A kitchen renovation doesn’t have to deplete your savings. Though it’s never a simple or cheap project to undertake, there are ways you can undertake a kitchen renovation in a timely and fiscally smart manner. The best way to ensure your remodel goes according to plan is to have a well-thought-out plan in place before you begin. What does your kitchen look like now? What improvements do you wish to make? How can you plan so that you kitchen will be consistent with the style of your home? How can you best utilize the space and the existing layout of the kitchen? After you’ve considered these questions, you’re ready to begin.
Undo the Kitchen
In order to put in a new kitchen, you’ll have to remove the current one, starting with cabinet doors. Most often, you’ll find that they are attached to the wall by two screws, but don’t begin removing them until you’ve established a way to hold up the cabinets while you do so.
Next, if you plan to reuse the doorway and window trim, remove them carefully by sliding a putty knife next to the nails and tugging gently, working to the corner. Once you’ve completely shut off the power, remove wired lighting fixtures and appliances, and be sure to cover any exposed wires with wire nuts.
Finally, use a crowbar – or if you need more force, a sledgehammer – to remove sheets of paneling from the walls. Be careful not to smash the studs, though.
Who’s in Charge?
Do you want to oversee everything on your kitchen renovation or do you want to delegate that authority and workload to a general contractor? There are pros and cons to both options, of course. A general contractor can charge up to 30% of the total cost of the project, but with him or her in charge, you don’t have to be constantly around to supervise and chase after workers. On the other hand, you could save a lot of money by overseeing everything yourself.
If you decide to hire a contractor, be sure he or she is licensed, bonded, insured, and has the necessary permits. Don’t just take their word for it; ask to see all of these documents.
If there are multiple contractors, do your best to schedule them on separate days; most don’t like to work on top of each other. Finally, be clear about your payment plan. Most often, homeowners pay 10% up front, 50% when the work is halfway done, and the remainder when the work is completed.
Replace Dated Kitchen Plumbing
If you’re already ripping apart your kitchen, it’s a good time to go ahead and replace any old plumbing. You may also have to replace shutoff valves, and as you begin to take them apart, be prepared for leaks and breakages by having a bucket nearby.
Perhaps you might install a shut-off valve box for the refrigerator and replace all the plumbing under your sink if it has been galvanized. If you had an electric stove, you could also think about running a new gas line.
Replace Wiring and Install Kitchen Lighting
Before you set your heart on any type of lighting, be sure to check with your city’s Building Code department to determine any requirements for incandescent, fluorescent, and halogen bulbs, but most kitchen remodels involve some sort of new lighting, whether it’s recessed ceiling lighting, breakfast nook lighting, or something else. Check with your electrician to see if upgrading your circuit breaker box to 200 amps is necessary, and replace all the wiring, especially if it doesn’t conform to code. Besides the refrigerator and the range hood, every appliance should have its own circuit.
Sometimes it’s hard to think of all the electrical jobs you’ll come across, so here’s a list of ones you’ll need to address:
- Overhead lighting, including recessed fixtures
- Under-cabinet lighting
- Wiring the dishwasher
- Wiring the garbage disposal
- A 120-volt or 220-volt receptacle for the range and oven, depending on whether it’s gas or electric
- A receptacle for the refrigerator
- Wiring for the range hood
- A receptacle for the microwave
- Countertop receptacles—more are always better
- Possible dimmer switches for some or all of your lighting
Hang the Drywall
Once all the electrical work and plumbing have been done, you’re ready to hang drywall; hanging drywall is quite a straightforward process, so this is something you could do yourself. If you do choose to hang drywall yourself, you will need 4 x 8 sheets of drywall (Sheetrock), a utility knife and plenty of blades, a drywall gun, drywall screws (usually 1 ¼ inches), T-Square, a pencil, and 3 sizes of mudding (or taping) knives.
First, measure from the corner to the first stud that’s within 48 inches; then, transfer that measurement to the drywall and, using a T-square, draw a straight line. Using the T-square again, cut along the line. You can crack the drywall easily with your knee or hand. Secure it to the wall with screws, alternating each screw with a half-inch of the edge and about a foot apart. Make sure you create a valley by butting finished edges to finished edges, and unfinished edges to unfinished edges.
As you follow these five simple steps, you’ll be on your way to a kitchen remodel you’ll be pleased with for years to come. When it comes to your kitchen renovation, don’t cut corners. The kitchen is one of the most important parts of your home, so don’t put all this work and money into it to find yourself wishing you had done more!
You might also be interested in reading, “Kitchen Lighting on a Budget“.