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Planning a new kitchen? read this before you start!

29th Mar '15 • By Building Articles

Planning a new kitchen? Read this before you start


Thinking of updating your kitchen? Here are our key tips before you start.

Kitchen renovation

For some, a new kitchen is simply a case of updating units and equipment, but for others it’s an opportunity to completely replan the room with many opting to increase its size either by building an extension or by knocking down internal walls. “While a competent DIYer will be able to install a flat-pack kitchen, major work should be left to building professionals,” advises Ian Davis, director general of the FMB, which has just published The Essential Guide to Home Improvement. This free guide is packed with sound advice on planning home improvement projects, and choosing and working with your builder.

Here are our Key Takeaways
Decisions, Decisions

Whether you are extending your available space or not, do some ground work before you start. If you consult a kitchen specialist or call in the builders, take some time to think about how you would like to use the room. This will help you decide the layout that’s best for your lifestyle. Are you going to be eating there; if the room is used as family gathering space, do you need an informal seating area? Are you a avid cook who needs lots of work top space or do you need more storage for your cooking utensils? 

Where are your Drains?

One of the most important considerations when you start planning your kitchen is drainage. Unfortunately, more often than not the available drains and your outside walls will determine the layout of the kitchen. Outlet pipes for sinks and appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines need, wherever possible, direct access to external drainage. You also need to consider the capacity of the drains and whether they can cope with potential usage. If you live in a new house this is not a problem as capacity is taken into account when the house is built.

If you start moving pipes about to accommodate layout this can prove expensive and may not be in line with building regulations. If you are changing things it is always advisable to check out your ideas before you start.

The Eternal Triangle

When you are planning the preparation area, remember the working triangle theory linking the oven, fridge and sink. Make sure they are close together and incorporate worktops between them wherever possible to allow for food preparation and cooking operations. Finally, think about storage and how much is needed for cutlery, crockery, cooking utensils and even groceries. 


Safety and Competence

Moving or changing utility points (water, gas and electrical) will add to the cost of the project, but this is the time to make sure that you have a good supply of well placed electrical points. If you are moving or installing a gas boiler or cooker, make sure the installer is registered. You also need to check that the installer is registered individually not just the company he works for. This is required by Health & Safety legislation and not doing so may invalidate product guarantees. 

Lend your Support

If you are renovating an existing kitchen your builder can help you with plans and drawings, but major alterations to the existing layout – for example taking out a wall or building an extension – will almost certainly require additional supports to the existing structure. Get yourself a builder who can help you with planning and building regulations and it is advisable to take advice from a structural engineer as well as engaging an architect to draw up plans.

Check out the Rules

The good news is that planning permission is not always necessary for small extensions but you should contact your local planning office and ask if the work can be done within permitted development. If the house hasn’t been extended since 1948 this is likely to be the case, but you must find out in advance. If planning permission is required and you don’t apply, the authorities can make you remove the extension and return the building to its original state.

All extensions must, however, meet Building Regulations and it is best to submit full plans to your local authority building control department so they can advise on any changes needed before work begins.

Are you Floored? 

Think about flooring – can you overlay your chosen material on to your existing floor? Make sure whatever you choose is suitable for kitchen spills and water leaks which are inevitable. Some laminate flooring, for example, does not cope too well with leaks.


Use the Pros

Finding a professional company to transform your kitchen needn’t be a problem. With over 55,000 tradesman on their website, is a good place to start, or ask friends and relatives who have had similar work done to recommend someone – they are only likely to do so if they had a good experience!

Lastly, during the construction stage think about how you are going to cope without kitchen facilities. Most builders will work around your family needs but the hot water and cooking facilities will inevitably need moving at some point so get your contingency plan in place.

Follow the FMB’s top tips for managing a successful building project:

  • Get estimates from two or three different builders. Be clear about what you want done and ask for a written specification and quotation.
  • Ask for references and talk to previous customers. A good builder will provide you with credentials and references, so try to visit previous jobs similar to your own.
  • If the builder is a member of a trade association, check the membership criteria – and make sure they really are. Rogue builders have been known to falsely claim membership.
  • Avoid adding to the job or changing your mind halfway through – it will usually cost more and cause delays. Confirm any changes you do make in writing – the FMB has a variation form for this purpose.
  • Use a contract – the FMB has Plain English contracts for small building work.
  • Agree any staged and final payments before work starts.
  • Avoid dealing in cash.
  • If any problems arise whilst work is in progress, or you are unhappy about anything, talk to your builder right away.

Thinking of renovating your kitchen? Find a local professional near you.

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