You’ve read an endless stream of kitchen blogs composed by the plethora of kitchen design influencers out there. You’ve spent countless hours watching your favourite renovation programs and scouring through Pinterest, looking for inspiration and guidance as you embark on your very own kitchen update or remodeling project.
There is no shortage of help and guidance available to you, which is great because doing a complete kitchen make-over can be one of the most stressful projects most homeowners can take on. Why is that…?
It’s because renovating your kitchen is akin to having major open-heart surgery or brain surgery…! You are essentially, temporarily, shutting down the central control system of your home… and you are spending big money!
Whether your kitchen makeover is geared toward a long term stay or to increase the value of your home for maximum sale value, the same questions need to be asked:
Am I prepared to not have a kitchen temporarily? How am I going to prepare meals? Where am I going to store all of my kitchen gadgets? Am I going to live in the house throughout the demolition and renovation process?
Depending on the scale of your kitchen remodel, you’re going to be without a functional kitchen for at least 3 weeks (unless you are only doing a face lift). If your project involves removing walls, all new flooring throughout, new cabinets/counters and relocation of fixtures, this is usually a minimum of 4 weeks. It’s easy to watch a renovation unfold on HGTV and imagine yourself going through the process, but it is entirely different to live through it yourself. I know this because I have completed hundreds of renovations and I have worked on one of these programs myself, Property Brothers Buying & Selling.
The easiest way to live through a kitchen renovation is to pack your bags and move out. But for most people this just isn’t realistic. If you can plan the project to revolve wholly or partly around a vacation or can move in with a friend or relative great! But for most families, it’s a microwave or hotplate in the basement, fridge in the garage, BBQ and take-out meals!
Your kitchen cabinets are being torn out so where are you going to put all your stuff? This is probably the best time to de-clutter or reorganize and get rid of items and gadgets that you don’t use.
What is my budget?… And can I get the kitchen I want realistically with this budget?
Most people are afraid to be upfront about their budget with contractors. This common fear stems from the thought process that their budget number might be too high, and the contractor will take advantage of them. I can easily understand this given the general perception of the industry.
To reference back to my earlier comment about open-heart surgery, would you let anybody with a scalpel do the procedure? You need to do your homework and sort through the tangled mess of contractors in your area. You should talk to at least 3 contractors. Lowest and highest price should not dictate your decision. You are investing a significant amount of money into this project and you should work with the contractor that makes you feel most at ease and invokes the most confidence in their abilities. You need to compare apples to apples. When shopping for a contractor, look into their qualifications. Do they have a business license? Are they insured? Do they have a showroom where you can inspect the quality of their work or do they drive a 1997 station wagon with a ladder rack on top and advertise solely on Kijiji or Craigslist?
A good kitchen renovation contractor can be hard to find
How many times have I been asked to come to a renovation project started by another contractor to provide a price quote to finish the job? Or a contractor took a lopsided deposit and walked away when the money ran out, or simply got in over their heads and ran away?
Too many times! Once I was asked to see if I could rescue a renovation that was given to a contractor whose portfolio included images of one of my own projects that I’d shared on social media! Unbelievable…
You should expect a detailed and itemized quote before work begins. This should be thoughtfully worked over through a budgeting process so you can see where your investment dollars are going and make the decisions based on the cost of installation plus the cost of materials. For example, intricate tile designs and mosaics are going to have higher installation costs than 2×4 subway tiles.
There are also many really good interior design companies out there that can help you work through this process. The ideal strategy to ensure your project runs smoothly from concept and design through construction, is a synergistic relationship between homeowner-designer-contractor. Your dreams and ideas, combined with sound advice and experience of reputable contractors and designers, will ease the stress of a renovation.
My Top 3 Tips for your kitchen project?
- Don’t skimp on cabinets. Cabinets will eat up a significant part of your budget no matter what. When you think about the number of times doors and drawers are opened and closed, you want to make sure you are buying durability. There are so many innovative kitchen pantry and storage solutions available that you can take advantage of and ensure you have sufficient storage space.
- Stay away from fads or trends. Sure, floating shelf kitchens look cool and can be tasteful if done in moderation.
- Functionality! Consider how you use your space and envision yourself using the new space. You do not want components to look like an add-on or afterthought.
Ryan is the founder of Rocky Mountain Exteriors & Interiors Inc. and The Original Backyard BARn based in Calgary Alberta, Canada. Some of his work has been featured on Reclaimed Trading Company’s website. Most notably, Nagy was chosen as the lead contractor for Episodes 1 and 3 of Property Brother Buying & Selling with Jonathan and Drew Scott season 9 airing April 2019 on HGTV.