Embarking on any new project or venture is always going to be a learning curve. Some bits easier to grasp and understand more than others. But one thing we’re finally realising with the planning of our new dream kitchen, is that indecision is not an option, and can really hinder progress of works.
We’re all pretty much aware that there are certain things in life which are deemed as stressful life events.
Weddings, new babies and moving house. I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I’ve had direct dealings with in the past, and I can most definitely agree that these were some of the most fraught times that my husband I have experienced.
What I didn’t know, was that there was one more planned in for us.
Installing a new kitchen.
Simple right? Well, yes probably – but perhaps not how we’ve gone about things!
Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing.
I think to be honest, we’ve both been extremely naive about what we were to expect from this whole process. But much of that was probably pure lack of information and knowing what exactly we needed to look for.
At first we were silly and just didn’t have a clue where to start, a bit like the chicken and egg, as you see we’re not just installing a new kitchen. That would have been fine. We’re knocking down a couple of walls and have now decided to develop this further and go into part of the garage also.
The thing is, we’re not builders, we’re not structural engineers or architects, we’re just normal people trying to make the most of the house in which we live, as it’s not cost effective or at all possible for us to move to a larger house in our current circumstances.
So in a way, we are a little on the blind side.
Ok so we’ve scoured endless interiors magazines, but whilst we’ve (mainly me!) collected umpteen ideas of how we want our kitchen to look, what colour schemes we love, where to position the bar stools or what rugs we’d need for effective zoning, what we never really did was truly investigate the initial building process.
Yep I know. I’m kicking myself right now too!
I think I got completely and utterly swept up in the dream of how I wanted my kitchen to look, so the technical details just paled into non-non-existance.
But then again, to be a little more fair to ourselves, we didn’t really know what scope there was for altering our interior until we spoke to builders, architects etc along the way.
You see, initially, all we were planning to do was simply knock down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, create a bit of a larger space and pop a new kitchen in.
That in itself would have been fine.
But having now spoken to builders, kitchen providers and architects, we’re still deciding how we want the space configured.
So obviously, without a clear and definite idea in our own heads, it’s impossible to instruct anyone to come up with drawings, quotes etc and even to book in a date for the work to commence!
So, this is why I’m currently a bit down and blue about the whole process, which hasn’t even really started yet.
The thing is, for each different ‘expert’ we speak to – they seem to open our eyes to more possibilities and options available to us for how we can improve our living space.
And then there’s the budget to contend with.
Both the kitchen designers and the builders are asking what our budget is, and to be honest, it’s tricky to tell either a straight answer as one is entirely dependant on the other. For example if we save on the kitchen, we can alter more of the actual structure of the house, but if the kitchen works out to be expensive, we will need to hold off on some of our grand plans and ideas.
And with only a certain amount of money in the pot, we’re trying to get the best of both worlds and at the moment, this doesn’t seem to be working.
I think this is the indecisive part of me, taking over, and ruining the entire process.
What we need to do is decide. And stick to our decision.
Because every time we change our minds, you can pretty much lump another few weeks or so (and pounds of course!) onto the whole process.
Plus, with good builders in such demand, we are finding they are all booked now for at least six months or more, so every time we have to have new drawings, they’ve booked another few months worth of jobs!
Which is why I was feeling a bit disheartened by the whole process the other day when the builders we really like said they now couldn’t fit us in until next year!
I was utterly deflated!
Yes, I know, I can see you all thinking, even saying out loud, well what did we expect.
Don’t worry, I feel silly enough as it is, and I’m kicking myself, I assure you.
So this is why this experience has so far been pretty stressful to us. One minute, excited, the next, deflated, the next excited again, the next day, grumpy and indifferent.
And I certainly don’t see how I’m going to have to agree to what I want now, a whole year or more before the work actually begins! By then, surely anything could have changed. For example we could have had promotions and decide we want to do more work.
Or even won the lottery and moved to a big grand mansion house down the road!
So, if you are thinking of doing some similar works to your homes, here are some of the hints and tips I’ve pick up so far:
- Firstly the big one – the budget – know your overall budget as much as you can – but have a contingency amount set aside for works later down the line, as is always recommended. We certainly will be, so I’ll let you know how it goes!
- Hiring an architect is a large expense, but it can really open your eyes up to the possibilities of how to configure your new space. If you are having difficulties making decisions (as we did) this would be a really good first step.
- If however you know exactly what you want, you can simply start getting the builders in to quote.
- We found good builders on recommendations of others – so, asking friends, and friends of friends is always a good place to start, as you can actually see their finished products.
- Builders are pretty hard to get hold of and eventually book – especially the good ones which are in demand. If you have ideas of when you want your work to begin, and know what you want, I would get onto prospective builders pretty early on.
- Don’t just settle for the first quote. Try and get at least a couple so you can gauge how expensive they are and have a good range to judge and choose between.
- From receiving different quotes, and listening to the builders or other tradespeople when they view your property, you can really pick up a great many handy ideas, tips and advice. All which you can use with the builder you eventually choose.
- Some builders offer to ‘manage’ the entire process up until the kitchen installers arrive, and have their own plumbers, electricians, window fitters etc that they contact and liaise with to get the right design for you. Others however, leave the managing up to you entirely where you will need to contact all the separate tradespeople yourself. You will need to have an idea of which option would work best for you.
- If you are having structural work done on the house, your builders will most likely ask for new technical drawings to be supplied. The structural engineer can take a few weeks from inspecting your property, to suppling the new designs, so this delay in time should be factored in.
- Once you have your quotes, you can then work out how much money you have left for the kitchen.
- Some kitchen companies have their own builders who they like to use, which can quicken the process.
- Be guided by the experts certainly, but don’t just roll over. I had big ideas, and though I might not be able to see many come to fruition, I have asked, and in some cases we have found different ways to get what we require. Some builders laughed in my face at my ‘grand’ ideas, but if this is what you want, it might just be possible if you ask around.
- It seems that money is the only real limiting factor when it comes to building works. Anything is generally possible if you are prepared to pay for it.
Have you had work done to your homes? Did you learn any vital tips along the way?