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How to plan a kitchen renovation

Image of open-plan space of @the_idle_hands kitchen

How to plan a kitchen renovation

Time to give your kitchen a new lease of life but don’t know where to start? Philippa Tuttiett, managing director of Female Builders & Interiors reveals who to call and when when planning a kitchen renovation.

Image of Philippa Tuttiett founder of Female Builders & Interiors
Image: Philippa Tuttiett, founder of Female Builders & Interiors
Update or renovate?

If you’ve realised it’s time for a new kitchen, start by deciding whether you need to update or renovate. You may be able to do small updates such as changing kitchen unit doors yourself or with a bit of help. If you’re not confident in your DIY skills or your kitchen renovation is more complicated, you’ll benefit from the services of professionals. Remember, no two kitchen projects are the same so different projects will call for different experts.

Image of the kitchen renovation of @_house_77
Image: @_house_77
Who to call

Your kitchen renovation project could call for builders, tilers, electricians and plumbers. If you need them all, a project manager can help to keep things running smoothly. You can do this yourself, or, if you don’t have time, a couple of options are:

Find a company that will supply all the workforce. This is ideal if you don’t have the time (or organisational skills) to coordinate the project yourself. Be aware that this approach is potentially more costly than sourcing individual tradespeople.

Alternatively, look for a kitchen specialist that offers an in-house supply and fit service – this will save time and stress. Although you’ll be choosing from the retailer’s selection of products, if you see something they don’t offer, they’re likely to be happy to source it for you.

Source your own

To save costs on your kitchen renovation, source the tradespeople yourself. There’s also an element of security in doing your own research, checking references, meeting the tradespeople for yourself and discussing what you want and how much it’ll cost. That said, this approach takes time and careful management as well as knowledge of which people to bring in when.

First steps

The first step when ripping out an old kitchen is to shut off the utilities. For safety reasons, this must be done before you remove any appliances. You could disconnect electricity and water yourself – contact a plumber or electrician if you don’t feel confident. But please note, gas appliances and supplies must only ever be disconnected and moved by a qualified professional.

First fix plumbing

Once your old kitchen has been removed, plumbing comes next (you may hear this stage called ‘first fix plumbing’). Your plumber will assess whether your pipework is worth saving or if it needs replacing. If it doesn’t need replacing, your plumber will also check that the existing pipework complements your new kitchen layout (it may need to be rerouted if you’re moving appliances).

First fix electrics

First fix electrical work takes place before your new kitchen is fitted. This starts with your electrician checking the existing system (be aware that a complete rewire may be needed). Next, power cables are run to your cooker and any white goods. Design note: some induction hobs require a lot of power, so tell your electrician before they start exactly what type of appliances you intend to have. At this stage your electrician will also run your lighting cables through.

Do you need a plasterer?

You’ll need a plasterer to make good the walls if they were damaged as the old kitchen was ripped out or if you’re changing the layout of the space. Once the walls are in a good condition, you can crack open the paint pots. If your kitchen lacks ventilation, make sure you (or your painter) uses a paint specially developed for humid environments so that it does not crack.

Image of the home of @sixat21
Image: @sixat21
Fitting a new kitchen

Once your old kitchen is removed, first fix plumbing and electrics completed and any repairs (such as plastering the walls) done, it’s time to install the new units. As a general rule, the fitter will install the base units before the wall units. After the base units, it’s time for the worktops, then the sink is installed and connected, followed by tiling.

One of the final jobs when fitting a kitchen is to install cupboard doors, drawer fronts, plinths and cornices. This is followed by another call to your electrician for second fix electrics, which involves installing and connecting the appliances.

When to lay a kitchen floor

The type of floor you choose will dictate when it is fitted. For example, if you’re going for an expensive natural stone and there’s a possibility of damaging it while installing the kitchen, fit your units first. Conversely, if you’re going for a hard-wearing porcelain tile, this can be laid before the kitchen units are fitted.

Do you need a builder?

Some kitchen renovation projects will call for a builder’s expertise. According to The Federation of Master Builders, you’ll need a builder when:

  1. The new kitchen is part of an extension or larger renovation.
  2. Party walls (walls shared with a neighbour) could be affected.
  3. Internal walls need building or removing (particularly load-bearing walls).

More reasons to use a builder include: when floors need to be dug up and/or relaid (perhaps because of damp or for the installation of underfloor heating); where you’re sourcing the kitchen elements (worktops, unit doors, appliances) from several separate suppliers and won’t be using a supplier’s in-house fitting service; and finally, where building regulations approval or compliance is needed.

About Philippa Tuttiett: Philippa is the managing director of Female Builders & Interiors, a firm she founded in 2007 that can offer an all-female workforce.

Featured image: The striking open-plan kitchen belongs to Sandra Baker of @the_idle_hands.

Want more? Find out how Philippa got started in the building industry in our in-depth interview Behind the Brand.