There are plenty of opportunities to put the pedal to the metal in this life, but during the life cycle of your dream kitchen isn’t one of them. You may want to sit down for this: when a kitchen remodel or rebuild is done properly, it could easily take from 6-8 months to complete, all dependent on the scale of your plans, and the unseen hurdles that WILL inevitably pop up. Potentially altering aspects of your home’s plumbing, electrical components, structural elements, and major aesthetic considerations are critically important undertakings, and take time. Cutting corners on a major renovation isn’t just foolhardy, but can equate to a major waste of resources when something goes awry, or needs to be redone. As the old fable states: slow and steady wins the race. Ensuring you understand the kitchen remodel timeline, and that you are well-prepared to endure a major kitchen overhaul is step number one in your pre-planning stage. We can do this together.
Plan of Attack (2-3 weeks)
Define Your Project
Close your eyes and envision yourself in your new kitchen. Project that final space. See it. Then open your eyes and gaze upon what you have to work with. It’s time to begin gathering photos, references, and concepts of the ideas you have or your kitchen remodel. Begin by separating your must-haves from your wish list features and refine your chosen aesthetic to an overall vision that compliments your lifestyle, and your character.
Itemize Your Budget
Perhaps you’ve been saving to tackle a major kitchen renovation for some time - or maybe you’ve just decided recently that it’s time for a change. Write down your top dollar budget so you can stick to a financial plan well within your means and resources. Pro tip: always try to save, and/or add an additional 10-15% on top of your budget to take care of any unforeseen hurdles that will inevitably come up.
Investigate Potential Subcontractors
Take a hard look at the subcontractor services you’ll need to achieve your end-vision. Begin to source some reputable and professional subcontractors to take the reins of specific tasks as your timeline progresses. You may need:
- Demolition crews
- Asbestos abatement crews
- Cabinet installers
- HVAC crews
Pro tip: You may find that hiring a general contractor to oversee all these subcontractor hires is better for your renovation timeline, and for reducing the stress of booking and scheduling this amount of people. A contractor should be reputable, experienced, accountable, and of course - friendly. Ask friends and family for referrals and ensure your choice of contractor is open to hearing and respecting your ideas and views.
Talk to a Kitchen Designer
This is where things start to get fun. Your kitchen designer will help translate your creative vision into a stylish and functional kitchen space that you can be proud to call your own. Come prepared with those gathered photos and ideas you put together at the beginning of this process, and clearly articulate what your goal is. Your kitchen designer will come to your home to take stock of your current space, and to complete a comprehensive measure of your available space. An initial design can take a few days to come back to you, and tweaks and minor changes can be massaged to perfection within a couple weeks. Cross-compare your new plans with your budget and make any necessary adjustments you feel comfortable with. Next is to select the perfect cabinetry style, colour, and material to place into your design.
Depending on where you live, major changes to your home’s plumbing, electrical system, structural or mechanical components may constitute the need for various permits. IF you’ve hired a general contractor to oversee your project, they should be well versed in the permit process and will likely take care of any approvals needed. This can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to complete.
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
What many people neglect to remember, is that a kitchen renovation means you will have no kitchen for an extended period of time. Before things start to get dusty, you should be considering where you will cook and how you can set up a temporary kitchen solution. You may also decide that if your kitchen overhaul includes a massive demolition and restructuring of an entire floor of your home to make the space more open concept, that the stresses of ongoing construction aren’t for you. Take this time to find and plan for an alternative place to live until your space is back to a point where you can live there unaffected.
Green Means Go!
Once the pre-planning stage is complete, you’ve approved a design, hired your help, and had your permits approved - pack up everything in your kitchen and say goodbye to your old space. It’s about to get real.
Ordering Materials & Finishes (4-8 weeks)
There are typically two methods to the madness of beginning a kitchen overhaul.
wait until you’ve ordered and received all of your cabinetry and materials so you can thoroughly inspect your products prior to tearing apart the entire space, so you’re not held at a standstill waiting on a replacement.
order your materials and begin your demolition phase to pass the time while you wait for them to arrive. This speeds up the renovation timeline and is typically a safe bet when you’re dealing with a reputable, local, and customer-experience driven manufacturer of cabinetry. Prior to deciding on whether to begin your demolition, talk with your cabinetry provider and your kitchen designer to give you some peace of mind.
Talk to your kitchen designer to confirm your kitchen measurements and your selection of cabinetry. Once you’ve given approval, order your cabinets. You’ll likely be waiting for 4-6 weeks for them to be manufactured to spec and shipped to your home. In the time it takes for them to arrive, be sure to have a dry, safe place to store them. When they do arrive, give yourself a few hours to check over them for any damage that may have occurred during the transportation process. Pro tip: waiting to begin your demolition may ensure you have what you need prior to beginning construction, but it also means you’ll need to store your cabinetry. This may not be an issue, but if your cabinets come pre-assembled, you’ll need considerably more space to accommodate them.
Depending on the material and finish you select for your countertops, you could be waiting for up to 8 weeks to take delivery. Materials like marble, granite, and quartz are cut specifically for your kitchen, and the expertise it takes to move such heavy and delicate materials with care is considerable; chips and cracks are unfortunate realities that sometimes happen. Alternatively, should time constraints be pressing on your schedule, there are multiple different providers of laminate countertops that look absolutely stunning, and can be manufactured in much less time. Pro tip: stone countertops need to be cut to accommodate sinks and faucets prior to being delivered. Ensure your kitchen can articulate a clear plan for your countertops directly to the manufacturer.
Flooring, Tile, Lighting, etc
A critically important slew of decisions rooted in both functionality and style, the sink, flooring and lighting design of your new space adds character and beauty - so don’t take this one lightly and place your orders in good time for their arrival. Layered lighting needs to create real emotion in your space and integrate well with the various environments and moods you’ll want to create. Pro tip: for immaculate results, make lighting design a primary discussion you have with your kitchen designer prior to approving your initial design. Sinks and faucets are the backbone of your kitchen, and are some of the most-used features in the room. Ensure to invest in good quality materials here - like stainless steel (20 gauge, or bust), or ceramic.
Another set of choices that blends efficiency and good looks, you’ll need to first consider your home’s infrastructure to determine if you’ll be ordering a gas, induction, or electric cooktop stove. Pro tip: If you’re making an upgrade to gas, you’ll need to add gas-fitters to your subcontractor list. Always consider style - and try not to skimp out on price points - the polish and utility of your appliances can turn a good kitchen into a great kitchen.
Demolition & Preliminary Construction (1-6 Weeks)
This is when the going gets tough. You’ll be supervising the coming and going of many subcontractors, hearing lots of noise, banging, and seeing the dust fly. Depending on the scope of your kitchen remodel, this stage can take anywhere from one or two weeks, up to 5 or six weeks. Nevertheless, try to enjoy the controlled chaos as best you can, and remember it’s all for a great cause. No turning back now.
Once you’re confident that your cabinetry is in perfect condition and is ready to go, blow that place wide open. Your demolition crew will be pulling out old structural elements, and building in new infrastructure to frame the room.
- Turn off all water, gas, electric to the kitchen and/or floor of the home depending on the scope of your build.
- Have your architect or engineer assess the structural integrity of the home prior to removing any walls or support columns.
- Be prepped to potentially have hazardous materials or waste removed (we’re talking asbestos and/or lead, but chances are if your home was constructed after 1980, you’re already in the clear).
Pro tip: If you have pets, consider having a backup place for them to call home during the demolition process. There’s going to be nails, wood, and debris all over, as well as copious amounts of dust. If you’re leaving the house during this time period, they should too.
Once major removal of the kitchen is complete, your crew will begin to rough-in all the electrical and plumbing jobs like repositioning of sinks, dishwashers, outlets, lights, etc. Your building permit may require an inspector be on-site to approve this installation prior to continuing, but by hiring reputable and licensed subcontractors, you’ll avoid any potential hang-ups.
Hanging drywall is when you’ll begin to see the space come back together. Sheets are large, and a good crew can work quickly, so this stage typically takes very little time - maybe 2 days - while mudding, sanding, and priming will likely take another two days.
Different types of flooring are installed before or after cabinets are installed. If you’ve opted for installation of hardwood floors, that goes in prior to cabinets. Vinyl and tile floors can be installed after cabinets. Installation of backsplash tile can be installed by the same tilers, and needs to come after the countertops have been installed as well to ensure a perfectly level surface from which to work.
Finish Construction (Two Months)
We’re now trading in the crash-bang of rough construction, and entering into the realm of finesse, attention-to-detail, and finishing touches. It’s important to note this is where all the hard work and resources you’ve allotted to your dream kitchen come together, so do your best to resist the urge to accelerate construction, or push your contractors; patience is a virtue.
The bulk of the work involved in mounting and installing cabinets is ensuring level surfaces and square corners in relation to the floor. Unevenly set base cabinets will misconstrue backsplash installation, tile, and countertop installations as well, so shimming may be required to correct uneven floors.
Countertops must be installed after base cabinetry, and may also require specific shims and corrections to ensure perfect levels. Different materials of counters depend on different installation methods - with some particularly heavy stone and marble installations garnering use of assisted cranes to place the material in place perfectly.
Appliances & Lighting
Since you’ve already roughed in the electrical and potential gas hookups for your lighting and appliances, this job will be all about placing the appliances perfectly in their new homes and ensuring that all connections are tight, and operate well. Dishwashers are probably the most intricate appliance installation your team will encounter, thanks to both electrical, and plumbing connections. Overhead range hoods also require electrical and HVAC ductwork, and typically take more time than a microwave, or an induction stovetop. Lighting is a simple job, but can be time consuming to ensure that all dimmer switches, bulbs, and more intricate lighting like chandeliers and pendant lights are hung properly and at the correct height.
As the old saying goes, most accidents happen within 5 minutes of home. This is going to feel like the most time consuming and numbing ordeal of the entire renovation because the end is in sight! This is when your crown moulding, trim, final carpentry tasks, caulking, sealing, priming/painting is completed to give your kitchen the polished and put-together look you’ve been envisioning since day one. Don’t crunch this stage, and give your team the space and opportunity they need to achieve 100% Expect final touches to take up to 5-7 days.
All that’s left is to vacuum, dust, sweep, and move back into your space. Take this time to overhaul your accessories and add a few homey touches that make the new space your own. Then, pat yourself on the back. You did it!
The design and construction of your dream kitchen should be like a fine-wine — when it isn’t rushed, it gets better with age.
Allowing your remodel to run its course without trying to accelerate any of these critical stages is elemental to getting it exactly how you want it. Quality can, and should, never be rushed, so take a deep breath, roll up those sleeves, and prepare for a rewarding journey that ends with the kitchen of your dreams.