Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tips for Your Next Remodel

Kitchen During RemodelFor those of you who can stand to hear more of my whining about the state of my home right now I've put together a list of tips for guiding you through the nightmare that is The Remodel.

May it guide you through life's tough times.

1. Think carefully. Think very carefully before you jump into the project. No matter how vile your cupboards, no matter how rank your countertops, consider all other options before transforming your home into a war-zone mess hall. Have you considered, for example, selling your home and buying an RV? Living on the beach in Hawaii? Or maybe moving in with your next door neighbors? All would be preferable to being stripped bare and left to face the disaster that will be Your Kitchen.

2. Don't worry about shopping around for the best prices. It doesn't matter where you go or how hard you cry, when you hear the estimate of what it will cost make sure you have a defibrillator handy. You're gonna need it.

3. In fact, just go to the closest home improvement store and find the display kitchen that you like best and say "I want this one" because there will be so many decisions to make: from cabinet faces, to finishes, to counter materials to handle pulls and faucets (don't even think about moving walls or getting new flooring) that the odds of you making the perfect decision are as good as say, Angelina and Brad celebrating their golden anniversary. It ain't gonna happen.

Think of the whole experience as what you'd expect from a fast food restaurant. "I'd like the number 5. And super-size me." Is all you need to know. Except that it's going to cost you a bit more than your average Big Mac.

4. When you sit down with the kitchen designer the first thing out of your mouth should be "I know nothing except that I need help. Talk to me as if I'm a child who doesn't know the difference between granite, quartz or concrete because I don't." Yes, this gives away your vulnerable position but let's face it, they can spot a sucker like you a mile away and they already know you know nothing. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to getting help.

5. Expect that your first session with the kitchen designer will take approximately two and half hours. Thirty minutes for the planning and two hours to revive you once you get the estimate.

6. It doesn't really matter if you know the difference between Corian and Hi-Max, maple and oak, Bosch and Fisher-Paykel, just know that the only way you can really save money is by more creative solutions: renting out a room of your house, cutting out one meal a day, or selling one of your children.

7. When you ask how long it's going to take, whatever number they give you multiple that by the number of square feet of your countertops, divide by the number of cooks in your home, and add three more weeks just for good measure.

8. Remember that there is a grave difference between the estimated cost and the actual cost. The estimated cost is that number they give you when you're still considering whether you can afford a remodel. The actual cost is the number they charge to your Visa when you have already decided to have the surgery, that you can't live without it, and nothing will stop you from having those beautiful flat-front maple cabinets, not even an extra $1500.

This is particularly true with regards to labor. Forget that the Kitchen People have been doing this business for fifty years and by now should know exactly how long it takes to remove or install a cabinet, forget that they give you an estimate at the beginning. It will always cost more. Always. Say it with me, "Always."

But it doesn't matter because you'll have already bought all materials, you will have the cabinets sitting in your garage waiting for installation, will have the countertops sitting at the warehouse ready to go so when they tell you that the cost of installation has gone up you will have no choice. You will pay the money because it will bring you closer to your Dream Kitchen.

9. The odds of your cabinets being what you ordered are approximately 200,000,000 to one. You have a better chance of being hit by a cement truck full of Jello than getting your correct order. Forget that we've put a man on the moon, forget that we've cloned sheep or successfully installed a human heart mankind still has yet to find a way to get you the cabinets you need in the correct dimensions, materials and quantity you ordered. And if, by some freak of nature your order is correct, the odds of a damaged cabinet will increase exponentially. You're doomed, you will have to reorder so get used to the idea now.

10. You will hear the phrase "We'll give you a call" multiple times, in various situations but it will always be a lie. It doesn't matter how many times they say it, each time they get you to believe it they get another point towards "Employee of the Month."

If they give you a cell phone number they won't answer. If you leave a message don't expect a reply. They'll get to you when they get to you, so learn the Art of Patience--remember that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

11. Assume right now that even though you may have paid for the entire project up front, there will be at least a dozen hidden costs that somehow were excluded from the "Is there any other costs?" clause you repeatedly asked during the design process.

You may be getting a "free" sink but you'll be charged close to $200 for installing said sink--and that's just for putting the dumb thing in the hole. Plan on hiring a plumber to hook up the plumbing, garbage disposal and dishwasher. All extra of course.

If you have purchased new cabinets and handle pulls the holes are extra. For the contractor to drill each hole will cost the equivalent of a day's salary, effectively doubling the overall price of your cabinetry. No wonder minimalism is such a popular look.

12. Realize that the amount of dirt, grime and dust generated by your remodel is greater than the mass of your home. Whoever said matter could neither be created nor destroyed never experienced a kitchen remodel--where is all that dust coming from? I'm finding it in between layers of rolled toilet paper two floors away.

13. But be assured that after it is all over you won't be able to get enough of your new kitchen. You might as well move your bed down there because you'll never want to leave. You'll lovingly stroke each new handle, try each new drawer, run your hands over the baby-smooth counters and wonder how you ever lived without it.

***

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63 comments:

Wylie Kinson said...

Been there, done that!! I sure could have used your sarcastic sense of humour when I was going through all this crap. You would have kept me sane!!
On a similar note, my TT is about the psychology of colors when decorating (or redecorating). Go read it before you paint your kitchen walls!

Christie said...

oh boy!!! that is so what i figured. i've been dragging my feet on the ol' kitchen remodel and i honestly think i'll just wait to have a better kitchen when we upgrade, sell, and move in the the "phase 2" house in a few years. whenever that will be. happy tt!! happy remodeling!! :)

Lene said...

Oh what a mess! I am glad that I am not in your shoes. ;) Happy TT! Good luck!

L^2 said...

Wow, I'll have to remember your list if/when I decide to do some remodeling someday. But it sounds like your new kitchen was worth it in the end.
Thanks for visiting my list.

subarctic mama said...

Hang in there. We were remodeling the bathroom when I was eight and a half months pregnant with Coral. I had to use the outhouse. There was no way I was going to have that baby early. She was born about 1 week after the toilet was installed. Good luck.

damozel said...

Oh Lord, that takes me back (and explains why I've permanently given up on home ownership. I don't have the stamina you have. Remodeling is a young woman's province.

Trust me, even if you don't use a designer, the odds of getting the cabinets you ordered remain the same. Always plan for construction to take at least 3 times the estimated date of completion.

But at least the results are worthwhile!

Missy said...

Egads! Wouldn't it have been easier to just move? *sigh*

Thomma Lyn said...

Oh, my! Just reading your post wore me out, LOL! I wish you good luck -- what a project of epic proportions!!

Happy TT, and thank you for visiting my blog!

Gabrielle said...

thanks for sharing the tips and for stopping by, michelle :)

kristarella said...

Goodness me, I've never owned my place and won't for some time... I'll keep in mind that renovating is difficult and expensive.

Gattina said...

Deep sigh*! Fortunately I have all that behind me ! But I admit it was a hard time !

my4kids said...

I have another tip.
Just because your cousin, brother, random family member does that as a living and offers to do yours doesn't make it worth it. The money you save will be blown on the frustration of how much longer it takes since he's giving you a discount and figures a year to redo your kitchen is pretty good...yeah that happened to us. I will take a stranger next time.

Robin said...

I feel your pain. We did a major home remodel - kitchen, 2 bathrooms, floors, painting and every freaking inch of plumbing in the entire house - which was the one that actually necessitated all the rest. We ended up having to move out completely for 6 weeks. Hang in there though, it's all worth it in the end...

Di said...

My husband actually researched getting a "double wide" trailer to put on our property when we were considering a remodel or rebuild of our house in North Carolina. (Trust me - a "double wide" wouldn't be allowed to cross the Palm Beach County line, let alone reside in Boca!)

Thanks for the perspective because I have a simple remodel in mind for our house and you've reminded me that it's probably not going to be so simple!

Christine said...

I've been there too! I so hated how remodeling made me feel - bitchy. I hope it all turns out for the best!

JennyMcB said...

We lived through it 6 years ago and lived in our camper about 8 miles from here. Glad I did it, but now my laminated counters are becoming unglued and we are playing "the" game with the contractor because the store that we got them from is out of business. So see, it never really ends.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Ooh, this was us last year! And so true about the cabinets (they never got ours right, so the remodeler dude paid for a new microwave for us) and the holes for the handles...

And I was THRILLED with my guys. They left the fridge plugged in the whole time and just shoved it around the room (we didn't just get new floors, we put in radiant floor heating, too). They loaned us a sink so we could do dishes.

But still, it took six weeks instead of three and those damn cabinets...

They're gorgeous.

*wink*

Julie in Texas said...

Oh my goodness...the only thing worse is having your husband complete all the labor. Yes, Lthe monitary cost is cheaper...but you wait forever for him to have time because of course he is doing this in the evenings and weekends.

Love, love, love your sense of humor. Can't wait to see the photos of the completed kitchen.

Grace's picture is adorable.

Mercy's Maid said...

Here's hoping for a speedy remodel!

When I was little, I remember my parents had their kitchen totally gutted. Walls WERE moved, everything was totally redone. All I can remember about it is washing dishes in a 5 gallon bucket in their bathroom because there was no water connection in the kitchen. :)

Good times.

Jamie said...

You forgot about the necessity to put a psychiatrist on retainer. :-)

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Oh, my, this is hilarious and scary! We've never done such a full remodel (we rent now, anyway), but I'll keep this in mind!

SusieJ said...

Great list. I admire anyone who has lived through the above. I have not -- and probably could not.

Ankur said...

Great list, and so very true. I've seen so many people go through remodels that I doubt I'm ever going to do it.

busy91 said...

I'm going to fwd this link to my friend. She is remodeling her home. She is doing it herself...good lord!!

Denise Patrick said...

I can relate - except we did most of the work ourselves, so it was worse!!

Thanks for visiting my TT.

MC Milker said...

Wonderful- I laughed all the way through!

chilihead said...

Amen, says the one who is in the midst of it now.

scribbit said...

Tomorrow the countertops go in--

Lowe's did the remodel and overall it has gone well. The problems I describe are inherent in any remodel.

However, I was frustrated with so many "That will cost you extras" that seemed to nickel and dime the project and there was a mistake made with my island countertop where there wasn't enough Corian ordered for the overhang. Lowe's ended up working it out to my satisfaction but that was a little frustrating.

I'll just be glad when it's over and I can just enjoy my new kitchen. You all are invited over for dinner.

Barbara H. said...

Our neighbors bought a new stove only to find out it didn't fit in the space their old one did!! It was a major deal for them just to take care of that -- I can't imagine a whole kitchen re-do while living in the house.

Barbara said...

Great ideas. We need to finish what we started - just haven't found the time!

Dane Bramage said...

Thanks! My kitchen is next on my list but I won't be getting to it this year. Now I know what I have to look forward to.

My TT 13 Classy Insults is up. Stop by if you get the chance.

cheeky said...

I can relate to a few of the woes. Try gutting an entire house that is 100yrs old. I did and lived through it, amazingly, although I am not recomemmending anyone do this. It takes a lot of planning and tons of patience. There is always something you missed, or forgot when you are finished; it's inevitable in a remodel and par for the course but oh how the finished results bring such pleasure to what was pain.
Looking forward to the completion. hang in there.

Poppy Fields said...

I wish I had read this list before last summer! :) We redid our kitchen, the order was wrong, but they wanted us to accept it anyway. The nice salesman, before finalizing the sale, became the mean man when we insisted on getting the right order. I dread going back to that kitchen store to get the drawer fillers or replacement filters just because I can't stand to see those salesmen again,not yet anyway

KarenW said...

My parents just turned their back porch into a sun room. My dad says that remodeling always takes longer than you planned and more money than you budgeted for. I hope yours is done soon!

mcewen said...

Indeed thou doth speak verily. However, a tiny additional tip for the foreigners amongst us.
It is inappropriate to approach the labourers at 40 minute intervals to ask if they would like a cup of tea? This question, when repeated often enough is sure to relegate you to the category of completely barmy customer - and none of want to be in that slot.
Cheers

Stephanie said...

#8 & #11 why we do many things ourselves. . . of course you need to add about 3 MONTHS to #7

Ni Yachen said...

Haha! Cement truck full of Jell-O.

Construction projects are just as bad. As an engineer we usually add 20% contigency to the cost and schedule. Even that usually doesn't cut it. Though it is better to get sticker shock up front instead of at the end.

Shannon said...

This makes me sad...I am so happy I still rent! :) I hope you get a beautiful kitchen out of all the hassle! :)

Amy W said...

Glad my last home was a spec home (new construction, but we didn't have to pick out anything) so we are just going to live with what we have. But we did go through with this on our last house...so I feel your pain.

she said...

All of a sudden I'm very grateful that we love our kitchen (previous owners suffered the remodeling angst) AND that my next door neighbour is a really nice general contractor who helps us with small things around the house for the high price of materials, a case of beer and pizza.

Shalee said...

I don't mean this in mean way at all, scribbit, but better you than me. I think I would have slapped quite a few people by now... only to feel badly about it... later.

Babystepper said...

Oh yes, I hear you. At least we aren't living in ours while the entire stinkin' house is being remodeled, but we will be in just a few months, and it's not done.

Oh, and did I mention my husband refuses to hire help? He won't. None. He's doing everything himself. Everything. Not that he's not good at it and all, but it's taking for-ev-er.

JAM said...

I can't imagine that. I just can't. I'm glad it turned out ok for you though.

Definitely makes me appreciate our semi-dated kitchen.

Author Mom with Dogs said...

Brings back memories. :)

On the "pay in full up front" part -- always a good idea to hold some of the payment back. Leaves you with some bargaining power to get them to return calls, show up to finish, etc., that you lose once you're all paid.

The more money you hold back, the quicker your calls will get returned and the faster your job will get done.

Janet said...

makes me want to find a cave and live in it :-)

Lei said...

Gosh... I have a really bad habit of pushing terrible memories out of my mind. We have had our kitchen remodelled, and while many of the items you listed ring a familiar bell, I simply cannot remember the specifics. So, take comfort in that! This too shall pass!

Hang in there!

wendy boucher said...

Okay then. I'll be putting that project off for awhile longer. Yikes!

pussreboots said...

#12 made me laugh.

Qtpies7 said...

Well, I guess I can live with the trash I inherited when I bought this house. I am not patient enough for all that.
We have a friend who makes cabinettes, so hopefully it will go better for us WHEN we dare go for it.

Lori's Light Extemporanea said...

Hoo boy! At least your marriage is still intact, right?

Cordia Amant said...

Wow. That makes me really glad I don't own a house. Yet.

Lisa Milton said...

My parents remodeled constantly growing up (they moved a house from the area that is now the Portland airport for $14000). It needed constant work. It grew as we grew. It still does.

Now my sister swears that she will always buy new. The thought of remodeling traumatizes her.

We've done some of our own and survived. Great tips.

Crazy Working Mom said...

Very good tips. I'll hafta book mark this post for future reference. :)

I ♥ it. Thanks!

Lisa said...

You are so very true!

You obviously learned alot. You could write a book about remodeling... It would be funny and entertaing. It'd pretty much be the ONLY book I'd ever read on such a subject. heehee.

Katherine said...

Been there, done that - cabinets, countertops, flooring- but still haven't gotten the kitchen painted. It's been over a year.
The carpeting needs replacing in the rest of the house, but I'm dreading it so much, I think we'll live with it a while (maybe a long while) longer.

Judy Callarman said...

This is hysterical. You should be a professional writer. We remodeled ours 20 years ago, and I don't think we ever will again. I know what you mean.

Haley-O said...

You are just so knowledgeable about EVERYTHING. It's, like, insane! NICE list. Very informative. Thank goodness I'm not moving. But, when I do, I'll come back to this post for tips.

carinne said...

At least your contractor, carpenter, installer, and designer and materials supply guy its your husband. You can't really call and leave threatening messages on your husbands phone telling him that you're going to fire him if he doesn't get the bathroom finished after he promised it would be done 6 months ago. Just a thought.

Suzanne said...

As a person who's just gone through the horror of building a home, I can attest to almost everyone of the tips you have listed here. Towards the end, I just did not even care what happened. "You only have green cabinet doors left? Fine, we'll take them. Whatever." Now we are moving on to landscaping... we may just bring in large amounts of gravel... what do I care?

Great blog! I'll be returning! (Linked to you from the "Blows My Dress Up" contest page.)

www.theworldaccordingtosuz.com

Melissa R. Garrett said...

I think I will print out this post and tack it to the front of our refrigerator. My husband has been lamenting the state of our kitchen (which isn't bad) for the past five years. Whenever he starts talking about a new this and a new that, I will direct him to your list.

The Lazy Organizer said...

It sounds like sound advice and about exactly what I went through multiplied by an entire house. Will never do it again!

Julie Pippert said...

Oy you scare me to death...we're just about to embark on this! And doing a lot of it ourselves!

lgmeyer200 said...

Go on Amazon.com and buy "Remodel This!" - It will tell you everything you need to know about renovating and make you laugh along the way