Armchair Builder

Kitchen Update, Part I

New Kitchen Update

Kitchen Update

Would you like a new kitchen update in your home?  Anyone can take charge of their own kitchen remodel as an owner builder.  All you need to do is be thorough in your planning and follow the Armchair Builder checklist below.

Rough Layout

This includes the overall design including location of walls, windows, appliances, islands, and built-ins.  It’s a good idea to work with an experienced kitchen designer.  A professional that designs kitchens for a living can come up with unique ideas that you might not have thought of.   Kitchen design ideas might include creative storage solutions for your cabinets or lighting that changes the mood of your space.


If your kitchen update will affect your home’s structure, electrical, or plumbing, you will probably need to apply for a permit.  Not sure if you need a permit for your project?  Check out this previous article…Do I Need a Permit for My Renovation?

Select Your Finishes

  • Cabinets (crown, light rail, end panels, glass panels, hardware, and special storage solutions)
  • Lighting (undercabinet, overcabinet, in-cabinet, pendants, and recessed)
  • Countertops (material, color, edging, finish, thickness)
  • Sink (undermount vs. drop-in)
  • Faucets (including instant hot water, filtered water, soap dispensers, pot filler, sprayer)
  • Flooring
  • Appliances (wine chillers, built-in coffee makers, water dispensers
  • Paint Colors

Finalize Layout

Now that you have your appliances, sinks, faucets and lighting you can finalize the cabinet layout.  I’ve found that most people have specific appliances and sinks in mind so it’s more practical to finalize the cabinet layout after the model numbers are selected.  That way, we can design the kitchen around them.  The actual cabinet layout is typically done by the company supplying the cabinets.  They have first-hand knowledge of standard sizes, storage options, trim options…etc.  So, don’t bother paying your kitchen designer for this as the cabinet supplier will typically do it for free.

Bid out the Work

Since we now have all our specifications and our overall design, we can now bid out each activity.  Never get any less than three bids.   Make sure you include in your bid request lead times.  This tells you how long it takes to get a product after ordering… which might affect choices.  Be sure to check out our Bidding Out Work video for more details.

Select your vendors

A wise home builder once said…”The sweetness of a low price quickly fades but the hassles of poor quality can last a lifetime.”   Don’t forget, value is more than price alone when selecting your trades and suppliers.  Be sure to always check references and preview past work whenever possible.  Check out this video titled…Finding Quality Subcontractors.

Sign Contracts

I’ve said it a hundred times before and I’m sure this won’t be the last…get everything you expect to happen in writing and have each trade contractor sign and date the contract.  You don’t need selective memory on your new dream kitchen project.

Order Materials

Depending on the types and styles of materials you choose for your new kitchen update, it may take several months to get them.  So be sure to find out from potential suppliers and contractors how much lead time they need when ordering.

Stay turned to our next post, Kitchen Update, Part II, as I will share with you my schedule and a few tips for living in the house as you remodel.

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