Over-thinking, or smart planning?

kksmamaJune 6, 2013

Did you over-think and obsess over your project? Did that help, or hurt, as construction took place? I tell myself that doing all this mental and planning work now will make the physical process easier, and final result better. But part of me isn't quite buying that and thinks I'm a little nuts.
And um...is having a debate with oneself over all this the definition of nuts, or a healthy adaptation to the fact that no spouse, friend, or relative cold possibly sustain sufficient interest in all the details of a kitchen remodel?
I think the GC I'll work with is detail oriented, smart, and experienced. So I don't really have to understand and double check everything (today's example: sink setter). But I'm not sure I can restrain myself. Anyone have tips for not alienating the people I've hired as I strive to learn (but not actually do) their jobs?

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I am routinely accused of over planning, and I proudly own it. When hope is your plan, you're screwed. I find I am less stressed when I know what and when things are going to happen.

I don't think that anybody should have a problem with you setting expectations, scope of work, etc, and then you verifying that your expectations are met. If they do, you are working with the wrong person.

As long as you are polite and professional when you are asking questions, why not. You are writing the checks. Nothing wrong saying "I'm confused, I though xxx.., what did you understand?". People misunderstand once in a while. If it is consistent, well then there is a talent gap.

My SO is not interested in the details, that's why I post here. I also keep notes on my phone and tablet that I can go back to organize or see if they make sense on a different day. Houzz was really helpful for me to track what I like and why. Then when I met with my designer, she knew exactly what I was thinking, and made her job easier. Win - win

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 8:11AM
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Having done remodels both ways, with little knowledge or planning and with months of obsessive research, I can assure you that lots of planning is better. I hate my upstairs bathroom, which we had redone before learning of GW. After doing the kitchen, I realized my choices for the bathroom would have been much different had I researched. Even worse, I learned all the things that the contractor did wrong in the bathroom. Despite all the research and thought I put into the kitchen, there were still a few problems, but they were relatively minor (except the disconnection of the receptacle in DD's room, that's going to cost me over $200 to fix). I think the more you know about what they do, the better. A knowledgeable and honest contractor should be grateful to have a knowledgeable customer, and if your contractor isn't particularly knowledgeable, it's all the more important that you be.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 8:52AM
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I agree that educating oneself, planning, and being involved is important. At the same time, I also realize that at a certain point I at least get so involved that small details which won't make a difference in the long run seem to become a big deal. So, I'd say the difference between overthinking and smart planning is to figure out what the truly important decisions and non-negotiables are for you and make sure that they are taken care of.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:24AM
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"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

-Ben Franklin

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:45AM
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Research and planning beforehand! When I did my kitchen (unfortunately I had picked most of the materials out before I learned about GW) I thought I would just go through a KD and I would be guided along the way. I wasn't thrilled with any of the KD I talked to and ended up hiring a contractor instead. That meant I needed to educate myself in a hurry...as it was, it wasl all delayed for a few months--much to the consternation of the contractor--while I shopped and picked things out. I knew the look I was going for but no knowledge of different cabinet brands...had never been to a stone yard, etc...so I was scrambling to learn and pick stuff out. I say do as much as you can before you hire a KD or contractor, then you can make more informed decisions.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 11:01AM
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By nature, I'm a planner so, of course, I think planning is crucial.As long as it doesn't turn into ''analysis paralysis,'' where you can't make a decision because you're overwhelmed with so many choices and so much information (been there a few times, but got through it), I would definitely call it smart planning.

DH is more the type of person to dive in and deal with things as they come up, which he does quite well. However, the details don't matter as much to him, either, so I'm alone in my obsessing. He thought it was ridiculous that I was bringing home tile samples for the backsplash before we even had the granite installed. However, by doing that, now that we have the funds to go ahead with the backsplash we've had an opportunity to live with various samples and choose the one we like best right away. From what I've read here, though, I guess I need to be prepared to initially panic when we get it installed and then later (hopefully) love our choice.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 11:52AM
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Planning is very important. It is also just as imperative to know when enough is enough and that you NEED to move on.

Picking tiles to go with your granite is cosmetic/esthetic choices. This is very very different type of planning from knowing how the infrastructure will be updated, which permits need to be pulled etc. These are things many people 'leave' to the contractor. Even if you hire a contractor, you need to be involved and informed about how your house's infrastructure will be organized. This will have a lasting effect on the remainder of the house.

You need to have enough knowledge to know that when the contractor/professional gives you BS that you can spot it and call them on it. This is the toughest part of figuring out how much you need to learn versus when you let them do what they are hired to do. There is no easy answer. I would say experience or an access to experienced people: ie here....

Having said that, there are many many ways to do the same thing. This is very true in construction. If you ask your hired people to justify everything that they do, you WILL alienate them eventually. You have to 'read' the people you hire and give them room to do what they do well if you want them to have efficiency in what they do. Most people will explain things to do once but will not repeat it or justify it multiple times.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 2:53PM
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For me planning the layout was paramount, but all my year of planning for cabs/color/maker was for naught with the discovery of enough board feet of white oak to do our cabs and the concurrent discovery of a guy 3 miles away that'll do it. I've been kind of thinking about the scores, dozens, hundreds (gulp) of hours I've been online and driving, looking at cabs etc. I could have been taking a lot of bubble baths instead. But, the layout... absolutely. Plan. And leave some room for flexibility in the finishes. haha.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 3:09PM
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I think there is a fine line between the two. I think you have to over think your design to get it right. But I do agree it is possible to take it too far. I am going through this now, I feel okay about the design but I feel like there are few things I'm uncertain about. I think in the end I can't be completely certain about everything.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Thank you all for the encouragement. I am enjoying the the learning and planning, and I really appreciate that there are so many talented and experienced people here with whom to share this! This is not dissimilar to other kinds of major planning, like foreign travel, and I've found that research paid off in cost savings and enjoyment.
Deciding what is important *is* hard - because none of it seems important until you know things, and once you know enough it all seems important (placement of faucet handle, granite dust ruining drawer glides).

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 8:41PM
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Some of the things I've learned on my current remodel:

1) The highest-end stores don't always have the best products and relying on them is an easy way to waste money to get sub-par results

2) Even good contractors that know how to build don't always pick the best products or do things in the best way, and research will get you a better result

3) Spending time working with a cross-section of specialists (architects, designers, contractors, GW contributors) will help you make better decisions and leverage the best of what others do

4) Paying more is usually not a good indicator of getting a better result and is not a substitute for doing your own research to get what you want

5) You are probably over-thinking if you keep going back to the same decisions you've made before, without any new information

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:04PM
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Detailed planning ahead of time is wise. It will give you time to decide what you like best, and what will work best for you. Contractors and KDs can help with that, to an extent, but in the end only you know what suits your lifestyle best.

The really important issue with detailed planning up front is that it will cut down changes once the project begins. After you sign that contract, changes become quite costly (and cause delays in completion). Even in the best planned projects, there will be unexpected issues to deal with, so nail down as much as you can ahead of time.

You're definitely planning smart!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 11:18PM
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I have found that no one cares about my kitchen as much as I do. ð My cabinet guy would have built what he already knew how to do....doors upper and drawers lower. Everything new I discussed with him was met with "no one ever does that" or "that's stupid". He put his opinion in on the design aspects. I needed it on the structural aspect, not the design. He doesn't even draw his cabinets out for customers to see. He just starts at one end and fills out the space with no planning for function on the inside of cabinets.

Same thing with the people installing the gas and electric connections. They didn't read any specs that came with the American Range hybrid oven and Blue Star. If I hadn't read about the installation they would have put them anywhere. I caught things after they were completed wrong too. Big mistakes. Obsess on what you feel you need to. You will probably feel better. Peke

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 9:48AM
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I tell myself that doing all this mental and planning work now will make the physical process easier, and final result better. But part of me isn't quite buying that and thinks I'm a little nuts.

There's a balance between "whee, lets go buy a kitchen", "well-planned" and "too fixated" ... get to function, layout and overall appearance, but don't lock onto a specific product unless there is a compelling reason.

You need to be at a point where you can explain what it's going to be like - in writing - to someone who is not a telepath. And explain it well enough that they can draw up a floor plan and a sample board and give you a rough estimate on cost. (KD, GC, SO ... someone)

You don't want to be deciding between basics ... doors vs drawers, light vs dark, modern vs traditional ... when the demolition team shows up.

Yet, you don't want to be so fixated that the absence of a single product throws you into a spin ... how many times have we seen "I must have X, my whole future happiness rests on X, and there isn't a warehouse in 3 states with any "X" in them"?

If you are well thought out, you can say "Oh crap, I really liked X" and start calling about the availability of "Y".

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Planning is crucial. I started talking to a cabinet maker in January, after working on my own kitchen plans for years, and having a very solid idea of what I wanted and needed in a new kitchen. But he's a busy guy (because of his excellent reputation and 25 years experience), so my cabinets won't be installed until mid-July.

That much lead time gave me a LOT of time to deal with decisions one at a time - first sink, then faucet; flooring, paint, range hood; finally door hardware. Concentrating on one detail at a time worked very well for me, and kept me (and the rest of my family) sane!

I opened every existing cupboard, and determined where it would go in the new kitchen, which allowed me to measure things and specify drawer and shelf heights for the cabinet maker. I went back and forth on a few things, but now I've thought through it - and let it simmer - for so long, I feel very confident that everything will be exactly as I want. I haven't make even a minor change for weeks.

Now my planning is for how to deal with a gutted kitchen - what needs to stay out, what can be boxed up for the duration.

I'm afraid I would be a nervous wreck if I didn't have EVERYTHING written down!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 12:01PM
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Yes, I did over-think and obsess about our project from the day we started until the day it finished (maybe today? Banquette fabric is finally getting done!) Actually it was finished back in February other than the banquette.

Anyway the results are that we are in love with it and so far I haven't said once, "Gee, I wish I thought to..." or "I wish I did this instead of that". At least not yet! Sure there are always other things I would have liked to have but didn't work well for one reason or another when planning so I had to let those things go.

This all being said, I think I really was "over the edge" during the process. I made myself crazy thinking about EVERY little detail and every inch of the space. This meant I caught a lot of things that the contractors would have done differently if I wasn't so involved. This also meant that I believe, now, I made myself physically ill during the process. I woke up with back aches for no physical reason whatsoever and am just starting to get passed them. I have been reading Dr. John Sarno's books about emotional/personality issues causing physical pain and totally believe it. In short, I'd say it's great to be involved but there isn't always one "correct" answer when making decisions and try to take it easy on yourself now and then : )

This post was edited by 2LittleFishies on Fri, Jun 7, 13 at 21:12

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 5:08PM
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The kitchen that we will wind up with is VASTLY different than the one I would have had when I first started this journey a little over a year ago.

Would I have been happy with the new kitchen that would have been created back then? Well, probably for the most part, yes. Because it would have been so much better than what we currently have.

But, knowing what I do now, I would be so disappointed with that initial kitchen because we wouldn't have had the functionality that I think we'll wind up with.

There are concessions without a doubt in our kitchen layout. There are things that other people wouldn't be happy with here and would try to change. But, when factoring in the budget and the ability to change certain things, I think that we've come up with a the best that our kitchen can be. And it's a far cry from the original.

That being said, we wouldn't have normally been this long on our planning - our kitchen was supposed to have been installed back in September of last year, but our guy flaked on us and it put us back to the drawing board to find a new cabinet maker and GC.

We actually took delivery of our appliances (was supposed to be getting everything) and those were selected prior to finding GW or I may have selected differently. All in all, I think we'll be happy with those anyway as they are "higher end" than what most of our family and friends have anyway and certainly higher end than I've ever cooked on before.

I know that there are things I'll wish were different about the kitchen - already I know this...but, these are things that are done to keep within a budget that we set and couldn't be "fixed" without significantly adding to our overall budget.

I think that a few months of research and decision making is probably "appropriate" and warranted for such a large project and one that isn't likely to be endeavored upon again in the near future.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 6:35PM
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Thank you all for the encouragement. It would be wonderful if I could just wiggle my nose like Bewitched and put together a functional, beautiful kitchen worthy of the money I'm spending. It is entirely possible that even with all the work I'm doing I will not arrive at anything nearly as lovely as 2littlefishies has created....but I've seen that many posters here end up with breathtaking results, sometimes on tight budgets. And you all have such helpful suggestions about everything - from colanders to respectful handling of contractors!
Calumin, I keep returning to your list, especially #5. I am still revisiting a lot of elements, but that is because I'm still getting a lot of new information. Andreak, I understand exactly what you mean about the magnitude of difference that becoming better educated makes! I hadn't heard of etching, or frameless cabs, or even work zones! Thanks to Karin and Peke's dialogue, I've been able to teach a new granite yard employee some things, and appreciate the expertise of the staff at another yard.
Annkh and lazygardens - your analogies are terrific! Let it simmer, and don't get stuck on any one "ingredient". That is how I cook, so that is how I can plan my kitchen, too!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 9:50PM
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