Step Five: The Build Process
After you’ve reviewed final specifications with the designer and before construction begins, you should sign a construction agreement with a firm contract price. Know what your contract includes; for example, is the cabinet pricing for custom or off-the-shelf units? Subsequently, you should meet with the contractor, designer and carpenters in a pre-start conference to discuss the process in detail. Make sure you get a formal schedule, showing the start and completion dates for the various construction phases, as well as payment due dates. Typically, contractors will bill you for each construction phase as it starts.
As construction is gearing up, you’ll want to make sure your contractor has gotten the proper permits. Also, get to know the people on your job, especially the jobsite supervisor. This is typically the go-to person for any questions you might have. Know the production manager, to whom you might need to turn if you’re in any way dissatisfied with the on-site supervisor. For your part, make sure you communicate clearly any special concerns, from items you want salvaged to pets you fear might escape.
The construction phase is necessarily disruptive to varying degrees, and the contractor should minimize that by ensuring good communication, daily clean up, proper enclosure of the work space, and adherence to the schedule. As the project nears completion, you and the contractor should create a “punch list” of final tasks and touch-ups. The project should be considered complete only when you and the contractor have done a final inspection of the job, ensuring the list has been completely addressed.
Finally, make sure to note the warranty expiration date, and ask how warranty issues are handled. Now that the dust has settled, enjoy your project. Doesn’t that smile on your face make you glad you took that first step?
Step Three: Finding a Remodeler
In our last post about completing a successful remodeling project, we discussed deciding on the process, specifically hiring a design-bid-build or a design-build firm. Whichever route you go, you need to choose your remodeler wisely. It’s said that people spend more time shopping for a car than a remodeler. Considering the cost, both financial and emotional, it’s imperative to invest time in this step.
Get bids from at least three remodelers, making sure they are as specific as possible and that you are comparing “apples to apples.” As discussed previously, some change orders are unforeseen and necessary; however, change orders can also be part of a deceptive bidding practice. Some remodelers intentionally keep their bids low by pricing with low-cost materials and fixtures, knowing that once construction begins, you will find them unacceptable and have little choice but to authorize and pay for upgrades. Ask about the estimating process to select a firm that will give you the most honest, accurate bid without a lot of after-the-fact upgrades.
Get referrals from friends who have remodeled, go to the internet, read local publications, and contact trade organizations (e.g., ORA, NARI, NKBA and the HBA). Visit trade shows and seminars, and definitely check with the state’s Construction Contractors Board. Finally, interview the designer and contractor in person, preferably at their office, and then check their credentials and the references they provide.
It’s holiday season, when our kitchens get a workout from a range of ambitious endeavors, from hosting holiday dinners to crafting artisanal treats for gift-giving. And most of us find that our cookie-cutter kitchens don’t make the grade. It’s a good time, then, to take notes on what does and doesn’t work for you, so that when you’re ready for a remodel, you can help create a kitchen that’s truly yours.
In a recent kitchen project, part of a larger remodel of a grand Portland Foursquare, we worked with a couple who had carefully considered their tastes and habits. Consequently, we could customize their space for enduring enjoyment.
A kitchen that fits the home’s historic context
Having a clear vision of the aesthetics of the kitchen, the clients informed just how faithful the design and construction needed to be to the home’s historic origins. For instance, we custom built cabinets to match the cabinetry elsewhere in the home, both in wood species and profile details. We also encased a built-in fridge and pantry, visible from the dining room, in custom-built fir cabinetry. If historic fidelity is important to you, make sure you hire a professional who can recreate the space convincingly.
Personalizing with furniture
The remodel took into account a treasured antique table and display cabinet that the residents wanted in the newly expanded room. Knowing what furniture, if any, you’ll want in a space helps ensure they’ll fit and be shown off to good advantage.
An island that works for the cooks
The couple wanted the additional work space and focal point of an island but didn’t want it to dominate the room. A simple yet elegant table with a Carrera marble top was custom-built to serve as a workspace for baking, food prep, and additional storage.
Open Shelving for Kitchens
After living with the original kitchen, the homeowners realized they liked the convenience of open shelves, and also enjoyed seeing their collection of Arts & Crafts pottery prominently displayed. The new kitchen now has open shelving that fits into the kitchen’s genre and befits the collectibles they hold.
Functions that fit your kitchen
Both doctors, the clients requested a hygienic feature adopted from their work environment: foot-operated hot/cold water faucets at the sink. Additionally, the double-wide sink allows the two to keep out of each other’s way while working side by side. Dual dishwashers allow for similar multi-tasking: one can wash pots and pans while the other washes delicate glassware.
Taking the time to assess your tastes, habits and aspirations will ensure a remodeled kitchen that is a joy to work in now and for years to come.