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Mistakes that others can learn from

Posted by kellied (My Page) on
Thu, Nov 10, 11 at 9:06

I thought this would be a good topic to introduce, especially for those who are just getting started on their kitchen remodel.

My mistake when ordering the cabinet above the fridge was not taking into account what would be needed if we had to replace our current fridge. Cabinet was ordered for the height of what we have now and the majority of the fridges out there are half an inch too tall. Limits the selection of a replacement.

What mistakes have you made that others can learn from?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

We ran into this problem in our last kit. Removing the caps on the hinges solved it.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Great thread. We're still under construction, so all I can add at this point is to add 10% to your budget after you think you've finalized the budget. Too many fun things out there.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Not finding this forum before I ordered my cabinets. I would have ordered drawers for the lowers instead of pull out shelves.

I didn't know how much people liked them. It makes so much sense to me know. I know I wouldn't want a desk with pull out shelves for example. My block was that I didn't talk with anyone about this foreign concept. I just thought it was goofy putting plates and bowls in drawers.

I guess another mistake could be having a fixed idea keeping you from something better.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Kellie you might want to see if there is a shorter cabinet available in the same style of your cabinets. If it is not too expensive, go ahead and purchase it and keep it in storage for when you need to buy a larger frige. That size should be fairly reasonable and could save you some problems down the pike. Just a thought :).


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Getting tile floors instead of anything else.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Not having a vision in place for my cabinets, granite and backsplash. I knew I wanted white cabinets, but did not think through the other choices. And, I was rushed with the granite. My adivise is to look at as many inspirational pictures so you at least have a direction. Slow down and don't be rushed. Especially with the backsplash. You can have a fully functioning kitchen without the backsplash.
My kitchen turned out fine, just a bit "off. "


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

I'm with Enduring. I wish I had ordered all drawers instead of pullouts. Take your time with planning I felt rushed because I hated my old kitchen that much.


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Mine is that I didn't realize how much I would hate my damn cd french door refrigerator! Now I am going to have to eventually reconfigure my island cabinets to fit in at least one fridge drawer. Apparently, our vast beverage and salad dressing needs are way out of line. *eye roll* For now, it's a trip to the garage fridge if you want a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, a can of soda, or anything in a tall bottle. Somehow, I can squeeze a gallon of milk in the main fridge, thank God for those door shelves (skimpy as they are.) Sigh...


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Most important: Do not pay the final payment until it is 100% done! You need to keep a large payment back and need to be firm about this. We got pressured into paying most of the final payment because our job went long and they claimed we were so close to completion. You all know what happened after that.... The final payment is held back as an incentive to finish. It does not matter how much is left to do, it will ensure they do it because the payment will not be in their hands until it is. I can't stress this enough!

Watch that they don't use nails on your sheetrock.

The exterior height of a cab is not the same as the interior height. I measured some open cabs that should have fit my kitchen electrics comfortably, but I failed to account for the thickness of the box. Pretty dumb in hindsight....

Make sure you specify exactly where you want your lighting to the electrician or you will be fixing holes in the sheetrock when they have to move them all.

Speak to people who have completed projects from the gc and ask how it was a few months after and if they came back to fix or tweak anything. I'd also ask if there was anything to be careful about with the gc. People may be happy overall, but you need to know the weaknesses. They may need to be reminded. I found people after we got screwed who were all able to warn me (too late!).

Make sure the faucet is tall enough for a vessel sink with actual measurements (ot - bathroom).

Put your wall oven fairly close to where the vent over the stove is or risk setting off your smoke detector occasionally.

Make sure that any windows are not placed too low. We had this in our bedroom where it is too low to put furniture below them, but this could happen anywhere.

Make sure the hardware is tightened for any pocket doors before they close the wall up. Our wheels went off the track and can't be gotten back on to stay without opening up the freshly completed wall to tighten them in place.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

One would be trusting that the builder/granite fabricator properly sealed my granite and not doing it myself. Now I'm replacing it--with something I like better :)

Another would be not doing what my own design instincts told me to do in terms of aesthetic details like the color of certain accent cabinets. Instead I did what others said I *should* do, knowing full well that they didn't share my taste or vision. Now I'm un-doing that and re-doing what I originally wanted.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Dianalo,
why no nails in sheetrock?

and,
imade the mistake about the lights and the sheetrock two days ago. dang it.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Taking more time in the planning stages. I had set a demolition date for the day after school let out, so I felt rushed to order my cabs. I should have taken more time to think things through.

I regret not just spending for all drawers in my peninsula. The budget was really tight and we slashed those in favor of regular cabs, but in hindsight we should have just payed for the drawers. I think it only saved us about $1k.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Go as big as possible on the windows. Special order and wait if you have to. I was in a rush because the siding needed to get done next and was also under the impression that the fiance would be building a workshop close outside that I didn't want to look at. He's not building the shop now, and if he had, I could have prettied it up somehow. Now I'm stuck with the small windows HD had in stock and much less natural light than I could have had :(


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Sheetrock nails tend to back out over time and you see the nailheads. Screws are the best way to go.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Check the footprint of the new cabs against the footprint of the old. We hadn't intended to replace the kitchen floor at this time, but discovered that the new footprint was about 1/2 to 1" smaller than the old. This means that there was an ugly gap left in front of all the new cabinets. So we did replace the floor, but at an awkward time in the reno process.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

A couple of people have mentioned going with your visual instinct wrt what you want your kitchen to look like and I agree. I really wanted granite that was a piece of artwork - colourful and vibrant. I got talked out of it and have GO and while it's very nice and practical and goes with everything it isn't what I wanted. How many years do I wait before approaching this subject with DH and changing the granite?


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Kellied is exactly right. I have nails popping out all over the place at approx the 6 month mark. It will get worse over time. Someone has to come in and put a screw on each side of each nail and either remove the nail or push it back in. Then it needs to be repaired and repainted.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

The sad thing is sheetrock contractors know this but do it anyway.....nail pops errrr....


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

I only have 1 nail popping out in a good-sized house--just over the powder room sink below the mirror so it can be admired as one washes.

Keep very close track on construction/renovation; if you already are, closer still. I told our contractor and framers we'd need a niche to hold a 36" wide fridge (so noted on the plans, but left the last 2 inches or so to their judgement as they fitted some particularly complex framing in). They gave me a 36.5"-wide niche--before drywall. Since this is a standard size, I didn't suspect a problem until it was time to drywall. Fortunately, strictly speaking, we didn't HAVE to drywall the niche.

Don't get tired of it all before the job's done. Ours still has a part left incomplete, and we're both waiting to care enough to get back to it. Two years later.

BTW, Kellied, thanks for posting the question because it's pleasant to search for mistakes and find, really, only the one genuine niche one. As I mentioned in another thread, I mocked up my kitchen with boxes and plywood and play cooked in it, and that avoided what might have been all kinds of regrets.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

1) Doing a lower cabinet (atavistic sense of always having had one) instead of drawers

2) Doing a 50-50 instead of 60-40 sink

3) Making my pot drawers 12 inches instead of 10 and sacrificing the big thin drawer that could have been above them-- I don't think we really needed the extra depth

4) Running out of energy for planning and thus not maximizing our use of cabinet organizing features-- I just couldn't handle any more planning and opted to deal with add-ins later


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Be on the job site all of the time. I functioned as my own GC with my kitchen remodel. Some of the things I did myself. I was there all of the time to watch the work. I staged jobs so I could take the time off from work to see the job done. I learned alot and loved watching.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Lessons from a non-kitchen reno:

Take photos when the walls are open, particularly if the wall(s) in question have plumbing, HVAC or central vacuum ducts/lines. Much easier to refer back to a photo than a set of plans when you need a repair done, since plans often don't reflect the on-the-spot modifications made during construction.

Keep on top of your filing, especially organizing reno-related emails. I had many, many emails with my architect and construction manager to sift through when problems arose and we needed to clarify what was agreed to. Since some of those emails entailed long strings of replies, often the subject line didn't reflect all that was covered during the course of the exchange. It meant that I discovered plumbing purchasing decisions made on Reply #5 of an email whose subject line was "scheduling the tiler". If I'd been organized from the start - set up different file folders in my email and copied multi-subject emails in each of the appropriate folders - I'd have saved myself hours of headaches.


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Never assume that someone knows what you mean. It is your responsibility to check & re-check.

View your counter template before it is cut! or it could be cut wrong like mine.

Thanks to someone here I took the pics of the open walls!

Other advice - even if you have decision fatigue realize it will end eventually & don't compromise because you are sick of people being in your house!


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Ensure that your counter top fabricator is 100% clear on where you want the counters cut, what parts of the stone you want where etc. Don't let your DH be the one to go and agree to where cuts will be (unless DH is the designer). Be there when the counters are installed. Hover.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

I would 2nd the advice to keep notes on everything, even for just a kitchen renovation. Keep a notebook and just jot down key points or decisions after conversations with GC. This was very helpful at the end of the job when GC said something was never part of his job, and we could remind him that we had discussed it many times and on these dates.

Mistakes to learn from...research research research your GC. One or two general recommendations are not enough. Ask what his weaknesses are, as another poster mentioned. Don't be embarrassed. It's your house. It's important. And I think it can make your renovation a pleasant process or a very big headache.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

My lessons learned list below. Thankfully some of you taught me these, in other cases I needed to learn the lesson myself.

____________________________

Take your time. I felt pressured to sign contracts by vendors looking for work in a bad economy. Sign when you are ready even if it means delaying the start of your project. The pressure they apply feels real but often it is a false deadline.

The design process is iterative. Build a good collection of inspiration pictures and live with your decisions before committing.

Before buying anything, make a budget spreadsheet. Unless you have unlimited funds, it will total more than you can spend. Think about tradeoffs and find alternatives. Add 10% overrun for the unexpected issues that will arise (they will!).

Request samples / mock up ideas and study carefully in your home before placing custom orders. Ex: paint color swatches, cabinet door samples, countertop material samples, edge dimensions, layouts etc. Lighting and spacial conditions can dramatically affect how things look in your home vs a showroom.

Be at the job site as much as you can - be highly visible and involved. The GC won't like it but they will get over it. Particularly important when any new activity is kicking off. Inevitably there are questions and catching them early before the work progresses is key.

Do not assume anything. Diagram, document, specify. Make sure you have scope of work and contract finalized before any work commences. Include pictures and diagrams in your written specifications. Many people are involved and the people that come to quote are usually not the ones who do the work, and details get lost in the shuffle.

Be sure you have enough of a holdback in the final payment to keep them focused on completion. I had to fire the cabinetmaker and hire someone else to finish the job. The holdback was the only thing that made that situation salvagable. I still took a hit but it would have been much worse (and he had tried to get an early payment from me but I had refused, thank god!)

Be realistic on what you can DIY. Do you have the skills, the necessary tools and the free time to complete the work? I had to sign some CO's as my work schedule increased and I could not complete all the DIY things I had planned.

Dont forget about lighting. I did not pay enough attention to my lighting selections and now have to sign a change order for LED bulbs at a lower kelvin as the ones I have appear to be brigher than the sun (not quite the look I wanted).

Trust your gut. If something does not feel right it probably isnt. The cabinetmaker did not work out and when I think back I couldnt put my finger on it but sensed there was something off about him.

Keep the amount of vendors involved to a minimum. Going through the GC for as much as you can will help in this regard (assuming you have a good GC).

Just because they tell you something is fixed or complete, it does not mean it is. Test it out; verify before sign off and paying for it.

Things will go wrong. Count on it and plan for it in your budget - 10% in over runs due to unforeseen issues.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

From experience, 10% is the barest minimum that you should set aside for cost overruns. If you can set aside more, do so! It is better than having to come up with it later.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Lightswitches in new construction: place them in the bay adjacent to the doorway vs. 15, 16, 17 '' over. (Awkward to reach). Also, if you have a bank of them, place switch most commonly used closest to the doorway.

GW is a terrific resource, but contacting mfr for technical questions should be part of your plan. (I am the worst offender for this one).

Size your hood correctly! If you bump out your cooktop, hood should be deeper. Once you pick out your cooktop, next step should be pick out hood and THEN plan layout.

Front door mistakes: if replacing, get it painted/stained prior to mounting. You may want to paint the inside if staining the outside. (Or by all means, first spend forever sanding and staining and then paint the inside because it's way too dark for the inside hallway).

Consider what you're really gaining with the new acquisition(s). I keep thinking: meet the new door, same as the old door. Lots of time and expense and what did I really gain?


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Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself. ~Eleanor Roosevelt


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

This is about planning too tightly. If you can, allow a little slack in your design.

In planning custom, I just barely had enough room for the smallest crown at the top. After ordering the cabinets, we ended up picking out a different floor that was 1/2" taller than what we were going to do. Yup, crown didn't fit. So sudden substitution that didn't look as nice. Also, a cabinet bank that was supposed to end underneath a sill lost its little bit of buffer and looked crammed in, even after we traded out its pretty feet for shorter ones.

I was so worried about where the drywalled pantry would meet the ref, that I completely forgot to check the interior length of the pantry. One of the sides was a couple of inches longer than it should have been. The cascade problem was the exact cabinets planned wouldn't fit. It would have been a disaster if we had not allowed for a full size filler in the run because the cabinets were bound by walls on both sides. When you are the KD or GC, its all your problem.

Don't assume that because you spec'd the height of the switches and outlets, they will be installed that way. The electricians installed a switch too high and one outlet too low. There is a lot of visual confusion when the walls are open and you might not see it. Tape measure is a girl's best friend.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

bump


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Everyobody already gave the same advice I'd give... but I'm not sure the subject of GROUT COLOR was mentioned. Definitely make sure your grout color dries to the color you expect it to be, before you install your new floor!!!! Do a sample.

Also... make sure the electrician knows exactly where you want the lighting and the switches. Down to the inch. The electrician was subbed out for my kitchen job (My GC wasn't licensed to do the electrical work in my town). Unfortunately, my GC wasn't always on the job, and the electrician didn't give a crap, so things are a tad uneven (probably nobody but me would ever notice, but I do notice). I didn't notice, however, until the dry wall was up (you can't really tell when it's the beams still).

You really do have to hover. You really do have to check the work as it is going on. If you wait too long, walls will be sealed, things will be dry, changes wont be able to be made without major disruption in completed work.

I did my bathroom a few years back and that entire project was a nightmare. What a bunch of idiots on that job. They didn't care at all if they installed things upside down, backwards, etc. Lucky for us we were around a bit to make sure things were corrected.

TAKE NOTES. Someone already mentioned this, but do it. Every single time you have a meeting with the GC, or talk to anyone about anything, jot it down in a notebook. Save all your quotes and receipts. Date everything. This will be very helpful during the reno and even after it is finished. I kept lists and notes on everything and I'm really glad I did.

If you feel your GC won't be able to handle you hovering, or at the very least with you being around to offer your opinions, and correct them when they are wrong, then you should rethink if that is the correct GC for you. Cause really, nobody is going to have the same exact vision as you and they mostly just want to get the job over with however they can, as fast as they can, and move on. My GC was great though, except for the electrician :)


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Mine is a mistake that the previous owners committed (IMHO). Don't put the silverware drawer in front of a place where you will be standing all the time. It's annoying to have to move from the stove eleventy times because someone just HAS to have a fork which means they have to pull out the double-wide drawer that is directly behind me when I'm standing at the range.

Oddly, that same someone loves to stand in the kitchen & eat breakfast right in front of that same drawer (which means I can't get a fork without making him move).

In short - if you're putting in an island or peninsula, think about what will be behind you when you're at one side or the other of the aisle. Try to make it something that no one ever wants (like dishcloths or lima beans). "So if I put the stove here, what will my butt be blocking ...?" Or make the aisles wide enough that you can not only walk past eachother easily, but one of you can stand back from an open drawer without bumping into the other person.

-Pam


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

i remembered a few more:

when you buy your new range, understand what your vent requirements are. i had to change out my existing vent pipe through attic as it was not the right diameter. i knew it at the time but if you did not, this could be a nasty and expensive surprise.

Make sure to understand depth needed to fully conceal under cabinet lighting (standing and when seated from a distance if applicable). Mine will be concealed when standing but will be visible when seated at dining room table and living room and am now coming up with a creative trim solution to mask it. :(

I would have tried harder to find 3cm thickness marble instead of 2cm. While the fabricator did an excellent job of mitering edge, a solid slab with no miter would have been better.

While I love my Shaw sink, I decided to purchase before I learned about the issues associated with this handmade sink. Next time I would go with a stainless steel undermount to mitigate risk of breakage and to avoid the challenges of scribing, install details etc.

I would have tried harder to go with cabinet maker associated with the GC. I did meet with 2 that were associated with the GC but neither of them were a fit for various reasons. I used a different one and it required a ton of my time and we had major issues in the finishing which ended up costing me money to fix through the GC.

I did not purchase a faucet with a side sprayer, largely due to budget concern. The one I bought was already over my initial budget! Now I wish I had. Oh well, next time!

Have cabinets painted off site. Due to a variety of circumstances the cabinets needed to be painted on site. The finish looks good but I am sure I could have gotten a better finish if painted offsite.


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We just completed building our home, and I must say, the kitchen is really my favorite room (thanks to all the GWers here who helped me along the way!)!! Mistakes I made in terms of the kitchen:

+Don't assume that the subcontractors will know what you want...be very specific and try to think of everything. For example, the painters sprayed our cabinets and left the doors on, so the hinges got painted as well! I ASSUMED that any reputable painter would remove the hinges! They begrudgingly agreed to remove the hinges and "try" to get the paint off...We decided to do it ourselves to minimize any chance of damaging the hinges, screw holes, cabinet doors...etc. It took a lot of work and elbow grease. Luckily, they did remove the blu-motion glides, but in reinstalling them, a few were broken and had to be replaced. We had to fight with painters to get them to pay for replacement.

***Hold back partial-payment until job is done and done to your satisfaction*** stated in previous post...very good advice!

+Designing the lower cabinet drawers so that you have two wider drawers on either side of the stove...Mine has a nice wide drawer on the right-hand side and a smaller drawer on the left-hand side. All of my cooking "tools" can't fit in these two drawers, so I have another small drawer next to the prep area for knives. It works, but it isn't what I am used to.

+Make sure your garbage pull-out is in the right place...preferably next to the sink. Ours is in the island and not even parallel to the sink...poor design on my part. What was I thinking??? I have fixed the issue by placing a small trash can under the sink for when I am clearing plates, etc. I take trash out almost every day, so the solution works...just not ideal.

Here are a few suggestions:

+Lighting is critical! Pendants and under-cabinet lighting needs a dimmer. I am so glad I put my foot down on this one.

+Electrical plugs in the island on both sides...a must!


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Definitely NOT insisting that my contractor provide a better, more detailed and specific contract. I think this went hand-in-hand with using someone who was "new" to the business. The contract was so vague (and then add changes, additions, etc. that happened along the way) that we ended up with quite a difference in the amount of $ we thought we owed him in the end, and the amount of $ he thought we owed him. We ended up pretty much "splitting the difference" but I don't think any of us were really happy with that.

So, my advice: be sure the contract is detailed - about everything including materials and money, and be sure you all are "understanding" and agreeing to the same things.

SQ


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Big yes on having a line-item budget with a 10-15% contingency that you stick to - nothing puts an end to decision paralysis problems like the bottom line. Compromise is not a dirty word.

Don't be influenced by other folks, get the materials that offer you the functionality you require and have the characteristics you value in your price point.

Verify anything a vendor tells you.

Focus on the fix not the problem.


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Learn about Lien Waiver and Lien Release Forms. A problem can arise when a contractor does not pay his subcontractors, workers and suppliers, even though the homeowner has paid the contractor.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

What a great thread, thanks for starting it kellied! GW has been so extremely helpful!

babushka_cat's 1st post is everything I would've written. Great advice from everyone else as well. I'm adding the following:

Just remember, this should be an enjoyable process! We should feel blessed to have the opportunity to build/remodel! So pace yourself. Don't get to the point where you are just making decisions just to get it over with. If you are feeling burnt out, take a break, tell your GC or whoever you are working with that you need more time to make a decision. Recharge and refocus or you will waste money and/or regret your decisions later!

People are NOT going to be happy with you, especially if you hover and catch lots of mistakes...or if you need more time to make a decision...or if you make changes. But remember this is YOUR house, YOU are paying for everything and YOU have to live in it. So make it the way YOU want, don't feel bad, don't feel embarrassed to say something. Don't feel pressured to make a decision on the spot. The last thing you want is to see something EVERYDAY and say "Why did we do that?" or "Why didn't we say anything?"

Research and do it right the first time or you will waste time and money re-doing it later.

Inspiration pictures are so important. I love www.houzz.com, you can make ideabooks and refer back to them whenever you want. I email/print pics to show exactly what I want. At the same time, you have to be reasonable, will that inspiration pic work in your space? At one time I was so focused on a certain backsplash, but realistically it just didn't work in my space, I had to let it go and move on!

Specify things like: location of outlets in the backsplash (I put mine lower and had them turned horizontally so they didn't interrupt the backsplash), which granite slab will be used for the island, granite radius corners, location of faucets and soap dispensers, recess your fridge during framing if possible so it doesn't protrude out (we recessed ours into our pantry), height of pendant lights, location of light switches, etc.

If you are on a strict budget, don't even look at things out of your budget. Don't fall in love with something you can't afford!

Don't let other people's opinions derail your plans! Although it is extremely helpful to hear others' opinions, remember this is your house not theirs. They may have different taste, style, etc. Stick to your gut if you had something in mind, or go back to your inspiration pictures to remind you of your vision. Mongo gave me some great advice: "I encourage you to design for yourself. Not others." I personally try to stick with timeless, classic designs so I don't have to redecorate/replace later.

Are sleepless nights really worth it? NO! Save your energy for family, work, and enjoying life. Mongo also told me,"One thing I will say is that in the design and construction phase, you fret over every detail. But after 6 months you'll probably grow blind to the things that kept you awake at night with worry." You are so wise Mongo:)

Best wishes to everyone and thanks so much for all of your help and advice!


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Oh and get the cost of everything before you do it! In a past build, we moved things here and there, added things here and there (GC made it seem like it wasn't a big deal)...then we were slapped with a huge bill plus change order fees at the end.

In our current build, we negotiated the change order fee (no change order fee if the work hasn't been done yet or if it doesn't involve extra work). And we get all costs up front before anything is ordered and before any work is done. With all the cost of options up front we can decide which things we really want to pay extra for and which things we can pass on - really helps with budget planning.


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I made plenty of mistakes but this little one is the most annoying of all. I fell in love with a faucet that was going to be my glitter (KWC Eve) and thought the "tall" model would be just gorgeous. It is, but the height combined with my deep sink makes for splashes everywhere EVERY time we turn it on. Since we have very hard water, it has to be immediately dried with a towel. Not fun.


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Our mistake was to try to keep the old tile floor. It was ten years old and pretty neutral so we thought it would be fine. Also it would help the budget. So we thought we found a granite which would go with the floor. Can't bring granite home tontrynit out. It was awful. We knew it was a risk. I told my DH I did not even want to go downstairs to see the kitchen the next day. Several friend said " it's not that bad". Bad enough. My DH did let me go and look for new tile and we found one that was perfect. So my GC ripped up huge old one.. Very carefully since the cabinets were already in. arghhh. And he put the new one down... A month later. He had some other jobs to do and we understood since we added this floor as an extra. Morale of the story ... If you think you should r something out.. Just do it. It will save much aggravation. I love my new floor.


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I have a 4 drawer stack to the left of the range. I was going to store knives in the top drawer. I bought an in-drawer knife block to make sure it would fit, however, once I placed the knives in, the largest ones came up at too much of an angle and the drawer couldn't close. In the end, I'm using that drawer for an overflow of cooking utensils and keeping the knife block on the counter where it was before, and it's fine.
Second thing would be that thanks to the "read me" thread, I had planned where I was going to store EVERYTHING. In the uppers to the left & right of the range, I got in-the-door spice racks, but didn't take into consideration that they take up some of the cabinet depth, so I had to move some things around that I planned to store there, but it worked out. Guess I can't complain!


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I'm going to reiterate a few things that were especially important, and that we either did or wished we did:

1. Make sure that your contract is specific about materials and costs, and what the allowances are for things that you choose to buy yourself. This leads to another thing you want to be clear about: How does your builder or GC feel about you selecting and buying your own appliances/sinks/faucets/etc? You can often get much better prices shopping for things on your own.

2. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN...every conversation, every quote of cost, no matter how casually stated, every decision, with dates, you will thank yourself a hundred times during your project. I did this so much that when my builder and I disagreed about something, he'd just take my word for it because he knew I had written it down. :-)

3. HOVER, watch, and ask questions if you're unsure about what you are seeing. Be polite with your builders, but never be worried about inconveniencing them if something doesn't look right--this is your project and you are paying for it.

4. Be specific in your instructions or descriptions about how you want things done. Draw a picture if necessary. You are not a builder and they often have a different vocabulary than we do. Terms that mean something to us often have a different meaning to them--wish I could remember a good example, but I can't right now.

5. Get quotes for extra work in writing, before the work is done. If it's one of those things that's done 'on the fly' (and this happens, especially if you're on site and there to give input) then write it down with a date.
6. Again, be on site as much as possible. You don't have to stand and stare at them while they work, but I'd "make the rounds" on a regular basis, just to express delight in the progress..."wow I never saw anyone build a vaulted ceiling before and it's just so cool to watch this thing come together...you guys are amazing." When there's a question, or an option to choose, or a decision to be made, they'll find you and ask you for your input. I found that this happened a LOT with our remodel, and I was able to make the choice rather than have it made for me by the worker. I was also able to ask another very important question when I wasn't sure: "What should I consider in making this choice?" Sometimes, the worker could give me some perspective from a builder's point of view and it was often helpful.

Cj


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

The biggest mistake I made in my kitchen and the only one I truly regret and notice every single day is the location of my trash pullout. I thought it should be next to the sink in the Cleanup Zone...WRONG!

I should have put the trash pullout on the other side of the kitchen in my Prep Zone and next to my Cooking Zone. We generate far more trash and recyclables while prepping and cooking than cleaning up...and for a much longer period of time (far more time spent prepping & cooking than cleaning up)!

I have to walk across a 6-foot aisle from the Prep & Cooking Zones to throw things in the trash or recycling bin...often dripping all the way...and over & over. Either that, or I wait until I have a "pile" to take over all at once, but meanwhile, the pile is taking up valuable workspace!

My recommendation:

Ideally, I think two trash pullouts would be best - with an 18" double-bin trash/recycle in the Prep Zone and, at least, a 15" single-bin pullout for trash in the Cleanup Zone. If you can only afford the cabinet space for one, put it in the Prep Zone. Try to make it accessible to the Cleanup Zone as well, but it's needed far more in the Prep & Cooking Zones!


**********


This is not a mistake, it's something I learned here and had to do several times...have "the talk" with my GC and KD (each one at different times).

They both, initially, had the attitude that they "knew best" b/c they had been in the business so long. It quickly became apparent (especially with the GC) that I was going to have nip that attitude in the bud! I had a vision for my kitchen and I was tired of hearing "it can't be done" or "in my 25 years of...this is how we've always done it" or similar! So, "the talk" was necessary.

I took them aside (separately) and was very firm with them as I explained...

"This is MY kitchen, not yours. I will have to live with what is done here every day, you will not. You will finish up and never see this kitchen again...but I will have to live and work in it every day for many years! I am paying you to build my kitchen to the design we agreed to and signed off on. Know that I designed every detail of the kitchen with a purpose...nothing was haphazard. I expect you to build to the agreed on design. I also expect to be consulted every time there is a problem. Together we will come up with possible solutions, but I will make the final decision as to which solution we will go with. I welcome all input and, of course, need to know the cost for each solution, but in the end I will decide on the final solution based on what is needed, how it will function, how it will look, how it impacts the schedule, and how much it will cost."

I only had to do this once with my KD...and, to be honest, I didn't have to be as emphatic with her, she got the message very quickly! In fact, it became a truly collaborative effort after that - which I was very pleased to see! (No, not everything was "perfect" and we did have a few stumbles, but most things worked out in the end.)

My GC, however, was another story. I do not know if it was a case of me being a woman and him a man and the attitude many GCs have, but my DH and I both made it very clear (over and over!) that I was the one who had to be pleased and who would have the major say in most decisions...and that they should call ME with questions, etc., not my DH!

My DH and I would discuss the issue overnight, but he usually left the final decision with me b/c he knew how much the kitchen meant to me and he usually didn't care - especially if he didn't have to be the one "confronting" the GC. (I'm better at this type of thing.)


Note: Do not do this in front of anyone else, including/especially their workers. This is something best done with just you and the supervisor or owner. You do not want them to "lose face" in front of their employees or subs.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

I would suggest when you have the walls open record measurements on paper(not just photos)from wall to wall of:
1) stud placement
2) BX electrical cables
3) gas lines
4) ceiling beams
makes it easier/safer when sheetrock is up to hang cabinets correctly, add decorative ceiling posts, open shelving, or wall support for counters(in small areas where there is no cabinet)
When installing window sills always stand on the other side of the room, sometimes wood is warped and carpenter may not notice since he/she is up close to window.
Don't be afraid to say: redo it, it does not look right

amela: Funny you mentioned the tall faucet. I had picked out one that I liked from the FF website but when I went to Blackman plumbing(Franke dealer) to order the sink the salesman(retired plumber) told me no way, too tall(he recommended FFPS680B). I too got a deep sink and realized once I saw how tall BIG the faucet was in the showroom all I could think was water splashing everywhere(even worse then before w/ the 27" overmount sink I had-no sink at the moment, unless you count the BIG box on the floor)


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Make sure your cat does not walk on the newly finished wood floor before it is completely dry! We have cat paw prints all over our floor since someone let the cat out of the room we had him before the floor was completely dry.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Omigod- I think we made every mistake listed here! And I hovered, too.

What I agree with most: Get Everything In Writing. What you say and what your GC hears isn't always the same (is he really listening?) and then he assigns it to his sub, who may give it to yet another craftsman to fabricate. Result: we ordered a custom cabinet to match the existing cabinets in our kitchen (we didn't do a gut job) and thought nothing could be simpler than copying what was right there in the kitchen for all to see, so we didn't ask for sketches or diagrams, and we ended up with a beautiful floor-to-ceiling cabinet that looks nothing like what we have, it isn't even the same counter height. Now what do we do? Ask them to rip it out? My GC swears I asked for drawers. I know I didn't. Wish I'd taken notes... but it all seemed so obvious at the time.

But thanks to reading this thread, one thing I thought was a mistake - not ordering the bridge faucet, and being told by the GC, when I changed my mind, that it was too late to change the order - now seems like the right choice. I too have a deep sink, but no splashing with my lower faucet, so I suffered over that one for nothing.

And DEFINITELY hold back payment... It's the only power you have. (I wonder if contractors have a thread for all the mistakes they've made with us!)


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Don't be shy: You want to make your window 8 inches wider? Get the sheetrocking knife and carefully cut an exploratory hole into your wall before ordering the window. It seems so bold, that first cut, yes. But, there may be a sewer main going up that wall from your basement toilet, or...who knows?

If you are your own GC, create a timeline on Google etc. just for your project. block out the dates and lengths for all the steps. If I had done this, I would have seen that I would painting at 1 am because I hadn't allotted time for the texturing to dry.

When you have a bid done, open up your cabinets to show the carpenter or salesman what you like or don't like. Things will become more clear that way than talking in generalities. "I don't like the way these hinges affix." "I like a longer, continuous shelf." etc.

If you decide things in person or by phone with your contractor or subs, send an email verifying what you two just decided. Then you have it in writing.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Big mistake is thinking that you will actually make a target date with any semblance of sanity.

When DH and I choose things together and have very differing ideas, I try to remember that we both live there and find a way to make it work for both of us. It has been a mistake to give in to him completely and it is a mistake to put my foot down and be unbudgeable. Bottom line, my marriage is so much more important than the pendants.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

^target date....oh yeah...big mistake..lol.. and the 10% cushion?..maybe 50% lol


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Forgot a mistake. I'm so used to it, I almost never stumble over it anymore. The mistake was assuming that because there were no children in the house the kitchen wouldn't need room for lunchboxes and toys. That mistake came from not taking off the rosy glasses to do a sufficiently cynical once-over of ourselves before proceeding.

Specifically, I made no place large enough RIGHT THERE for the ice chest and other lunch stuff my retired hubby takes with him fishing most days. Well, actually, I did, because I did design him a closet on the main floor for the stuff he drags in the doors on this level, plus I designed him an office, workshop, and other storage in the daylight basement that opens to the lawn leading to his outside shop and boat. But after living with him for decades, I should have realized he'd leave it on the island every day, leaving me to quickly set it (least obtrusively) on the floor at the end of the island where I swing past on the way to the fridge. Good one, huh?


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

I wish found this website before I started! I'm learning all the things I should have known months ago.

My mistakes: Like another poster stated, I should have ordered two more drawers rather than pull out shelves. Kind of a PIA to have to open doors, THEN pull out shelves.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Ordinary silicone caulk is NOT paintable. Neither latex or oil sticks to it. There is paintable silicone caulk, however, which sticks to ordinary silicone caulk; you can use it to cover the ordinary stuff, then paint that. Phew.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

1. Wish I'd found GW sooner! 2. "Shop" and have a pretty clear idea of what you want before you even look for contractor. Visit cabinet places and have the door style and color picked out...most cabinet lines are similar in what they offer regarding styles and colors. Quartz, granite, soapstone, marble? Visit all the stone yards in your area....visit tile places for BS and flooring. Want to move things around?....have a plan...once you find a GC they can tell what's do-able or not. Research and pick out appliances. 3. Set up an email account strictly for the project....one that does NOT automatically delete old messages...then all correspondence is in one place and intact...and do as much through email as possible as opposed to phone calls for obvious reasons.

I only knew the kind of cabinets I wanted when we signed contract at the end of July. It has taken me several months to wade through all the choices and information. DH travels all week, so we only have Saturdays to run around which hasn't helped. Fortunately, cabinets aren't in yet, but I think contractor is annoyed and thought he would have been done with us already. Wish I'd done a lot more and had more things picked out before signing the contract!


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

I wish I'd kept an ongoing notebook that recorded decisions and that all pertinent parties signed off on. At the end of a meeting, say, I would have written, "Florantha is worried about the X but DH and designer have reassured her that this is not an issue and that it can be solved by Y-ing like this [drawing]'. Then all 3 sign the spot. or..."Florantha doesn't think there's enough room in the drawer because of the breadboard but this is going to be fine sez DH and ..." or "We decided not to buy Z because ..." and both spouses sign. It would have kept us from second-guessing ourselves and we would have had backup for our memories of meetings when we got to arguing after the decision was already made.

The notebook could have helped keep track of expenditures also. And I would have written down phone numbers, dates, etc. ...a reference diary of the adventure of expenditures and decisions. It would also have proved who was dominating in certain situations and whether someone else was not being as dictatorial as she/he was accused of being. No martyrs, no dictators.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

1. Don't make your island over 10 feet long because you will have trouble finding a slab for it.
2. If you order cabinets with glass doors, know that the glass itself may not be included!
3. No question is ever silly. Ask, ask, ask.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Living with our kitchen for 3 years now. I have 2 annoyances.

Our old fridge was a single door with the freezer on top. we didn't leave enough room to open the left side door of our new french door fridge. It smacks the door that leads out to the garage.

lovely clear glass Pottery Barn pendants show every spec of dust and are a complete nightmare to clean.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

I haven't even received my new cabinets yet and I already know that my mistake was not getting a shorter cabinet above the cooktop so I could have a more modern hood. After looking at new hoods and seeing that most of them are a couple inches taller than what I have now, and knowing that my soffits are an inch lower than standard and my counter to cabinet clearance will be 17" or less, I suggested to my KD that a 12" cabinet might work better than the standard 15". Her hesitation made me second guess myself and decide I could live with one of the shorter 6" hoods instead. She says the standard 15" cabinet will look best. I should have stuck with my instinct.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

#1. Design for how you really live, not how you'd like to live in an ideal world where everything and everything is perfect. If you currently need a lot of dumping ground near the door, build that in, for instance. A new kitchen won't change who you are or your general daily habits -- what it will do is give you a chance to optimize for those habits.
Beautiful finishes are great, but what will really make your heart sing is that clever little cubby you built in for easily accessing your cherished collection of titanium butcher knives, giraffe feed, or Ho Hos.

#2. If you're running heat registers on the floor under the cabinets, make sure to put them somewhere where lolling cats won't make you trip 5 times a day. Ahem.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

Reading this brought back a lot of "OMG Yes" memories to my head... I researched a LOT before building and had two notebooks set up for the house. We were GC on our build but hired a construction manager to be the bully. That was AWESOME! I'm not great at intimidation. I baked cookies and treats every day and brought them. I was nice and if that didn't work I sent my CM after them. I am really happy with how our house turned out, but there were a few things...

1. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep MORE than it would cost to rehire the work done as payment until the job is fully finished. Our painter was to come back and do the last coat after we moved in. That was him being nice to us because it would cover up any scratches we made moving in furniture. So I paid him all but a few hundred dollars. He's never been back.

2. Custom isn't always better. Some things are made so well stock that custom just ads risk and costs. If you have a standard use and a standard size, save your money for more needed things.

3. There will be things you can't live without that you didn't even know existed. Especially if you read the forums here! :) The starfire glass in my shower is an example. Its ok, if you expect them. But if something doesn't matter either way, go for the cheaper. It will allow you the chance to pay for those fun things that you NEED.

4. Paint doesn't look the same on a chip as it does on a way bouncing back from other walls etc... I could not believe that the color on our wall was the color on the order. But it was. And I had to pay to paint over it because I hated it. I caught it after the first coat so it costs less than if it had been fully painted, but still.

5. Carry a camera and take pictures of workers working. It reminds them that you are documenting what they do. Just seeing you there and knowing you are documenting things can make a difference.

6. Designate who will clean up. Our insullation was a nightmare. They didn't clean up ANYTHING.

7. Try as hard as you can to make your house wheelchair accessible whenever possible. You never know when you'll need it. Less than a year after the house was finished my husband was in a serious accident that left him in a wheelchair for 3 months. If we still lived in our old house he would have had to go to a nursing home instead for those 3 months. His therapists were so pleased with our house layout. He could get all around in the kitchen, etc... All we did was add a ramp in the garage, handles by the toilet, and a temporary chair in our walk in shower.

8. I couldn't decide on a backsplash, so I didn't. We just didn't put one in. I've decided on one now and when we're up to it, I'll install it. It wasn't worth stressing before.

9. The easier something is to use, the more likely it is to be used. Placing garbage in a useable place, the kids dishes where they can reach them, etc... Keep in mind where you likely will be standing when you want to get in drawers (most important is silverware and garbage)

10. Listen to other people's advice. Thank them for it. Sit on it for a few days. Then do whatever you want. Without the forums I wouldn't have had wide aisles in the kitchen, drawers on the lower cabs, a prep sink, two laundry rooms or even the layout of my entire house! (It was reworked on the forums to what it is now and I am so grateful!) But I also ignored advice that just didn't sit with my vision. I can't think of any at this moment because I let them go mentally as soon as I decided to ignore them.

And for the life of me, my husband and I can't figure out WHY we had our house jut in 2 or 3 feet to make one end of the house slightly smaller. That required our master closet and bathroom to be smaller than we wanted but not ONCE did it occur to us to just make it go straight and gain a few extra square feet.

Wow, I had more issues than I realized :) But keep in mind, that I had to sit here, read the thread, and THINK about it to come up with them. When I am in the house, I don't think of most of them.


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RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

OMG.
It's almost embarrassing. Where to start.
But, I'm doing this alone, so I give myself a break.

B4 DH bailed, I know my GC husband should have known that among many things, light switche positions need to take future molding installation.

I learned never to be rushed. If something doesn't strike me, I'm not buying it.

I've learned that just because I think I might be being picky, doesn't mean I'm not right. When grout lines don't match, they're not going to get better later. It's my bathroom I still see with every shower. Someday I'll chip it all out.

I keep learning measuring mistakes.
I ordered an under my farm sink drawer box, but forgot to take into consideration the drawer glides on the sides. That was a big investment for me, since my money is counted in pennies, by the table.

I mismeasured a couple of cabinet doors and am saving the materials for something else.

I decided I want crap off my counters, so I bought/made a microwave base cabinet. Now, though, I know I'd like it on the inside of the peninsula where it's not visible from the dining room. I will dig out an installed, CL base cabinet from underneath a countertop a friend built and I'm going to move that cab over there. Another day's project.

My biggest, biggest thing is that I didn't know the term "inset" and didn't know that was the look I love and had been seeking! For years. Never really could find something that spoke to me. After (settling) buying and making cabs with default partial overlay, I had an ephifany looking at a dresser and now will eventually work to make and replace all my doors with with an inset style. I regret I won't be able to add a 1/4" bead to the face frames.

Oh! I regret I didn't realize how absolutely useless 12" wide drawer base cabinets are. I have 2 sets of a 12 & 36" 3-drawer base cabs, and would have probably been better served with 2 sets of 24", maybe. Don't know.

I would have gone with casement windows -- another look I didn't know the name of and didn't know enough to explain -- instead of the windows that have a fixed center window an the two outside slide left and right. Stupid. Only 1 side can be open at the same time. Another Another Days' project to replace them.

  • Be picky. It's yours. You're paying someone.
  • Be specific. Use pictures. Use notes, email & forward text messages to your own email.
  • Be suspicious of someone who starts every reply with "The problem with that is..." instead of "Well, we'll have to consider/do this to make that work..."
  • Ask their opinions. Not necessarily of aesthetics, but of function and impact on future steps in the project.
  • If it doesn't look right to you, say so. Don't wait until later and 10 steps have to be undone because you didn't want to be a PIA.
  • If someone sighs every time you ask them a question, let them know they should get more sleep because you expect them to be sharp when you want information. Not tired.
  • If moving or adding walls, consider the finished (i.e. drywalled) dimensions relating to future cabinet, door, molding, window, etc., installation. If you can plan for standard measurements of those items, you'll save a lot of money.
  • Don't be afraid to whip out a tape measure or level. My eye is (evidently) better than a lot of pros because so far I've never been wrong: they were. FIX IT.
  • If it suits your project, or your tastes, don't be afraid to insist on something being reused. Materials. Cabinet boxes. Windows. Doors.
  • If you don't like something IRL, don't be afraid to change your mind. You'll probably pay for it, but if you don't like it now, it's not going to get better. Negotiate the change order situation.
  • that "good enough for now" or "I'll get it later" translates into NEVER.
  • Don't Settle and don't let yourself be rushed.
  • Hover & ask questions. Be aware that many people come to find compliments prefacing a problem to be condescending and patronizing, breeding resentment. Only offer genuine compliments. Gratitude is different.

    I've learned with the few people I've been able to hire, that it's better to let them know up front that I am picky. I see level & plumb. I am anal about symmetry. I want what I want and unless it's going to cause the house to burn down, walls fall, doors or windows not close, etc., just do it. You may ask me why in order to accomplish what I want, but it's still my decision. Input is very welcome, but it's input, not final say.

    I'm sure I'll think of more because I'm learning by more error than trial. Hopefully you'll have the benefit of someone's experience to guide you. I have nerve. The nerve to ask zillions of questions, shop until I am absolutely satisfied, saving for materials I want, and the ability to ask for payment plans. Don't be shy and don't settle.


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    RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

    Great thread

    When something is delivered, inspect it very carefully before signing off and if you cannot, do not sign or sign, writing also "subject to inspection." Look not only at all four sides of the box but the top and bottom.

    Our hood was delivered and sat for several weeks. It was only when we were ready to install it that we discovered a big hole in the bottom of the box where a forklift had obviously poked through. The duct cover was torqued and ripped away from the canopy. This is a huge copper hood and we had no recourse. I had signed and so the delivery company basically told us to pound salt. The company that made the hood -- basically the same, which is why I have never revealed the name or given any credit to the company. Hood is really nice but the box they packed it in was way too flimsy. We were just stuck with the problem, but DH figured out how to fix it.


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    RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

    I worked out with my construction person that I was going to work in cash and complete the work as I went along. His rates seem to go from 'reasonable' to 'out of site'. I took a break and got better bids for the remainder of the work. I now have guys (plumber, carpenter, electrician) who are a joy to work with. They are talented, are giving me value for money and are totally trustworthy. Nothing is too much trouble for them. I have to keep asking them if I need to pay them!! One will not take anything until the rough inspection is passed) I have a very busy work schedule and cannot be on site during most of the work. I guess my advice is not to settle if something about your reno starts to not 'feel right' with the work. When you have someone good working on your project you will know it. Hope my little bit of advice is helpful to someone.


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    RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

    I've never posted here on Kitchens, always on HD, but this struck a cord... there are too many mistakes to mention. Maybe the first was to go with how I wanted things to look and not thinking of maintenance or upkeep with the daily use of a kitchen. Black/white on the diagonal ceramic tile floor - nightmare and probably the hardest thing to change.


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    RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

    Glad to see this thread return.

    I would add that you can find things in unexpected places. It would be a mistake to accept an ordinary solution if an extraordinary one that will enhance your project or your life is also available, is affordable, lies at easy access, and is recommended. Take the time to drop into the second shop, visit the extra website, or ask another question of a professional. Keep your eyes open when you go driving--that funny little place down by the tracks might be a place that is worth visiting.

    [We've just installed a vintage light fixture that came from an unexpected source. It's cost me some time & money to rehab it but it's going to be legendary I suspect. Even the $60 placeholder fixture that we temporarily installed two years ago so we could pass electrical inspection has proved to be the enlightened choice. I found it during a stop at a ceiling fan & lampshade shop while on an errand. Unlike the dumpy placeholder we were going to install, it's been a morale lifter.]
    ____

    Another old piece of advice: Measure twice before you cut once.

    [Why did I believe that DH had measured properly when we laid our oak floor? For the rest of my days in this house I will see two courses of "clown" wild-grain boards that were supposed to be positioned underneath the peninsula and out of sight.]

    ___

    Ignore peer pressure. You're not in middle school and your taste is your taste and your budget is your budget.

    [I have just spent a week with a person who is unhappy with her remodeled kitchen. She gave the contractor and her hubby free reign and now complains about it. She will probably do so for the next decade. Or two. Peer pressure and passivity will do you no good. Gotta have good evidence and good advisors and good reasons. If you have a lousy eye or bad taste or no construction skills, this is the reason for MORE help, not less. And put the industry mags and fashionistas into perspective; be sure to talk to real estate professionals so you know what different drummers can prove to be a financial mistake and what standard ideas are really worthwhile.]


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    RE: Mistakes that others can learn from

    I picked out a KA garbage disposal with no thoughts of how much space it would take under the sink. My gc installed it and I had to make painful sacrifices in re the under sink trash system.

    As I write this, I am thinking I should have just gotten a smaller gd, but I may have felt that I pushed the gc too far, or just settle. Funny, but pre-reno, in my mind, the trash system was so important, but I was thrilled with the cabs and the gc, that smaller things did not matter.


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