Kitchen remodeling is at the top of the list for home improvement projects. According to the National Association of Realtors’ Remodeling Impact Report, homeowners feel happier about where they live after remodeling their kitchens, and these projects may also increase home values when professionally done.
If your thoughts are filled with visions of hardwood cabinets, spacious eating areas and marble counter tops, here’s a list of tips to help turn your dreams into reality.
1) Choose cabinets for storage space as well as style.
Cabinets come in a wide variety of styles, finishes and prices ranges. Before making a final decision, talk with your contractor about ways to increase storage space. For example, HGTV recommends corner cabinets that include pull-out shelves or Lazy Susans to access areas that are otherwise unusable.
2) Consider counter tops that extend eating and cooking areas.
Before choosing counter top material, check with your contractor about whether your kitchen layout can accommodate an island or breakfast bar. These options can create more counter space or add eating area without the cost of moving walls or building an addition.
3) Flex your remodeling budget with flooring options.
Do you have high-end tastes, but a low-end budget? According to This Old House, your choice of flooring can help reduce overall costs. Although hardwood and slate look beautiful on kitchen floors, they’re expensive materials. Ask your contractor about flooring options that simulate the real thing, but cost a lot less. This can make room for higher-priced appliances or other features on your wish list.
4) Check out heating and cooling systems.
If you bump out an exterior wall or build an addition to add more kitchen space, the existing HVAC systems may not be able to handle the extra square footage. Ask your contractor about adding insulation to eliminate the need for a new furnace or air conditioner. Upgrading insulation may also help to reduce monthly utility bills.
5)Evaluate your electrical system.
If you plan to remodel the kitchen in an older home, ask your contractor if the existing wiring can handle new appliances. An electric stove, oven, dishwasher and refrigerator may need more power. If the existing electrical panel has never been updated, you may need to add a new electrical box and breakers.
6) Check out your plumbing system.
Apply the same reasoning for plumbing. Leaky lead pipes can be worse than annoying. Hidden leaks can cause damage to floors and walls, and create damp environments that grow toxic mold. Talk with your contractor about replacing old pipes with copper or PVC. If you have to reprioritize your remodeling budget, remember that your family’s health and safety are worth cutting costs in other areas.
7) Include windows in your remodeling plan.
In all the excitement of picking out new counter tops and cabinets, kitchen windows can be overlooked. However, well-designed windows can add natural light and reduce heating and cooling bills. Ask your contractor about the cost and savings of replacing old single-pane windows with new energy-efficient versions. This is also a good time to consider enlarging a small window or adding French doors to provide sunlight and a better view.
Every kitchen remodeling project is unique, so there are probably items you’ll want to add that aren’t addressed here. However, discussing these topics with your contractor will take you a long way toward realizing your vision. If you’re interviewing contractors, you can use these tips as a guide for asking consistent questions before requesting bids. Finally, remember that in addition to managing the materials and crew for your project, an experienced contractor can provide you with expert advice and peace of mind.