I Want A New Kitchen!
Remodeling your kitchen is usually the project that will create the greatest change in your home with regard to lifestyle, quality of life, and value. Depending on the amount of use and the decor, kitchens are usually due for an update or remodel after 20 years on average. Homes with kitchens from the 80's or earlier usually have function issues, decor issues, or aren't laid out in a manner that serves the lifestyles desires for today's homeowners.
Homeowners today are looking for a function focused kitchen. Families often are looking for open concept spaces that including cooking casual dining and perhaps some living room/lounge space. Others are looking for kitchen that can host frequent gatherings where informal prep and socializing are the keys. Still others may want a more production focused kitchen space to serve separate dining spaces. Whatever the need, investing in the kitchen that serves your lifestyle is a critical piece of that conversation during the design process. Another key piece is determining the level of focus on your ROI (return on your investment) I'll talk about that in a minute. Regardless, the design process should be inclusive and answer all the immediate and potential needs for the client. These questions don't cost anything and they ensure that when you are done, you have exactly what you want.
Return on investment is a tricky subject here in Vermont. A lot depends on the market you are in, the neighbor hood you may be in, perhaps how much land you have etc... Its not quite as simple as perhaps it might in a suburb of Boston. One thing is clear, however, it is important to match the design to your level of interest in ROI. For some ROI is not an issue at all - they want what they want and adopt the approach that if the next person doesn’t like it, they can change it. For others, they are looking at their home as a shorter term commitment and selling it is a critical piece. In Vermont, often times the ROI is focused more on making the sale attractive more than the actual dollar amount. Whatever your need and focus, it's critical that ROI be aligned with the design early on.
Understanding the way you either currently use a kitchen or how you intend to use your new kitchen guides much of the design - if the home is a single cook or multiple people at a time; if you are an avid baker; if you use your kitchen for canning or butchering; even if you are a morning person and wish to have coffee and see the sunrise can influence a well designed kitchen. These factors help drive cabinet choice, counter top surface choice, layout, and size. All of these pieces have to be organized for it to finish in a cohesive and seamless fashion
Craftsmanship and Materials:
There are a lot of ways to put a kitchen together from custom cabinetry to stock cabinetry - from stone surfaces to laminate or butcher block. They all serve a purpose and are appropriate for certain things. Just about every HGTV Renovation show has people walking through kitchens saying they wish they had granite countertops. But do they know why? Is it the look? The function? The cost? Granite counter tops have plenty of pros, but also have some cons. Did you know that putting a hot pan on granite can cause small pockets in the stone to heat up and explode potentially chipping the nice polished surface of your countertops? Did you also know that granite can stain, quite badly and needs to be sealed and re-sealed over time. These aren't necessarily drawbacks but they are often things the average consumer doesn't know about the product. And in the haste to sell some expensive granite counter tops the designer or builder fails to disclose some of that information. You, as the consumer should be informed and guided through the process to make sure you get what you want.
As far as the cabinets and custom work done on the space, a perfectly functional and good looking kitchen can be built from stock or semi custom cabinets. Going fully custom opens up the options but also opens up the budget. Matching the appropriate cabinets to the budget and intended use and longevity goals is a critical task to getting the most value for your dollar as well as feeling like you made great choices along the way.
Some of your biggest energy hogs are in the kitchen so one quick way to increase your homes efficiency is to upgrade appliances. But since a major kitchen remodel usually requires rewiring/piping often times the walls are mostly or completely open. It's a great time to do a mini energy retrofit on a part of your home, making it warmer, more comfortable, and more efficient. It also might be a good time to add some comfort features like radiant floor heating or a central vac that you can sweep into during frequent kitchen sweep ups.
Getting Ready and What to Ask:
The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the house. As you think about its renovation, you should interview several possible candidates. As a design build company, Allied is a one stop shopping trip, but you should possibly interview another builder who might work in conjunction with an outside provider. Finding the right fit is critical.
You should ask about timeline, subcontractors and in-house labor force. You want to know who is doing the work and look at pictures of their past work. Contractors who shop around for the cheapest price from subcontractors often have widely varying results in their finished product. Other contractors who subcontract most or all of the work, are subject to subcontractor schedules and quality of workmanship as well as quality of experience. In-house crews are used to working with a consistent level of craftsmanship, behavior, and courtesy. Subcontractors can vary widely in those areas. Ultimately this group of people will be in your home for 2-4 weeks and quite likely you'll see them everyday. You want to make sure you are comfortable with them and with the work they will produce.
Bottom line - be prepared and ask lots of questions. Many contractors get comfortable with the way they do it and are poor communicators. They make lots of assumptions, including that you know what they are thinking of. They often use that excuse to excuse either their shortcomings or the shortcomings of the job. Ultimately it's the job of the contractor to align your vision and goals with the result. It's not easy and requires skilled communication and expert coordination. That's the only way to ensure a good result.