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Kitchen Remodeling: A Guide to Get You Started

A kitchen remodel is one of the most common improvements that home owners make to their homes no matter what the age of house or current condition of the kitchen. It can also be one of the costliest and most time-consuming. And why shouldn’t it be? The kitchen is the center of the home, the hub of the family. It’s where everyone comes together to prepare meals, eat, have a midnight snack, or even do their homework or have a family meeting. Everyone in the house uses the kitchen. That’s why the kitchen should reflect who the family is and be a durable and functional space for all its members.

While most kitchen remodeling projects are meant to improve the usefulness of the kitchen and make it fit the personal preferences of the household, some are done out of necessity due to things falling apart, malfunctioning or simply showing their age. Others update and remodel kitchens to make them more appealing to potential home buyers.

Whatever the reason for a kitchen remodel, there are some definite do’s and do nots regarding the planning, reconstruction, materials, and costs. Whether it is a do-it-yourself project or a general contractor will be hired to do all the work, the following 5 C’s can serve as a guide to get the project started and give some insight into some aspects to consider before beginning.

Clear plan

Like any remodeling endeavor, a kitchen remodel can be a HUGE undertaking. Before getting started it is important to have a clear plan and cover everything imaginable before the demolition begins. Not only will having a plan keep everyone on the same page, it will also minimize the time it takes to complete, along with sticking to the budget and avoiding the temptation to change things.

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the planning stage of remodeling should take at least 6 months – longer than the actual time of construction. This makes sense since there are so many factors to consider. Everything from fixtures to flooring, appliances, lighting, countertops, cabinets, storage space, possibly even furniture, windows, and doors.

During the planning stage it is important to not only pick things that match a personal aesthetic but that will fit into the space and flow with traffic patterns as well. Even considering aspects such as whether or not new appliances will fit through existing doorways or how many people will be in the kitchen at once are important. Start by drawing a map of the kitchen and then fill it in with big dreams and ideas. Once the shopping and material choosing begins things can be scaled back or changed to fit a budget. Seeking the help of a contractor or kitchen designer will help with this process.

Contractor

Hiring a professional to help with a kitchen remodel is not a must, but it can definitely make the project and the planning move along at a much more desired pace. A general contractor who specializes in kitchen remodeling, like Fleming Construction in Des Moines, can assist with all the stages of the project. From the initial brainstorming of ideas to the drawing of the floor plan to lining up the proper experts to help with electrical wiring, plumbing, and cabinetry installation as well as providing style ideas and pointing out potential problems, a good contractor is a highly valuable asset.

Most contractors stake their next job on a good reputation. When searching for a contractor, many people start by asking their friends who will give their honest opinion of a job they had done or have seen done. It is a good idea to seek out several different contractors, narrow it down to three or four and then ask for references. It is easy to find answers to questions such as:

  • Was the contractor on time? Did he finish in the time allotted?
  • Did he stick to the contract and consult about unforeseen changes before making decisions?
  • How did the contractor handle anything that went wrong?
  • Did the contractor stay on or close to budget?
  • How well did the contractor communicate and keep everyone informed of progress?

Remember that the best contractor is probably not the cheapest or even the most expensive contractor. And having to wait for a project to be started may be a good indication that the contractor is busy because they have a good reputation and lots of jobs to complete. Be willing to wait.

Cost

When it comes to home improvements, homeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than any other project. Depending on how large the project is these renovations, on average, cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. According to many home improvement guides, a worthwhile kitchen remodel budget will be about 6-10% of the home’s value. While it sounds like a lot it does give the best return for future resale.

In order to keep a kitchen overhaul within a budget there are several simple steps that can be taken to minimize costs. One of the most obvious is to keep the layout of the kitchen the same. The most common thing that puts people over budget is taking out walls, moving the location of plumbing or electrical lines, or changing the layout of the cabinets. Consider instead putting an island around an existing sink or reconfiguring the storage space in the cabinets. Not only will precious dollars be saved but the amount of time the project takes will also be reduced.

Several other tips to keep in mind in order to stay within budget:

  • Pick out all fixtures and materials ahead of time.
  • Narrow down your wants to 1 or 2 luxuries – remember your kitchen is about function, not state-of-the art appliances or high-end countertops.
  • Consider how much time and use the kitchen will get.
  • Avoid a lot of overly customized styles and designs.
  • Plan for unexpected costs, especially if doing demolitions in an older house.

Construction

The biggest factor that influences the cost of a kitchen remodel is the amount of construction, and deconstruction, that is required. Some projects can be as simple as fresh paint, adding a backsplash, and reorganizing how things are stored in existing cabinets to give the kitchen an update. While others can include a complete demolition of the space and rebuilding everything from the ground up.

Of course, homeowners should choose the amount of construction and changes based on their personal preference, their needs, and what fits into their budget. Closely working with a contractor will not only allow for more ideas but he can also point out things that will or will not work in the given space. It is recommended that when possible appliances, water fixtures, walls, and electrical lines should be kept in the same location. This not only effects costs but can also reduce time, dust, and unwanted debris.

When considering the amount of reconstruction, it is also important to expect the unexpected. Too often remodelers run into hidden problems such as water damage, faulty wiring or even lead and asbestos in homes built prior to 1980. If new appliances are being installed, electrical upgrades may be required. According to an article from HGTV, homeowners should “plan for a contingency of about 10 to 20 percent to cover hidden conditions, substitutions, and other surprises.”

Communication

Communication with all of the involved parties is a must from the start to finish of any remodeling venture. Keep clear and open lines with general contractors, the crew, and even the other loved ones in the house. Make sure everyone is on the same page as far as plans, expectations and who should be involved in any decision making. Giving the contractor one cell phone number and email will help keep the lines of communication constantly open.

While it is ok to check in with the project frequently it is not ok to hang out on the job site. Contractors appreciate someone who is committed to checking in on the quality of the job, but do not appreciate homeowners who are constantly in the way, questioning what they are doing, or changing their mind about something every day.

It is also a noticeable gesture to offer the crew working in the kitchen some refreshments and praise. A fresh pot of coffee or a cooler with soda and water along with the occasional “good morning” and “everything looks great” will go a long way to keep everyone motivated and happy.

Finally

There is a lot of time, planning, and decision making that goes into a kitchen remodeling project. By following these basic tips, the project will be off to a great start. Zak Fleming and his crew at Fleming Construction are ready to help with any type of kitchen remodeling in Des Moines. They can offer a unique vision to transform the kitchen while keeping the customers’ dreams, expectations and budget in mind.

Visit Fleming Construction’s kitchen portfolio here for some ideas and to see some of the amazing updates they have completed. Additional projects can be view on the Fleming Construction Facebook and Houzz pages. Contact them at 515-202-1244 or visit their website http://www.flemingconstructionllc.com to get your project started.