If you have ever been through a renovation of any magnitude, you’ll know that there are high and low moments. Renovations, no matter the size, often put you on a roller coaster of emotions that results in moments of stress, uncertainty and – ultimately – happiness. These peak moments of happiness are something to be considered when entering into a cabinet or kitchen renovation. Let’s discuss.
MILESTONES OF A KITCHEN RENOVATION
First, let’s have a peek at the important milestones of a kitchen renovation:
The planning stage is where you gather inspirational photos, must-have ideas, storage needs, appliance requirements and determine your budget. This is often done on your own time and serves as the foundation on which you plan your kitchen renovation project. Also, it would be a good idea to take some time to roughly sketch out and measure your space, which will be important for you and your kitchen designer to review.
This peak moment can either be a really happy or stressful moment depending on the type of person you are. For some, this is extremely fun and exciting to talk about your dream space. For others, this is extremely stressful as the uncertainty of having never been through a renovation can be daunting.
When you sit down with your kitchen designer, things will quickly become very real. Here your designer will guide you through the entire process. Their goal is to work for you and help you get everything possible within your budget or allowance provided.
This peak moment can also be a high or low moment for people. It is often a low moment if there isn’t enough budget or time to achieve the dream space. It is often during the Design phase where clients get frustrated and may even choose not to proceed. Choosing not to proceed past this point is completely normal, as you should never commit to anything if you aren’t 100% comfortable thus far.
Again, some clients love this stage of the process. This is where the big discussions about what you hate about your current space and what you would love to see in your new space happen. Discussing the possibilities can be so much fun because you know you are one step closer to rejuvenating your space.
Once you have finalized your selections and signed off on your drawings, elevations, appliance specifications and contract, your kitchen designer will need to perform a final measure on-site. This will allow them to recheck all of the dimensions, see the space and cross-check the new plan against the space. It does delay things a bit, but remember your kitchen and bath designer is fully responsible to ensure your plan is executed and ordered correctly within their system, which is why this step is so important.
With the design triple-checked and tweaked to fit, your order gets submitted to be built. This is often a very satisfying moment for most clients. The feeling of accomplishment you get from having all of the key cabinetry decisions made is a great one. This is also because the Design process can be as short as 3 days, or as long as 3 months, depending on the scope of the project. For some, this is a marathon and being able to cross this important finish line is often a great feeling of accomplishment.
For others, this brief moment of happiness dissipates very quickly. Waiting 5-6 weeks for your custom kitchen to be built can feel like a lifetime, but you will need this time to perform other necessary renovation tasks to prepare the space for your new cabinets. This is also where decision overload can occur, as you may have to immediately pivot into deciding on other finishes for your renovation such as flooring, tile, paint colour, trim, etc.
Your cabinets will get delivered a day or two before your installation starts. Taking possession of your cabinetry in one’s mind is such a great feeling, as things become very real. When you get home, this can sometimes be a real low moment for some, as your living room or garage may be completely taken over by your newly boxed cabinets. For those that are claustrophobic, don’t worry! Your installation should commence within a day or two.
The start date of your install is always a peek moment. This is the moment when all of your hard work and time invested really starts to show off. It was all well worth it. For some, only seeing one installer show up to do the job can be a bit stressful. Many clients envision a team of three or four installers putting in their new kitchen. However, there is often only one installer dedicated to each cabinet installation job. Don’t let this worry you. These skilled craftsmen like to work solo and are highly capable on their own.
Remember, the first installation date is considered a takeoff point and not a completion of the installation. A typical kitchen install can take anywhere from 2 to 7 days depending on the size and complexity of the job. Jobs are almost never completed on the first trip.
Once your cabinets are perfectly installed, they can be measured or templated for countertops. This is often done by the countertop supplier and can be prearranged by the homeowner or the cabinet company, depending on where and who purchased the countertops. Countertop measuring is often done within 1 or 2 days of the base cabinets being installed and levelled. The important thing to note is that it can take approximately 10 to 14 business days to manufacture your countertops. This means you will not have running water in that space for almost 2 weeks, which can be a low moment for some clients. Some opt to have their General Contractor install a temporary sink in the new kitchen space during this gap and then have it removed before the new countertops get installed. For others that choose to save budget and operate without a kitchen sink during this time, this often extends the excuse to keep ordering in food to keep the family fed.
Virtually no kitchen gets delivered and installed in one visit and this is extremely important to note. Service parts are required for almost 100% of jobs. Consider this: each box has up to 20 build components in it and something will need to be fixed or replaced. This can be due to measurement error, build error, shipping damage, installation error, other trade damage, etc. Don’t panic if a door is missing, or something doesn’t look complete. Just remember that professional kitchen and bath design and build firms are 100% committed to the successful completion of your job and will always complete the job.
The important thing is to not stress out and work with your kitchen and bath designer and their operations team to communicate realistic timelines on the order and reinstallation of service parts. This timeframe can vary depending on the firm you hire, which is typically an average of 2-3 weeks for the first return trip to be booked. This is because parts may need to be fixed or replaced to complete your dream space. This can be a very stressful moment for some, but don’t worry, it will all be worth it!
Another thing that may contribute to things not feeling complete is that the cabinet firm may need to complete the crown moulding, toe kicks and light valance. This is sometimes completed on the return trip and not the initial install. Also, all door and drawer front adjustments are typically completed on this visit, which will make everything look much better.
In special circumstances or for large projects, a third visit may be required.
TIPS ON HOW TO ACHIEVE MORE PEAK MOMENTS
A well thought out plan can help you manage your expectations as you move forward. Knowing what to expect here and there can help reduce stress and uncertainty. Try talking to people who have experienced a renovation themselves. Reading more articles on a relevant type of renovation can also help prepare you. A good question to ask someone who has accomplished what you are trying to do is, “What are the three things you wished you would have known before you started?”
HIRE THE BEST PEOPLE
Each person you purchase products from should be considered a valued member of your team. The best people will be there for you in times of happiness and in times of stress. The best people will help you navigate difficult or unplanned events – this is what they do best. Surround yourself with people with whom you can work with and who have the tenacity to help you solve real problems.
HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Many clients elect to act as their own General Contractor for their kitchen renovation, which can be achieved with great success. If you are someone that would rather have an accountable party to keep things on schedule to hit completion dates, hiring a contractor is money well spent. If you elect to not hire a General Contractor, just be sure to understand the potential consequences of this pertaining to property damage, injury, liability and Workers’ Compensation liability when hiring sub-contractors. Click here for more planning a renovation tips from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.
Some homeowners that are renovating also elect to act as their own Interior Designer as well, which can easily be done. If you are unsure of what the role of a Certified Interior Designer is or if you need one, read more here.
If you’re an indecisive person, having a General Contractor and or Interior Designer on your team will be a great asset to your team.
BE PREPARED FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Will all of the electrical need to be replaced? What if the subfloor needs to be replaced? What is behind those walls? Kitchen renovations are an involved process. They do take time and not everything will always go according to plan. Be flexible. Seeing each roadblock as an opportunity is always a good way of looking at things.
SOMEONE WILL LET YOU DOWN
No matter how organized or experienced, at some point, someone will let you down. This could be as basic as not returning a phone call right away or as stressful as someone on your team accidentally ordering an incorrect part. It is always good to keep in mind that no one intends to purposefully make a mistake and all mistakes lead to big learning opportunities for everyone.
COMMUNICATE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
If you have project objectives, deal breakers or non-negotiable items for your project, it’s always a great idea to document those and provide them to each relevant party right when you get started in the planning phase. A simple requirements document outlining these things can go a long way and can help your team members ensure those goals are met by knowing what matters to you.
5 BY 5 RULE
It is really important to stay positive during a kitchen renovation. It is easy to become overwhelmed and feel bogged down by the small details that aren’t perfect. Focusing on 99% of the things that are correct, rather than the 1% that is wrong, can really help keep things positive during your renovation. Again, this is easier said than done, but the 5 by 5 rule is an important one to keep in mind:
As you can see, there are high and low moments at every point of a kitchen renovation. Those moments are often subjective depending on the person, the amount of planning they have done and their experiences. Remember you will hit highs and lows, but what you are aiming for is the happy feeling you will get in your space 6-8 months after completion knowing it was all worth it. As they say, “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”