Home Renovation Tips

Unlike any other home remodeling project, kitchen renovation encompasses so many things–from the raw to the sublime, from the picayune to the important–that it can easily overwhelm even the most determined homeowner. On the other hand, a fine kitchen remodel instantly raises the value of your home and provides a more effective cooking space. Before beginning this tough-but-rewarding project, ask yourself:

  1. What Are My Needs and Desires?
    Is your kitchen a disaster zone where you can’t even manage to boil an egg? Or do you just want to freshen the place up with new appliances, countertops, floors, and cabinets? A need might be: I need kitchen cabinets because my current ones are falling apart. A desire might be: I desire a new dishwasher because my current one is ugly and noisy, though it works perfectly well.
  2. Is It Worth Putting Myself Through This?
    Do you want work crews in your house for extended periods? Do you want to spend money and put yourself through this turmoil? While one of the more expensive home renovation projects, kitchen remodels retain their value well should you decide to sell your house.
  3. Deep-Down Renovation or Surface-Level?
    Be honest. Is this a $85,000 full-scale kitchen remodel or a less ambitious surface-level kitchen renovation? No shame in either choice.
  4. Bonus Question: Can I Reduce the Cost of Remodeling?
    Think about this now before you get too involved in the project. If you cannot authoritatively answer “Yes” or “I really don’t care how low my bank account gets,” then you have no business remodeling your kitchen. From doing it yourself to limiting your need for contractors, there are tons of ways to save money.

While you have an almost infinite range of possibilities, you may want to utilize one of the five basic kitchen design plans, such as:

The One-Wall Design
The Corridor Design
The L-Shape Design
The Double-L Design
The U-Shape Design
Kitchen Design Software: Inexpensive computer design software helps you with the difficult task of space-planning.
Book-Based Design Packages: Available at bookstores, these kits have cardboard punch-outs representing cabinets and appliances. Placing punch-outs on a kitchen grid helps you realistically view your available space.

Kitchen Designers: Kitchen designers at home improvement companies or at kitchen design stores typically design your kitchen free of charge. However, they will steer you to their own vendors and to their own work crews. Independent designers will have the most freedom and may give you the best product because they have less restrictions. However, they will charge you either by the hour or on a percentage basis.

Make sure you follow these 10 tips when choosing your contractor:

  1. Hire only state-licensed contractors.
  2. Get three references from each bidder and review past work
  3. Make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you completely understand the terms.
  4. Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project, including all payments.
  5. Confirm that the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance for employees.
  6. Check a contractor’s license number online at http://www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling 800.321.CSLB (2752).
  7. Never pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.*Don’t pay in cash
  8. Hire only state-licensed contractors.
  9. Don’t let payments get ahead of the work.
  10. Don’t make the final payment until you’re satisfied with the job.
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