8 Biggest Kitchen Remodeling Disasters (and How to Avoid Them)

We asked kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer, co-author of The Kitchen Bible, for her list of situations to avoid at all costs.

Adobe Stock / undrey

With these to-dos (and not-to-dos) in mind, you’ll be on your way to the new and improved kitchen of your dreams in no time.

Popular movies have showcased all sorts of horror stories involving kitchen remodeling projects where costs spiraled out of control. These fictional tales happen in real life, too: projects run over budget, are not completed to the owners’ satisfaction, lead to arguments — or even divorce. But good planning, realistic objectives, and working with seasoned design professionals are surefire ways to avoid these challenges. We asked kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer, co-author of The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014), for her list of situations to avoid at all costs when undertaking a kitchen remodeling project:

No budget, or making lots of changes to the budget along the way.

Clients should give a realistic budget to their design professional; many won’t. If they add on extras as work progresses, they need to understand that the final price will increase.

Not seeing the work of the contractor, architect, or designer beforehand.

It’s imperative that clients ask for at least three references from the professionals they’re considering, and get names and phone numbers of homeowners who will allow them to view the finished job for themselves.

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Not having detailed written contracts from both the contractor and the design professional.

It’s also wise to look for hidden costs and check the payment schedule, ensuring that work will be paid for only once it is completed.

Not holding back a small percentage of the contractor’s payment until the punch list is finished.

Make sure the percentage is large enough — perhaps 10 percent of the total job cost — to give the contractor the incentive to finish all the work on your kitchen.

Kitchen remodeling tips
Modern new light interior of kitchen with white furniture and dining table. Adobe Stock

Not waiting to demolish the old kitchen until all ordered materials have come in.

The installation should be booked to start about two days to two weeks before the cabinets are due to arrive, depending on how much preparation work has to be done.

Not setting up a small kitchen to cook in, or you’ll go broke eating out.

Try to find a space where there’s a sink — this could be in a downstairs bathroom or laundry room — and move the existing refrigerator near it, along with a microwave, toaster, and coffee maker to create a makeshift kitchen.

Not being nice to your work crew with thank yous, coffee, and occasional donuts.

If the work crew likes you, they will put forth more effort — and maybe do extra.

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Unrealistic expectations regarding the timetable.

Kitchens aren’t remodeled in a day; it takes longer than what you see on TV. Make sure your time frame for your kitchen remodeling project is realistic; add another week or two, even a month if it’s a complicated job.

Want more tips? Find Gilmer’s book here.

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