New Kitchen Modification Scenarios


New Kitchen or Modifications / typical scenario!

When anyone is modifying or completely remodeling their kitchen, a number of interesting scenarios can occur. However, there is one very common occurrence that irritates the professional contractor and should be monitored by the homeowner. Unfortunately this situation happens in more cases than anyone would like to admit.

The scenario starts with a homeowner realizing that they are in need of a totally new kitchen, or a major renovation. They decide that they do not need to follow some any of the proper procedures, as noted elsewhere on this website, or they simply call the nearest and easiest contractor that resembles a responsible kitchen remodeler, and asks for a value for the work.

In many cases, this individual contractor will eventually show up. It may take several calls, several emails or simply a tremendous amount of time, but the homeowner is relieved that, finally the contractor shows up to look at the project. It always amazes me that even though there is a noticeable disrespect shown by the contractor to the homeowner, they still forgive and forget as soon as that elusive price is provided!

Due to the time already expended, as well as the frustration that the homeowner now has regarding time, the contractor acknowledges a value for the work, and the homeowner feels obligated to this contractor to perform the work. This decision is simply based upon the one and only contractor responsible enough to offer a value for the work. In so many cases, the homeowner proceeds to the next step.

The homeowner accepts the value of the work, based upon basically one price from one contractor, and proceeds to the bank for financing. Remember, banks are simply money making establishments that use money to make money. No matter what the bank may advertise, their acceptance of loans and financial arrangements are simply based upon your ability to pay them back. Of course, if the home is worth more than the individual homeowner owes, the bank knows the loan for a new kitchen is covered. If you actually think about it, the money is being used to enhance the equity that the bank will have ownership of if anyone should defaults on the loan.

The homeowner receives their money and feels they are ready to move ahead.

Excited and stimulated by their enlarged bank account, the homeowner contacts the contractor that provided them the value for the work, fully expecting the contractor to jump at the change to perform their work.

This is a naïve and simply incorrect assumption for the homeowner to have regarding their work in the kitchen. If this contractor follows the basic guidelines of the majority of contractors, this kitchen work will simply be a pain in the neck. Is it really worth all the effort to mobilize the forces and start the work without attempting to increase the ante?

What will normally occur is the contractor will now see the opportunity for some free money. If there is no detailed scope of work that was quoted upon, the contractor will take this opportunity to use the homeowner’s lack of experience, along with their excitement, to get the work done.

The contractor will add money to the price.

How can this occur? This question will always be the foundation of most homeowner / contractor relationships and will support the never ending saga of the “money pit “of home ownership.

In an effort to short circuit this difficult scenario, regarding the new or renovated kitchen, what should the homeowner have done?

  • Once again, as I have stated in so many different pages of this website, the hiring of a construction professional to assist the homeowner in any project of this magnitude is always money well spent.
  • The homeowner should have insisted upon several different references for the contractor.
  • The homeowner should have remained patient and diligent and obtained at least two other quotes for the scope of work required.
  • The homeowner needed to establish a detailed scope of work, with all the different so called unimportant and minor aspects of the work included.
  • The homeowner should have demanded that a written formal proposal be submitted, by the contractors responding to the request for proposals.
  • The homeowner should have established a budget for the project based upon their independent research of the marketplace, or better yet, the recommendation and cost evaluation of the professional construction consultant that you had hired to guide you through this scenario.

What items should be included within the detailed scope of work for your kitchen?

  • Demolition and removal of all existing finishes
  • New electrical / list the number of outlets plus the appliances that will require new electrical service. If the need for additional panel or service into the primary service of the home is required, the contractor should be responsible for the identification of this need.
  • New plumbing as required for the new kitchen sink, dishwasher as well as any other appliance that is to be included within the scope of the kitchen work.
  • New HVAC, if required to accommodate the new layout of the new kitchen.
  • All kitchen cabinets and countertops
  • All backsplashes and special accommodations as noted on the documents developed to identify the scope of work.
  • Flooring as required.
  • Lighting as required and noted on the drawings showing the kitchen work. This may include any under cabinet lighting, up lighting, special location lighting, special ceiling fans, lights, chandeliers.
  • Complete and finished wood trim work on all openings in the new kitchen inclusive of window openings and door openings.
  • Shelving as described on the documents.
  • Cleanup and removal of all miscellaneous construction debris and extra materials.
  • Insurance and license

What should the homeowner provide to the contractor for pricing?

  • Scope of work as identified above.
  • Detailed sketch of the new kitchen requirements.
  • List of required appliances, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc. Any item that the homeowner expects the contractor to purchase needs to be clearly and accurately identified.
  • Time schedule for the work and an incentive clause as well as a penalty clause for delay.
  • Requirement that the contractor provide a detailed and accurate identification of any required changes or additional work required within 24 hours of discovery.

Although all of these requirements appear to be over the top, they are necessary to properly manage and control the proposals received by individual contractors.

This is why I continue to insist that the expense of a professional construction consultant always makes sense. The normal homeowner has NO idea what they can get themselves into.

So what can be done if all of the special preparations and management techniques have not been followed, and the money is in the bank account, and your contractor is finding different reasons for additional work, and he hasn’t even started yet?

There are a number of suggestions that should be followed.

  • Patience is a virtue! Remember do not be overly anxious.
  • Review the items noted above regarding how the work should be valued.
  • Ask the contractor to provide a value for this description of work, and require a written proposal from this contractor.
  • Select at least (1) more contractor for another value, it would be much better if you can find at least (2) additional contractors to quote the work.
  • Shop around; research the value of kitchen cabinets and countertops that would satisfy your scope of work. The key to reviewing this type of work is to look at the linear footage of the kitchen, counters, cabinets, etc. If you can establish a linear footage value for your work, you will have some type of measuring guide to establish a legitimate cost for the work.

Unfortunately there is NO general cost estimate that we can provide on this website. If the kitchen is a 14 X 16 space, or 224 square feet, the cost of the new kitchen can range from a reasonable value of $150.00 per square foot to over $250.00 per square foot. The cost of the kitchen depends upon the cost of the demolition, the selection of cabinets, fixtures, countertops, appliances, etc. It is basically impossible to identify the actual cost of any new or renovated or new kitchen, due to the different selections and levels of value.

Rules of thumb to identify cost;

Based upon a 224 square foot kitchen

  • Demolition / 224 SF X $15.00 = $3,360.00 this includes all patching and prep
  • New flooring / 224 X $20.00 = $4,480.00 this includes all perimeter patching
  • New wall finishes / 224 X 9 ft ceilings X $1.50 = $3,024.00
  • Assume 20 linear feet of cabinets X $450.00 LF = $9,000.00
  • Assume 20 X 2 square feet of countertops X $80.00 SF = $3,200.00
  • Appliances / use a total allowance of    $2,500.00
  • Plumbing fixtures / use an allowance of $1,500.00
  • Electrical work / 224 SF X $30.00 SF =   $6,720.00
  • Plumbing work / 224 SF X $25.00 SF =    $5,600.00
  • HVAC work / 224 SF X $35.00 SF =         $7,840.00 assumes a new system for the kitchen
  • Miscellaneous / cleanup/ etc. 224 SF X $5.00 = $1,120.00

Total value for 224 SF of a moderate kitchen = $48,344.00 or $215.82 per SF

Again, I stress that it is imperative that if the homeowner wants a fair and balanced value for their kitchen renovation or new kitchen, they should employ a professional construction consultant that can at least guide them through the basics. Unfortunately if experience and knowledge is not shown by the homeowner, the possibility that the contractor will take full advantage of the situation, and attempt to make the most money on the project is enhanced.

The value of kitchens is totally dependent upon what type of contractor is performing the work, how busy the market is as well as the many different selections for kitchen finishes, appliances, countertops, cabinets, etc.

Keys to success;

Hire the professional construction consultant to guide you along

Be patient and do not allow the excitement of a new kitchen overshadow the need to find reasonable and competent contractors to perform the work.

I do not recommend that the individual subcontractors such as the electrician, plumber, HVAC, flooring, etc. be hired individually by the homeowner. The coordination of work in a kitchen needs to be timely and precise, and all the responsibility for this coordination should be the sole responsibility of the primary kitchen renovation contractor.

PLUS / please have a written proposal with a detailed scope of work, signed by both parties!

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