• Amy Hart

The Exciting/Dreaded Kitchen Remodel: Process Checklist- Early Stages

Updated: Jul 5, 2019

By now you should have read previous posts and should be familiar with the "up-front" process. Here are the next steps of the remodel process:


___ Go through the process of designing and quoting your new kitchen/other space as mentioned in Part 2 with your Designer. When you are satisfied with the design, selections and price, start thinking about timing.

___ Decide which Contractor you will hire. We recommend meeting with at least 3. Not everyone will be right for your project, family, location, budget and pet situation. That doesn't mean they are not good Contractors, but you have to be selective. They and their team will be spending a LOT of time in your home with your family and pets.

___ Get a start date from your Contractor. This is a must. Do not assume they can start next week. You will have to wait weeks if not months to be slotted into their schedule. This start date should take into consideration the timing of your cabinetry, so the Contractor and the Designer/cabinet firm should be in communication.

___ Arrange for financing. Move that money around, sign your loan documents and be ready to go with those deposit checks.


You will have a few weeks to wait around before your project starts. You can (a) Fall prey to your anxiety and discover the benefits of sleeplessness (BTW there are none), or (b) Be productive.


We at Dovetail vote for B, and here are some ideas:


___ First of all, tell people. For 2 reasons: 1) because you're so excited, and 2) to prepare them for time away from work, general craziness, etc. Make sure your boss/staff and co-workers know that your life will be a little bonkers for a couple of months and ask for their patience. You will repay their kindness by inviting them to your new kitchen cocktail party!

___ Set up a group distribution list in your email. This will save so much time when you're communicating with everyone. Please cc the whole team on everything to make sure nothing gets dropped. We all have a delete button.

___ Set expectations with your team surrounding communications and respect of your home and property. Realize they have up to a dozen other projects to manage at the same time. I know we don't like to think about that, but it's true. Let them know you expect a response within at least 48 business hours, and will give them that time to respond. Let them know where they can and can't park. Let them know if there is a bathroom they can use or if they need to rent a port-o-potty. Set the work hours. No one likes to be awoken by a table saw at 6:30 in the morning. You get the picture.

___ Make a plan for your pet(s). Workers will be going in and out of the house/yard and the pets may need special attention. How about your neighborhood pet sitter/walker? Ask your Vet for recommendations. Make sure your contractor and his foreman know the plan. And by all means choose a pet-friendly contractor!!

___ Hire an organization expert or ask a friend to help you edit your belongings. Now is a great time, before everything gets packed up. Be brutal. Are you really going to need those sippy cups now that your kid is 17?

___ Decide what you will donate to places like Goodwill, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. Pack the small stuff up and remove it from the house. If you're donating large appliances or cabinetry, call first to see if they will accept it. Will they pick it up or will you have to have it delivered? Work that out.


___ Let your contractor know what you're donating and what you're keeping. If you'd like him to install some old cabinets in your garage let him know not to throw them in the dumpster!

___ Set up a folder in your dropbox/google drive, etc. for your product information, contracts and home warranties. You'll be getting new products with new warranties. It's nice to be able to access this information with a few clicks.

___ Realize that you will be without a kitchen for weeks and plan for that. Do you have an auxiliary room that can function as a makeshift kitchenette? Something with a sink is preferable such as a laundry room. I once had a client wash all of her dishes in the tub for 2 weeks, but that is another story.

___ Once you have identified that place move some things into that space: a microwave, hot plate, toaster oven. Get to know your panini press in a meaningful way. Can your contractor (or handy spouse) remove one of your old cabinets and move it into this room for plate and utensil storage? Do you have a folding table? There! You have the beginnings of a kitchenette and you can actually prepare small edible meals during your remodel. Some people find this temporary "camp life" rather fun, and create great memories. Remember the time when we ate waffles for 3 weeks straight with every type of syrup and jam we could find? Ahh the good ol days.

___ Start a blog or series of online posts of your remodeling adventure! This will keep things in perspective and allow you to deal with the let-downs with humor and the support of your online friends. "Carol, it's only cabinets... you're still walking around breathing." oh... right.

___ Realize there WILL BE DISAPPOINTMENTS along the way. This is inevitable. With so many hands touching this project and the products that go into it... things get scratched, trucks break down and people get sick and don't show up. Be mentally prepared. We, as professionals lose sleep over these things, so please realize we HATE it when these things happen, and will do our absolute best to get you back on track right away.

___ Make a list of places to eat out and to visit, including visiting friends for dinner (go ahead and invite yourself!). Where have you wanted to go but keep putting it off? Get out of the house. See movies, take a class, go roller skating. No one likes to see the sausage being made. It's very unsettling... but it tastes SO good on the grill!

___ Make sure you get the preliminary schedule from your Contractor. Work will always shift depending on availability and timing, but you should know the general outline.

___ As you get close to demo day, pack everything up. Get some boxes ahead of time, and clear out those cabinets! Stage these boxes somewhere and realize this is temporary. Deep breaths. Just don't close your eyes during deep breathing because you might trip over these boxes. Remove everything valuable from the work area and adjacent areas. Remember that that commercial with the contractor that broke the Faberge egg? it happens.


After you come home from work the day of demolition you might cry. Be prepared. I once cried when I traded in my old car. This is a kitchen that you've spent years in and have many memories attached to. You're allowed to be emotional.


Crying during a remodel is not only OK, it's what we all do.


Next, we will talk about the Construction Phase.

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