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What do Doordash, Swiffer, and Icy Hot have in common? A kitchen remodel! That’s right, we’ve finally broken ground on our kitchen remodel and good gravy I have so much to share about this process. When Andrew and I bought this home in June of 2020 we bought it knowing that we’d almost immediately be gutting the kitchen and our master bedroom and bathroom. Let me just tell you, the quotes that came in for these projects were well beyond what we anticipated. In true “adulting” fashion we had to make the tough decision of prioritizing which project we wanted and needed more. That was very glaringly the kitchen. I will just have to deal with my shower that is the size of a phone box and the giant jacuzzi tub (that doesn’t work) taking up more than half of the bathroom space for a little while longer.
Our house is 100 years old and our kitchen had clearly been renovated at some point in its history, but that was at least 40+ years ago. We know this because we discovered that the company who had built the cabinets went out of business before Andrew and I were even born! The sink faucet wouldn’t move, there was not a garbage disposal, the dishwasher leaked and hardly cleaned anything, the freezer in the refrigerator did not work, the cabinets were so narrow they’d barely shut with our plates inside, part of the floor was water damaged and rotting, there was an original radiator taking up about 25% of our cabinet space, and there was no pantry – among other things. So clearly, the kitchen won.
We had multiple companies in the area come out to quote our project and offer up their designs. We had hoped that the kitchen designers that came to see the space would offer up creative ideas for how we could tweak the layout and maximize space. Apparently, most of them were just there to try to sell us their “top of the line cabinets”. We didn’t get much creativity or ideas, but we did get some ridiculously expensive quotes. After some consideration we decided to take on the project ourselves, which will ultimately saves us about $30-40k! If you are willing and able and trying to save money, this is certainly the way to go!
We are only one week into the actual renovation itself, but I’ve already learned so much about how we could’ve prepared better and kept our house a bit cleaner in the process. So PLEASE, learn from our mistakes!
Here are my 5 Ways to Prepare for a Kitchen Renovation:
MAP OUT A TIMELINE AND TEMPORARY LIVING PLAN
To best prepare for our kitchen renovation, Andrew and I mapped out a timeline before we because I was adamant about not letting this project linger for longer than necessary. Unfortunately, the permit situation has thrown a wrench in our plan, but that will happen with any project and we were mentally prepared for that! So along with your best laid plan, plan for disruptions and set your expectations accordingly! Don’t worry if issues creep up, that is pretty much expected with any big home improvement project.
Also, be sure to plan how you will eat, cook, and clean dishes. After all, you won’t have a kitchen for 6-8 weeks best case. Luckily, we have a spare refrigerator in our basement so we were able to keep things for sandwiches, snacks, and cold drinks in there. We are using our utility sink to rinse out cups as need and we also set up a little card table for our makeshift kitchen. I stocked it with plastic silverware, paper plates, paper towels, a can opener, bottle opener, wine opener (the important things hehe), the coffee maker, and a few of our coffee mugs. I also used a plastic bin to hold various non-perishables to snack on. But ultimately we are living on DoorDash and any friends or family who take pity on us! Invest in the DashPass if you plan to order a lot. It pays for itself!
GET YOUR PERMITS
Something we didn’t fully vet when preparing for our kitchen renovation was permits. Depending upon where you live you may need permits before you can begin work on a home renovation. Andrew had researched this before we started, and thought we had everything we needed until an inspector from The City of Cincinnati slapped a violation notice on our front door. Turns out we needed something called an “adjustment permit”, which basically means we are changing walls in our home. To be honest, this fired us up, why do we need permission to change a NON load bearing wall in our own home?! But se la vie. We also needed to get an HVAC permit since we were removing an old radiator and replacing with a new one. I guess I can understand that one.
The inspector told us to submit our plans to get the permit and that these could just be a very simple sketch. FALSE! After three different submissions (one rejected because it was on graph paper), the city finally accepted the sketch. ALSO, Andrew had to get a document notarized that basically states he’s the “contractor” of this project. All this to say, only certain places require this level of red tape. If you drive five minutes down our road you wouldn’t need it.
How to find out what permits you need for home renovation?
- Google the name of your city + “development services” and find the residential renovations option.
- Have a sketch (to scale) of the before and after of your project.
- Make sure you budget for the fees, they can get pricey.
- Schedule the necessary inspections.
- Find more here!
GET A DUMPSTER
This sounds pretty obvious, but honestly I didn’t even think about it until it showed up in our driveway. When you are preparing for a kitchen renovation, make sure you rent a dumpster to dispose of all the cabinets, counters, floors, wall, and old appliances. We’ve also used Bagster and loved the service, unfortunately power lines would be in the way of this project so we opted to rent a dumpster instead. They’ll drop it off, you fill it up, and then schedule for them to come pick it up.
Arguably the most important way to prepare for a kitchen renovation is to cover everything! I cannot stress this enough. Our house has plaster walls, which are notoriously messier to take down than drywall, but regardless of which type of wall you have – THERE WILL BE GOBS OF DUST. We bought plastic covers and taped them over the doorways where the work was being done and it still wasn’t enough. We have dust all the way up our stairs and in all of the bedroom up there. It is quite literally everywhere.
Additionally, we are using our dining room that is attached to the kitchen as a work room. We covered the dining room table with a moving blanket to protect it from dust and scratches and removed everything else. This is great, but we failed to address the hardwood floors in our dining room and they’ve succumbed to some pretty gnarly scratches.
How to protect your house from demolition dust?
- Cover your air ducts and doorways and make sure the coverings are securely taped down.
- Don’t get lazy! We got lazy and let one of the door coverings come down. It was at the back of the house and so we didn’t think it would make a difference, BUT IT DID!
- Invest in booties to cover our shoes to prevent dust from being tracked everywhere when you leave the work area.
- Cover your floors with cardboard and tape it down to avoid scratches from dropping anything during the demolition. You can just use any old broken-down boxes that you already have on hand.
- Invest in a shopvac. It can suck up all the dust and even big chunks of wall and sediment to make cleaning up so much easier. Seriously, a miracle worker.
- Buy ALL of the Swiffer wet wipes or the Swiffer wet jet. No matter how much you prep to cover the air ducts and doorways, there will be dust. The best way to get rid of it is to vacuum and then go over it with the Swiffer.
Something you may not think about, but absolutely should consider when preparing for a kitchen renovation is how to protect yourself. Along with dust flying everywhere, there are wires, loose nails, chipped wood, and not only that, but it is literally what they call back breaking work! Andrew’s dad and I were using a crowbar to rip out the old hardwood floor and I don’t think I have ever been so sore or had more things flying at my face! Luckily, we were well prepared for this part.
How to protect yourself during a home renovation?
- Make sure your eyes are protected with safety glasses. You’ll be amazed at home much flies up at your face.
- When you’re crawling all around the floor to pull up nails you’ll be glad you had some knee pads. They don’t look beautiful, but they feel beautiful.
- You will be sore in places of your body that you never knew existed! We stocked up on these and also had our massager running non-stop in the evening.
- Stock up on Gatorade. It sounds silly, but it’s tough work and it’s so easy to forget to hydrate.
- Get some masks so that you’re not inhaling all the bad stuff and dust when you’re tearing things out of the walls.
Throughout the process just remember to take some deep breaths and try not to stress too much. It is admittedly a stressful time and seems never ending, but it will be so worth it! As corny as it sounds, I’ve loved spending this time with my husband and learning all these new skills for how to renovate our home. I also have a massive sense of pride that we’re taking this on ourselves and I know you will too! It’s so worth it, friend! I hope these 5 ways to prepare for a kitchen renovation are super helpful and please let me know if you have any to add as you get going!