There are a lot of things that kitchen renovation shows on TV don’t show you. We want to share our timeline issues that could affect your next renovation project. All renovation projects are a balance between scope, budget and timeline. Let us show you the real relationship of those three elements.
As you’ve been following along with our kitchen renovation project, you’ve seen that I have been doing almost all of the labor. I don’t have a crew of people helping me build cabinets or make drawer faces. Josh and the team are bust maintaining other projects and I do a lot of the production work in the evening. Yes, I did have help during the demo phase, but I have been doing almost all of the work by myself. I mention this not as a weird flex, but to show that I am, theoretically, in direct control of the labor element. I don’t have to rely on a general contractor to bring a team of people each day, it’s just me. But there are specialists that I have to hire that I am not in control of.
Now, on to materials. If you are interested in renovation projects at all, you may know that early 2021 has seen absurd price inflation on construction materials. Plywood has nearly doubled in price and basic 2x4s have tripled. For many people, myself included, this has inflated my budget considerably right in the middle of the project! We had a project budget for the kitchen renovation, and if you saw the cabinet build video, you saw how I saved a lot of money already. But there are other materials that I don’t have control of.
So, recapping the elements of a project: scope, budget, & timeline, we can see that I am in direct control of the scope and labor and that I am still (miraculously) within our original budget. The real kicker is the timeline for things that I am not in control of.
So far, the biggest deadweights to our timeline have been the countertops. Yes, I had some issues choosing and receiving our appliances as well. Luckily, the company offered 3d models of the appliances and Josh was able to build the cabinets around the specific measurements. When they finally arrived, the plan worked perfectly and they slid into place. But, back to the countertop issue. Possibly related to the construction materials inflation, certain resins have become more scarce as well. The counters we chose are quartz and are a mixture of natural stone dust and resin. Think, MDF is to wood as quartz is to natural stone. With this shortage, and possibly the flood of home renovation projects people undertook during the pandemic, the market for quartz is pretty thin.
But before the material is ordered and cut by the installer, they have to come measure the space to see what exactly they are cutting. In order to get the installer out to measure for the countertops, all of the cabinet carcasses had to be built, installed, and fixed in placed. Now, a smarter person than I could have scheduled the measurement appointment to perfectly coincide with the last cabinet screw going in, but not me. I called the company when I was about 75% completed with the carcass element expecting them to be able to come and measure in a few days. Wrong. It took them another 2 and half weeks to come out and measure.
So, what to do in the meantime? This is where a firm project schedule is key early on. You have to make connections, or dependancies, according to the individual tasks in the space. For instance, can’t measure for countertops until the carcasses are installed. That is a start-to-finish dependency and they are directly related. While I wait, I could start making the draw and cabinet fronts, they are independent of the counter top measuring and have no dependent relationship. You have to be able to point to tasks that can be accomplished concurrently or independently so the overall timeline can continue.
By establishing a realistic timeline early, you can find tasks that don’t need to wait on others. Making this realistic timeline requires some research if you aren’t familiar with the project. We could have called the installers to get a more accurate expectation of their measuring process and we could have asked them about lead time for getting material. This is especially important when dealing with inspectors or government agencies that need to sign off on work before other work can start. Luckily, that process was very fast and our town kept to their date estimates.
So to recap, the cabinets are now done; painted, handles installed, kickplates in place, done. But we still don’t have countertops. I have been told for the third time that it is a delay in receiving the quartz slabs that will then need to be cut and polished before being installed. To keep the timeline going, I can still make and install pendant lights, add a tile backsplash (based on measurements of the tile thickness) and add some floating shelves to a bare wall. Each one of these tasks has to be scrutinized before starting to see where they overlap. It is a common tendency of mine to jump into a project just to keep it moving. But if I place my effort in the wrong place too soon, it could be disastrous for some related task.
TV Shows Make It Look Easy
I’m still happy that we took on this kitchen renovation project and I haven’t lost steam with it yet. Yes, I’m very frustrated that the counters aren’t here, but I realize that the installers are probably just as frustrated as I am. It isn’t good for their business to keep people waiting, so I’m not angry at them. I’m not angry at anyone, it’s just unfortunate and we have to be flexible. The point of all of this is that you should do your best to balance scope, budget, and timeline, but allow yourself some grace and flexibility when things start to slip. Do your research up front and be realistic about adding buffer time to outsourced projects. The kitchen renovation will all get done and it’ll look amazing.
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- SawStop cabinet saw
- Skil circular saw
- Dewalt 20v drill driver combo
- Dewalt Miter Saw
- Orbital Sander
- Pancake compressor/nail gun combo
- Kreg R3 pocket hole jig kit
- Shop Fox Hanging Air Filter
- 2HP Dust Collector
- 1 Micron bag
- Speed square
- Classic steel ruler (cork backed)
- Taper jig
- Flush cut saw
Finishes & adhesives I like: