Kitchen Remodel Advice: What to Do before Hiring a Contractor

Before you hire a contractor or consult a designer, take a minute to learn the basics of kitchen remodels.

kitchen remodel

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Ask these preliminary questions:


Before you begin, ask yourself the following questions:


  • Does what you want match your lifestyle and needs now, as well as for the foreseeable future? Renovating is expensive—even a budget-friendly renovation averages $10,000-$15,000! You want your kitchen to withstand the test of time, as well as changing circumstances. Some special considerations conclude:
    • Are you part of a young couple that plans to have kids in the next few years?
    • Are you empty nesters who plan to do a lot of traveling?
    • Do you host the majority of family gatherings at your house?
    • How big is your family?
    • How often do you cook?
    • Are their multiple cooks in your household?
    • How often do you entertain?
    • How much storage do you need?
    • How big is the space? This is important. Are you working with the existing footprint, or are you adding on and/or changing the floor plan?


Check out your kitchen’s shape:


Shape, size and layout are the next key considerations. Kitchens come in various designs, but there are four typical floor plans:


  • L shape: Consists of two walls (against which are the counter and work areas) that form an L at a corner; this layout is usually open and connected to a dining or living area.
  • U shape: Consists of three walls (against which are the counter and work areas) that form a closed U.
  • G shape: Consists of three main walls (against which are the counter and work areas), as well as a partial wall or inset.
  • Galley shape: Consists of two parallel walls (against which are the counter and work areas); islands often incorporated.


Determine which floor plan you have (or want) so that you can begin mapping out the zones according to your preferences.


Plan the zones:


Zones are to kitchen layouts what road signs are to driving—necessary. A zone is a targeted area in the kitchen designed for a specific task. Every kitchen, no matter how big or small, should have at minimum three basic zones:


  • Prepping: food preparation, including rinsing, chopping, mixing, blending, etc.
  • Cooking: using the stovetop, oven, broiler, deep fryer, skillet, etc.
  • Cleaning: washing drying, polishing, putting away dishes and kitchenware.


The three basic zones should be formatted in a triangular configuration, so that if you were to start at one zone and walk from one to the next, you would walk in a triangle.


Other zones, depending on your needs, preferences and lifestyle include:

  • Baking: especially for preparing baked goods, separate fro prepping zone.
  • Serving/staging zone: buffet, island or sideboard.
  • Beverages: wet bar, coffee station, chilled waters and soda.
  • Eating: snack areas, formal or casual dining.
  • Entertaining: social areas.
  • Meal planning/resources: cookbooks, recipe cards, computer with Internet or an iPad.
  • Other: kid zone for helping out, home work, activities.


You can divide zones to accommodate specific tasks within them. For example, you may have hot and cold or wet and dry zones within the main prep zone, or you may have multiple cooking areas within the main cooking zone.


Choose your big ticket items:


Once you’ve considered layout, zones and lifestyle needs, you’ll be ready to move onto the fun stuff, including cabinetry, sinks and fixtures, appliances, countertops, hardware, lighting and all of the finishing touches. This is where you can benefit from the services of a professional interior designer who can work within your budget to find the perfect items to match both your design preferences and specific needs. If an interior designer isn’t in the budget, try kitchen design software or a virtual design tool, offered for free by many kitchen manufacturers.


Most Important!!


Do your research on every buying and hiring decision you make—from drawer pulls to contractors. Referrals from friends and family are always great, but so are consumer reports and your gut instinct. If something or someone just doesn’t seem to fit, trust that voice. It will very likely save you money, stress and heartache down the line.


By Rebecca J. Razo


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