I cannot believe my kitchen renovation is almost done! We are now two weeks into the process and have about one more week until everything is installed. Guys… I have been dreaming about this kitchen since we moved in two years ago! So far, the look of our kitchen is already exceeding our expectations.
Planning a kitchen is no joke. There is no getting around it… it is a TON of planning, sacrificing, time, and…mostly…money.
There has been many parts of this process that we expected, like—obviously—living without a kitchen for a while… duh.
But, after more than halfway through the process, there are many aspects I did not expect. Including: a ridiculous amount of noise, my dog being a royal pain in the butt to deal with, and the amount of money that would be quickly coming out of our accounts.
Hey… for the most part, we can’t complain on our end. There haven’t been too many expensive surprises and we have been happy with the choices we have made. Also, we hired family friends—NYC firemen—to handle the renovation. Let me tell you, they have been extremely kind, reliable, and are sticking to their timeline.
In addition, something that surprised me even more is that they are INSANELY courteous and kind to each other while they work. I have never heard grown men say “please” and “thank you” to each other as much as these guys do. I have yet to hear them get mad at one another or lose their cool. They work together at their firehouse all week and still—somehow—find a way to not lose their patience with each other on side jobs, like this one. I don’t get it. #Friendship goals.
Today, I want to dish on what the renovation process has been like as a homeowner going through it, first hand. I wish I had a list like the one I am going to provide for you below before my renovation process started. But, I am hoping you can use this to your advantage when the time comes!
If you didn’t read the first article I posted about designing and ordering your cabinets, you can read it here.
What to Expect During a Kitchen Renovation
A ton of dust during the demo
You have a bunch of cabinets, flooring, and sheetrock getting torn out of your old, outdated kitchen. So, expect the initial days to be filled with dust and debris. Our guys sequestered us off with clear plastic, makeshift walls to keep the dust out of the rest of the house during the demo. Definitely helped. But, expect to vacuum surrounding rooms daily to keep build up from occurring.
Lots of noise throughout the process
Ugh, my poor baby, Benjamin—my pup. He has dog anxiety (for real…he takes meds for it) and is the type of dog who hides from fireworks and shakes uncontrollably. Well, the first few days was so horrible for him. The demo part requires a lot of drilling, pounding, and banging. Expect a lot of noise throughout the process, but the first few days are really the worst of it all.
Lack of AC or heat for a period of time
Not everyone will go through this if they’re not opening up an exterior wall, but many people do. We are getting rid of our regular back door that is attached to our kitchen and we are having a slider installed—so much more light! So, the side of our house has been open and exposed during most of the process. So, we had to manage without AC in August for the first week. I didn’t feel like paying to cool down the outdoors ($$$).
Hidden expenses will come up
As walls, floors, and ceilings are ripped up, little surprises will pop up. Sometimes, the expenses are major. Plumbing needs a complete revamp, the electric needs to be redone, or things are not up to code. So, don’t be surprised. We just had a mini code issue with the electric, but we weren’t charged extra. Sometimes, you might even realize extra features you personally want to add as the process unfolds, which could cost a pretty penny. But, hey… you should get what you want!
You’ll most likely be on a tight budget
I was not really prepared for this one. Yes, I knew the dollars and cents of this renovation. We didn’t end up going too much over what we intended to spend. But, with life still happening—groceries, dog bills, car expenses, shopping trips, weddings, etc…—things add up very fast. Also, I took off work for the summer to oversee the job—teacher life. So, plan your budget accordingly so you’re not counting pennies during your reno.
A loss of living space
Bobby and I are still giggling about this as we are still in the kitchen renovation process. Our living area is a now a kitchen/living room combo with appliances and other renovation items strewn throughout the area. We even had to move the couch so close to our television that I don’t need to wear my glasses while watching! All in all, it wont be the time to have friends or family over. It will be tight enough, already, for you and your family.
You’ll have a lack of meal options
I feel like I have had the same meal rotation for two weeks: salmon, grilled burgers, grilled bratwurst, and popcorn shrimp. Why those? Without a stove for the past two weeks, these dinners have been easy to make on the grill or in the toaster oven. All sides we make have been microwavable-friendly. Today is a happy day, though, because they hooked up our gas stove and I can finally make eggs (my favorite!).
You’ll wash the dishes in your bathroom
This is obviously, but… I honestly didn’t think of this before it become a reality. Yes, we were ready with plastic items, but there are plenty of items we use daily that need to be washed (i.e. mugs, lunch containers, cooking items, etc). So, plan to take up bathroom counter space with a dish drying rack, your dish detergent, and a sponge! Never thought I’d wash my dishes, do my makeup, and brush my teeth in the same area.
Expect various types of delays
No matter what, there is no way of getting around delays during your kitchen renovation. Didn’t face any during your renovation? That probably means your contractor was nice enough not to worry you. There will be weather delays, things you ordered will not arrive on time or will be backordered, or your workers might be late some days. Just mentally tack on an extra week to whatever you are told just in case. Trust me.
You’ll get asked a lot of questions by your contractor
Remember that it is your kitchen renovation. Yes, you hired someone to do the job. But, to them… you’re the boss. You’re in charge. So, expect for your contractor to include you during every step of the way—where to place a cabinet, how you want your tiles to look, how large you want a door opening, etc. Also, if they’re not asking you a lot of questions, that’s a red flag. Don’t let them make even the smallest decisions that could make you unhappy in the long run.
You’ll need to make quick decisions
Just like I mentioned above, lots of questions come with decisions that will need to be made. In advance, you most likely chose all of your major parts—appliances, flooring, and cabinets. But, there will be little things that come up that you didn’t think of in the beginning. So, get comfortable with having a small timeframe to make a decision.
Your dog will be a handful
I want to include this one for anyone else that has a dog. The renovation process changes their routine. Their food and water dish will most likely be moved, they wont be able to lay on the kitchen tile to cool off, and they might have to get into the backyard using a different entrance. Plan a way to keep them out of the construction area, while also supporting them though a time where their routines are altered—which could greatly affect your dog’s mental wellbeing during this time.
How to Prepare For a Kitchen Renovation
Pick a good time to remodel
Timing is everything when it comes to a kitchen remodel. Yes, you might have your money all together for the job, but you are going to want someone around to oversee the process. Unless you personally know your workers, you can’t trust them to be in your house all day. Even though we saved up our money six months prior, we waited until I was out of school so my husband didn’t have to take off. Totally worth the wait! No vacation days needed.
Set aside extra money
Plan to save about 10-15% more than your initial budget because there might be little things that come up here and there that you will need to pay for without much notice during the renovation process. Paying for extra things in cash might also help with extra labor fees that might be tacked on to your final bill. And…hey… if you don’t end up having surprises to pay for, now you have a little more money in the bank saved up! Win-win.m
Set up a makeshift kitchen
At least a day before your renovation, you’ll need to set up a makeshift kitchen to use while your beautiful new kitchen is being built. We decided to put ours in our living room—we have a small house, so we didn’t have much of a choice. Choose the items you will keep in this area carefully, since you will most likely not have much room (i.e. microwave, toaster oven, plastic plates and utensils, kitchen towels, etc.).
Keep your kitchen items organized
Before day one of the kitchen renovation, you’ll need to spend time moving everything out of your cabinets and drawers. Luckily, we have a half-finished basement and plenty of space to keep our kitchen items. Find space wherever you have available. Lay items across an unused table, use clear or labeled bins, or store them in a guest bedroom. But, just make sure you don’t just put items anywhere! Keeping your items organized will make putting everything into your brand, spanking new kitchen a whole lot easier.
Sell or donate your appliances
If you are renovating your kitchen, you are most likely getting brand new appliances—if not, I highly recommend that you do! If the items are still working, try to set aside time to donate your items or even make a few extra bucks! We put our 10 year-old stove on Craigslist and we made a nice profit within 24 hours. So, it is definitely worth trying! Every dollar counts.
Properly schedule your appliance deliveries
Have a chat with your contractor and have them give you a ballpark for when you should have your appliances delivered. Hey… if you have room in your house to store them, that’s great! But, if you’re like me and every inch of space matters, you’ll only want it to be delivered at the very end of the process. So, plan accordingly.
Make freezer meals in advance
Ugh… I planned on doing this, but never followed through. Having my meals already prepared for even two or three dinners a week would have been very helpful the past few weeks. I suggest making an extra few servings of a few meals a week the month before your renovation and storing them in a freezer to make your life a bit easier through the process. Then, all you need is to defrost and pop it into the microwave! Planning your meals in advance is definitely key. Download my free meal planners below and make your life a whole lot easier!
Make your pet comfortable
Like I wrote about above, your pets are going to be confused while this process is going on. Like kids, they live on routines. Therefore, move their water bowl and feeding area a week or so before the renovation so they get used to the new placement. Also, plan activities (walks, dog classes, puppy dates) on days where you expect there to be a lot of renovation noise. Finally, be sure to have a large enough room or area of the house you can keep them within so they don’t accidentally walk through the construction area—which could be dangerous.
Accept that your house will be messy
If you are anything like me, you enjoy having an organized, clean, and well-vacuumed home to wake up in every day. But, throw that idea out of the window during your kitchen renovation. EMBRACE THE MESS! Do your best to keep up with your cleaning and chores, but don’t drive yourself crazy. A messy house is part of the sacrifice you go through during a kitchen renovation. Give it up to the Universe and realize that you get can back to your OCD ways in a few weeks or so.
>>Related: Tips for Buying Your First Home
Do you have any questions about what to expect or how to prepare for a kitchen renovation?
If you’ve been through one before, what did I miss?
Let me know in the comments below!