Before you start a kitchen remodel, unlearn what you think you know. The path is littered with potential pitfalls, and you need to keep a sharp eye out for where things can go wrong. Here are a few of the biggest and most common errors homeowners run into:
UNDERESTIMATING YOUR BUDGET
Contractors say they witness this time and again: Homeowners who get flustered and in over their heads when costs escalate and tough decisions need to be made. Sad but true, kitchen remodeling always tends to cost more than you expect. However much you've budgeted for the job, expect to pay between 15 and 30 percent more. (And if you're wrong, you can be pleasantly surprised.)
GOING FOR THE LOWEST BID
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You get what you pay for. If you hire the cheapest contractor with the cheapest bid, odds are you'll get work that matches what you paid. If a proposal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Get multiple bids from different contractors, and go over each of them in detail to understand what you're getting. And make sure you have EVERYTHING in writing.
Occasionally you will encounter a contractor who will claim they can cut costs by skipping the permitting and inspection process. Never, ever do this.
NOT KNOWING WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR
When you begin the design and planning process, and the kitchen exists only as sketches on paper, making changes costs nothing. But once contractors get to work and start cutting into walls and installing pipes, changes become much more difficult. If you're indecisive midway through the process, you might end up with a kitchen that makes you less happy than you thought. Or worse still, you can incur very expensive changes that would have cost nothing early on.
NEGLECTING THE INFRASTRUCTURE
Kitchen design includes more than the fun stuff, like new countertops and appliances. You need the pulse of your house to keep up with what you're doing. It's no fun to install shiny and powerful appliances and discover too late that you've exceeded the power load your kitchen can handle. Work with experts like plumbers and electricians to be sure that your kitchen can process the water, gas, and electricity needs for what you want. If you need to upgrade the infrastructure, you should do so during the remodel rather than afterwards.
NOT SPENDING ENOUGH ON QUALITY FIXTURES AND APPLIANCES
When kitchen costs escalate, homeowners start looking to places to cut corners. Oftentimes, they eye the high-end appliances and fixtures they selected at the beginning of the process and wonder if they can bring down the cost by downgrading a few of them to the mid-grade models, or by using a cheaper material.
You can be forgiven for this impulse. Those rising costs drain the pocketbook and increase the stress levels, and you need to take them seriously. On the other hand, skimping out on the fixtures hurts your kitchen's long-term prospects. A $99 faucet gets you $99 of usable life.
NOT HAVING A PLAN FOR LIVING WITH THE REMODEL
A kitchen job is a big investment in time and effort as well as money. You'll be hosting a crew of workers in your kitchen for several days, weeks, or even longer. Dust and debris will become a regular part of your life, you and the workers may be tripping over each other, and you'll be cut off from one of the most-used rooms in your home. Well before people start working, make sure you know how you're going to live with them, and create an alternative food preparation plan.
Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for HomeAdvisor, an online marketplace connecting homeowners with trusted service professionals to complete home projects. Visit HomeAdvisor.com