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Kitchen Remodeling & Renovations

So you're ready to renovate! There are many factors to consider before you start your renovation or remodel. Time spent now will be money saved later. The more you plan the better chance you'll have of achieving the results you want.

The first lesson to be learned with renovations is flexibility. Every plan or design is not always possible. There will be factors that will affect the outcome of your kitchen design and some are not immediately obvious. In many instances you will be confined by such factors as size and shape. Sometimes it will be possible to change these factors but not always. Another confining factor can be the location of your plumbing. Your fantasy kitchen may require your sink to be on the other side of the room but the current location of your plumbing might not agree. I would definitely recommend that you start with a design that is as close to your fantasy as possible but always remember to remain flexible.

Once you have decided on your kitchen design you should consult your contractor. He or she will be able to advise you on the plausibility of the design as well as the cost. Once you have decided on a plausible and affordable kitchen design it will be time to move to the next step…Shopping. This is where you find the look, style and function you want for your kitchen. This is where you must put all the pieces together; Finding the right size, color, model, tile, cabinet, excreta. But be careful. You can't just go willy-nilly and buy any and everything you want. Be mindful to consult your contractor with the aspects of your purchases. As a home improvement contractor, I am always looking over the shoulder of my customers to see if what they are about to purchase will work within the confines of their space and design. There are many nuisances that can occur, like the refrigerator that's too tall for the cabinet, or the sink that's too deep for the drain, or you bought a four-hole sink when there should only be three holes.

I try to warn my customers of the most common mistakes ahead of time. A good example involves dishwashers and countertops. If your kitchen design calls for a stone countertop such as granite, be mindful that the installation of the dishwasher must account for this. Dishwashers normally install by screwing into the underside of the countertop. This will prevent the dishwasher from moving when you open and close it, or from "doing a little dancing" when you run it. Stone countertops don't play nice with screws so needless to say, someone is going to be put on "timeout."

Obviously, it will not be possible to screw the dishwasher into the underside of a stone countertop. The solution is to purchase a dishwasher that has an adaptable mount. Instead of screwing into the underside of the countertop it will also give you the option of being able to screw into the base cabinets on either side. This will save your newly renovated kitchen from the irritation of a "dancing" dishwasher.

What To Expect

Once you have purchased all of your fixtures and finishing materials it's time to put your plan in action. It's time for construction. But before we get to construction we must first go through destruction, a process better known as demolition.

During the demolition process there will be dust. As a contractor, I am always mindful of dust control. It is a very important aspect of every job. Although it will not be possible to achieve 100% dust containment, I always try to come as close as possible.

Expect change orders. What are change orders? A change order is additional work that is not included in the terms of the contract to be performed by your home improvement contractor. Change orders usually rear their heads after the demolition process is over. They usually appear in the form of rotted wood, corroded pipes, or sometimes, mold. Hopefully there won't be any mold or rotted studs but if so, it will have to be addressed. This type of condition usually falls under the category of unforeseen circumstances, additional work and usually results in change orders.

Expect to be inconvenienced during your kitchen renovation. Unless you have the luxury of more than one kitchen in your home you can expect to be without a kitchen anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks depending on the scale of your renovation. There may be times when the water and electric will be shut off in order to move forward with the project. I always try to avoid such utility interruptions but there are many instances when these interruptions are unavoidable. In these instances I plan ahead so as to keep them to a minimum, usually an hour or less.

Expect to be called on to make decisions. In almost every kitchen renovation there will be decisions to make. Whenever possible I try to keep my customers involved in the decision process. If there is a choice to be made that falls into the category of personal preference I will give the customer the opportunity to make that decision. Communication is a very important aspect of the renovation process. It's important to be specific and clear with your ideas and thoughts. Always remember that good communication will prevent costly mistakes and keep the project running smoothly.

Bathroom Remodeling & Renovations

When planning a bathroom renovation most home owners are consumed by the cosmetic aspects but planning a bathroom renovation is much more than cosmetic. Bathroom renovations by nature are very plumbing intensive and your plumbing determines what will and will not be possible. If your bathroom remodel involves rearranging your fixtures then there are factors to be considered.

If you live in an apartment building more than likely relocating your fixtures will not be possible... at least not without completely destroying your neighbors’ bathroom as well. This feat is better attempted in a private house. And although your chances are greatly improved there, it is still no guarantee that you will be able to put your fixtures where you want them. The main restriction is the location of the waste stack and the direction of the floor joists. Simply put, where ever the fixtures go the waste lines must follow and if there are floor joists in the way then the waste lines cannot follow. And if there is no way for the waste lines to follow then the relocation will not be possible.

If you’re not sure whether your fixtures can be moved simply ask your contractor. He or she should be able to tell you with some certainty if it’s possible. This will allow you to eliminate designs based on feasibility.

Best Practice

A good rule of thumb is to be patient with your bathroom renovation. Big items such as the vanity top and special-order tile can take several weeks to arrive. So before you take a sledge hammer to your bathroom, make sure everything you're going to need is on hand. Things such as the vanity, plumbing fixtures, any new lighting, the tub, tile, excreta.. You might get frustrated waiting around for products, but it's better than tearing up your bathroom and having it rendered unusable until they arrive. Plus, when your new products are on hand, you'll know if you need to do extra work, such as moving the plumbing lines for the sink location or moving your light box to accommodate your new lighting fixture. Everything just works out better. The guess work is eliminated as well as the anxiety of wondering if everything will fit and jell together.

Vanity or Pedestal?

With bathrooms, one of the decisions most owners are faced with is whether to install a vanity or a pedestal sink. For the owners the only factor they usually consider is the storage space provided by the vanity versus the clean minimalistic feel of a pedestal. As a contractor, I look at the plumbing. Is the waste line centered at the position where the new pedestal will be? Are there too many shut-off valves exposed? Does the owner’s budget allow for these to be relocated? If not, will it cause the final product to be unattractive? Using my experience and judgment I always try to inform my customers and guide them toward the best decision possible.

Real or Compressed?

When choosing a vanity there are options and prices that range from as little as $99 and well up into the thousands. When it comes to real wood verses compressed wood you really do get what you pay for. Compressed wood (shown to the left) is much less expensive than real wood. So needless to say, compressed wood vanities are much cheaper than their real counterparts but so is the quality. Compressed wood vanities can be made to look attractive but unless you’re into disposable furniture I would keep my distance.

The problem with compressed wood is that it’s very allergic to water and moisture. It basically falls apart when exposed. So why would anyone put a material that cannot withstand exposure to water and moisture in a bathroom? It’s a very good question…

Should I change my tub?

Another decision most owners are faced with is whether to change the tub. Sometimes this decision is a financial one. To save money some owners consider re-glazing their tub. Although re-glazing the tub will be less expensive than installing a new one I personally don’t recommend it. When you examine the facts, changing the tub is really the better option.

A few concerns about re-glazing: How long will the refinish last? Will it be as durable and as attractive as the original finish? How do you address the old plumbing that’s under the old tub?

Fact is; the cost of a new cast iron tub is equivalent to or less than the cost of re-glazing your old tub. A new cast iron tub can be obtained for a little as $300. Re-glazing your old tub can cost anywhere from $300 to $400.

Installing a new tub allows you to change the old pipes. Finishing your renovation and ignoring your old plumbing is not a good idea. New tiles plus an old tub with leaky plumbing equals wasted money. Why? You will have to destroy your newly installed tiles to fix any leaks.

Some owners might decide to leave the old tub for now thinking that it can always be changed later. Changing your old tub after completing a new renovation would be a colossal waste of money. Why? You will have to take your bathroom apart to change it.

Mirror or Medicine Cabinet?

I never understood why some home owners choose to install a mirror over a medicine cabinet. I have never questioned that decision. As a contractor I realize that everyone has their own preferences and taste and I always make it a point to respect that. But during a casual conversation I subtle ask the question and the response I got was surprising. They didn’t like the way a medicine cabinet sticks out from the wall. Well of course the obvious solution is to install a recessed medicine cabinet. It will look just like a mirror but only with storage. So when a customer tells me that they only want a mirror I subtle mention that a recessed cabinet will give the same look as a mirror but with added storage. This way when my customer makes a decision I at least know it’s an informed one.


Mullings Restoration & Development is a home improvement contractor that performs all interior renovations while specializing in kitchen and bathroom remodeling. Our services include project consultation, architectural design, plumbing, electrical and general construction.


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