10 Steps To a Successful Kitchen Remodel Process

Embarking on a kitchen remodel is like diving into a thrilling adventure—full of promise and transformations. Whether you’re a first-time renovator or a seasoned pro, navigating the intricate process of kitchen renovation steps demands a strategic approach. From creating a plan & scope to preparing a layout & design, choosing materials to finding the right contractor, each step is a building block for learning how to redesign a kitchen and achieving the culinary haven you’re dreaming of.

In this guide, we’ll give you a kitchen remodel checklist, ensuring you’re well-equipped and ready to take on each of the ten steps to remodel a kitchen.

Kitchen Remodel ChecklistHere at GreatBuildz, we speak with clients every day who are considering a kitchen remodel for their home. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, pre-screened contractors and then provides ongoing project support to ensure a stress-free experience. In this blog, we’ll share the step-by-step process of planning for a kitchen remodel so you can have a successful renovation experience.  

Key Takeaways

  • Begin your kitchen remodel by envisioning your ideal kitchen. Create a priority list and gather inspiration from platforms like Pinterest.
  • Develop a detailed checklist outlining every aspect of your kitchen remodel.
  • Understand the costs associated with a kitchen remodel. Be flexible with your choices to align with your budget, and anticipate additional costs during the project.
  • Dive into the design process by exploring materials, fixtures, and finishes. Hire a professional designer if needed.
  • Consult with multiple contractors to get estimates and gauge their communication style and suitability for your project.
  • Vet potential contractors by checking online reviews, verifying licenses, obtaining insurance certificates, contacting references, and interviewing the owner of the company.
  • Depending on the project complexity, work with an architect or designer to create plans and blueprints.
  • Start with crucial selections like kitchen cabinets and appliances, as these influence the overall layout. Progress to flooring, tile, sink, and countertops, keeping lead times in mind.
  • Schedule the project well in advance, considering contractor availability. Prepare for the construction phase by organizing a temporary kitchen space and making arrangements for daily living during the renovation.
  • Begin the construction phase with careful demolition and dust control. Maintain open communication with the contractor, addressing concerns promptly. Regular inspections and a final punch list will ensure a satisfactory end to the project.

1. Project Plan

Kitchen Remodel Project Plan

The first part of starting a kitchen remodel is probably the most fun.  You can start by imagining and dreaming about what the ideal kitchen might look like and how it will function.  You should go online to sites like Pinterest and start collecting images and ideas for your future kitchen. You should also start thinking about the most important factors of a new kitchen. Are you trying to create an entertaining kitchen where you can host lots of friends or family around an island? Or do you want a gourmet kitchen for cooking and, therefore, need professional appliances and lots of prep space? Maybe you need a family-friendly kitchen that’s easy to clean up after a kid’s messes. 

Also, start thinking about the must-haves in your new kitchen, whether that be a large island, lots of storage cabinets, or a double oven. Follow up with a list of ‘nice to haves’ that may or may not fit into your current space or budget. By having a priority list, you’ll be reminded of the things that are most important. Also, having some images of the style & look you’re trying to achieve will be helpful when you start meeting with contractors and/or designers.

2. Scope and Checklist

Kitchen Remodel Scope and Checklist

Now that you have a general plan and some idea of the kitchen you’d like to achieve, the next step is to start working on a kitchen checklist or general scope of work.  Essentially, you want to start a list of everything that will be included in your kitchen remodel.  Every single kitchen renovation is a custom project and therefore comes with a unique layout, scope, design, and budget.  You can start with the pdf/printable kitchen renovation checklist template to determine which items you want to be included in your project.   

Having a clear list will keep you focused on your exact needs and will be extremely helpful when you start meeting with contractors.  You can hand each contractor a copy of your kitchen renovation checklist so they can customize your bid to your exact needs. Your kitchen remodel checklist will also come in very handy as a guide to the list of materials you need to select and/or purchase.  If something you want to do is missing from the sample template or the contractor recommends something that’s not in there, simply add this item so you have everything on one complete scope of work.

3. Budget

Kitchen Remodel White and Tan Wood

The next step in your process should be working on creating a rough budget for yourself by understanding the costs of a kitchen remodel.  Because every kitchen is different, it will be challenging to get an exact sense of what your new kitchen may cost until you bring in general contractors to provide you with estimates and bids. However, you can certainly do some research on the range of costs for a kitchen renovation in your area.

If you know anyone who has renovated their kitchen recently, asking them what they paid will be extremely helpful. If you decide to do this research online, be very careful to only trust the resources that can provide you with cost numbers for your local area. Costs vary widely across the country and Kansas City prices will not be accurate if you live in Los Angeles.

From the start of planning, be open to cutting expenses on your kitchen redesign. Be flexible with kitchen items. It’s tempting to get carried away with bespoke cabinets and marble flooring, but there are stock cabinets and mass-produced floor tiles that will look just as good. Is it really necessary to have a gas range designed for restaurants, or would a decent quality range designed for consumers be sufficient?

If you live in Southern California, you can review this kitchen remodel cost blog to get detailed pricing on each component of your project.  But you’ll notice there is a wide range of costs to remodel a kitchen, say $40,000-$80,000.  You can make some assumptions that if your kitchen is small and you plan to keep materials at the cheaper end of pricing, you can shoot for the lower total budget of $40,000.

If you’re planning a large kitchen that requires opening up walls, reconfiguration, and high-end materials, you will be looking at a larger price in that range.  Keep in mind that your budget will go up as you add items to your scope that aren’t ‘kitchen specific’ like doors, windows, flooring, etc.

Kitchen Remodel Layout

Having a budget in mind and sharing this information with potential kitchen contractors will actually help guide their estimates so they don’t waste your time.  You will want to meet a few contractors and provide them with both your project scope/checklist and your budget.  Most contractors have done so many kitchens that they can tell you right off the bat if their company will be able to meet your budget based on your scope. There is no point in spending a bunch of time with a ton of contractors and finding each time that their estimate is way beyond your budget. 

Don’t forget that appliances can be a large portion of your kitchen budget (assuming you are replacing appliances).  And although you should expect your contractor to include the cost of installing appliances in their bid, the actual costs of the appliances themselves won’t be included. Finally, you should also anticipate that there will be extra costs during your project, so you need to set aside 10-20% on top of your contracted price for unplanned expenses.       

4. Kitchen Design and Layout

Kitchen Remodel Blue Cabinets

The next step in our order is to work on the design and layout of your future kitchen.  The design part might be easier to research, especially if you’ve already found some images you like on Pinterest, etc., in step one.  You could also dive deeper into the design by visiting cabinet or countertop material stores & suppliers to find the exact material you like.  The same goes for lighting, backsplash tile, flooring, etc. You’ll also want to start considering details such as appliance selection & door/drawer hardware.

Creating the right layout for your kitchen renovation can be a bit more complicated.  The simplest and most affordable option is to keep the kitchen footprint and appliances in the exact same location, and just change out the cabinets/counters. However, if you’re trying to expand your kitchen or correct some of its existing flaws, you’ll need to prepare at least a sample or draft plan of the layout you want.

You can certainly design the layout of your kitchen on your own using various resources online. Alternatively, if you want a professional design and someone to help with the entire process, you can hire a kitchen designer. The designer will create a few rough sketches/layouts for your approval. They will also help you select the materials, fixtures, and finishes that create a functional and beautiful new kitchen. Keep in mind that your budget will increase as you:

  1. Expand the size
  2. Relocate appliances
  3. Open up walls

5. Meet at Least Three Contractors

Kitchen Remodel Stove

A full kitchen remodel is not a DIY project. It’s time to call out the pros. In this case, the right company for the job is either a general contractor or a kitchen contractor. These contractors should be able to complete the entire kitchen project for you, even if it includes additional items like windows or flooring. You don’t want to hire multiple contractors who can each do a portion of the project; that will turn into a major hassle for you. 

Keep in mind that many good contractors can be very busy and get booked out months in advance, so start meeting with contractors well before you intend to start the project. You’ll want to meet with and get bids from at least three contractors, so you may need to contact more than three. If a contractor doesn’t return your call or email in more than 2-3 days, you can assume they are either too busy to take your job or a poor communicator.

There are some specific ways to find good, local contractors. You can also contact a service that will match you with reputable contractors who are both qualified and interested in your kitchen remodel project (like GreatBuildz!).

As discussed previously, be very upfront with each contractor about your budget and share with them your scope of work or kitchen checklist.  This will save you lots of time and you shouldn’t get any estimates that are twice your budget. When you meet each contractor in person and walk them through your space, you’ll certainly get a feel for their style of communication, and this will be your first step in vetting them to determine which one is best for you.

You can expect to receive bids within no longer than a week unless the contractor tells you otherwise. Finally, because contractor bids have no standard format, you’ll have to spend the time to review all three bids carefully to get to an ‘apples to apples’ comparison.

6. Vet & Select Contractor, Sign Agreement

Kitchen Remodel All Black Kitchen

Once you’ve met and interviewed a few home kitchen contractors, you should narrow them down to ones that are 1) within your budget and 2) you get along with them. These criteria are a good place to start, but not quite enough to do a thorough job of vetting your potential contractors. Also, remember to keep in mind that the cheapest option is not always the best option.

I suggest every homeowner perform as many vetting steps as possible to protect themselves, but at least the following five: 

  • Check their reviews online
  • Do a contractor license lookup online. In California, you should navigate to the CSLB License Database
  • Get a copy/sample of their insurance certificate
  • Call at least three references
  • Interview the owner of the company

Once you’ve selected the best kitchen contractor for your remodel, they will send you a written agreement to sign, which includes the scope of work, cost, and contractual terms.  Every contractor uses a different written agreement, so read it carefully and make 100% certain you understand it and are comfortable with the terms. If you don’t understand something, ask the contractor for an explanation. You should not be required to provide more than a $1000 deposit before holding the job.

Also, make sure the contract includes a project payment schedule that allows you to make reasonable payments that match the progress of the job. For more specifics about contractor agreement terms, you can review this blog about construction contracts.

7. Kitchen Plans & Blueprints

Kitchen Remodel Cozy Home

If you’re planning to do a simple kitchen remodel that doesn’t include any structural changes to your home, it’s likely you won’t need a full set of building plans and can proceed by having the contractor simply pull a permit from the city.  However, if you are removing walls or making any other structural alterations, you’ll need an architect/designer to prepare a set of plans for this layout.

These plans will also need calculations/drawings from a structural engineer to ensure the appropriate measures are included to maintain the safety of your structure. Developing plans and submitting them to the city for approval can take some time, so ask your contractor if that’s necessary for your project. 

8. Select & Purchase Materials

Kitchen Remodel Cooking

When you start thinking about selecting materials, the first and most important selections you should start with are the kitchen cabinets and appliances. It is crucial to select the appliances early because their size and location will dictate the layout of the kitchen cabinets. With regard to the cabinets, you’ll need to select a style, material, and color as soon as possible so that the contractor can order them. In many cases, manufacturing the cabinets (especially custom cabinets) can be the longest lead time in a kitchen renovation.

The next materials, in order of importance or lead time to delivery, are the following:

  1. Flooring
  2. Tile
  3. Sink
  4. Countertops

Because it’s always hard to know whether any specific style of material is in stock, back-ordered, or has supply issues, it’s always best to select and purchase items well before they need to be installed. Remember that items like windows & countertops need to be custom-made or fabricated, so they need a decent amount of lead time. The last items in order that you’ll need to select or shop for are things like faucets, lights, paint color, & cabinet hardware.

9. Schedule the Project in Advance and Prepare for Construction

Kitchen Remodel Ambience

Most contractors are very busy, so you’ll want to schedule your project start date well in advance. This will also give them plenty of lead time to order the cabinets that need to be manufactured. Inquire with your contractor about the approximate length of time for the project to be completed, and assume that it will take 10-20% longer. A simple kitchen remodel may take 3-4 weeks, but a larger, custom project can take 2-3 months.

Before your construction start date, there are a few things you need to prepare. The first obvious item to consider is that you’ll be without a kitchen for quite some time. So, start thinking about where you might create a temporary kitchen area in your home. You’ll need a place to eat, a place to keep your food, and a location to prepare food, assuming you don’t completely rely on take-out during this process.

You’ll want a place to keep your fridge in a temporary location so that you can keep perishable food items. Also, having a portable microwave in your ‘temporary’ kitchen is a great idea so you can heat up quick meals. And don’t forget about the coffee maker that will need a new home for a while. In addition, you’ll have to live without a kitchen sink for a while, so you might consider using paper plates and plastic silverware/cups unless you intend to wash your dishes in another sink.

10. Construction

Kitchen Remodel Construction

Now, it’s finally time to get started on your new kitchen remodel. Make sure your contractor seals off the kitchen from the rest of the house before starting the demolition, the dirtiest & dustiest time of the project. Remember to keep an eye on the progress and the details of construction.

If you notice something that doesn’t look right, mention it right away. It’s easier to fix during the early stages of the project. It’s also a good idea to have a quick weekly meeting with the general contractor or project manager to look over the progress together and point out any concerns. Regular and positive communication is supremely important to keeping a good working relationship with your contractor.

Once the project is getting close to completion, you can start looking carefully at the quality of the final product and make a punch list of any items that need to be repaired. Remember, you can’t expect perfection in any remodel, but any sloppy work or obvious issues need to be repaired. 

Finally, once the kitchen is done and the punch list repairs are completed, you can start moving all your food and houseware back into the kitchen. Don’t forget to do a thorough cleaning of the new kitchen before you do it in order to remove any construction dirt or dust. Double-check that all appliances are working properly before making the final payment to the kitchen contractor.    

Maintenance and Longevity Tips

Congratulations! If you’ve followed each of these ten steps, you now have a renovated kitchen! What’s next? Well, keeping it as nice as it is now. Here are some tips for maintaining the longevity of your newly renovated kitchen, ensuring that the heart of your home remains functional and aesthetically pleasing for years to come.

  • Regular cleaning is paramount; use mild, non-abrasive cleaners for surfaces to avoid damaging materials like countertops and cabinetry
  • Incorporate a routine inspection schedule, checking for leaks, loose handles, or any signs of wear and tear
  • Invest time in understanding the specific care requirements of materials used in your kitchen, whether it’s granite countertops, hardwood floors, or stainless steel appliances. Tailor your cleaning products and methods to suit these materials, safeguarding against premature deterioration.
  • Implement preventive measures such as soft-close cabinet hinges to minimize wear, and consider protective mats in high-traffic areas to preserve flooring.
  • Encourage proper ventilation to prevent excess humidity, which can adversely affect wooden components and lead to mold growth
  • Address issues promptly, repairing leaks or damaged components before they escalate
  • Educate yourself on the maintenance needs of specialized appliances, ensuring regular servicing to prolong their lifespan

The key to a long-lasting kitchen lies in a combination of diligent cleaning, timely repairs, and a proactive mindset. By following these maintenance tips, you not only preserve the beauty of your kitchen but also protect your investment, allowing it to be a functional and welcoming space for years to come.

When it comes to planning and coordinating a kitchen remodel, you shouldn’t have to go it alone – GreatBuildz can help simplify your renovation experience.

 

GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish. Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information: www.greatbuildz.com.

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.
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