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Just Getting Started

Posted by RChicago (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 15:26

Hello! I'm just beginning the kitchen planning process and thought I'd be wise to stop by for some advice.

We're closing on a house at the end of January. We're expecting our first child in early June and thus hope to move into the house no later than the end of April.

So, we'd have three months to gut remodel a kitchen and expand/remodel the master bath. We hope to use the time from now until we close to get organized - - hire an architect, hire a general contractor. The owners will give us access to the house before we close. Given our full time jobs, the coming baby, and packing, we sadly don't have time for DIY. But we are still on a budget.

To keep things reasonable and avoid delays, we're considering going with Ikea cabinets and inserts, but having custom made doors from a company like http://semihandmadedoors.com/. This way, we save money on the cabinet boxes and don't have to worry about waiting for cabinets to be made. If the doors are delayed a bit, no big deal, as they go on last, right?

With that, a few questions:

1) Are we crazy to think that we can get most of the renovations done in three months? In addition to the kitchen and bath, we have some more minor renovations planned (e.g., replacing wood paneling with drywall in the family room).

2) Any recommendations for a Chicago architect with experience with Ikea cabinets? My friend's dad is an architect and just finished their Ikea kitchen. He swears he'll never use Ikea again, not because of the quality, but because of the learning curve.

Many thanks in advance!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Just Getting Started

Question 1: Yes!!!! Yes yes yes. You are crazy:)

SInce you don't own this home and live in it currently, you don't really know the full extent of what needs to be done. Home inspections are a joke. J.O.K.E. Sorry...can you tell I'm a little bit bitter...

Anyway, as someone who has had two babies while remodeling (granted, my house is old) the stress of gestating, remodeling, spending, arguing, etc is a lot to go through. But, one thing I can say about pregnant women: they can get a job done faster than anyone else on the planet! A pregnant, nesting woman is a force to be reckoned with!

Question 2: I can't help you with that one as I am not from that area.

Good luck to you!

PS I am renovating a kitchen and master bathroom right now too.


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RE: Just Getting Started

Plan on everything taking 3 times as long as planned. You might be able to get it done but will you regret it later???? Planning takes longer than you think if you want to get it right. Don't rush planning a kitchen.

Ditto everything rosylady said.


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RE: Just Getting Started

I think it's an aggressive schedule, especially since you don't have the layout/most decisions made yet.

It took me over a year to get my layout just the way I want it. I'm now in my week 14 without a kitchen, diningroom, and familyroom.
While we didn't run into major problems (like finding pipes or structural support when we moved the doorway or finding termite damage when we ripped up the floor), we were impacted by:
- Hurricane Sandy: my wood floor were from a co in NJ and they didn't have power so my orders got mixed up = delay
- my FR tiles are STILL backordered (but I don't have plan B because I don't like any other tiles)
- my plumbing didn't pass inspection the 1st time due to my whole wall of windows,
- The 4 sconces I ordered keep arriving w/ some kind of flaw, so I have to return 1 or 2 AGAIN, etc

I could go on and on.
But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Marble countertop is slated for install on Thursday.

I'm using Ikea (both boxes and Ramsjo black/brown and white doors).
Yes, it was a HUGE learning curve to get to do everything (lots of modifications) to achieve all that I want for the kitchen and familyroom/mudroom.
The ordering process was painful (need to get everything correct), then receiving and managing over 350 boxes (and we have a LARGE garage and it was still crazy handling all these components = so confusing). I hope you live near Ikea because I've done about 6 different trips so far.

good luck,
Amanda

This post was edited by huango on Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 22:31


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RE: Just Getting Started

I think if I were you -- and thank God I'm not because the children would reside in a bus locker -- I'd wait until you're in and thru gestating (always loved that word).

You might think it'd be harder with a baby, but it's far harder and worse trying to cram every single thing, including, but not limited to:
closing,
closing inspections,
decisions,
finding things you really want,
doctors' appointments,
GC meetings,
delays in ordering,
inspections,
your own self-imposed deadline,
everyone's pregnancy advice,
delays in delivery,
Stop me.

Set yourself up for success. Start planning, but do NOT start this reno until you're in and know what you're dealing with. Perhaps start with the nursery, if you must. You're going to need that more than a kitchen and MBR.

So yes, you're nutzo and unrealistic.
Welcome to the board where you get sound advice, which is not necessarily what you want to hear.


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RE: Just Getting Started

I agree with others about waiting. I have an almost two year old, and we needed to do some remodeling before she came. We did (painting everything, new flooring everywhere, new fireplace surround, new stair rail) all made and installed by us. However we started when we decided to have a baby. I know that doesn't help you, but I could not imagine doing any of that when I was pregnant.

A big baby belly is joked about a lot on tv, but you really can't do a lot of the things you used to. You can't pick up anything heavy (even if you have the energy). Plus you have the doc appointments-that's if the pregnancy is doing very well.

Little bitty babies sleep a lot, and a camera monitor will give you a great piece of mind working somewhere else in the house. You will still have to worry about recovery, but depending on how the labor goes it may be very fast.

If you want to read about a pregnant woman trying to get her house finished for her almost there baby look up 'hobokenkitchen'.

I don't want to scare you, but for a long term solution it would be best if you had more time to plan and fix things right as they popped up. Something always does.

Good luck and congratulations on your upcoming first baby! Takes lots of pictures and video. You won't even remember they looked like that after a year or two!


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RE: Just Getting Started

Another thing: in case you haven't read other posts, a good architect and great GC usually have a lead time.
My GC is now taking projects for April-June.

It took ~9weeks for me to get in 2.5quotes. While I spoke/met with 6 different contractors, it took that long to get 2 quotes back. The half was a general pulled-out-of-the-air quote.

If you're planning Scherr doors, they also can have a lead time. The last quote I got from them was easily 5+weeks.

Last question: is this your in between home, where you may not really care what goes where? or your long-time home where you want things exactly as you envision.

In my previous house, I would have easily swap out my backordered tiles for something else, just so I can get the familyroom done. But for this house, I'm sticking to my guns and I want these dang tiles!!!

My time during 1st pregnancy/child was very precious to me. I would hate to miss out on all the little details, because I'm bogged down w/ driving to/from Ikea to find the 098.123.456 (I made up that number) part.

best,
Amanda


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RE: Just Getting Started

You know, one of the most valuable design "tools" is living with a space for a while. While a very experienced cook might come in knowing exactly what is wanted, for most of us the design process includes learning about how we individually would work in a space and want from it, as well as what the space has to offer. I'm just concerned that what you ended up with might not suit you over the long haul.

BTW, if you have the baby BEFORE remodeling, you get to design for the new life you have, not just the one you're trying to guess you'll have. It also would be very useful to borrow a couple of toddlers for a week or two. :)

People here are always planning special-use stations, baking, snack, drinks, etc. Babies have their own foods, liquids, mealtimes, and eating styles and equipment. Maybe a baby station with everything you need in one place for prepping those meals, middle-of-the-night needs, bottles, vitamins, outings tote, etc., would serve you well. Newborns feed every 2 hours or so, and even if you breastfeed, there always seem to be needs for other stuff, so a no-step station could be very nice. As a start, I'm thinking a 36' counter, sink, cabs above and below, fridge and microwave right there, plus room for any specialty appliances (what do people use these days?), baby monitor, etc. Later on it could become a breakfast/coffee/snack center so family can tend to those without getting in the cook's way. Room to set a fussy hungry baby needing a bunch of there-theres as you prep would be good too, but I'd suggest planning the layout imagining yourself working one-handed while you bounce and sway and coo with the baby chewing on your shoulder.

For the kitchen as a whole, a place you or DH can sit down with the baby would be nice, and a good place to put the baby while you work, close enough to pat and retrieve toys or pacifier, a must. Within the year, directly under your feet will become a favorite hangout, but you may prefer to a make a play space a couple steps away. It should have a drawer full of mommy's kitchen stuff that can be dropped and crawled on and make good noises when banged together. BTW, Ikea drawer hardware is easily strong enough to hold a toddler when he wants to play in the drawer too. :)


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RE: Just Getting Started

Thanks so much for the great feedback.

I was really hoping that 4.5 months would be enough time to plan and mostly remodel a kitchen. I thought that if it was 80% done by the time we moved in, we'd be in good shape. We wouldn't have to spend months without a kitchen, worrying where our retriever was going to spend his days so he didn't bother the workmen. Also, I will be working full time after maternity leave, and the idea of living through demolition and remodeling while working and raising an infant seems like a lot to handle.

But, if having an architect draw up plans and getting bids from GCs can take months, them I'm surely out of luck.

The better plan may be to tackle one bath and the smaller jobs before we move in, and leave the kitchen for the future.

If anyone thinks I should attempt the original plan, it would be good to know. But if it's unanimous, then I will rethink this project. As my mother in law says, "If three people tell you you're drunk, go to bed."

Again, thanks.


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RE: Just Getting Started

I think you're making a good decision by doing the smaller jobs. You'll figure out that is probably enough for now, and then you can really focus on the rest of your pregnancy and new baby.
A lot of us also hang out in the bathroom forum so maybe we'll see you there.

Good luck!


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RE: Just Getting Started

Honey, you can ask again and again, but you're going to get the same answer. No. Or, by "anyone" are you looking for at least one person to say YES! so you can tell yourself, that Sure! It's ok to go ahead?

No. You're insane if you think it'll be remotely do-able with nice results. How much more can folks with experience break it down?

I think you're wise to consider a bathroom, although just because the room is small, it doesn't mean the job is. You still don't know what kind of plumbing you have, nor in what condition it is.

Why don't you work on a nursery? That doesn't involve plumbing or fixtures, or permits. Plus, like I mentioned before, you're gonna need the nursery! I'd do the cosmetic things in your house that don't matter so much.

Congrats on the baby and a new house, though.


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RE: Just Getting Started

First-time mothers give me a chuckle - every one is certain the space-time continuum will not apply to their specific situation and somehow, magically, the black hole of kitchen redos will generate extra time to accomodate their plans.

Don't try a remodel so soon after you get in. You have WAY too much going on. Hell, it will take you 2-3 months after you have moved in just to find all the stuff you packed and cannot now find!

DON'T DO IT!!

It would be the height of folly and in a year you'll be back here crying the blues 'cause the reno has gone so far South you can see Rio and the baby will be demanding every bit of your time, patience and love.

The last thing you want to worry about is no water available in the kitchen, the wrong cabinets being delivered and what finish to ask for on the faucets. And all this while your butt hurts and you haven't had more than 4 hours sleep per night for weeks.

Take your time, think the entire project through (then do it again) and enjoy your baby.

Good luck!
Doc


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RE: Just Getting Started

I wouldn't do anything until you own the home simply for the fact that it's not yours yet and anything can happen. I wouldn't want to risk losing money on remodeling something that wasn't mine. I know it's a pain but I think it's better to wait too.


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RE: Just Getting Started

Well, I kinda laughed at the notion that just making choices should be expected to take everyone months and months. That's for people who feel the investment is worth whatever special payback comes from it. Including the fun of marinating in all the possibilities. TKO, totally kitchen obsessed, is a term used a lot around here.

Others who just want a good kitchen and are very decisive might not allocate more than a couple of weeks to some brisk planning and shopping and do a very good job.

So, except for the question of knowing yourselves and your spaces well enough to do the job you want, the big problem I see is what everyone's hitting--the uncontrollables. Getting a good contractor to do the job for a good price. Plus, something unexpected will hit most projects, a few projects have real problems, and a very few are devastated. If you just want a good working kitchen--not some marvelous dream of perfection, are brave, decisive, smart, have a habit of doing things right the first time, are mentally tough and could if the worst happened calmly bring the baby home to a gutted mess, go for it.

BTW, of course you're right about choosing and installing doors. You'd have another several months before the baby can roll/crawl across the room and pull cans down on little hands. I'm guessing most of your lower cabinetry will actually be drawers, though, and living without their fronts somehow seems less appealing for any length of time than without doors.

Also--Ikea, great for a lot of reasons. If your contractor has a heart attack you can finish putting the cabinets in yourselves (we did) or hire your neighbor's handy gardener to do it.


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It you wished...

I kinda smiled at the notion that just making choices should be expected to take everyone months and months. Just presenting the other side, that's for people who feel the investment in time is worth whatever special payback comes from it. Including the fun of marinating in all the possibilities. TKO, totally kitchen obsessed, is a term used a lot around here.

Others who just want a good kitchen and are very decisive might not allocate more than a couple of weeks to some brisk planning and shopping and do a very good job.

So, except for the question of knowing yourselves and your spaces well enough to end up with a kitchen you're happy to live with, the big problem is what everyone's hitting--the uncontrollables. Getting a competent, dependable contractor to do the job for a good price would be the first hurdle. After that, something unexpected will hit most projects, a few projects have real problems, and a very few are devastated. How old's this house? Big issue. Any structural or plumbing changes needed? If your house is of decent construction and not old, and you only pay for work as it's done, your chances of avoiding real trauma are pretty good.

So, assuming contractor or workmen availability and fairly recent construction, if you just want a good working kitchen--not some marvelous dream of perfection, are brave, decisive, smart, have a habit of doing things right the first time, are mentally tough and could if the worst happened calmly bring the baby home to a gutted mess, you could go for it. If you occasionally hit a friend up for her Xanax, maybe pass.

BTW, of course you're right about choosing and installing doors. You'd have another several months before the baby can roll/crawl across the room and pull cans down on little hands. I'm guessing most of your lower cabinetry will actually be drawers, though, and living without their fronts somehow seems less appealing for any length of time than without doors.

Also--Ikea, great for a lot of reasons. If your contractor has a heart attack you can finish putting the cabinets in yourselves (we did) or hire your neighbor's handy gardener to do it. It's easy-peasy for anyone who knows how to choose a drill bit and use a level.


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RE: Just Getting Started

RChicago, I've sent you an email through the Gardenweb MyPage. If you don't receive it, email me through my MyPage.

I agree with everything already said, especially about the "un-knowables" since you haven't moved in yet. I think you are taking on more than you need to, even if you weren't pregnant. Ikea cabinetry plus another manufacturer's doors, is going to be a lot of work and thinking about kitchen design, perhaps more than you are up for. I tried to use the Ikea kitchen planner, and found it cumbersome. Then I got on the Ikeafans website, and, while SO impressed with all the ingenious solutions there, knew I was out of my comfort zone, and needed someone to help me. Having said that, I am wondering if you truly need an architect, vs. a good kitchen designer. We have seen so many posts on this forum of people being disappointed in their architect as kitchen designer - they often are all about the aesthetic, and not so much about practicality and functionality in a kitchen. Anyway, check out my email for a Chicago-area recommendation.

This post was edited by akchicago on Fri, Dec 14, 12 at 8:43


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RE: Just Getting Started

I would remodel the house before moving in - just don't give yourselves a hard deadline for the move-in. The only possible way to get it done within your time frame would be if you acted as your own architect/GC and one of you, preferably the non-pregnant one, could take time off of work.

If you are depending on an architect and GC route, forget your current deadline. I did an IKEA kitchen and master bath remodel in 8 weeks - would have been 6 but my first granite install was aborted because a piece cracked. I did spend about a month planning, and was able to spend time with the various contractors daily. I used the IKEA-referred contractor for assembling and installing the cabs - a lot of cabs - which they finished in one day.


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