Diary of a kitchen renovation – how to finish

September 30, 2015, 4:38 pm Peter Boehm Yahoo7 Finance

Here are my remaining five insights on kitchen renovations.

In the first part of my column about our recent kitchen renovation experiences, I shared with you our five valuable learnings which covered off on:

1. Know when it’s time to update
2. Get your property valued before you begin
3. Work out what you can and should spend
4. Think about who you might approach for a quote
5. You need to be flexible and prepared to compromise

Now let’s move onto my remaining five insights:

6. The hidden costs of a kitchen renovation

I have some bad news for those who believe or hope that kitchen renovation costs start and end with the kitchen itself.

I’m afraid they don’t, especially for those properties where the kitchen is part of an open plan family and/or dining room.

The colour of kitchen doors, benchtops, splashbacks and appliances can and do affect the colours of the surrounding walls and ceilings – they can clash or they can enhance or match.

More likely than not, you’re probably looking at a new paint job, especially if your colour scheme is as old as your kitchen.

Furthermore, if like us, you’ve had a major redesign, then there’s likely to be some wall damage requiring plaster work and a repaint.

Recognising we’d need to repaint we brought in a colour consultant and got a great return for our small investment.

Not only did we get excellent advice on the kitchen/family room colours, but we also got some great ideas for the colour of the glass splashbacks and a feature wall.

It’s important to remember that the aesthetic appeal of new kitchen can be greatly reduced if you get the room colours wrong.

On top of this, if you’ve moved benches around you’re likely to have floor damage meaning it will require repair or replacement.

In our case we have wooden floors which needed to be sanded and resealed. And so there was more expense, inconvenience and mess.

Another cost not covered by our kitchen quote was the installation of new ceiling lights, a telephone socket, light switches and water temperature controller.

We also decided to spend a bit on new light switches and power points – so there was the additional installation costs of these as well as the cost of the units themselves.

All these extras add up so it’s important to consider these when setting your budget and discussing your kitchen quote.

In particular, you need to clearly understand what is and isn’t included in the initial quote.

7. Delays are inevitable

A lot goes on when installing a custom kitchen.

For instance, the new kitchen has to be designed, built in a factory, the old kitchen has to come out, the new kitchen has to be delivered and fitted, all the trades people have to do their bit – electrical, plumbing and plastering, the splashback has to be cut, coloured and fitted, all the new appliances, power points and light switches have to be installed and fitted and all the corking (e.g. sealing with silicon) has to be done. This usually happens over many weeks.

So it is inevitable that delays will occur either due to things like: manufacturing delays; the availability of tradies; a holdup in the delivery of any appliances you may have ordered; or simply because of inclement weather.

Whatever the reason these delays can add days and weeks to the planned completion date, and often it’s outside the control of the kitchen company.

The key here is to expect and accept that delays will occur and this requires some patience, understanding and foresight.

For instance, you should provide a reasonable buffer between the planned completion date and the actual final date, taking guidance from how things are going during the course of the renovation.

8. Expect some inconvenience

It goes without saying that when your kitchen is out of action there’s going to be some inconvenience. In our case we did a lot of our cooking and dishwashing in the laundry for around three weeks and I have to say we were over it after the first week.

In the scheme of things though this was a small discomfort but nonetheless we cooked and ate in a fairly messy kitchen area and we were all pleased when it was finished.

If you’re renovating your kitchen and have small children you need to be especially careful. It’s messy and there’s usually a lot of junk lying around including sharp objects like nails, screws, wires, metal and tools not to mention it’s going to be dusty, dirty and noisy.

Ideally the kitchen should be inaccessible to little kids and if that’s not possible, it might be worth having them stay with friends and family (like their grandparents) until the worst is over.

The kitchen installer should be able to let you know how long the installation will take and how long it will be until it is fully operational. You can use this advice to decide your best course of action which could include eating out or enjoying the odd take-away or two.

9. Do a thorough final inspection

During the course of the renovation I would recommend keeping a list of any problems or defects you may identify and arrange to discuss these with the project manager on an ongoing basis.

It’s better to sort things out as early as possible particularly when the appropriate tradesperson may still be around.

As the renovation nears completion you probably would have made a number of progress payments but allowance is usually made for around 5 per cent of the total price to be held back until you give the final sign-off that everything is OK.

When all the work has been done you need to do a thorough and final check.

During our final check we made sure everything worked as it should, there were no paint chips or scratches, cupboards and doors were properly aligned, all power points and light switches worked and the overall finish and design was as promised.

We did pick up a few things but they were sorted out quickly and we were very happy with the final product.

As an aside, you should check what guarantees come with the kitchen before you sign on the dotted line.

Any appliances you buy will have they own individual guarantees but the kitchen itself should have a warranty period of at least ten years.

10. Now for the post renovation review

When the new kitchen’s in and things like painting, floor repair and any other ancillary work is complete it’s time to get the selling agents back to get their views.

Again, you should seek an objective and unbiased opinion remembering they will base their comments on what the market is telling them and not your personal tastes.

This is the point you can test whether your renovation has been a successful one, at least from a financial perspective.

For us the news was good and so we can enjoy our new kitchen knowing that it meets our personal and lifestyle needs and has added value to our property.

Importantly, we expect that it will likely last for the next ten years or so after which it will probably be time for us to move on and allow someone else to come in and undertake the next renovation project.

Special note: If you want to learn more about how to renovate a property and add value, read my earlier article Renovating for Profit.

Peter Boehm is the Finance Editor of onthehouse.com.au which offers a unique information source on virtually every property in Australia and provides data on a property’s sold and rental history as well as current property valuations. The onthehouse.com.au Investor Centre provides research on suburbs, market update reports and calculators to help investors make informed property decisions.

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