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What to Avoid During Your Kitchen Remodel

For most households, the kitchen is the center of the home. Remodeling your kitchen is a big undertaking, but one which is sure to bring years of enjoyment. We gather in our kitchens to eat, do homework and visit with friends. This room is literally the heart of most homes, and so transforming your kitchen into a cozy and inviting spot will not only increase the enjoyment you get out of your home, but it will increase its resale value as well.

Since so much goes on in a kitchen and so many components are involved in its design, a kitchen remodel is one of the most complicated remodels in a home. This means more opportunity for mistakes, many of which can be extremely costly. Here, we'll review some of the most common mistakes made during a kitchen remodel, as well as some easy tips for avoiding these potential disasters.

Failure to Hire Professionals

In today's changing economy, homeowners are looking at DIY projects more than ever before. While many projects within a kitchen, such as tiling or painting, can be done on a DIY basis, a full remodel absolutely calls for the skills of professionals.

Consider just how much time your family spends in the kitchen. If you're like most, it's a great deal. Now consider all the different elements which make your kitchen function. You have plumbing, electricity and gas all in the same living space. Each of these components brings potential hazards if the appropriate precautions are not taken, and many of those precautions are virtually unknown to the average homeowner. In addition, most areas have laws in place requiring that these jobs be performed only by licensed professionals. Violating these laws can result in fines and the refusal of building permits. Additionally, your new kitchen may not be covered by insurance if amateurs performed delicate work.

When it comes to something as potentially dangerous and integral to your home as a full kitchen remodel, don't cut corners on labor. Hire an experienced and reputable contractor to get the job done right. If a contractor is out of your price range right now, start a savings account and wait a few years until you can afford to have the work done properly. The vast majority of kitchen remodel mistakes can be avoided simply by following this simple step.

Failure to Hire a Reputable Contractor

Okay, so you've begun the search for a contractor. You'll undoubtedly run into individuals who are less than trustworthy; unfortunately, it comes with the territory. Hiring a disreputable contractor can lead to many different types of remodeling headaches. You've probably heard horror stories from your friends and neighbors about contractors who failed to come in anywhere near their estimate in terms of time or money. Some contractors insist on payment upfront, then show up when they feel like it...or not at all! In other scenarios, a contractor will offer a wonderfully low bid...by cutting corners on fundamental things such as licensing, insurance and materials.

Don't make these mistakes. All it takes to find an honest and reputable contractor is a bit of research.

First, try to find a professional who has been working in the industry for a while. While it's true that everybody has to start somewhere, it's better for you to speak with references and view pictures of past projects.

Obtain at least five bids. This will give you options. Far too many homeowners make the mistake of accepting the very first bid they receive. You shop around for the best deals on groceries and cars...surely your home deserves the same consideration!

When you speak with each potential hire, don't be afraid to ask questions. Are their workers licensed? Does the contractor carry insurance to cover every worker for the full duration of the project? What do they recommend when it comes to materials? Asking questions satisfies two goals: you receive valuable information, and you get a sense of whether or not you can have this person in your home for the duration of your remodel without driving each other crazy. There's no need to become best friends, but it's always nice to hire a contractor you get along with, especially for such an involved, indoor project.

Contact all the references your potential contractors give you. If a contractor has no references of any kind, run the other way. A reputable contractor is proud of their work, and will have satisfied customers and pictures to back up that pride.

Indecisiveness

We've all been shopping with somebody who just can't make up their mind. Where to eat...what to buy...it's all an endless cycle of "I think so - but maybe not." The same thing happens during remodels of any kind, and being indecisive about such large-scale changes can cost you a great deal of time and money.

It's only natural to have doubts about something as large as a kitchen remodel. However, changing your mind mid-remodel is a sure way to waste time, waste money and try the patience of the professionals you've hired. Not to mention, it keeps you eating out of a microwave in the living room for a longer period of time. While a few moments of hesitation are going to happen, huge mid-remodel changes can be avoided by following a very step.

Plan your kitchen! This sounds too obvious to be relevant, but it's truly amazing how many homeowners begin a large renovation without planning every detail. Somehow, they imagine, things will simply fall into place. In reality, things don't just fall into place when you're dealing with a remodel. Decisions must be made, and you, as the homeowner, need to make them. Your contractor can help with questions about materials, and design firms can be hired to plan the room's layout. However, ultimately all decisions will rest squarely on your shoulders.

Start with a drawing. Leave enough room for all desired appliances and build-in cabinetry. Ensure there's enough room to cook, stand and walk through the room without feeling cramped or crowded. Plan for seating if a dining area is included. Utilize storage space to keep often-used items within easy reach while still providing room for seasonal pieces in an out-of-the-way area.

Visit a home center and get up close and personal with every visible surface area. Countertops, cabinet fronts, flooring and any other visible kitchen component should be tested out before making a final decision. Research each material to make sure it will stand up to the level of abuse your household may dish out. Considering a heavy granite counter? Plan for heavy-duty supports or it's sure to crack and require replacement. Give every single detail your full attention, and ask questions until you're satisfied that each element has been planned to your satisfaction. Proper planning cuts back drastically on last-minute changes of plans, which saves you time and saves your sanity.

Going Crazy with Expensive Toys

If you've ever visited a home or appliance store, you know just how easy it is to feel that "gotta have it" urge. Unfortunately, acting on those impulses gets many homeowners in over their heads...and over their budgets.

For most households, a basic kitchen is all that's needed for the home to function. Gourmet kitchens may be all the rage on the pages of magazines, but very few families would actually have use for such a collection of expensive gadgets. If you happen to run a catering business from home or you formally entertain guests on a regular basis, you're in a different boat. The average household, however, simply doesn't need a triple range and a built-in wood-fire oven.

Take your lifestyle into account when choosing appliances, surfaces and furniture. If you do a lot of cooking, some upper-end appliances are probably a sound investment. If your "cookbook" is a drawer full of take-out menus, however, skip the fancy frills and stick with the basics. Taking an honest inventory of what you actually use your kitchen for, and how, is a great way to plan a successful remodel. Once you've determined that a particular area or aspect is rarely used, you can install a quality but basic item and have more money to spend on areas which receive more use.

Ignoring Basic Structures

You've heard the saying "out of sight, out of mind." Unfortunately, this concept is the cause of many costly kitchen remodeling mistakes. It's very easy to get caught up in the fun of selecting flooring, countertops, cabinet fronts and light fixtures. However, it's crucial to stop and examine (or ask your contractor to examine) the structures these new surfaces will rely upon.

If you're installing a brand new solid hardwood floor, for example, it's essential to make sure that your sub-floor is in good condition. If not, you need to replace it. Yes, this means more time and money, but it's better (and cheaper) than spending the money on a gorgeous new floor, only to have it sag, crack or collapse in a few years.

The same principle applies virtually everywhere in the kitchen. Heavy countertops? Make sure they're properly supported. New lighting? Check the wiring for dangerous signs of wear and age. Cabinet fronts? They'll sag and look horrible if they're not supported by properly fitted hinges and a strong cabinet structure.

Just as with so many other areas of life, it's what's behind the scenes that matters most. Building your kitchen from the ground up ensures that while the visible surfaces are beautiful, they'll also stay beautiful and usable for years to come.

Posted by: Diane
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