10-Steps to Remodel a Kitchen in Orange County

A kitchen remodel is a major undertaking, so the majority of Orange County homeowners should conduct research before beginning. Especially if you’ve never renovated a kitchen before, it’s a good idea to grasp the process of how to remodel a kitchen, step by step.

From creating a plan and scope, preparing a layout and design, to ordering materials and selecting the correct contractor, there are numerous details to consider. Understanding the sequence of steps involved in this endeavor and creating a checklist to ensure that you are well-prepared are both very important. The kitchen remodeling procedure can be broken down into ten sequential steps.

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Orange County, Ventura, Los Angeles, & San Diego with reliable general contractors, we get inquiries every day from homeowners wondering how to remodel a kitchen – here are some key points you need to know.

1. Project Strategy

kitchen plants

The initial phase of a kitchen renovation is likely the most enjoyable.  You can begin by imagining the ideal kitchen’s appearance and functionality.  You should go online to collect images and ideas for your future kitchen on sites like Pinterest. You should also begin considering the most essential aspects of a new kitchen.

Are you attempting to design a kitchen where a large number of guests can congregate around an island? Or do you desire a gourmet kitchen for cooking, necessitating professional appliances, and ample space for preparation? Perhaps you require a family-friendly kitchen that is simple to clean up after children’s accidents. 

Also, consider the necessities for your new kitchen, such as a large island, numerous storage containers, or a large range. Include a list of ‘nice to haves’ that may or may not suit your current space or budget. By having a list of priorities, you will be reminded of what is most essential. When you begin meeting with contractors and/or designers, it will be beneficial to have images of the style and appearance you wish to attain.

2. Objective and Checklist

You need a kitchen remodeling checklist

Now that you have a general plan and vision for your kitchen, the next stage is to create a kitchen checklist or general scope of work. Essentially, you should create an inventory of everything that will be incorporated into your kitchen renovation. Each and every Orange County kitchen renovation is a custom undertaking and, as such, has a distinct layout, scope, design, and budget.  The pdf/printable kitchen renovation checklist template can be used to determine which items will be included in the endeavor.   

Having a detailed list will keep you focused on your precise requirements and will be of great assistance when you begin meeting with contractors.  You can provide each contractor with a copy of your kitchen renovation checklist so that they can tailor their proposal to your precise specifications. Your kitchen remodel checklist will also come in useful as a guide for selecting and/or purchasing the necessary materials.  If something you want to do is lacking from the sample template or the contractor recommends something that isn’t there, simply add this item to the scope of work so that everything is included.

3. Budget

The next stage in your process should be to create a rough budget by researching the costs associated with a kitchen remodel.  Because every kitchen is unique, it will be difficult to estimate the cost of your new kitchen until you have general contractors provide you with estimates and proposals. Nonetheless, you can investigate the range of costs for a kitchen renovation in Orange County.

If you know anyone who has recently renovated their kitchen, asking them how much it cost will be incredibly beneficial. If you decide to conduct this research online, be extremely cautious to only rely on sources that can provide you with local pricing information. Costs differ significantly across the nation, and prices in Kansas City will not be accurate if you reside in Orange County.

Be amenable to cost-cutting from the outset of your kitchen redesign planning. Be adaptable with culinary supplies. It is tempting to go overboard with custom cabinets or fancy flooring, but mass-produced cabinets and ceramic floor tiles will look just as good. Is it necessary to have a gas range designed for restaurants, or would a reasonable quality consumer range suffice?

If you reside in Southern California, you can consult this kitchen remodel cost blog for component-specific pricing information.  However, you’ll notice that the cost to remodel a kitchen can range from $40,000 to $80,000.  If your kitchen is small and you intend to use materials on the less expensive end of the price spectrum, you can aim for a lower total budget of $40,000.

If you are planning a large kitchen that requires wall removal, reconfiguration, and high-end materials, you can expect to pay more within that range.  Keep in mind that your budget will increase as you add non-‘kitchen-specific’ items to your scope, such as doors, windows, flooring, etc.

Having a budget in mind and sharing this information with potential kitchen contractors will help influence their estimates and save you time.  You will need to meet with multiple contractors and provide them with the project scope/checklist and budget.  Most contractors have completed so many kitchens that they can tell you immediately if their company can meet your budget based on the scope of work. There is no sense in meeting with a large number of contractors only to discover that their bids are astronomically high. 

Don’t neglect that appliances can represent a significant portion of your kitchen’s budget (assuming that you are replacing appliances).  And while you should expect your contractor to include the cost of installing appliances in their proposal, the appliance costs themselves will not be included. Finally, you should also anticipate that there will be additional costs during your project, so you must set aside 10 to 20 percent of the contract price for unanticipated costs.       

4. Kitchen Layout and Design

kitchen wood

The next stage in our process is to design and organize your future kitchen.  The design may be simpler to research, particularly if you’ve already found some appealing images on Pinterest, etc. in step one.  Additionally, you could delve deeper into the design by visiting cabinet or countertop material stores and suppliers to find the precise material you prefer.  The same holds true for illumination, backsplash tile, and flooring, among other elements. Additionally, you’ll need to consider details such as appliance selection and door/drawer hardware.

Creating the ideal kitchen renovation layout can be a bit more challenging.  The simplest and most cost-effective option is to maintain the kitchen’s footprint and appliance placement while replacing only the cabinets and countertops. Nonetheless, if you wish to enlarge your kitchen or correct some of its flaws, you will need to prepare at least a sample or draft plan of the desired layout.

Using online resources, you can surely design the layout of your kitchen on your own. If you prefer professional design and assistance throughout the entire process, you can employ a kitchen designer. The designer will create several preliminary layouts and sketches for your approval. In addition, they will help you choose the materials, fixtures, and finishes that will create a functional and aesthetically pleasing new kitchen. Remember that your budget will increase as you 1) increase the size, 2) relocate appliances, and 3) knock down walls.

5. Meet with at Least Three Vendors

A complete kitchen renovation is not a do-it-yourself undertaking. It is time to bring in the experts. In this instance, either a general contractor or a kitchen contractor is ideal for the job. These contractors should be able to complete the entire kitchen renovation, including the installation of windows and flooring. You don’t want to hire multiple contractors who can each complete a portion of the project; doing so will be a hassle. 

Keep in mind that many excellent contractors are extremely active and book up months in advance; therefore, you should begin meeting with contractors well in advance of the project’s start date. You will want to meet with at least three contractors and obtain estimates, so you may need to contact more than three. If a contractor does not respond to your call or email within two to three days, you can presume they are either too busy to accept the job or have poor communication skills.

There are specific methods to locate reliable local contractors. You can also contact a service (such as GreatBuildz!) that will match you with reputable, qualified, and interested kitchen remodeling contractors.

As previously mentioned, be straightforward with each contractor regarding your budget and provide them with the scope of work or kitchen checklist.  This will save you a substantial amount of time, and you shouldn’t receive estimates that are double your budget. When you meet each contractor in person and show them around your space, you’ll get a sense of their communication style, and this will be your first step in determining which one is best for you.

You can anticipate receiving proposals within a week unless the contractor informs you otherwise. Due to the lack of a standard format for contractor bids, you will need to thoroughly review all three bids in order to make an apples-to-apples comparison.

6. Assess & Select a Contractor, Sign Your Contract

handshake contractor

After meeting and interviewing several home kitchen contractors, you should start with those that 1) are within your budget and 2) you get along with. These criteria are a decent starting point, but they are insufficient to thoroughly vet your potential contractors. Additionally, consider that the cheapest option is not always the best option.

I recommend that every homeowner take as many precautionary measures as possible, but at least the following five: 

  • Check their online reviews.  
  • Online contractor certification search. California residents should visit the CSLB License Database.
  • Obtain a sample or copy of their insurance certificate.
  • Obtain at least three references. 
  • Interview the company’s president.

Once you’ve selected the finest kitchen remodeling contractor, they will send you a written contract outlining the scope of work, cost, and contractual terms.  Every contractor uses a unique written contract, so read it carefully and ensure you completely comprehend and are comfortable with its terms. If you do not comprehend something, request an explanation from the contractor. You should not be required to provide a deposit greater than $1000 in order to secure a start date.

Also, ensure that the contract includes a payment schedule that allows you to make payments commensurate with the job’s progress. This blog about construction contracts contains additional information regarding contractor agreement terms.

7. Kitchen Plans & Blueprints

kitchen rustic

If you plan to remodel a kitchen that doesn’t involve any structural changes to your home, it’s likely that you won’t need a complete set of building plans and can have the contractor obtain a permit from the city.  However, if you are removing walls or making other structural changes, you will need an architect or designer to create the layout’s blueprints.

These plans will also require calculations and/or drawings from a structural engineer to ensure that the necessary safety measures are incorporated to maintain the integrity of the structure. Ask your contractor if developing and submitting plans for city approval is required for your project.

8. Choose & Acquire Materials

choosing kitchen materials

The kitchen cabinets and appliances should be your first and foremost considerations when selecting materials. It is essential to choose the appliances early on because their size and placement will determine the kitchen cabinet configuration. So that the contractor can order the cabinets, you will need to choose their design, material, and color as soon as possible. In many instances, manufacturing cabinetry (particularly custom cabinets) can be the most time-consuming aspect of a kitchen renovation.

The next materials, in order of importance or delivery time, are flooring, tile, sink, and countertops. Because it is difficult to predict whether a particular manner of material is in stock, on backorder, or has supply issues, it is best to select and purchase items well in advance of their installation. Remember that custom-made or fabricated items such as windows and countertops require a substantial lead time. Faucets, lights, paint color, and cabinet fixtures are the final items that you will need to select or purchase.

9. Plan the Project in advance and make construction preparations

The majority of contractors are extremely active, so you should schedule the beginning of your project well in advance. This will also give them ample time to order the necessary cabinets to be manufactured. Inquire with your contractor about the estimated duration of the project and presume it will take 10 to 20 percent longer. A simple kitchen remodel may take three to four weeks, while a larger, custom endeavor may take two to three months.

Before the construction commencement date, you must prepare a few items. Consider first that you will be without a kitchen for an extended period of time. Therefore, consider where you could create a temporary kitchen in your home. You’ll need a place to eat, a place to store food, and a place to cook food, assuming you don’t rely solely on takeout during this period.

You will need a place to temporarily store your refrigerator in order to store perishable food items. Also, having a portable microwave in your ‘temporary’ kitchen so you can heat up meals quickly is a wonderful idea. Don’t neglect the coffee maker, which will require a new home for a while. In addition, you will be without a kitchen basin for an extended period of time; therefore, you should consider using paper plates and plastic silverware/cups unless you plan to wash your dishes in another sink.

Related: 5 Tips for Living At Home While Renovating

10. Construction

kitchen renovation

Now is the time to initiate the renovation of your kitchen. Before beginning demolition, the dirtiest and most dusty phase of the project, ensure that the kitchen is sealed off from the remainder of the house. Remember to monitor the construction’s progress and specifics.

If you observe something that does not appear to be correct, mention it immediately. Earlier stages of an undertaking are more amenable to modification. It is also advisable to hold a brief weekly meeting with the general contractor or project manager to review the project’s progress and discuss any issues. Maintaining a strong working relationship with your contractor requires frequent and constructive communication.

As the project nears completion, you can begin to scrutinize the quality of the final product and compile an inventory of any items that need to be repaired. Remember that you cannot expect perfection in any renovation, but you must ensure the repair of any sloppy work or evident problems. 

Once the kitchen is completed and the checklist repairs have been completed, you can begin relocating your food and household items back into the kitchen. Don’t neglect to thoroughly clean the new kitchen in order to remove any dust or dirt from the construction process. Before making the final payment to the kitchen contractor, double-check that every appliance is operating correctly.    

GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles County, Orange County and Ventura County with reliable, thoroughly screened kitchen contractors and provides project support from start to finish.


Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about how to remodel a kitchen, 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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