Yes this post is far more generalised than you might expect from a team of kitchen designers but many of our customers have the pleasure of extending or altering the layout or building their home from scratch so were hoping that our experiences of these frankly life altering periods might help you along the way.
So you may be contemplating embarking on a big build. I’m basing this on the fact that you have a builder in place, and you wisely decided to instruct your kitchen designer early on in the process (more on this later). This guide is here to help you get the best from your builder and kitchen designer during the project, start to finish.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
This is vital. You may agree with your builder on a weekly meeting time which certainly helps everyone keep track and allows raising matters as they occur. But it is also vital to be contactable at times when decisions are being made to prevent the project from being held up. Agree on the contactable hours beforehand and stick to those for everyone’s benefit. Let the team know of any financial/planning delays as soon as they arise, also any changes of heart as they may be spending valuable time planning and arranging for something that won’t need to materialise.
Plan your project and have a budget ready.
You don’t need to be a master on a Gantt chart but having a timeframe with specific dates will keep everything on track, and if you are managing trades that aren’t subcontracting for your builder this will be even more important as lots of tasks on a build or renovation project depend on others being completed first. There are some apps you can download to help you do this but they
Look at tools such as Smartsheet, Project manager and Monday.com or Houzz pro
I know. It sounds drastic but do consider it – everyone knows that building work creates dust and dirt and difficult circumstances. Washing up in the bathroom sink and showering at the gym anyone? It could save you money in the long run as it will speed up the process and make things a lot less stressful for you and your family. It will also help your builders if they are not having to do a deep clean at the end of every day! At the least, agree on your builders working hours early on and keep all your neighbours in the loop.
Make your vision crystal clear
This is where engaging your kitchen designer at the earliest stage is vital. Be specific about what you want from the project from the get-go even if you may need some help with making this vision happen. You may need some guidance on how to approach the way you are going to live in the space. For example, something as simple as where you have plug sockets in a kitchen can make a difference to its functionality. Working out the details at the very start can prevent expensive rectifications later in the project and make life easier for your build team.
Collecting images, sharing these and taking time to think about what you want from the space before you have those initial planning meetings with designer and builder is crucial.
Buying and trade accounts
Let your builder take care of the buying. No doubt they will have trade accounts and be able to agree better terms with their suppliers on price, lead times and delivery (it is at their discretion whether they pass on their trade discounts, they are taking on the trouble after all). More importantly, they have better control over timescale and prioritising items delivery. They are also more likely to remember the details or less glamorous items such as the plumbing fittings for a new kitchen or bathroom. You will also benefit from a wider range of product than those the general public have access to.
Make your team feel welcome
Builders and cups of tea jokes aside, coffee and tea making facilities (and the odd biscuit) go a long way. So does learning your new site team’s name’s. Ensure they have washing/cleaning up facilities available where possible – a utility or cloakroom for example. Treat them with respect and have faith in the professionals you have appointed and you should be rewarded with goodwill and good workmanship.
Pay your bills on time
Keep on top of your accounts to ensure you are paying your trades invoices as soon as they arrive. They need to be assured of your financial stability too and they probably don’t have time to chase.
Ultimately there will be issues that arise, make notes of these as they crop up/you notice them and they can be rectified during and at the end of the project. A rule of thumb is to add 2 weeks to the end a project for snagging issues – build it in from the start.
The ‘C’ word.
Covid and Brexit have undoubtedly had a negative effect on the construction industry in many ways. Most noticeably perhaps are the supply chain issues, so it may be worth accepting that certain construction materials, appliances etc. may have much longer lead times than usual and this very much out of your builder and kitchen company’s hands. Be assured they will be doing all they can to make sure you have what you need, when you need it.
I know, I know. If you haven’t attempted a renovation before it can be a daunting prospect and when problems do (and they will) occur it may feel it’s all going pear-shaped – but like the tea towels say, ‘keep calm, and carry on’. Try to keep level headed and work with your professionals to find out the solution. I’ve never encountered a problem yet that couldn’t be rectified. At this point though I would remind you to add a contingency to your budget of at least 15%. Having the finances ready to sort out unforetold problems eases the stress levels. And if you don’t need to spend it, then hey ho! 15% better off.
As a final aside, do make sure your tradespeople hold the right accreditations, and have great reviews. Good luck with your endeavours and always remember that not altogether annoying phrase; ‘it’ll be worth it in the end’.
The team at Paul Rowles X