For 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.
Have you entered the Write-Away Contest yet? This month's topic is vacations and travel.
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