Armchair Builder

Kitchen Update, Part II

Kitchen Update Schedule

In our last post, Kitchen Update, Part I, we talked about all the necessary steps to go through prior to construction of your new kitchen update.  Here we will discuss demolition, scheduling, and construction.  We will also share some tips for minimizing the impact of construction on the rest of your existing house.


Once we have our new materials, we can start demolition of the old kitchen.  Assuming you will be living in the home during construction, we want to shorten the schedule as much as possible.  For this reason, we wait to start demolition until all materials have arrived.  There’s nothing worse than having your home torn apart without having the cabinets, flooring or countertops for the new kitchen update.

To keep the dust contained to the kitchen, be sure to enclose the area with plastic and have a bathroom close by for the subcontractors.  You might want to consider a portable toilet if you don’t have a bath off the kitchen.  These will typically cost you $70 to $80 per month which includes a cleaning once a week.

If your cabinets and countertops are still good, consider offering them to your local Habitat for Humanity.  It’s great to help another family out while saving space in the local landfill.  And if you’re lucky, the local chapter will come pick the material up.


A good schedule will help you get the kitchen update functional as quickly as possible.  Although each remodeling project is different, there is a standard sequence to the major work to be completed.  Here is the typical schedule I use to expedite the work:

  1. Adjust Framing:  Includes moving/adding walls, adding soffits, kneewalls…etc.  Depending on the extent of your changes, this should only take a day.
  2. Mechanical Installation (i.e. Plumbing, HVAC, & Electrical):  I typically go in this order as plumbing drains are pretty much fixed in location, HVAC is next and then electrical.  You will want to go over the plan with each trade before starting to make sure they avoid the spaces you need for the other mechanicals if possible.  For the typical kitchen remodel, I would figure a day for each trade to work their magic.
  3. Rough Inspections:  Check with your building department to see what the local inspection process is like.  Also ask about particular requirements they may have for kitchens as they may have specific range ducting requirements, smoke/carbon monoxide detector locations, GFCI locations,…etc.  It’s good to flush out these requirements prior to starting any major design work.
  4. Insulation:  Don’t forget to properly insulate and draft stop any soffits you add…these can be a major problem in cold climates.  This should only take a partial day.
  5. Drywall Hang and Finish:  The time required to finish drywall can really be affected by humidity and temperature.  But assuming normal conditions, I would figure four to five days.  Also, the amount of time required will depend on the quantity of framing work that needs to be done.
  6. Prime and Apply First Coat of Paint:  Make sure the workers remove drywall dust from the walls before priming.  You should be able to get the first coat of wall paint done in 1 or 2 days.
  7. Install Cabinets/Cabinet Trim:  Cabinet installation is usually a one day job for a professional.  If your kitchen is large, they may need to return a second day to finish up hanging cabinets and installing cabinet crown, light rails…etc.  Don’t forget to have your installer shim the base cabinets up to match the thickness of your flooring choice.  This will keep your countertops at the standard working height of 36 inches.
  8. Install Trim and Doors:  This typically takes one to two days depending on what type of trim and doors you use.  I like to have my painter pre-stain or pre-paint the trim and doors before they are installed.  This can be done anytime before the trim carpenter shows up.  Just be sure to allow for proper drying before installation.  Also keep in mind, you will still need to touch up at the end of the schedule but this gives you a huge head start.
  9. Deliver Appliances:  This assumes you have a place to store them.  If you have a smaller condo or home, you may want to have the refrigerator and range brought in later just before installation.
  10. Template for Granite or Solid Surface Countertops:  This should be done immediately after the base cabinets are installed.  Granite and solid surface countertops can take up to two weeks to fabricate and install so we want to get them measured as soon as possible.  Make sure you have your sinks, faucets and appliances on site at the time of measure.  Many fabricators will take your sink back with them and secure it to the top at their shop.  They will also need the faucets to know how big to drill the holes (you will go over locations).  If you have a freestanding range, slide in range or cooktop, it’s a good idea to have it on site at this time as well.  This way, the fabricator can make sure the cutouts and edges fit perfectly.
  11. Hard Flooring:  For tile, I like to grout at the end of the job.  For site finished hardwood I put the last coat of sealer on at the end of the job…this helps protect the finish while construction proceeds.
  12. Install Countertops
  13. Final Mechanicals (plumb kitchen sink, install switches, light fixtures, hookup appliances…etc.).  Make sure you run all of your appliances and check for leaks.  Be sure to look under your dishwasher after running it and look behind your refrigerator if you have an icemaker water line.  A small leak behind an appliance can go undetected for months and cause major damage to your home.
  14. Final Paint:  This includes walls, doors and trim.

This schedule can be adjusted to fit your particular circumstance.  Some people like to install the flooring prior to cabinets but as long as your floor installer is careful with the cabinets, your schedule will go faster by installing cabinets first.  That way, you can template for countertops and get them fabricated while the flooring is going in.  This could end up saving you four or five days in the schedule.  Just be sure you raise up the cabinets to the thickness of the floor you are installing.  I typically have my trim carpenter cut small blocks of plywood.  This way, your cabinets and toe kicks don’t end up being short.

By installing the flooring after cabinets, you will save on your flooring budget as you will have less square footage for material and labor.  Some people will laugh at this last comment but I have saved upwards of $500 per kitchen update by not installing flooring under the cabinets.  One other thing to think about…you will most likely replace your floor before replacing the cabinets…this has been my experience anyway.  If you run the floor under the cabinets, it is harder to remove the old floor in the future.

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