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Story of Varmint's Kitchen Renovation


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Hi all,

I started reading this thread with some interest because we finished our kitchen remodel this year and it was quite the learning experience, despite being fairly familiar with what is involved. I admit I haven't read the whole thread (so this all may be redundant), but seeing as you are starting into this process now, I thought I'd throw out a couple of things that I wish I could have dealt with better. I'll try to read the whole thread and see if anything else comes to mind.

FWIW, our remodel took about 5 months, although we did do other things (all windows, power and lighting in garage, and a bit in the master bath), which is a LONG time to wash dishes in the bathtub! :-O

1) I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but if you are trying to work within a budget, spend the time before you start to get comprehensive, written bids on everything! Once you get the ball rolling, the pressure to keep moving can tempt you to cut corners in this respect (and you need to see the full picture before you start). We had massive cost overruns and part of this was self-induced scope creep, but mostly was because we neglected to really nail this down ahead of time. Things that should be covered are terms of acceptance, terms of payment, terms of termination and SCHEDULE. If permits are required (and they usually are) make sure you write into the agreement that they will be responsible to deal with them. Agreements should call out a requirement for detailed materials breakdown on invoices.

2) Despite covering #1, assume a cost margin for things you didn't think of, or things that go wrong.

3) While this is part of #1, review each job with the contractor to set expectations. For example, our painter didn't think two coats were needed to paint the walls. Going over the walls with a drop-light showed him that his single coat didn't cover. While I actually didn't care how many coats would be used, I did expect him to cover the old paint. He also didn't stain/finish the tops and other unseen parts of the windows. These things should be cleared up before starting! See again the parts about payment. I highly suggest incentive oriented payments.

4) Again part of #1, but get amendments to the agreement for changes. When you talk with the contractor about making a change, review the cost and ask them to revise the written contract.

5) Avoid time and materials!

6) Lighting matters. We originally were not going to re-do the lighting, and we are extremely glad we did, despite being painful cost (in this case, more a factor of the agreement than the actual work).

FWIW, here is our remodel gallery.

Best of luck!


Edit: A couple of random comments:

1) I had no idea how much window treatments cost! The gallery was taken before we added them. We ended up doing something fairly simple and relatively inexpensive, but just barely! :-)

2) If I could change just one thing, I would have gotten an induction stovetop.

Edited by JohnN (log)
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Wow, I feel honored that your first post on eGullet focused on my kitchen repairs. On that note, I'll likely lock this thread fairly soon and start a new one, once I meet with the contractors next week to start hammering out the details. That way, we can talk about the process from beginning to end.

Daddy-A (Arne Salvesen) is helping out with the kitchen design process and has already provided me with some scale drawings. I'm going to work on the hard core measurements over the weekend and we'll post the "final" drawings on the new thread. Arne is a top-notch certified kitchen designer and I'm hoping he'll offer his thoughts throughout the process. You'll soon see how important a kitchen designer can be with this type of project.

Dean McCord


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  • 2 weeks later...
Met with one contractor yesterday and am meeting with another on Thursday.  Demo looks to be scheduled for early February!

Were you me or Mayhaw Man, you'd have taken that hammer in hand and started demo already. Nothing speeds things up like a demo taken to that point of no return.

Look forward to stage two. I'm stalled on my project; sick kids has prevented me from finding a new floor and ripping up the old one. But, not to worry, I've attacked another portion of the house (not food related) to the said point of no return. So, kitchen floor may wait (sigh).

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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