How To Prepare
Understanding the Challenges of a Kitchen Remodel
When it comes to remodeling, Murphy's Law often applies: Whatever can go wrong, will.
Brace yourself for typical problems such as:
- Products delivered late, dented or with missing parts
- The wrong products delivered
- More dust than you expected
- Termites or carpenter ants in the walls, floor, or windows
- Mold or moisture in the walls from leaky plumbing or poor flashing
- Structural problems that need to be repaired
- Asbestos or lead paint removal
Knowing is half the battle. By preparing for the dust, foot traffic, and absentee kitchen sink, you’ll find yourself ahead of the game.Before Construction Begins
- Ask your designer or contractor for a timeline. Knowing what will be happening when—and which strangers to expect in your home— will give you peace of mind.
- Clarify whether your contractor will wait until the new products have arrived before starting demolition. Although you may be impatient to start construction, in the long run you'll appreciate having your kitchen torn up for less time.
- Clarify whose job it is—the designer's, the contractor's or yours—to pull the necessary permits for doing any electrical, mechanical, building or remodeling work. This must be done before construction starts.
- Products need to be stored someplace until they're installed. Find out if your contractor or designer has a warehouse or staging area to which products can be delivered.
- Get clean, sturdy boxes well ahead of time to ensure that you can pack up items that won’t be used during the renovation period to protect them from dust and damage.
- Move any pictures, mirrors, furniture, and other items in neighboring rooms away from walls adjacent to the kitchen. You don’t want vibrations from the construction to break them.
- A week before renovation begins, start packing up the contents of your cabinets, beginning with the least-used items. By the day before tear out begins, you should be down to basics that will be kept in the most accessible boxes. Unpack in reverse order for a streamlined process.
- If you live in a high-rise, be sure to reserve the freight elevator for delivery days.
- Interested in sending your old cabinets and fixtures somewhere other than the junk heap? If you don’t have the finances for laundry or garage cabinets, consider installing your old cabinetry there. You can also investigate donating products to salvage centers or to non-profit companies for use in rehab projects.
Cooking and Eating
- Protect what you can’t remove; floors should be covered, dust curtains hung and a pathway defined for workmen to enter and exit the workspace. Use plastic sheeting and tape to seal off doorways into other rooms and cover bookshelves, furniture, and electronic equipment. Some contractors will do this for you.
- Turn off the central air or heat when the workers are sanding. Keep extra air filters on hand.
- Ask that the construction area be broom cleaned at the end of every day to minimize the mess.
- If necessary, prepare a storage area in the garage or in another room near the kitchen for holding appliances, cabinets, and other items until it’s time to install them. Or rent a storage space for a month or two during the construction phase.
- Keep essential items handy: microwave meals and non-perishables like soup; condiments; cereal; microwave-safe dishes and utensils; dishcloths; dishwasher soap; paper plates and cups; coffee; coffee pot and sugar/creamer; paper towels; napkins; and garbage bags.
- You’ll be without water in the kitchen for a time, so plan to do the dishes in another sink or the bathtub. Or stock up on disposable plates and cups, paper towels and a disinfectant cleanser.
- Plan a temporary kitchen by moving your old refrigerator or a small mini-frig to a convenient space close to a water source. Add a table with a microwave above and a trash can below.
- Invest in a hot plate if you fear you’ll quickly tire of microwave-prepared meals.
- Stockpile restaurant coupons to use on nights when you need to get away from it all.
- Meals cooked in advance and frozen can be easily reheated for a family dinner that’s a little more normal than the state of your home.
- Inform the workers about children and pets so they know to be extra careful with doors and gates and to watch underfoot.
- Designate an entrance for kitchen material deliveries and traffic.
- If the workers are not bringing a portable toilet, decide which bathrooms are off-limits and let them know.
- Keep your cell phone charged.
- Post a list of contractors’ cell phone and beeper numbers on the wall .
- Pick an area to serve as a message center. Leave a notebook and paper there so you can leave messages for the contractor (and vice versa) when you aren't in the house.