The heart of our homes is the kitchen – it isn’t just a place to prepare food, it serves as a family hub, and a place to socialise. It’s also one of our favourite rooms to renovate, with large and small kitchen projects a regular feature of domestic life. As with any home improvement project, planning and preparation is everything. The kitchen can be one of the most expensive parts of the house, especially if you’re going for a full refit with new appliances or moving plumbed features around. But there are many practical factors as well as financial considerations to think about, contractors to hire and timing issues. Planning with a thorough checklist is essential, so read on for some things to consider before you get started.
Before you do anything else, making a water tight budget should be your first course of action. Kitchen renovations may add value to your home in the long run, but you will probably need considerable investment to make it pay off. There are plumbers, electricians and possibly cabinet makers to hire, as well as materials. If contractors charge by the day then time must be realistically planned as well. Be realistic with your budget as it will save you headaches and heartaches further down the line. Be honest with yourself – how much money can you really set aside for the project? Once you’ve made your budget, stick to it. As good a plan as you may have, there will always be unexpected expenses along the way, so put a little of your budget aside for hiccups.
What stays and what goes?
Take a look around your kitchen and work out which items you want to replace, which you want to leave where they are, and which you want to keep but modify. If you are replacing appliances you’ll need to make sure your measurements are precise. Don’t feel like you have to keep the existing footprint of the kitchen, moving things around is possible and doesn’t add as much to your budget as you may think. In terms of infrastructure, making sure your plumbing is up to date, with effective gate valves and other flow regulating piping in place. Electrics may also need updating. Items such as cabinets don’t always need a complete refit – changing or painting the doors or updating the handles can breath new life into the room.
A big mistake many people make is to assign themselves the role of general manager of the renovation. Coordinating a kitchen refit is costly, time consuming and can be extremely complex, and you will benefit greatly from professional input. When it comes to hiring contractors, be sure to meet them in advance, firstly so that they can assess the job and quote for it, and also so that you can assess them. If they make you uncomfortable or you don’t have confidence in their ability, move on. You’ll be dealing with them a lot, so if there are personal problems between you, there will also be professional ones.
The way you intend to use your kitchen should inform many of the decisions you make when you plan and design it. If you’re an avid cook you may need more workspace and more cutting edge appliances than someone who just casually dabbles in the culinary arts. If you use your kitchen more as a social hub, a kitchen island with stools is a great place to share a bottle of wine or a pot of coffee. If you have kids, having a place for them to have breakfast, or some safe spaces where they can’t touch hot or sharp objects may be a factor. And pets also need to be taken into account, whether it’s a question of their safety or a wipe clean floor for muddy paw prints.
Don’t be fooled by home renovation shows – a kitchen refit takes considerably longer than half an hour. When you hire contractors they should give you a fairly accurate time frame for their work – but you need to prepare yourself for the inconvenience of having workers in the house, and the hassle of not having a food preparation area. But good things take time – being patient and prepared for the project will mean a better kitchen in the end.
As with any project, preparation and a thorough knowledge of the issues at play will help you renovate your kitchen, exactly as you want it.