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The Bathroom & Kitchen Professionals

Everything You Need To Know About Kitchens

We have often heard  expressions like “the kitchen is the heart of the home “or “ the kitchen sells the home “, although this can not be discounted it does come close to the truth when certain details have been taken into account.

What we do know is that the kitchen is a crucial part of the home . It reflects how we live , who we are and it forms an integral part of our lives. A kitchen should be  aesthetically pleasing but also functional, stylish but not  that fashionable that it becomes prehistoric within a few years ( a note of caution : ‘’ for an idea ever to be fashionable is ominous since it must afterward be old fashioned - Gerge Santayana .” )

Those that ever have had a badly planned kitchen on the other hand , can fully apprehend  how serious a place of discomfort and inconvenience a kitchen can be , like a door opening the wrong way ,doors where there should be drawers or what was once a fashionable colour seems dowdy a few years later.

The primary function of our articles is to provide the reader with a resource to explore functional and inventive ways to creating there dream kitchen. We will show you how to get the kitchen to work for you, the way you cook and the way you live.

We will help you from start to finish , from the planning stage to the installation of your kitchen.

Renovating , remodeling or installing a new kitchen is not child’s play.It will  most probably be the most expensive renovation or remodel you will ever undertake. So choose carefully.

1. Getting the right help:

Who is suitable  or qualified for the job ?

That would depend upon what type of work is been done. If you are planning a significant amount of structural changes then an architect would be your best choice , the architect would at some time in the future contact a specialised kitchen designer to complete a kitchen design according to the structural changes made between yourself and the architect..

If you are installing a new kitchen or replacing an existing one without structural changes then a qualified kitchen designer will suffice. A one week certificate in design and 3 years experience does not necessarily qualify one as a certified or qualified designer , remember this is your home  and your money. Most kitchen designers work for a specific kitchen manufacturing company and will look after there employers interest  .There primary task is to sell there product . Make sure you find a  designer that has your interests at heart . It is your right to ask how qualified the designer is after all ,it is your investment and money. Due to the cost of design software and a fact that  most clients would like to shop  around, kitchen company’s do not give out there designs  unless a substantial deposit is paid  to secure a purchase order. Normally at least  5-10 per cent of the quote which is non refundable if you choose to go with someone else. This is understandable as a lot of money has been invested in software , training and time spent consulting and designing the actual  kitchen .

Some kitchen manufactures will offer to do the plumbing and electrical work for stoves , taps and sinks.

Make sure that any changes made with plumbing and electrical work is done by a certified electrician or plumber and not the kitchen company unless they have a certified artisan in- house or subcontracting it out to a  suitably  qualified person or company.

2. A sensible budget :

The part where reality sets in.

It would be silly to go through all the excitement and effort just to find out later that the only thing you can afford is the stove.

Its great to dream  and dreams often become your reality but a sensible working budget will give  you a realistic perspective  and  determine a true reflection on what you can and cannot afford.

To get a proper budget you need to understand exactly what your options are.

You need to understand why certain companies are more expensive than others . What cabinet construction methods  are used and why it influences price . What makes some cabinets more expensive than others and the influence of accessories on price  . What are your options are in respect of internal accessories like pull out drawers and there influence on price.

It is imperative that you gain as much information as possible so that a calculable and informative decision  can be made.

You should do an assessment of your existing kitchen . Do an analysis of what works or does not work for you. What would you like to keep , what must be trashed. ( We will get into detail on how to approach  this.)

You need to do a lot of research like reading our articles , collecting photos and visiting kitchen companies that have showrooms. Ask a lot of questions, do not be afraid to question anything.

3. Legal Issues.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Get yourself up to date with the legal aspects of any document you sign or any formal type of agreement. NEVER have a handshake or oral agreement , make sure everything is in writing and signed by the persons responsible.

You have the right to change your mind within a set period of days . This is called the cooling off period. ( Be aware of any penalties if this contract was signed in an official environment  like the contractors place of business  and or any  clause which prohibits any changes in a specified period - this will normally mean once materials have been ordered and in production . )

Be very aware of stipulating who is responsible for the removal of an existing kitchen  and the person or company responsible for its removal .  ( if applicable ) and that includes any other rubble or waste that may occur during and after the installation is done.

If any changes are made to the original design , manufacture or contract ensure  its in writing and  that the cost is clearly indicated  - you do not want  any unexpected surprises .

If your contractor is using sub contractors, it would be wise to ask for a waiver of lien . This  in a nutshell is a release from any liabilities caused by your contractor. ( he may not pay his sub contractor  or the sub may not pay his debts.)

 Get advice from an attorney if you are unsure .

You may even ask the contractor to prove that he has paid his subs , however if you have a waiver of lien all debts can be referred to the general contractor.

4. Your Property And Your Rights.

You have rights .

You may instruct your contractor where they may park and where they may  have lunch.

You can instruct them to use a generator (the companies ) and not your electricity. ( Make sure this is stipulated in your contact otherwise they may  bill you  an extra fee for generator hire.

You may indicate that major work like cutting of large  materials  must be done at the companies premises and not on yours. (If the design and measurements were done correctly there should be no major cutting  on your premises, however there will be a certain amount of drilling done.)

You may enforce a No Swearing policy on your premises.

You may instruct the contractor to remove all there rubble and to ensure that the premise are left in the same  condition they received it . (Be aware of any stipulations in your contract stipulating otherwise )

You can enforce a No Smoking policy on your premises.

You can enforce a no entry area .

You may enforce a penalty clause (if its in your contract )for a job not completed in the agreed  time period.

5.The Inconvenience Factor

Take into account that there will be a fair amount of noise , dust and strangers in your home .There is  a high probability  that your kitchen will not be in use for a period of time.

This upheaval could be a week or a few weeks depending upon the scale of the project and you will need to have a contingency plan available to eliminate some of the stress.

The advice would be to include where you will be eating during this time - eating out is never a bad idea but  does cost more. You could however dedicate a separate room for cooking,  crockery , cooking utensils, cleaning materials and obviously a place for the fridge. All the rest needs to packaged and stored somewhere.

You will need to talk to the whole family with the emphasis on the person doing most of the cooking. You and your family need to discuss what is involved and this should prepare the family enough to lessen the stress.

A hint  - let your family meet the persons who will working on your premises before the time ( this will help prevent any strangers from entering your home. )

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Structural Changes.

A word of advice : any structural changes need approval from your local municipality and if there are any major or complicated changes they might require technical specifications from an architect .

Further information on building regulations can be obtained from your local municipal office .

Remodeling and building contractors :
A lot of building contractors also do kitchens , please make sure they have there own manufacturing plant and designers as most of the time this work is sub -contracted out and you could probably make a saving going directly to a kitchen designer.
If on the other hand there is a lot of structural work like breaking walls , plastering , electrical , tiling and plumbing then a good contractor would be a good idea as they would supervise the whole job alleviating you from that job and saving you the stress.  You can still specify to the contractor who you want to use for the kitchen design and or manufacture of your kitchen.

An independent qualified kitchen designer : using an independent designer is sometimes the  way to go if your looking for “ Your Special Kitchen ‘ . These people work for you , design what you want and then you are able to shop around without any pressure . Many independents also provide a project management service and alleviate the stress from  what can be a very stress full time. However this does extra and if you find the right designer from a kitchen company it will  be a free service .Shop around and find a designer you can work with.

An  interior designer : using an interior designer is another way to go, these designers are specialists in there fields and would normally be consulted when a complete home needs to be decorated or redone. This is normally an expensive route ,however if you know or have an idea what you need or  you intend just replacing or installing a new kitchen , consult a kitchen design specialist.

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