The Kitchen Remodel Checklist

So you've decided it's time to remodel the kitchen? Ready to rid your house of those salmon-colored countertops that were installed when Saved By The Bell was still airing? Find yourself wondering what the last owner was thinking when they picked the finishes and materials? Well, before you make the same mistakes they did, we put together a step-by-step checklist for you to use as a guide as you prepare for a kitchen remodeling project.

One thing to keep in mind as you begin this process is to keep a realistic expectation on how much time it takes to complete a remodeling project. A kitchen remodel isn't a weekend project. If you're going to DIY, then really adjust your expectations as this could be a 6 month to a year long endeavor. If you decide to go with a builder, it will still be about a 5-7 week long project from beginning to end. Construction projects take time due to all the facets of the job. The elements of the process include planning, budgeting, designing, permitting, aligning subcontractors, ordering materials, construction, managing and supervising the construction, obtaining occupancy, and closing out the project. It’s much more than swinging a hammer. Before you run to the hardware store and spend like you’re on Supermarket Sweep, read through the checklist below that will help you prepare like a pro before you build.

1. Figure out your budget.

When you figure out how much you're willing to spend, this keeps you from waking up 6 months later with a remodeling hangover. By setting a budget, it’ll give you the freedom to decide how much you're willing to spend in each category of the remodel. And that's really decided on your priority list, which leads us to step #2.

2. Make a priority list.

Decide what’s your #1 priority, and then #2 priority, #3 and so on. Here's a quick exercise. List the categories below in order from most important to least important. Forget the ones that don't apply to your project.

  • Space Reconfigure
  • Addition
  • Windows
  • Cabinets
  • Countertops  
  • Sink(s)
  • Flooring
  • Ceiling
  • Backsplash
  • Walls
  • Light Fixtures
  • Faucet(s)
  • Range Hood
  • Appliances
  • Furniture

Now, with your priority list in order, add to the right of each category a percent value of your total project budget and how much you’d like to delegate (i.e. - cabinets 50%, countertops 20%, flooring 20%, etc.). By the way, if you add up all the percents and it’s over a 100, go back and try again. Congrats, you failed 4th grade math class. What this exercise does is it gives you the freedom to spend up to that amount on each category. Then, when you find a price on a set of cabinets or review a bid from your builder, you can determine if you’re out of your budget or not. We want you to stay within your budget and not wake up with a remodeling hangover.

3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Revisiting the list above, what, if any, on this list can you reuse from your existing kitchen? Is there anything that could work in the new design that would save money? For instance, maybe your cabinets are in really good shape but you don't like the walnut stain. Instead of buying new cabinets, which can be one of the most expensive pieces of a kitchen remodel, let's paint them a bright white with high gloss. This is a perfect way to save on the project budget and a great way to make an old, tired space fresh and new once again. Your friends will all think you bought new cabinets and you'll laugh all the way to the bank knowing you paid a fraction of the cost.

4. Find your dream kitchen.

Believe me, it’s out there somewhere. At least pieces of it are. Begin collecting images of kitchens that you really like and want to have in your home. Pinterest and Houzz are great for creating a board for your new kitchen.  

5. DIY or hire a builder?

Decide whether you're going to get your Tim the Toolman Tailor on (insert your best grunt here) and DIY this project, or if you really don't have the time or desire to do the work yourself and would like to hire a builder.

If you’re going to DIY it, you need to realize that now you are taking on not only the manual labor but also the project management and all that it entails. You can save money this way, but need to ask yourself how much is your time worth? Remember all the elements of a building project mentioned above? Planning, budgeting, designing, permitting, aligning subcontractors, ordering materials, construction, managing and supervising the construction, obtaining occupancy, and closing out the project. And a good rule of thumb is to take the amount of time you're estimating in your head to complete the project and times it by 2 or even 3. On the other hand, working with a quality builder not only gives you time back in your day but it saves you 6 months to a year of headache and a lot of gray hairs.

6. Find a builder you can trust.

There are lots of general contractors out there, but that doesn't mean that all of them can build a kitchen well. I would suggest finding a design-build company that has great past work to show for it. A quality design-build company has both a design expert and a building expert on staff. They work hand in hand throughout the project to ensure that the design is carried through construction, the project is well built, and your budget is kept.

7. Spend time in design

Although we collected images of your ideal kitchen in step #4, a designer on a design-build team will be able to take that vision and customize it to your home. Also, if you find the right kind of designer, they'll be able to create a 3D model of the space using visualization software. This helps you to really see the end product before construction even starts, and you'll be able to tweak the design until you’re completely happy. This is the absolute best time to make changes because it costs the least compared to when it’s under construction. One of the problems when working with a builder who doesn't put an emphasis on design is that they will just want to build off of the precedent images you've collected. This is setting yourself up for disappointment because when you start building without a plan in place, the end product can be a disaster.

Utilizing your new set budget, your priority list, the reusable materials, precedent images of your ideal kitchen, and a custom design of the space with a 3D model, you now have the proper communication tools to begin to build it, or find a builder that can build your vision. 

If you have a kitchen remodeling project coming up, we'd love to help. With our design+build approach, we help homeowners who don't have the time or desire to build their dream and make a building project easy for you. From idea to completion we'll help you design and build your vision. To learn more about August Development Co., click here.