Kitchen Renovation Part 2 – Construction Begins

Welcome back to Part 2 of our kitchen renovation project. Check out Part 1 to see where we started. Today we're going to dive right into the construction, and I'll tell you about some of the boring, but necessary details it took to get started.

Step 1 - Getting Approval
Depending on where you live, you are going to need approval from a few different parties before you can get started on your renovation project. If you live in a condo community like me, there is a Home Owner's Association (HOA) to deal with. I contacted them to find out what it takes to get a project approved, and they sent back an application packet that I would need to submit with more details about my renovation plans.

Because this project would require plumbing and structural work, I would need to have drawings signed and sealed by a licensed architect in order to get building permits from the city. I asked around my community for some architect recommendations, and decided to work with J. Gleiberman Design to prepare the drawing package. He had experience doing projects in my condo community so he was familiar with the board members and HOA approval process. This helped to make everything go smoothly. Jeremy did a great job and submitted the drawing package in a timely and professional manner.

All in, the approval process took about a month. The drawings were ready in a couple of weeks, but we had to wait for the board to meet in order to get approval from the Home Owner's Association.

When budgeting for your kitchen project, be prepared to shell out some money for administrative costs. I paid $2300 for the architectural drawings, and another $2200 in permit fees to the city. That's $4500 just to get started on the project!

Step 2 - Choose a Contractor
I interviewed several different contractors before deciding on one. I asked my neighbors, my realtors, and family friends for recommendations. I chose Doowood Construction because they seemed experienced and friendly, and offered moderate pricing. Plus, they were able to build custom cabinets to make the most of our small space.

I'm really happy with how the custom cabinets turned out, but ultimately I was a little disappointed in our contractor. He told me that the project would take 4 weeks, but in the end it was over 2 months. This was frustrating as I was living in the house at the time, and it was a long time to go without a working kitchen. The construction was messy, and we failed a few inspections before finally getting sign-offs from the city. I'm pretty happy with the finished results, but I do think the contractor could have managed the project more efficiently.

Step 3 - Let's Go!
Once we had a contractor and permits all squared away, it was time for the fun stuff - demolition and construction!


The guys got busy right away pulling out the old cabinets and appliances. I asked for the old appliances to be donated or sold. You can check with your local Habitat for Humanity or other salvage stores to see if they might be interested in any unwanted items. This keeps perfectly good items out of landfill, and extends their use for a new family.

It was super satisfying once they cut a hole in the wall to open up the kitchen. The space is feeling so much more spacious and open already. We also removed the soffits on the ceiling to add a little height to the kitchen.


When I walked into our home during Week 2 of renovations, it looked like aliens had invaded! The whole place was wrapped in plastic to keep the dust from getting everywhere. After taking out the old cabinets, they had to tear open the walls to do plumbing and electrical work. This is messy business, hence the plastic alien quarantine business.


It's always darkest before the dawn. Our project was stalled for weeks while the contractor lined up a licensed plumber, but eventually we were able to start moving again. Things are starting to look a lot better once the new drywall goes up.


The patching and painting work has begun, and it's starting to look like a kitchen again. The pass through window really opens up the room, and the space is looking completely transformed. Stay tuned for Part 3 of our kitchen renovation series where we talk design finishes and budget numbers!


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