questionshas anyone here done a major kitchen remodel?

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Yep. Did one last fall. gutted the kitchen, tore out the soffets, had 42" solid cherry cabinets installed along with adding a peninsula, and an additional bar area with a hanging china cabinet above. Also completely tiled the backsplash with gorgeous ceramic pebbles--that idea just about killed me. Had to pretty much grout with my fingers and lay much of them individually.

It's a stunning kitchen NOW, but man, it was rough being completely without a kitchen for several weeks. Doing your dishes in the bathroom got mighty old. We began the project in August and it was completed by a week prior to Halloween. The granite counter tops delayed the completion.
We managed to set up a microwave & coffee area in the family room and were able to shove the fridge into a corner but had no water for the ice maker.

My husband & I had a a few strong words now & then from the stress of it all.
(cont.)

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(cont.)
If you're told 6 weeks until completion, please plan on 10. Things WILL go wrong. Shop around. I found my sink, faucet, and drains on Amazon. The tiles for the backsplash at Overstock. The Schuler cabinets are through Lowe's.

Found I liked my pull out pantry drawers so much, I bought some additional ones from Amazon as well. Also had a few custom cabinets made for an odd space.
If you can think of it, some one can make it.

Ask me anything and I'll give you an honest answer.

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I waited until that crazy long-winded Viking chick finished, but yes, I've been through multiple remodels, kitchen and otherwise. Here's some solid rules of thumb.

Get references. Decide what you can do on your own, and what you need a professional for. If it looks simple, but you've never done it, GET A PROFESSIONAL. I've seen some recent efforts from people who truly believe that they did wonderful work in their own kitchens, and trust me, it looks just like they did it. This is not a compliment.

Back on point. Shop around for things, but also talk it over with whomever you hire. Contractors often have discounts that you cannot match. Plan ahead for being without your kitchen. It will take MUCH longer than you think, no matter what anyone promises. You want it to be done right much more than you want it to be done on time. Trust me on this.

Did I say get references? Get them. Check with your state on the license for the contractor, and make sure that the license is theirs...

Oops

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Guess I shouldn't have picked on @lavikinga about being long-winded. ;-}

Try to find pictures of finished kitchens that you like, and have them ready when discussing details with each other, and with potential contractors. Some things may not work in your space, and it may also be that everyone has different ideas about what the final product will look like.

Habitat for Humanity often have local stores that you can purchase extra donated items from, and there are some truly beautiful things there. My local one is called "Restore" and that's probably the name of them all. Others here on Deals have remodeled, and shared pictures of the before and after. Maybe they'll show up and comment, or perhaps I'll manage to find the questions.

I love to remodel.

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@shrdlu: :P~ Shouldn't you be outside tearing up a winter garden instead of picking on your Nordic friends. Lemme tell ya something...it ain't easy typing with a höggspjót in my hands.

Ok, so...shop around. Take your time. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN for the worst, budget for at least 25% extra (stuff happens, things explode, plumbers are expensive). Buy a gas grill with a side burner if you don't already have one and use it as much as possible. Don't be afraid to do things yourself. I learned how to really dry wall & plaster including putting on that crappy popcorn ceiling stuff (inventor of it should be slapped hard) , cut & lay tile & grout, and how to wheedle a plumber into doing those little extras.

Your local Lowe's (if you have one) has pro's on staff who will answer your questions. Heck, they even cut two marble listellos at a 90 degree angle for me for free.

Charm & a winning smile helps. Don't be afraid to ask for "favors." Good luck!

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Oh yeah, don't go to bed mad at your spouse. If anything is your fault in the least, own up and say "sorry." Remember to laugh. Things will get better--usually after it's gotten really bad, but you have to remind yourselves that most folks aren't in a position to remodel.
Take before, during, and after photos. Never know when you may need them.
Keep a folder/file box with everything in it, receipts, plans, business cards, paint & tile swatches.
Don't be afraid to challenge what you're being told. Listen to your gut. If something sounds "off," it probably is.
One last thing, for any professional work done, try to get a written contract with a hard finish date & benefits to you if the project isn't completed as promised (such as a small discount,) and inspect the work often. If you're unhappy with it, make them do it over until it's done properly.
Remember: it's your money and you're driving this project. Don't be afraid of firing incompetent people/companies.

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@lavikinga: Hey, I was on a break, okay? What you said about inspecting often, and not being afraid to dump someone, goes double for me. Here's a caveat, though.

Some years ago, I was having the HVAC system replaced in my home in SoCal, and after becoming more and more worried about the work, I had the inspector come out early. He wrote up THREE PAGES of items that had been done wrong, or needed fixing. I put a stop payment on the check I'd written against a credit card [1], and sent a registered letter to Mr Moron, firing him on the spot.

Oh, what sadness was in store for me. :-(

I could not find one single reputable place that would come in and finish it, even though they all agreed that it was a disaster. Every single one wanted me to give the guy a second chance. Really. I cried myself to sleep a couple of nights. Luckily for me, one of my daughter's friends (who loved me like a second mother), stepped in...

[con't]

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@lavikinga: He drove down from S.F. and showed up at my house as a surprise in the early morning (as a side note, he was licensed, and able to do the work, luckily for me). He read through all the inspection comments, took a camera up on the root, and then in the attic, and at the side of the house (so that I'd have the mess documented), and then went to work. When the inspector came back, he first looked in the attic, and then came down with a look that I wish I had taken a picture of. He said that he hadn't thought that the damage that had been left behind could be repaired, and so cleanly. When he was through, there were ZERO items on his report.

Get references. Don't be afraid to fire someone, but document WHY, too.

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And this exactly all the things I've been afraid of....

And no, Ikea, I cannot do it myself.

I can live without the kitchen for a few weeks. I cannot live without the bathroom which is why I haven't really pushed too hard to get people to return my calls and come out and give estimates.

I'd love to see pictures when you get your kitchen done. It gives me hope. : )

cf cf
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Thanks for all the advice. Now I'm even more scared ;)

I can't wrap my head around not having a kitchen for 8 weeks. Ugh. We do have a wet bar with microwave, and a grill with a side burner, so that's a start (unfortunately they're nowhere near each other lol). And it's looking like our dining area will be part of the remodel too, so we'll probably be eating on the couch the entire time (at least that's close to the wet bar).

We went to a home show yesterday and they said the average total kitchen remodel in our area costs $57K. Huh?? I was thinking about half of that. Bleah.

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@tsfisch: oh, dear. Trust not the home show folks. They will be the very MOST expensive. Ask your friends. Ask your neighbors.

In addition, to have my bathroom gutted, all the plumbing redone, a new shower built from scratch (out of that poured marble stuff, with beautiful brass-trimmed glass doors, and an over head light), all the wiring redone, a new conduit built so that the fan would vent to the outside (instead of into the ceiling, which is what had been done by some no-necked wonder), etc etc, cost about 7 or 8k (sorry, I don't remember exact details). I did the painting. I wanted it done precisely my way.

I've been quoted about 30-35 for doing the same for the kitchen...

60k seems WAY out of line.

Oh, and that eight weeks will be over before you know it, and then you'll have that kitchen. :-D

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I'm not going to read all those long-winded posts. ;)

1. Talk to previous customers.
2. See, ideally in person, past jobs.
3. Double whatever timeline you're given.

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@shrdlu: * I've seen some recent efforts from people who truly believe that they did wonderful work in their own kitchens, and trust me, it looks just like they did it. This is not a compliment.*

This has me curious.
I like to do my own work, and have had it complimented by both pros and realtors, but always know where I screwed it up and always second guess myself on quality of finished product.

So....can you provide examples of your above statement?

j5 j5
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@j5: Trust me, if you've received unsolicited comments, then you are not who I'm talking about. I'd prefer to not provide examples, because it would just be mean, and I see enough mean going on without adding to it.

I'm sure you've seen work (some even by professionals) where things aren't joined up quite right, or colors were chosen for the sale price, rather than because they went well together.

When I painted my bathroom (the last painting I plan on doing, but you never know), I probably put five coats of paint on the ceiling, because it kept on not being perfect. As anyone who paints rooms knows, the ceiling and walls, to look the same color, can't be the same. You have to add a bit of white to the can to achieve the proper effect. This also means you can't have drips, and that you have to tape carefully, and you can't pull the tape off too soon, and...

You get the idea.

If you got unsolicited compliments, you aren't who I meant. No worries. :-D

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@j5: We kept our current appliances as everything was working and my sweet Electrolux stove is relatively new. We did half the tear out of the cabinets, too (although my husband swears we did it all--it just seemed like it). I think if I added all the little extras like drywall, painting, tiling, along with an electrician & plumber to help shift things slightly, we were probably pushing hard at 22k.
The little things can add up. Hardware for cabinetry is really over priced at the big box stores. I found ours at Overstock.com for a reeediculously low price. As a matter of fact, I have been looking for two low profile hardwired under the cabinet lights for the bar. Got lazy and then Christmas crept in and then forgot about needing them. Saw some xenon lights over on the other woot sites and the were what I was looking for at about half the price. Two sets of lights delivered for $53. Can't beat that with a stick!

SHOP AROUND.

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I've done an entire kitchen remodel last fall. My wife and I stripped everything down to the studs and pulled up the flooring down to the original subflooring. I hired out the electrical, plumbing and drywall(would have done drywall if it wasn't for odd shapes and angles needed). Installing cabinets, countertops, flooring, backsplash, and trim is not difficult. I have been asked several times for the name and number of the company that did the remodel work. Total price was under $12k. Local developer/builder said he would have charged twice that for the same look and finish.

If you are remodeling for resale, it probably better to let a professional do that work. Otherwise the small imperfections that might come about from "self remodel" kitchens just adds to the charm of YOUR HOME.

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As an example: http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Stone-Mill-Oil-rubbed-Bronze-Florence-Cabinet-Knobs-Pack-of-25/4587236/product.html
I bought this pack of 25 plus an additional 5. The same knobs at Home Depot were almost three times per knob AND had to be special ordered.

I laughed at the 8 weeks. In a perfect world, if nothing goes wrong & your craftsmen are not backlogged AND everything is available, then maybe. The crazy thing about it all is we started project less than 2 weeks after having the house in an uproar putting additional wood flooring in the bedroom hallway & family room. Family room flows into the kitchen. Kitchen already had wood flooring. (Trying to find matching discontinued flooring was another adventure!)
The flooring installers rivaled Basil Fawlty's go-to handy man, Mr. O'Reilly. Or "O'rally's men" as we called them.
Thank GOD my husband loves me as much as he does. I was a mess until it was all complete. Worth every tear. I love the kitchen.

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@shrdlu: I actually have never painted ceilings and walls the same color, and my taper quit on me, so I had to learn to do cut-lines by hand. :D

j5 j5
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I've seen pictures of several of @j5's projects and they look very professional. Well, except when he's showing off his new cooktop by pretending to grill screaming monkey kebabs...

Relevant to @shrdlu's point: There's some research that suggests that people who good at something have a more accurate perception of their strengths/weakness in that arena compared to people aren't very good at it. As a simplified example, bad drivers think they're excellent drivers because they don't recognize their mistakes, and excellent drivers think they're okay drivers because they recognize what they could do better.

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I did a full remodel about a year and a half ago on our old home (We just put it under contract to sell! YAY!). I built the cabinets myself to make sure they were quality and unless you want a bunch of headaches and tools taking up space in the garage for future projects, I'd recommend having someone else build them (or buy premade). My wife and I couldn't decide if we wanted to spend the extra money on quality counter-tops since we were selling the house or if we wanted to do something quick and easy. We ended up having a friend do Granite tile. It's not for everyone I guess (and we found that out when the house went on the market).

Here's the finished product:

In all, it took about 4 months from start to finish. Painting was the toughest part. Lots of nooks and crannies. I think it turned out being worth the investment of time though.

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Just a note -- All-in, I think we spent about $3500 for everything (including hardware, cabinets, counter-tops, floors, lighting, trim and paint (and not counting tools, on which I spent easily another $1500 or so).

A big savings was the hardware. We found a website called Dlawlesshardware.com They were friendly and had knowledgeable phone support as well. Their site is a little cluttered, but it was worth the hassle.

Had I bought my lumber from a supplier instead of getting it from Lowe's, I probably could have cut the lumber costs nearly in half. It pays to be picky and take your time on the front end. It will save you a lot of hassle (and money) on the back end. Cheaper isn't always better. I let quality be a big factor in my decision making. After all, your house is the biggest investment most people will ever make.

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It took me ten years to plan my new kitchen (now 12 years old). Everyone has already posted the dos and don'ts, so I'm not going to repeat. Although did anyone mention to make sure you have enough lights and put a ceiling fan in. The only other kind of odd thing I did, we took a typical base cabinet (two doors and a long drawer above them) and turned it upside down to use as the sink base. I've always thought there was too much wasted space under the sink. I still have room for soap and cleaning supplies, but with the drawer now on the bottom, it's extra space for dish towels and hot pads.

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Wow! You folks have done a lot more to remodel your kitchens than we have. We bought this old house 13 years ago and always planned to update it, but have been spacing out the changes a bit at a time. We waited on the kitchen because we thought we would want to rip out walls, expand it into other areas, etc. We have replaced the appliances, as needed, but that's it. About a year ago we caught a huge sale at a closing Conn's Appliance store, and snapped up some great deals. Since these included a ceramic stove and a warming drawer, it pushed us into getting more done in the kitchen.

We realized that we would probably NEVER get around to ripping out walls and expanding, so we replaced the old formica with granite (caught a sale at Lowe's!), installed a wonderful undercounter sink, new faucet, etc. Installed a ceramic tile backsplash ourselves (we did know how), undercounter lighting and more. Still need to replace cabinet hardware so thanks for the links!

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No but I will remodel the face of anyone that I find posting those Kitchen spam links cause they spam hundreds of forums with them.