EKB | Three things you must understand before hiring a kitchen remodeling professional.
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Three things you must understand before hiring a kitchen remodeling professional.

1. Understand the scope of your project

What do you want to have done?

To make it simple, we will categorize kitchen makeovers into three types of projects. While these three (“update,” “replacement,” and “full remodel”) are very generalized, having three simple categories does help you when it comes time to explain the scope of your project. I will explain each of the three categories for you.

The Update

Updating your kitchen may include some or all of the following: replacing countertops, replacing appliances and fixtures, replacing cabinet pulls or knobs, replacing cabinet hinges, adding backsplash tile, replacing flooring, and painting.

Generally, a kitchen update is remodeling the kitchen without replacing cabinets. Since cabinets are usually the most costly item in the kitchen remodel, the “Update” can be accomplished on a more modest budget.

The Replacement

One difference between the “Update” and the “Replacement” is the cabinets. In the “Replacement” you are replacing the cabinets. Generally, a kitchen replacement is replacing most/all of the materials while keeping the existing floorplan, including cabinets, appliances, and fixtures in their same locations.

Variations of the “Replacement” could allow for small changes in the floor plan and some modest electrical and lighting updates. Also common in a replacement kitchen remodel is the possibility of reusing some appliances and fixtures. Primarily, however, the layout will remain the same.

The Full Remodel

Fully remodeling your kitchen is replacing all materials, but also allowing for rearrangements in the floor plan and locations of appliances and fixtures. Generally, a “Full Remodel” of a kitchen includes removing everything including the drywall and flooring down to the rough framing members and subfloor.

Often in a full remodel, walls are being moved or eliminated and a new electrical and lighting plan is implemented, in addition to all the changes listed in the “Update” and the “Replacement” type of projects.

So, what are looking to do: update, replace or complete a full remodel? Once you understand where your project fits within these three categories, you can move on to developing a budget.

2. Develop a budget

Decide how much you are willing to spend

Within each of the three project categories, there is a wide range of costs. I’ll give you a few examples to help clarify.

In “The Update,” you are choosing specific aspects of your kitchen to update. Usually the goal is to keep the budget as low as possible. You can control costs by choosing which materials to replace and whether you want a high-end replacement or low-end. Let’s say you’d like to replace your countertops. The material you choose for the countertop will drastically affect the budget. For example, you may choose granite countertops, but there is a wide range of material costs within the choice of granite. The same is true for backsplash materials, appliances, and even the types of sinks and faucets.

When you are ready to replace your cabinets, you are most likely moving into the “Replacement” or “Full Remodel” categories. Since we’re now talking about cabinets, you should know that your budget will be greatly affected by the quality of construction and finish of the cabinets. Once again, you’ll have choices along the lines of basic and high-end finishes.

If you are asking a kitchen remodeler to tear down walls, move plumbing, and change flooring in a full remodel, be ready for a five- to six-figure remodeling budget.

Choose your minimum and maximum spending limits, but hold off on any final decisions until a remodeling professional builds a budget.

Ask a kitchen remodeler to develop a realistic budget

The most effective way to know if what you are willing to invest lines up with how much work you want done is to have a kitchen design professional develop a budget for you. This is more than a free consultation or estimate. One or two meetings should be enough to talk through your project requirements and develop a budget. But having a professional draw up a budget will show you if your ideal budget is realistic for the type of project you desire.

By now you have thought about the scope of the project and the budget for the project. Now it is time to hire a professional to get the job done. Your task is to pick the best professional for your kitchen remodeling project!

3. Choose who will implement the project

A kitchen design professional will spend the time to develop a plan and drawings. With these CAD drawings, he/she will be able to communicate the details of the project. He will also specify and review all the tasks that are necessary to complete the project. That’s when he can give you a fixed price for labor, materials and everything from demo to completion. Be careful to hire a professional that will provide this kind of detail and not just ask you to sign a contract based on a free estimate or a simple budget.

Also, you would be wise to check reviews and credentials as well as talk to past clients of each professional you are considering.

Conclusion

You now have a simple step-by-step list to help you prepare for your consultation with a kitchen designer or remodeler. Consider the type of remodel you wish to pursue. Consider the options available to develop a realistic budget. And consider carefully who will implement the project.