Diary of a Kitchen Renovation

So, you have decided to renovate
your kitchen. Great! But where do you start? 
My advice: start by engaging a designer to help you create and manage a
plan that meets your current and future needs.

advice aside, and assuming your kitchen plans and associated permits are ready
to go, I have prepared this diary to demystify the renovation process and give
an understanding of what to expect, with a few helpful tips along the way.  It follows a recent kitchen renovation that
my company, Designworks Ltd., designed and managed, in conjunction with
construction company, I3 and cabinetmakers Mario & Son. While the process
seems daunting, the before and after pictures will inspire you to move forward
with any projects you may be considering.

It’s inevitable that you
will feel upset, frustrated and defeated at some point during the renovation.
But remember a well-planned and executed project is rewarding both in your
enjoyment of the space and your return on investment.

A well-planned and executed  project is rewarding both in  your enjoyment of the space  and your return on investment   

Demolition and Construction 

This is the most
exciting part, especially if you are making significant structural changes. If
you aren’t part of the workforce, the two to three days of constant noise will
drive you mad (think constant jack hammering), so I suggest you have an excuse to
get out of the house during the demolition. Use drop sheets to cover furniture
in adjacent rooms if you aren’t able to shut off your kitchen as the dust will
go everywhere. Construction of new walls isn’t as noisy and messy, and will
happen quickly, usually in a day or two.

Any relocation of windows and doors
will happen at this point, too. This is the time when nasty surprises will be
discovered, such as faulty wiring, mold issues, damaged duct work and many
more. Being proactive and decisive at this stage is critical, and having your
general contractor prepare a hit list of problems is a great idea to minimise
cost and schedule blowouts. Thorough planning, a contingency in your budget of
approximately 10 to 15 percent, and an expectation of the worst will prepare
you for any eventuation and leave you pleasantly surprised if no issues

Find a space in your home that won’t be
affected by the renovation and set up a makeshift kitchen to see you through
the project. This type of renovation is a huge inconvenience and being able to
maintain some semblance of normality will keep your sanity in check.  Avoid the urge to eat out every night. Your
waistline and wallet will thank you.


Your plumber and
electrician will install the electrical and plumbing rough-ins, and it is
possible you will be without power and/or water for brief periods. An
inspection may be necessary, depending on the extent of the project.
Construction will stop until the inspection is complete and the work approved.
Having a general contractor on board is invaluable to help smooth the way with
permits and inspections.

can now start levelling the floor and putting up plaster board, followed by any
new flooring, and finally painting. There are many different trades involved at
this point of a project, and this is where your general contractor will prove
to be worth his weight in gold – he will make sure the project flows from one
trade to the next without interruption, ensuring frustrating delays are
avoided, and helping to significantly minimize the intrusion on your daily

To avoid delays during your renovation make
sure all your tiles and fittings, such as plumbing and light, are on site
before the project begins. Something as simple as a two-day delay on delivery of
plumbing fittings can have a domino effect on subsequent trades and,
ultimately, cause a longer setback.


At this point, it is safe to assume that your patience has been stretched
to the limit, and you are sick of the steady stream of tradesmen traipsing
through your home. And then your cabinets arrive. All is forgiven and the
messy, noisy weeks are a distant memory. Carcasses (the inner workings of
cupboards) are installed first, followed by the doors and drawers. Your kitchen
is starting to take shape.

Following two to three days of cabinetry
installation, your kitchen is ready for a countertop template. Your fabricator
will draw a template based on your cabinet layout and walls. Depending on the
fabricator’s schedule, you can expect to wait between two days to two weeks
until you have a usable counter. It is a good idea to pre-book the template
when you have a firm installation date for your cabinetry as this will help
speed up the process. Backsplash tiles can be laid once the counter is in place
and will likely only take a day.

Insist on your counter top fabricator doing
a template prior to fabrication. If they don’t, it is unlikely your counter
will fit properly, and very likely you will be unhappy with the finished

Final Details 

Your kitchen is
almost finished. There are just a few details left. The plumber will install
the faucets and sinks, and connect the dishwasher, while the electrician will
install any remaining light/electrical fittings and appliances. You should do a
careful walkthrough of the kitchen at this stage and make sure the cabinetmaker
takes care of final adjustments to the cabinetry, and the painter touches up
areas that need attention following the installations. A good contractor will
engage a cleaner for a comprehensive, building-related clean. If you are doing
it yourself, take a break and hire a cleaner for your kitchen.   

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most
tradesmen like what they do and are happy to explain anomalies or things you
don’t understand.

Kitchen Renovation

DesignWorks LTD