Remodeling your kitchen is one of the easiest (and best) ways to add value to your home. If you are thinking of undertaking a kitchen remodel yourself, you might be asking: what does it actually involve? Where do I start? 

Taking on a kitchen remodel as a DIY project is doable, but you have to plan properly or else you could run into trouble. Even then, most DIY'ers will most likely need the help of trained professionals for certain parts of the process. Plumbing and electrical, for example, can be tricky and in a lot of situations should really be left to the experts. 

If you prefer to leave your kitchen remodel entirely up to the professionals, you’re not alone. Most people would opt for that course of action. However, hiring contractors won’t mean that you won’t have any homework to do. You’ll still have to shop around and vet the people who will be undertaking your kitchen remodel. We always recommend asking people you know for referrals and recommendations who can speak to a contractors work first hand.

Questions you should ask your references about their general contractor
  1. How close did they stick to the scope of work? From beginning to throughout? Were there any significant changes in material or finishes that weren't planned. 
  2. Was there anything that went wrong or unexpected? 
  3. Did the contractor stick to the estimated time line? If there were delays, what caused them, and how was their communication throughout. 
  4. How often was the contractor there to review work and give you updates. Were the trades supervised ever? 
  5. Is the GC and their contractors insured? 
  6. Did they obtain necessary permits from the city? 
  7. What were their payment options? 
  8. Did they take care of site cleanup after the project is complete? 

In addition to finding the right people for the job, you can also benefit from knowing about the right way to remodel a kitchen. By familiarizing yourself with the proper steps, you can better plan your kitchen remodel and co-ordinate everything with the professionals you end up working with.

Please note, this is a basic guide to a kitchen remodel and should be used as a general understanding of the steps and processes, we always recommend consulting with professionals to obtain a full scope of work and understanding of the undertaking your property requires. 

A Kitchen Remodel Done Right

1. Demolition and Tearing Out

2. Rough-In Work Including Framing and Plumbing

3. Professional Inspection

4. Finishing the Walls

5. Doors and Windows Installation

6. Cabinets and Plumbing Fixtures

7. New Appliances Installation

8. New Flooring Installation

9. Time to celebrate!

Below, we go through the best step-by-step kitchen remodel process which involves a total gutting of the area. Keep in mind that a more minor project would involve fewer steps, depending on what elements you’re changing in your kitchen.

In the end, each project is different and you might need to tweak some of the steps, but you can’t go wrong with this basic framework, and you should have a plan or idea of what you're kitchen should look like, prior to starting this work. 

1. Demolition and Tearing Out

This is the basic first step in any kitchen remodeling project. If you’re going to convert the space into something new and beautiful, you’ll have to tear out or demolish what’s outdated or worn. This step is when you need to demolish walls, cabinets, flooring and fixtures.

It might be tempting to do this yourself since it just involves breaking things apart, but a licensed contractor will be able to get the job done without damaging your property - especially when it comes to hidden plumbing, wiring, or other important elements behind the walls. They'll also be more experienced with dust management, which can be a really big deal depending on the work you're going to do, you don't want to be living in a dusty mess after your renovation is complete. 

A few other considerations: 

  • What is the age of your plumbing? Does it need to be changed out, with exposed walls you may want to consider removing plumbing that's older or prone to failure.
  • Does your home contain any asbestos? Are you familiar with all of the places that could contain asbestos? Many home owners are shocked to learn elements such as drywall, roof, insulation, and flooring can all contain asbestos. 
  • Make sure all walls you plan on taking out aren't structural 

If you still think you want to take on this step yourself, ensure you turn off the water and electricity before starting to tear things down. Finally, make sure you have a plan for how you’re going to dispose of the debris you’ll be creating, we recommend getting a storage bin delivered for the quickest use. Look up a few guides on DIY demolition so you're extra prepared, and if in doubt, call a professional. 

2. Rough-In Work Including Framing and Plumbing

Next up is what’s called “rough-in” work. This includes any framing or plumbing. This step is all about walls, and what goes in (or through) them.Kitchen renovation in Calgary

This step could be relatively simple. You could just move framing from the walls to a center island. Or it could involve moving plumbing fixtures several feet away from their original location or expanding the total square footage of the space. This would be difficult and time-consuming, and is usually best left to the professionals.

There are important elements to consider in this process. Part of your planning in your remodel should have considerations of Alberta building code requirements and the width of walk ways and counter space. You should plan to typically have 36" of counter space from the walls (Depth), you'll also want to leave adequate space for your appliances or to create / frame space for newer bigger appliances or the addition of built ins. 

3. Professional Inspection

After the rough-in work is complete, you need to have a professional inspection done. This is an easy step, since it mainly involves calling the city and making an appointment for an inspector to visit.

If everything is up to code, there shouldn’t be any problems. If not, it could be a learning experience!

If you are working with a professional contractor for your kitchen remodel, they should handle the inspection - and any fixes they need to make. If you are doing this yourself and find that you did not pass the inspection, you should call a licensed professional contractor or specific tradesmen to help you get to where you need to be so you can move on.

4. Finishing the Walls

Once your kitchen remodel project has been inspected (and passed), you need to work on the walls. This may seem like a straightforward step: hang, tape and finish drywall, but it can be one of the messiest and dustiest parts of a renovation. Many DIY'ers leave this task in the hands of professionals to minimize on drywall dust and work. 

This is also the time to add a coat of primer to your drywall. Even though you’re not painting its final color for a while, the primer will protect the drywall from scrapes and scuffs as you’re finishing the remodel. When you’re moving and installing cabinets and appliances, there’s always an opportunity for accidents to happen. 

Again, if you’re not confident in your abilities, look into hiring a contractor.

5. New Flooring Installationkitchen floors

At last, it’s time for flooring installation. This is one step that could be done earlier in some cases. Some people prefer to install floors at different periods, including sooner and they simply tape and protect the flooring. 

Every project is different, but if you’ve waited until the end, then you could be making a lot of moves with appliances, and potentially running into further complications with trim/doors etc.

Choose your favourite colours, styles and materials and complete the kitchen of your dreams! Keep in mind, not all flooring is versatile enough to be in a kitchen. Flooring like LVP (Luxury vinyl plank) is a great floor to protect against water and is one of the best floors for rental properties, but other flooring like  marble may not be the best choice, while it looks great, it's also a naturally porous stone and this means it's more likely to scratch and stain, the same goes for laminate flooring, it's quite versatile, but pooling water can easily soak into the flooring causing it to bubble or buckle.

Other kitchen flooring options for a remodel:
  • Linoleum - Good for budget renovations and rental properties. This flooring is easily stained and dented, not great for resale value. 
  • Hardwood - Highly sought after for many buyers, durable, long lasting, and carries a high resale value. This flooring is typically more expensive to purchase and install, it does require more maintenance. You should look for a harder hardwood that will stand the test of time and traffic that a kitchen carries, some species of wood can scratch and dent easily. 
  • Concrete - Very durable and long lasting, but is very hard and can be uncomfortable for long periods, it's difficult to install and can be very expensive.  Concrete is also becoming more and more common as counter top options. 
  • Ceramic Tile - Is very versatile, allows for many different options in sizes and styles, water resistant, lower maintenance, but is hard (similar to concrete) and can be cold in cooler seasons. 

6. Doors and Windows Installation

After your drywall is up and primed, it’s time to get your doors and windows in there. Note that if your new kitchen is based on your old layout, you could skip this step. Just give everything a good clean and seal cracks around your windows with caulking.

On the other hand, if you are adding doors or windows to your new kitchen, you need to make sure they are properly insulated. Losing hot or cold air during the year really takes a toll on your energy bill.

Also, ensure your doors and windows have trim installed. This will make your cabinet installation more precise. If not, you might create gaps which could cause headaches down the road.

7. Cabinets and Plumbing Fixtures

Next up: cabinets and plumbing fixtures. This is also the step where you would install new countertops. This is a fun and exciting step, since you’ll be seeing your new kitchen really take shape.

Plumbing fixtures to be added include sinks, faucets, and garbage disposals. This is where you need to pay special attention to any plumbing issues.

Backsplash - Once your cabinets are installed, you'll want to look at your walls between (especially between) your cabinets and counters, and install your backsplash. 

8. New Appliances Installation

You’re almost there! It’s time to install your new appliances. This includes everything from microwaves to stoves to fridges and whatever else you want to put in your new kitchen - water filtration systems, wine chillers, and more.

At this point your new kitchen is really coming alive. If you’ve hired professionals, they will most likely be referring to a checklist to help determine when the process is done. If you’re doing it yourself, now is the time to take a break and make a list of everything that needs to be done to keep everything moving and on track.

Make sure you discuss with local sellers about timelines for appliance delivery. Depending on your needs, some places could require weeks to get the proper products delivered. 

9. Time to enjoy!

This is it! Your kitchen remodel is complete. Time for one more important step: to sit back and enjoy your new wonderful kitchen. Pour yourself a glass of wine and make a nice meal for your friends or family! Whether you did it yourself or left it to the professionals, you’ve got a beautiful new kitchen that you can enjoy for years to come.

Bonus Tips and advice for your next kitchen remodel: kitchen remodel

  • In our extensive experience, first timers for DIY should heavily consider the undertaking of a kitchen remodel, it's one of the most important, and difficult rooms to tackle and there are a lot of things to consider and avoid. If you're remodeling for resale, have a chat with your REALTOR® to discuss what's trending and appealing to clients in todays market, but build for future use as well. 
  • If you're going to use a general contractor, have a detailed scope of work laid out before you obtain estimates, try to cover as much as possible and as detailed as possible. 
  • Paying upfront? We've heard some horror stories from clients who pay for work upfront only to find it's not completed, the general contractor is MIA, or the costs heavily increase immediately. We recommend working out a payment plan in stages with your general contractor. 
  • If you're on a budget, there are plenty of options to save you money. Hit the Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji for appliances, or other items (Sinks, faucets, etc) Shop around for major purchases (counters and counter tops) 
  • If your home is tight on storage and your pantry options are limited, try to find additional storage spaces in places like your kitchen island. It doesn't have to be just framed, you can build / create an island with built in storage. This is perfect for items like garbage bins, spice racks, pots and pans and more.
  • Protect yourself and your surrounding spaces. Get the proper drop cloths, barriers, and safety tools for the job. Don't let your remodel effect the rest of your home or your day to day life by getting injured. Something as simple as knocking out ceramic tile during demolition (without safety glasses) could result in permanent vision loss! 
  • Wide walk ways give the room a bigger feel, don't neglect this small but important detail!
  • Ensure you're thinking long term about appliance placement and workflow of your kitchen. Consider the height of items like your microwave. 
  • Don't underestimate the importance of lighting, choosing the wrong lighting or leaving your kitchen too dark could make it lose some of its appeal. The same goes for items like kitchen knobs (hardware) and paint color choices. Small kitchens should be painted light to give them an open spacious feeling.

Finally, don't be afraid to give us a call, while we're not professional home remodelers or designers, we can give you advice on various elements of your remodel in regards to the resale value of your property. Whether it's counter tops, or flooring, the choices of your property are unique to its situation, the market, and the comparable homes in your area. 

Posted by Cody Tritter on
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