up your time by letting a professional handle everything for you…

Think of it like this… You’ll probably remodel 2-3 times in your lifetime…

A project manager (at least ours) manages 20-30 projects per MONTH… You wouldn’t expect me to “get” your job in a day, so why wouldn’t you let someone who does renovations for a living manage everything for you? It just makes sense…

KITCHEN RENOVATION RULE #10: Get A Schedule Of Work In Writing

calendarThis is a simple rule to follow and will keep you informed on the progress of your kitchen, and what’s coming up next…

You’ll also have an idea of how long each phase will take and when your job should be completed…

You can request this schedule from your project manager or general contractor…

KITCHEN REMODELING RULE #11: Get A Payment Schedule In Writing

This is also a simple rule for you to follow, and it eliminates any confusion that comes with paying your contractors…

This payment schedule also allows for you to track and manage the budget for your project… Payments are only made when items on the schedule are 100% complete…

Here’s a sample of what a payment schedule looks like:

  1. Demo-$1,000
  2. Framing & Drywall: $1,000
  3. Rough Electrical: $3,200
  4. Rough Plumbing: $700
  5. Cabinet Installation: $2,500
  6. Appliance Installation: $800

pay

NOTE: Countertops are normally paid for 100% in advance… We pay for our countertop materials and installation as one price/sqft… If your project manager or contractor doesn’t have the money in full from you, then countertops can’t be purchased… Purchasing other materials such as lumber, cabinets, sinks, tile, faucets, etc. are to be paid 100% up front… It’s not your contractor or project managers responsibility to have to come out of pocket for your materials, even if you promise to reimburse…

KITCHEN REMODELING RULE #12: Cleanup, Cleanup, Everybody Cleanup…

Maid cleaning stove top

One thing that many contractors and homeowners forget to think of is the cleanup after the job is complete…

Even if your kitchen is masked off from the rest of your house, dust will still travel throughout your home, leaving you with a pretty good sized mess…

The easiest way to fix this problem is to have your project manager/contractor hire a professional cleaning crew to do a deep clean on your home… It’ll take a few hours, but you’re home will be spotless, and you can schedule cleanup immediately following the completion of your kitchen so you’re not waiting around in a dirty house…

KITCHEN REMODELING RULE #13: Schedule A Final Walkthrough With Your Project Manager & Contractor To Make Sure Your Kitchen Is 100%…

This rule will save you and your contractor time, especially if there’s small adjustments that need to be made and that could have been made while the crew is still on site… Scheduling this walk through also helps you keep from getting stuck having to deal with your contractors busy schedule trying to get him back to your home to make minor adjustments…

It’s a simple process to schedule when the guys are packing up and getting ready to leave to the next job… And you can normally get them to make many of the adjustments within a few minutes…

It’s more of a “better safe than sorry” provisions that we recommend all of our clients have in place…

And if you’d like more information on kitchen remodeling or you’d like to schedule a design consultation for your kitchen renovation, simply enter your name and best contact info in the form below to schedule your design consultation…

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