By Paul Bookbinder, M.I.D.
While your name might not be Joshua, and you may not be living in Jericho, when major construction starts on a kitchen or bathroom renovation, you may feel that you are in the middle of a battle zone. The dust, the noise, the destruction, and the construction are all inherent in such a process, and even if you know what to expect, it can be nerve racking.
Although nothing takes forever, once this process begins, it does seem like it will take at least that long. And, even though no one can predict exactly how long a project will take, there are some basic guidelines as to what you should expect when doing a major renovation, and what you can do prior to, and during that time, to minimize your anxiety.
The first step is to pack everything in your existing kitchen into boxes. If you label the boxes you’ll be able to find things as you need them, and it will be easier to restock the new kitchen when the job is done. At this point, feel free to discard anything that you haven’t used in the past five years.
If you can go to the Caribbean while the job is in progress, make arrangements now. Otherwise, you’ll need to create a temporary food preparation area. Find a suitable space, (usually the dining room), not too far from a sink, if possible. Have the refrigerator, coffee maker and toaster moved to this location. If the refrigerator won’t fit in the same room, move it as close as possible. If you don’t already have a microwave oven, this is the time to buy one because it will be indispensable for preparing foods and hot beverages. Purchase disposable plates, glasses and plastic utensils.
Before any of the workmen pick up a hammer, make sure that the work area has been isolated in plastic sheeting and that heavy drop cloths are put on the floor. It’s best if there is a separate entry into the work area from the outside, but if this isn’t possible there are special “plastic doorways” that can be installed to minimize the infusion of dust into the rest of the house. (Even with the plastic, some dust is inevitable).
It’s a good idea to set up a prearranged meeting schedule with your General Contractor (GC), prior to the start of the renovation. For example, every Monday morning at whatever time is convenient. And never hesitate to vocalize any concerns that you may have, at any time.
The big day arrives when the demolition begins. This is what you’ve been waiting for. Dirt, noise, vibration, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, masons, etc., etc. Second thoughts begin to creep into your head, but it’s too late . . . your committed. Now is the time to be strong, don’t let desperation set in, because pretty soon your dream kitchen will be completed. The workmen will be gone and you’ll be left with everything that you had hoped for.
After the kitchen is done its time to make up a list of anything that you feel needs attention. Review it with your GC. Minor touch-ups can usually be done right away but if something has to be ordered from a manufacturer it can take several weeks.
Although your project may have seemed like it has taken forever, if you consider that you will enjoy the efforts of your suffering for the next 20-30 years, its not really so bad.
Paul Bookbinder, M.I.D., C.R., is president of DreamWork Kitchens, Inc. located in Mamaroneck, New York. A Master of Design (Pratt Institute), and E.P.A. Certified Remodeler, he serves on the Advisory Panel of Remodeling Magazine. A member of the National Kitchen & Bath Assoc., he is also a contributor to eZine and Do It Yourself magazine. He can be reached for questions at 914-777-0437 or www.dreamworkkitchens.com.