The Ultimate Guide to Building
Your New Kitchen
Do you live in a home with a dream kitchen?
Does it have everything you could want in a kitchen? For many people, the answer is, “No.” If it’s your answer, maybe it’s time for a new kitchen.
It’s fun to dream but remodeling a kitchen takes planning, hard work, and patience. You’ll face many considerations and decisions; the process can be stressful and, at the same time, gratifying. A fresh, new kitchen provides better function, adds attractiveness to your home, and increases your home’s value. When you finally have the kitchen you’ve always wanted, you’ll be glad you went forward with the remodeling project.
We’ve created this guide to give insight into the process of how to build your new kitchen. We will also share tips and information that will help you make better decisions by removing some of the stress in creating your beautiful dream kitchen.
How You Know When It’s Time for a Kitchen Remodel
Stand in the middle of your kitchen and look around the room. Consider if you like what you see. The next few times you cook or bake, pay attention to the way the space functions for you. Please make a note of how many times you’re frustrated with something related to the kitchen space, organization, or operation of elements within it. These practices will give insight on when your kitchen needs a remodel or some specific, smaller updates. You might need a new kitchen because you find one or more of the following problems with yours:
- It’s unattractive and out of date. It’s depressing to look at your kitchen, and you feel sad because you don’t like the way it looks. An outdated kitchen can decrease your home’s value, as well.
- It isn’t set up to function well. Kitchen layouts are more open today than they used to be. Sometimes, kitchens were made to fit the space rather than considering changes that could improve the design, making them awkward and inconvenient.
- It’s too small. If you have an older house, there’s a good chance you have a smaller kitchen. It may be too small for comfort when cooking.
- There’s not enough counter space. Everybody loves counter space to chop and prep, among other things. If you don’t have much space, you look for other places to work, like the kitchen table, which are inconvenient.
- There’s not enough storage space. Kitchens need pantry space for dry goods, cabinets for pots, pans, dishes, cups, and bowls, and drawers for utensils. If it’s a challenge to find places to store your kitchen items, you’ll be frustrated.
- Parts of the kitchen are broken or worn, such as broken cabinets, drawers that don’t close, chipped floor tile, and appliances that don’t work well.
- It doesn’t hold the appliances you need. Have you ever gone into a kitchen without a dishwasher? It happens. Maybe you need double wall ovens, and your kitchen can’t support them. It may be time for a change.
- The lighting isn’t sufficient. Overhead, task, and accent lighting are needed for a kitchen to look good and function well.
- It doesn’t match or flow with other rooms. Many houses have flooring that changes from room to room. Possibly in your home, the living room looks more modern than the kitchen. Resolve the mismatches with remodeling.
- Your needs have changed. Sometimes, a kitchen works well until your needs change. Some ways that can happen are an increase or decrease of people living in the house, cooking or baking work, or requiring adaptation for someone in the home.
Do any of these reasons strike a chord with you? You likely have more than one reason to want to update your kitchen. Of course, while you might have good reasons for a kitchen update, you have to be able to fit it into your life’s schedule and to pay for it.
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Follow These Steps to Remodel Your Kitchen
Important Considerations for Taking
on a Kitchen Remodel
Before the first hammer has been swung, consider the critical factors for
your remodeling project.
The first criteria for your new kitchen should be your budget. Whatever you do, you’ll have to work within the limitation and plan accordingly. If your budget is $5,000, pick the most critical items that need to change and choose materials wisely. For example, a new backsplash and some fresh paint on the walls will brighten your space. You may have some drawers or doors that need to be fixed or cabinets that can be repainted with the budget. You won’t be able to do a full remodel, but targeted changes can make a kitchen look and feel much better.
If you can afford to spend $40,000+, you can likely do a full remodel. When you’re changing structure, moving walls, putting in beams, creating an addition, and moving utilities, your costs can rise even higher. Costs vary by what changes are required, the materials you choose, and labor costs in your area. It’s essential to know your upper limit and to plan to stay within that amount.
How will you access money for your remodeling project? Some people save for years and pay for it out of their savings. Others borrow. Options for borrowing money include:
- At the current interest rates, it’s more affordable than ever to refinance and use the equity in your home to finance your remodeling plans.
- Using home equity for a loan, line of credit or cash-out refinance of your loan. For a loan, you get a lump sum of a determined amount. With the credit line, you get approved for a certain amount, but you pull out only the amount of money you need when you need it.
- You are borrowing from your 401K savings. Generally, you want to keep your retirement money in your account, so it keeps earning more. If it’s your only sensible option, you can borrow up to $50,000 and pay yourself back with a low-interest rate.
- Taking out a construction loan or an FHA loan. These loans will have paperwork requirements and particular guidelines. They should provide a reasonable interest rate.
- Securing a personal loan from the bank. It’s a higher rate way to go, so try options that will cost you less in interest.
Pick the financing option that works for you, costing you the least money over time, and don’t overextend yourself.
DIY vs. Pro
The best choice for a kitchen remodeling project is to hire a professional contractor. If you have skills and want to save money, you can plan to do some things yourself. For plumbing and electrical, don’t try to DIY it. Hire a licensed professional. For other items like tiling the backsplash or floor, ask yourself: if I do the job, will it look as good as a professional could do it, or will I be disappointed later if I find it’s not how I want it?
Before you get estimates for individual services, decide how you’ll do the design and build. Some homeowners, especially for high-end projects, hire an architect to create plans and monitor quality till the planning is final. Then they hire building contractors to manage the project and get bids from individual service contractors.
Alternatively, you can use a company that designs and builds your project, an all-in-one service that’s efficient and often more collaborative. Using this design-build approach keeps you apprised of the construction cost while going through the design phase, keeping you within the budget. With an architect, you’re more likely to get a design based on what you want that may or may not be in your budget.
You can ask several contractors to provide bids to find a price you like for what they offer. Some contractors will participate, some won’t. Still, in any case, it’s only a rough estimate unless they have visited your space, know all the specifications. And, you have spent time with individual contractors for their part of the job. You can try to get a fixed price that won’t change, but you’ll likely get rough estimates that can change as the process goes on. Using a design-build company can alleviate some of the stress because they manage the budget and the contractors and keep you within budget.
Some significant changes that impact the budget include the scope of the remodel, changing layout, moving plumbing and electrical components, removing walls and replacing support, and using high-end finishes. Later, you’ll need to consider any changes that occur either because you decided you want something added or due to unexpected issues found during the demolition. Your budget and contract should take these into account and indicate how these change orders are handled.
Choosing Your Contractors
It’s time to begin by hiring your contractor. Unless you’ve worked with a contractor previously or have good knowledge of them and know who to hire, start by asking friends and people in your community for recommendations. You’ll be surprised how many responses you’ll get on apps like Facebook and Nextdoor. Find out if they have experience with any architects, interior decorators, plumbing, tile, and appliance showrooms and ask for a review of their work. Extend your research to an online search. You’ll find reviews on Google, Houzz, Guild Quality BBB, and other sites that can be useful. Reviews can raise red flags on a contractor and confirm quality work in another. Another source of information might be local professional groups.
Once you find a few contractors that look promising, review their websites. Make sure they are appropriately licensed, bonded, and insured. Any contractors you hire must be licensed appropriately. Otherwise, you risk shoddy work, sometimes completed illegally without permits, which is higher and maybe your responsibility. Does the contractor show examples of their work online? Can you relate to their design style and the level of work? Is their variety in work posted, and do they show any design elements you’d like in your kitchen? The answers to these questions give insight into whether the contractor is right for you.
Next, make a list of questions and contact a few contractors of interest. Ask yourself if the contractor and their firm dealt with your call efficiently and professionally. Usually, contractors will interview over the phone and later will visit your house to see the space and meet you in person. Pay close attention to their answers, field their questions, and get a feeling from what it would be like to work with them. Keep notes on each call or interview for when you are making a final decision.
Choose a contractor with a design team that understands your needs and is on board with your preferred style. Sometimes, choices have to be made based on price or practicality. Still, if you want a rustic meets modern kitchen, the designer can find the right products to create the style at any budget. In a design-build company, they may have a designer on staff, which is a bonus because they will be involved throughout the project. Other companies have contracted designers. If you plan to hire an architect and contractor instead of an all-in-one company, you can employ your designer.
Once you’ve narrowed the list and visited with contractors, ask for an estimate. Also, ask to see their current insurance certificate personally. You can double-check on their licensing for architects, general contractors, and, later, other contractors on the job. Designers generally don’t need a license unless they are also architects.
Professional design-build remodel companies offer an SD CAD kitchen design agreement that will be the principal resource for producing your kitchen remodeling estimate. During this process, you will work with the contractor, design team, and local SYAD/TERS. to select the products and finish out your project.
An excellent way to make a final review of a contractor is to see their work in person. They may have a client that will let prospective customers tour their kitchen. Also, ask for references from the contractor and be sure to call them for more insight. The most qualified contracts have client video testimonials for you to review in uncertain times.
Does this sound like a lot of work? It is, and it’s only the beginning of your remodeling project. Your research and evaluation efforts will help you make educated decisions. Once you review estimates and finalize your choice, you’ll likely sign agreements and write a down payment check, followed by regular payments according to the terms set in the contract.
If you’re only updating appliances, flooring, or one or two parts of your kitchen, you may lose access to your kitchen for a short time. With a full remodel, your time with no kitchen can go from weeks to months, depending on the project’s scope. Are you ready for this? Can you and other members of the household deal with the chaos of construction? Can you eat out or make do with a microwave, small refrigerator, coffeemaker, small electric appliances, makeshift counter space, and portable stovetop or camp stove in a temporary area? Where will you get water for cooking and wash your dishes? Lastly, think about whether you can handle a construction project’s demands and stress in your home. Certain times in life are better than others to manage this type of situation.
Your Kitchen Remodel: Style and Substance
If you’re going through the time and expense of a substantial kitchen remodeling project, you’ll want it to have a specific look and feel as well as all the counter space, storage, appliances and features you need. First, consider your style. Some people love a modern, open style with no clutter. Others like a rustic look. Styles include:
- Modern: minimal, clean, uncluttered, and sleek elements
- Rustic: a more natural, lived-in feeling using wood and natural, sometimes worn, elements
- Craftsman: natural materials including wood with a focus on craftsmanship
- Contemporary: follows the most current design trends
- Traditional: timeless and inviting
- Farmhouse: an updated take on an old-fashioned farmhouse
- Cottage: comfortable, cozy, and inviting with soft, light colors
- Mid-century modern: updated look based on designs of the 1950s
- Transitional: a combination of traditional and contemporary features
Some homeowners are influenced by some geographical regions or physical spaces that lead to other style influences such as the beach, a city loft, Tuscany, and the Mediterranean. Many people like to pull style elements from more than one style, resulting in a more eclectic look. Your designer will help you define your style and refine the design to meet it. In the plan, you will consider many kitchen features. The materials used should fit the design and your budget.
Various types of cabinets will meet your style, performance, and budget needs. Whatever look you choose, opt for high-quality products that will last for many years. For example, choose cabinets made of solid wood and avoid particleboard. You can request stained or painted cabinets to your taste. Drawers pull, and door handles finish off the look.
Tile is a popular kitchen flooring material and comes in various materials and colors. Hardwoods and engineered hardwoods are also quite popular to run through the kitchen and adjacent rooms. They require a bit more protection from spills than tile but add a classic, attractive look. You can use vinyl tile and naturally-produced tiles to save money, and designs can mimic hardwood or be more original. New products such as luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and luxury vinyl plank (LVP) are gaining popularity.
If you watch home shows on television, it often seems like everyone wants quartz. Lately, notable options include granite, marble, concrete, butcher block, and laminate. These materials vary widely in cost and care requirements. Find out what’s possible within your budget and research any requirements and suitability for your cooking and baking needs. You may use all one material. If you have an island or a particular prep space, you can consider mixing in two materials.
Backsplashes and Walls
For your backsplash, what material do you want? Tile is standard using popular ceramic and porcelain materials. Various materials and styles are available. Some homeowners have the countertop materials run as a backsplash, providing a clean, coordinated look. Whatever you choose, please keep it in your budget and know how easy it is to clean and maintain the backsplash material.
Sinks and Fixtures
What type of sink do you want: undermount or overmount? Do you want a farmhouse style or modern stainless steel? You can coordinate sinks and fixtures to the style of your kitchen. Where you placed the sink and how much room is available may limit your options. Choose a long-lasting, easy to maintain material, such as a granite composite. Porcelain is very popular but is harder to clean. If you opt for stainless steel, choose a high-quality version. Features are often found in the fixtures, such as a no-touch faucet or a sprayer on the side. Fixtures also reflect your style, so look for both function and form.
Think about where you’d want the lighting and communicate it to the designer. We often think of overhead lighting. Other places to add lighting for function and attractive design include over an island, under cabinets, and above highly-used prep spaces. Gorgeous light fixtures can enhance the overall design. LED lighting has seen tremendous advances in quality and energy saving in recent years.
As with the other kitchen elements, appliances can reflect your kitchen style. You also want them to function well. Do you have a relatively new stainless steel refrigerator that you want to keep? Tell your designer about any appliances or other items to be worked into the design. Otherwise, space requirements may not work out. For new appliances, ask for the highest quality available within your budget. Help the designer with color, style, and feature preferences for the look and functionality you desire.
You may want to add some extras to your kitchen, such as a coffee bar, a wine fridge, or decorative storage shelves. In any case, consider what you can afford, how the style and size work in your kitchen, and the care needed for the product. Inform your designer of your need for these extras before the design is made.
This ultimate new kitchen guide should point you in the right direction for your project. Once you’ve established your style and needs, hired the right contractor, and had the work completed, you’ll experience a kitchen that works for you and makes you proud to work and enjoy in it.