Morning. I can’t believe it, but we are rounding the finish line for our kitchen renovation. This week hardware and lighting were installed and I can’t wait to show you. I’ll snap some updated photos soon. Throughout this project, the questions have been streaming in and many of you have said you are overwhelmed at the idea of starting a renovation. I wanted to share a few things that we considered and that we feel are important. Maybe it will help ease your mind or formulate a more concrete plan to set you up for success. I could talk forever about this and will do another post on what we learned but these are things we thought about prior to beginning the process.
1 | BUDGET
What is your budget? You REALLY need to know the answer to this question. I think we are often afraid to put a number down on paper but it’s important to save for the renovation and set that money aside. Of course it’s very likely you will go over budget so plan for that as well. Bottom line, a complete renovation is expensive. But once you know your budget, it’s much more realistic to sit down with contractors and know how you can allocate the funds. You’ll know if you can splurge in some areas, like lighting or cabinetry, and where you should choose to cut back.
It’s also wise to know what makes sense to spend as far as the home’s value. Just because you can spend a small fortune, doesn’t mean that you should. Stick to the number that feels right and that will add the most value to your home. Likewise, if you have a small budget there are so many clever and cost effective ways to stretch your money. In fact, we did quite a bit for not very much in our California kitchen.
2| TIME FRAME
This is a bit tricky to nail down in this current climate, but really dig deep with the people doing the work to know what the time frame looks like. Is it a four week project? Is it a five month project? Talk to people who used your contractor. What was the time frame for the scope of their project. A month of chaos is far different than six month of chaos and that is something the entire family will need to deal with so go in with eyes wide open. We were told ours would be about three weeks in total and that isn’t far off. We are in the fourth week and working on details. We still have some tiling and painting to finish up but that isn’t as disruptive and the kitchen is now operational. It can be very helpful to find your own trades for things like painting, tile, and even countertops. If you work directly with the people doing the work, you have much more control over the schedule.
Once you know the timing, begin working backwards. This was the key to our success. Can I order appliances in time? Is the tile I want in stock? How about lead times on lighting? Will the cabinets be ready? We were very set on not beginning demo until everything was in this house. In fact our demo took place the day before our new cabinets were delivered. We felt that was the safest bet to keep things moving. We lived with new appliances in our garage for a few months. If it’s just a stove or something you don’t mind slipping in later, that’s fine too. Just be honest with yourself and know that timing is everything these days. And most likely lead times will not be spot on. Pushing out a start date could work in your favor so that your really have what is needed prior to demo.
This varies state to state, that’s for sure. We were very spoiled in California where most trades were extremely particular about their craft. We had dialed in who we loved and trusted. Moving to a new area was a challenge. Talk to people. Get input from anyone you know. Ask around. The more you talk to people, the more you’ll hear who to avoid and who might be good. Then look at their work. If a friend used someone you are considering, by all means look at the project. Ask what they loved and what they didn’t love. Do your homework and it will pay off in the long run. Also expect bumps in the road. It’s part of the process.
5| TEMPORARY KITCHEN
Moving out of your kitchen is disruptive. Once you have a start date, make a plan for moving out. Are you packing it up in boxes? Moving everything to folding tables? Make a plan and enlist your family to help. Also, be sure you know what the temporary kitchen looks like. Is it in the garage? A bedroom? I wrote a post about the things we found to be very helpful during our renovation here.
6| CLEAR THE SCHEDULE
We are huge proponents in clearing the schedule as much as possible. Can’t stress this enough. Can you work from home? Can you and your spouse talk about how one of you can be available? Be on site. Bottom line it saves everyone time and money. No matter how great your contractor is, there will be questions throughout the day. It’s one decision after the next and it can be exhausting. How high do you want this light? Is this the way you want the tile to end? Do you want your knobs here or here? You, or someone you trust, needs to be there to answer those questions. That is another reason our project kept moving. And if something isn’t quite right, it can be torn out or remedied immediately instead of trying to schedule it and everything else gets thrown off.
Happy to answer questions and will do more posts about the behind the scenes of the project. We have reached the point where it feels like Christmas morning because we are so close to the finish line and the vision has come to life. I promise it’s all worth it. I hope this helps you in the planning process.