By Baruch Tenenbaum
The kitchen is not only one of the most important rooms in the house, it is also one of the most complex. The presence of several major appliances, such as a refrigerator, a gas cooktop, and a dishwasher, require intricate connections to the electrical system, plumbing, and gas supplies. That’s why redoing your kitchen is a much more complicated project than, say, redoing your living room; it’s a lot more than just replacing furniture or repainting a wall. Like anything in life, the more you plan, the more successful the project will be. Hiring an experienced kitchen designer will go a long way to ensuring you will be happy for a long time with the results of your kitchen remodeling project. The results will go beyond avoiding annoyances like having drawers and doors that interfere with each other, but having the result of a desired, well thought out kitchen remodeling design which provides a great day to day experience.
When the contractor enters the picture, his job is to manage the entire project, from removing the old kitchen to rewiring electricity, from relocating pipes and gas points to breaking or building walls, from tiling the backsplash to painting the room.
So how does this work in practice?
First, the contractor meets with the clients in their home to discuss the desired changes and look over the kitchen plans drawn up by the designer, or provided by the cabinet manufacturer. Once he has a comprehensive understanding of the plan, he will evaluate the old kitchen, locate the current placement of electrical outlets, gas lines, and plumbing, and note what changes may need to be made to the structure of the room to accommodate the new kitchen. Often walls need to be broken or moved. A growing trend today is the open concept; eliminate upper cabinets and create a walk-in pantry. This helps to create clear views to adjacent rooms. The kitchen flooring is often changed, not only to upgrade in style, but as a very practical consideration because the plumbing lines are run beneath the tiles.
After these details are identified comes the pricing stage. The contractor calculates the cost of the labour and materials required to complete the project and gives the client a price quote. The quote should be as detailed as possible to avoid misunderstandings and assumptions. If you as the client feel the contractor has omitted some details or included unnecessary tasks, NOW is the time to communicate this with the contractor. The client and the contractor then agree on a schedule for the project and make sure that the client has an alternative living arrangement, or, at least access to another functioning kitchen for the duration of the remodeling project.
Then, the contractor executes the project. First comes demolition: the plumbing fixtures, shayish, and old cabinets are removed. As well, if flooring is changing or walls need to come ‘a tumblin’ down, they are removed at this stage. The plumber relocates the water and waste lines according to the new plan. Electrical circuits are relocated or added. It is very important that new circuits are added; you don’t want the circuit breaker tripping when you run the kettle and toaster oven at the same time. And finally in the infrastructure department, the gas technician relocates/adds gas lines where necessary. The new floor is laid and while the room is empty it’s a good idea to paint it before it gets crowded again.
The contractor liaises with the carpenter and informs him that the cabinets are ready to be installed. The contractor usually takes a little break at this time (or continues to work if rooms other than the kitchen are being renovated). He needs to wait until the cabinets, shayish, and kitchen sinks are installed. There is usually at least a one week wait from the time the base cabinets are installed until the shayish is installed. Once the third-party trades finish their tasks the contractor returns to the kitchen to do the finishing touches; the backsplash is tiled, electrical devices and under cabinet lighting are installed, and the faucets and sinks are hooked up.
The contractor should have good communication skills and keep the client posted on every stage of the process until the new kitchen is properly installed and ready for use. He also needs to have a good working relationship with the designer; sometimes snags come up and between the two of them and the client, they work out a feasible, practical, and cost-effective solution that the client will be happy with.
There are many complexities to kitchen remodeling, as well as the logistics of different professionals coming in to do their part. A General Contractor that has a stable list of long-term reliable subcontractors, as well as company employees that care about service and delivery helps to insure everything goes according to plan. It goes without saying that there is an inconvenience factor of being without a proper room to prepare food for a few weeks, however, with the improved function, ease of maintenance, and appearance of a new kitchen, the results are certainly worth the wait.
Happy kitchen remodeling!