A kitchen remodeling project involves coordinating a variety of trades that must cooperate to complete the job. If you are embarking on a full-scale renovation, you’ll likely work with a general contractor or remodeler, cabinet installers, appliance specialists, plumbers, electricians and an interior designer or kitchen designer that orchestrates the planning of the space and execution of the project. You might even engage an engineer and an architect. You may choose an independent designer/firm, or work directly with a dealer that sells cabinets or appliances and can provide a kitchen designer to help plan your project.
What’s most important to understand is a kitchen renovation is no weekend-warrior project. It can take several weeks or months to complete. Because of the time, talent and investment required to complete a kitchen remodel, most homeowners are best off hiring professionals.
“Most people don’t work on their own cars—they don’t repair them or change the oil, but with all of the home-DIY (media), people think they can put in a door where it didn’t exist or install a kitchen,” says Brad Burgin, Burgin Construction Inc. in North Tustin, Calif.
The real bummer of taking on a project that exceeds your skillset: You could end up spending more to get the job done. You can go through the pain of demolition, the stress of choosing materials, the labor of installing products—and end up hiring a professional to fix mistakes. Or, the final results may be less than satisfactory.
That said, there are some projects you can do yourself, depending on your comfort level. But leave the full-scale kitchen renovation to the pros.
You don’t want to hire just anyone to manage your kitchen project. You want a seasoned pro with proper credentials, licensing, insurance and, of course, ideas and resources.
So who’s in charge? That depends entirely on the scope of your project and whether you opted to work with an independent designer or a dealer/designer (from a manufacturer’s showroom, for example). A general contractor, interior designer or architect may act as the lead/project manager—or you may coordinate the project yourself and work with each trade.
In the case of a general contractor, this person manages the team of subcontractors and serves as your point-person throughout the project. He/she will communicate with the architect or interior designer and the kitchen designer. “Great organization skills, budgeting, follow-up and people skills are hallmarks of a good project manager,” says Roberta Baeur-Kravette, AP, AKBD and director of Nieuw Amsterdam Kitchens in New York, N.Y.
The No. 1 person always involved in a significant kitchen renovation is an experienced kitchen designer, says Ellen Rady, president, Ellen Rady Designs, Cleveland, Ohio. Ask to see this person’s portfolio, call their references and inquire about certifications.
“The kitchen is still one of the largest investments we make, and a lot of times it will sell a home,” Rady says. “A kitchen of quality has a great layout, and that designer can come up with a layout that you might not have even thought of because that’s what they do.”
Even if you decide to take on some of the kitchen project yourself—say you hire a professional to manage the plumbing and electrical work, but you plan to lay the tile and paint—a kitchen designer can refer you to a reliable resource.
Get tips on how to find the right cabinetry for your remodel.