Have you been putting off remodeling your kitchen because you know it will be a huge inconvenience?
The thought of living with construction noise, dust and chaos often causes people to put off a major kitchen renovation project.
But there are a number of things you can do to ease the pain and speed the entire kitchen remodeling process.
And, with a near 100% return on investment in many cases, remodeling the kitchen is one of the best home improvement investments most homeowners can make in their older home.
Follow our guide to kitchen remodeling survival and you may be surprised how easily you can make it through your kitchen construction to finally have that kitchen design you’ve been dreaming about!
Plan Your Kitchen Renovation Project
Since kitchen remodeling often means tearing out walls, old appliances, cabinetry, and other items you may have once considered permanent, you’ll need a solid plan in order to reduce the inconveniences of demolition and the fact that you won’t have a permanent kitchen for some period of time.
By planning ahead, you can survive major kitchen remodeling. Start by working with a kitchen designer to establish a clear idea of what your new kitchen will include; layout, any new walls, cabinet design, major appliances, flooring materials, etc. should all be decided before you begin.
Stay On Schedule!
Setting a schedule and arranging various subcontractors in the right sequence can substantially accelerate your project and help avoid inevitable delays that are to be expected with any major renovation project.
Setting and staying on schedule can be a tough task, even for the most experienced general contractor, let alone a home owner trying to manage a renovation project for the first time. But don’t panic; there are a few tips you can follow to help keep your project on schedule.
First, be sure you understand the correct sequence of remodeling. Demolition, framing, rough plumbing and electrical, and drywall are the typical major steps, followed by finishing, which will include painting, cabinet installation and counter tops, finish plumbing and electrical and flooring. You may want to consult with an experienced general contractor to be sure your sequence and scheduling timelines are realistic.
Be sure you interview and decide on your subcontractors before beginning your renovation project. Be sure to get comparative quotes and check references of all your subs before hiring anyone!
Make sure they will be available to do work when needed according to your construction schedule; waiting a week for the electrician or plumber can delay the overall project by weeks since it also throws off the timing of other subcontractors’ work.
Finally, expect delays so you won’t be caught off guard when they do happen … and they will. Delays are an inevitable part of any major remodeling project, so keeping your cool and simply making adjustments to the schedule is the best thing to do.
On the other hand, a good general contractor knows when to push back on suppliers and subcontractors to help move things along! If possible, use a carrot instead of a stick, promising them incentives for early completion or reminding them that you have friends who may be in need of their services and you would like nothing more than to give them a great referral.
Before you begin demolition, its best to set up a temporary kitchen in an adjoining space that will not be subject to heavy construction traffic, staging of materials or other activities involved in the renovation.
Once you select a temporary kitchen work area, set up your refrigerator, dining table, microwave oven, toaster and other essential kitchen appliances. A hot plate or single burner electric stove also makes meal preparation easier. Be sure to place your makeshift kitchen near a bathroom, laundry room or other location that has a sink you can use for cleaning up.
Try to complete your demolition as quickly and efficiently as possible in a single, swift phase if possible, since this will be a major contributor to dust and rubble that needs to be removed from your home. Seal off the demolition area first with plastic sheets to contain dust as much as possible.
If the path to removing debris needs to be routed through non-construction areas, you’ll want to protect floors and walls with cardboard, moving blankets or other protective coverings.
Also, be sure to arrange for removal of your demolition materials. You can get a dumpster and have it emptied periodically. Also, you might want to hire a crew to haul off your demolition rubble to save time and hassle. Be sure to keep all recyclable materials, reusable appliances, etc. separate from general trash and debris.
Keep the Work Space Clean
You can’t avoid dust and other particles, but you can contain things but keeping the construction area swept clean daily. Use a broom to remove larger debris, try a shop vacuum to remove as much dust as possible and then wet mop the floors. This will substantially reduce sawdust and other particulate matter from infiltrating every corner of your home!
During those times that you know you’ll have strong odors like construction adhesive, paint, etc. being applied, plan to get out of the house for a few hours to let things air out. Take the kids to a movie, go to the park and have a picnic, visit grandma overnight; anything to get out of the house for a while.
You also want to take steps to protect personal property. No matter how hard you try to keep things clean, dust will make its way out of the construction zone!
Cover or remove your finest art, furniture, electronic equipment and other valuable or dust-sensitive items.
Keep Your Sanity During Construction
Never turn down a free meal opportunity! Let family, friends and neighbors know you are remodeling your kitchen and would love to have them over for a party or dinner once your new kitchen is complete. This may help bring prepared meals your way or, even better, invitations to their homes for meals during the construction effort.
Another creative idea is to plan to eat out at your favorite restaurants or new ones you’ve been meaning to try. Of course, most of us will be on a tight budget when doing a major kitchen remodel, so finding good places to dine out on a budget or getting take out food can also be a creative diversion.
Plan meals that are easy to prepare and clean up. You can get away with basic dish ware, pots, pans and utensils by using paper plates and plastic cutlery, cooking outdoors on the barbeque grill and avoiding more complex meals.
Always be sure to bring something along if you do get such invitations and offer to help prepare the meal and clean up so you have a good chance of being invited back!
Other Ideas for Surviving Your Kitchen Remodeling
- Find a good place to locate your refrigerator or get a smaller unit for the makeshift kitchen area and keep your main fridge in the garage. If possible run a temporary water line to feed the ice maker and water dispenser, since you probably won’t have a sink close by.
- A microwave oven and toaster oven can be your best friends, handling about 75 percent of meal preparation tasks.
- A hot plate or single coil burner makes a great addition. However, do not use a propane or white gas stove inside the house! These can also be great temporary kitchen appliances but only for outdoor use.
- Keep your food supplies and temporary kitchen appliances together in a single space to avoid having to run back and forth between rooms when preparing meals.
- Dust infiltrates everything, so use airtight plastic boxes to store food items and kitchen utensils. Cover food preparation surfaces with plastic tarps during the work day and be sure to mark the top side or you’ll get even more dust on those surfaces!
- Washing dishes may be the biggest hassle in your makeshift kitchen. If at all possible, relocate your old dishwasher temporarily. If that isn’t possible, get a portable utility sink and have your plumbing contractor plumb it in a convenient location as close to the fridge and makeshift kitchen area as possible.
- If none of these options are available, you’ll have to get really creative by setting up a backyard cleaning station with a garden hose and temporary basin, using a bathroom or laundry room sink or even the bathtub if no other options are available.
- Get some plastic tubs to haul dirty dishes to the clean up station and back to the kitchen space for storage in your airtight bins.
- Since you won’t have a garbage disposal, keep a garbage can with airtight lid and plastic liner in the kitchen work area and plan to empty it at least once a day.
- Use your outdoor barbeque grill as much as possible to reduce odors and indoor cooking activities.
- Frozen foods and precooked meals that can be nuked in the microwave oven are a great way to reduce meal preparation messiness and get meals prepared quickly.
- Keep plenty of snack foods like fresh fruit, granola bars, chips, crackers, etc. handy.
- Use disposable plates and utensils during this difficult time; while nobody wants to add to the landfill, this is a good time to make an exception.
- If budget allows, eat out or get take out to avoid meal preparation and give yourself a break from the chaos of construction.
- For safety, always keep pets and small children away from the construction area.