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Managing your kitchen project

Managing your kitchen project

At this point, you've completed most of the major steps of planning for your kitchen remodel. You've polished the plan, set the budget, arranged your finances and hired help as necessary.

The next, and final, step is where it all comes together. This is when the dust flies and the walls come crashing down. Even the demolition carries an element of excitement the old is making way for the new, and soon your new kitchen will become a reality. Perhaps the greatest challenge of this step is creating a work schedule. If you've assumed the role of general contractor, you'll need to coordinate with all of the subcontractors involved to create a detailed schedule that is efficient but flexible enough to accommodate ordinary delays. This chapter shows you how. After the work begins, it won't be long before you understand one of the fundamental difficulties with remodelling: the job site is also your home. This means you'll be hosting all the workers and their equipment, as well as the noise and dust they create.

To minimise any inconvenience to you and the various tradespeople, make careful preparations to accommodate the work and everyone involved. And be ready to live without your kitchen for a while. Also, as the job progresses, it will be in your best interest to keep all records in order - receipts, contracts, legal documents to avoid potential problems now and in the future.

The Project Schedule

Scheduling a project requires an understanding of a typical construction sequence. If you're creating the schedule yourself you'll need to know how to place each subcontractor in the proper order. If you've hired a general contractor, he or she knows how to do this, of course, but you'll certainly be included in the scheduling process. In either case, it's helpful to understand the major steps of the project and what goes into building a schedule. As the start date grows near, make sure you're prepared for the inconveniences of living without your kitchen for the duration of the project.

Creating a Realistic Schedule

Newcomers to scheduling are likely to make some mistakes. One extreme approach to scheduling is to attempt to accomplish the Utopian remodel, in which all the subcontractors complete their tasks in a seamless chain of productivity without delays. Another approach is less optimistic than the first, but errs by being overly cautious. This is a schedule that's too flexible; it can guarantee the project stays on schedule, but it may take a year or two to complete the job. An effective, realistic schedule falls between these two extremes. lt involves hiring and scheduling all of your subcontractors in advance and building in plenty of slack time at critical points in the schedule, to handle unforeseen delays. Remember that in addition to problems occurring on your project, each of your subcontractors can run into problems with other jobs they are working on at the same time. If you are acting as the general contractor, be aware that your subcontractors may be inclined to give top priority to another job for which they are working for a professional general contractor as the latter has the greater promise of repeat business.

The Stages of a Typical Remodeling Project

The timeline presented here is based on a full-scale remodelling job you can skip any steps that don't apply to your project. These time estimates assume that all the work is being done by professionals. Schedule at least twice as much time for any jobs you plan to do yourself Also, the estimates given do not account for common delays, such as subcontractors or materials arriving late and inspection delays. And work on a remodelling project often turns up other unpleasant surprises: hidden utilities and water- or insect-damaged structural members are two of the most common. All of these delays and problems can add 20%-40%-sometimes as much as 50%-to a schedule.

1. Major Construction

If your new kitchen involves a room addition, assume that the building contractors will take about four to six weeks to excavate, pour a foundation and erect the shell of the new addition. If your project involves no major structural work, begin with step 2.

2. Demolition The next task is removing the old cabinets, flooring, countertops and wall surfaces. This work can be done by a general labourer or a subcontractor, or you can do it yourself Allow 2 to 4 days for this stage of the project.

3. Rough Carpentry The next step involves building walls, framing new doors and windows and adding beams and partitions. This work will be done by a carpenter, or by a crew of carpenters employed by your general contractor. Allow l to 2 weeks for this work, depending on the size of the job. Carpenters will return to complete the finish phases of the project later.

4. Plumbing The plumber should arrive at "rough-in" the new supply and drain, waste and vent pipes after the carpenters are finished. Allow 2 to 4 days for this stage. The plumber will return after the cabinets and counters are installed to set and hook up the sink, faucets, garbage disposal and water-fed appliances.

5. HVAC Schedule your HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) contractor or boiler contractor after the plumb- ing and before the electrical work. Depending on the extent of the job, allow 1 to 4 days for this work.

6. Electrical Before the walls are insulated and finished, the electrician needs to run new cable and install outlet boxes. If the electrical installation isn't very complicated, allow 1 to 2 days for this job, but if a new sub panel or upgraded service is needed, allow 3-5 days. The electrician will return to connect the outlets, lights and appliances after the walls are finished and the cabinets are installed.

7. Wall Finishes Allow 1 to 2 weeks for insulating walls, installing, taping and finishing the drywall and painting or wallpapering. There may be several different subcontractors involved. Typically, a carpenter or insulation subcontractor will insulate the walls, a two-person crew will hang the dry- wall, a taper will finish the seams; a third crew will paint or wallpaper the walls. Painting and wallpapering can be done before or after the flooring and cabinets are installed.

8. Flooring It can take 1 to 4 days to install flooring, depending on the material, the size of the room and the condition of the subfloor. Flooring contractors generally prefer to work before the cabinetry is in place.

9. Cabinets Stock and semi-custom cabinets are usually installed by a carpenter, while custom cabinets are typically installed by the professionals who built them. For a typical kitchen, allow 1 to 3 days for cabinet installation.

10. Countertops Laminate countertops are sometimes installed by a carpenter, while ceramic tile, solid surface, stone and stainless steel countertops are almost always installed by contractors who specialise in the material. Allow 1 to 3 days for countertop installation.

11. Finish Carpentry Window mouldings, baseboards and other trim are installed by a carpenter. This may be the same carpenter who did the rough framing work or it may be a finish carpenter who specialises in this kind of precision work. Allow 2 to 4 days in your schedule for finish carpentry.

12. Fixtures and Appliances Sinks, faucets, light fixtures and appliances may be installed by a carpenter, plumber, electrician or retailer or you can do this work yourself Although none of these individual jobs takes much time, there may be many people involved, so it's best to allow 3 to 5 days for this stage of the process.

13. Your Inspection No kitchen remodeling project is complete until you've inspected the work and had any problems corrected. This final inspection is your responsibility and fixing the problems you discover is the responsibility of the contractor who did the work. Allow at least 2 weeks in your schedule to have any problems you've found in your final inspection resolved by the appropriate contractors.

Developing a Schedule

The key to creating a successful remodeling schedule is to develop a realistic timeline. You can use blank plan- ning calendar pages (available in office supply stores) to draw up your master schedule. Here's how to proceed: 1. Order all the materials needed for your project and record when each one is scheduled to arrive. Nothing can ruin a schedule more quickly than leaving trades- people waiting for materials.

2. Call each of your subcontractors and ask them to estimate the time they'll need to complete each phase of their job. Be sure to tell them that you're simply trying to schedule the project; your subcontractors may become uncooperative if they think you're trying to get them to commit to a specific deadline.

3. Create a detailed master schedule that includes the starting and ending dates of each task. Be especially liberal when scheduling any work you're planning to do your- self. Allow at least % day of down time between subcontractors, and don't schedule any to start work on a Friday On your schedule, mark these blank periods cleanup - though these are just a buffer in case something goes over schedule. Include the names and telephone l numbers of all your subcontractors and materials suppliers on the schedule, and i the dates of all deliveries.

Finally, make reminder notes and reserve some time for each required inspection.

4. Invite all your subcontractors to a brief meeting, and give them a copy of your master schedule. Ask each to confirm the dates on the schedule. If any scheduling conflicts arise, try to resolve these issues while everyone is present. If a subcontractor asks for a change in the schedule, be firm but not inflexible. It's better to stretch out your project than to force an overworked and irritated contractor to meet a tight deadline. Keep in mind, though, that stretching the schedule for one subcontractor may make it difficult for others to finish their work on time.

5. Once the project is under way call to confirm with each subcontractor shortly before he or she is scheduled to arrive. Also call to confirm all scheduled deliveries.