The Remodeling a Kitchen Diary: Planning Stage

Simple tips to get you prepared for a kitchen remodel.

In the first installment of our kitchen remodeling series, we covered the dreaming stage of redoing your kitchen. Today, your dreams are now over and it’s time to face a bit of reality. You’re done dreaming and now you need to figure out exactly how many of your dreams can come true and what your budget can withstand.

The planning phase of a kitchen redesign is pretty much kitchen purgatory. It’s where you will dwell for longer than you expect before finally moving on to getting things done. Sure you may think the planning phase won’t take long, but soon you’ll be mired in details you never knew even existed. That’s why I’m here to hopefully help you navigate your way through this planning process and get you started on the path to an actual kitchen remodel. Here are some tips to get you started:

Don’t EVER pay to get your kitchen measured.
Before a contractor or designer can create some models for you of how your kitchen could look they’ll need to come in and measure. A number of the major hardware store retailers will say they need to charge you a fee to measure your kitchen. Don’t you dare pay a penny to have your kitchen measured or to get a design rendering done. I guarantee you there are a number of local kitchen design companies that will do it for free as part of the estimate process.

Be prepared to be overwhelmed with choices.
You have no idea how many options are available to you when you’re remodeling a kitchen. What type of wood cabinets do you want? What style doors? Do you want the cabinet doors flush or inset? Do you want them painted or stained? What kind of door handle do you want? And that’s just the cabinets! You may have to choose back splash option, flooring, lighting, appliances, etc. It’s a lot to take in. Whenever you meet a kitchen remodeling company, give yourself 2 hours for that meeting. May sound like a lot, but you’ll need it to get through all the details and to answer the questions that you’ll surely have.

Meet with at least 3 kitchen design vendors.
I’m typically the type of person that likes to go with one vendor and doesn’t like the hassle of comparing multiple bids, talking to different companies, etc. Let me tell you. It’s worth the extra time to do it. What you’ll find is that each contractor has a different way of putting together estimates. Each one will have a different take on how the design of your kitchen could flow. And you’ll find that different designers work with different suppliers so you’ll get a variety of looks at cabinet styles, countertops, and even color options.

Get an itemized estimate for your kitchen remodel.
When you get price estimates from vendors it will be incredibly helpful to have them itemize costs for each facet of the kitchen remodel. Some contractors and kitchen designers will bundle their prices in order to show you savings on labor being priced as an entire project, but I found that getting a fully itemized list of every aspect of your kitchen remodel will help you better understand what aspects of the renovation are going to cost you the most money. Then it also allows you to go in and analyze how you can potentially lower costs for the specific feature of the kitchen. What you’ll probably find is that the cabinets will be the most expensive part of the remodel, but when you separate that cost out you’ll get a better idea of how adjustments to the style of cabinet can affect the cost. You will also be able to see what parts of the job that you thought were nice to have are not really necessary because you’re looking to cut down on the costs of the project. Some contractors will push back on sharing a fully itemized list, but you should push for it so you can fully understand where your money is being spent.

Consider the timing of your kitchen redesign.
As you probably guessed, remodeling a kitchen is not a quick fix, and kitchen designers aren’t going to be able to start your project the day after you finalize the details. With that in mind, it’s best to start planning 6 months ahead of when you actually want your work to be done. This will give you time to get through all the details with your designer and allow you to prepare for not having a working kitchen while work is being done. You’ll also be able to better plan financially for when you’ll need to write those large checks.

There are so many more details that could be covered in the planning phase, but this list serves as my biggest eye-opening elements of planning a kitchen remodel from having recently gone through it. The planning phase should be the longest portion of this entire process. You want to make sure you have considered every detail of your kitchen before work begins because the last thing you want to deal with is adding more costs while the project is already underway and budgeted.

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