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The Rational Remodel - Part One (Scope of Work)


Remodeling a kitchen always carries with it a significant emotional component. I deal with this extensively in my book, Completely Personal Kitchens. This series, however, outlines a rational and more quantitative approach to your efforts.

Each part of this series will be devoted to one particular aspect of the kitchen remodel with the goal of introducing important concepts as well as constructive measures that you can use in your own evaluation. To provide a sense of continuity I will focus on just one hypothetical kitchen. I have chosen it because it has a reasonable size and function as well as storage and counter space. It represents a kitchen where the decision on whether or not to remodel is not so easy to weigh. Here are CAD drawings of the existing kitchen:

Existing Kitchen Floorplan.jpg
Existing Kitchen 1.jpg

Here is a video of the actual kitchen:

“Scope of work” is a term that generally describes all of the labor categories that will comprise the project. This kitchen is 14 years old and while other owners in the neighborhood have added granite countertops as an upgrade as well as full tile backsplashes, an extensive renovation on this kitchen could easily out-price comparable homes and end up as an over-improvement.

This means that any remodel (cabinet and counter replacement) would have to be done with an eye toward cost containment.

The simplest way to approach this is to investigate remodel work that can be done within the existing footprint of the kitchen. This means that if the cabinets is redesigned and replaced, the new cabinets will fit exactly into the same space as the old.

The importance of this for cost containment is that it effectively limits the amount of trades (and costs) that need to be involved. In our case the double hung window over the sink can be replaced with a casement, but it will fit exactly into the existing window opening. All of the electrical can stay the same, no flooring will change, no drywall will be repaired, and only a minor amount of paint touch up will be required. With the appliances staying in (almost) the same location, the plumbing and electrical work will consists mainly of disconnecting and then reconnecting the appliances. When the new countertop goes in it can be installed without altering the tile backsplash and can even be put in without the normal delay for fabrication (because it can be pre-measured from the existing counter).

Using the existing footprint narrows the work down to the fewest number of trades, radically shortens the schedule, and often eliminates even the need for permits or builders. It just requires labor for cabinets, counters, and appliance hookups.

In this particular kitchen, this approach is particularly helpful because the owners have already replaced the flooring, the dishwasher, the range, the microwave and the kitchen faucet.

In Part Two, we will look at the Kitchen Metrics. You’ll be surprised to see how much of a change can be made in overall storage and “useable” storage without adding to the cabinet footprint.

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