Having undertaken a kitchen remodel of my own lately, I experienced the kitchen design and installation process from a whole different perspective than I’m used to as someone who works in the industry. Whilst I had total confidence in LWK Kitchens’ service, I think it’s fair to say I still felt a little anxious about the scope of works we were undertaking in our home….because it’s our home.
Probably one of the biggest causes of concern for anyone going down this route is that of the unknown. Yet in many areas, if you know in advance what questions to ask, or what you will be asked, it can really help put your mind at ease. Knowing what to expect helps you plan and prepare for your all of your works. Included in this is establishing who is responsible for different aspects of the job, and what works will and won’t be done. Knowing this also reduces the likelihood of unexpected costs or problems; any surprises are highly unlikely to be good, so it is best to eliminate the possibility of them as much as possible, and from as early as possible. So having recently undergone my own kitchen installation, here are some of the questions for builders I found helpful for both of us during planning…
1) Does the price quoted include ALL materials needed?
It is better not to encounter any unexpected surprises so ask for clarification (if needed) to ensure all materials are included within the quote you have been given. This includes new socket face plates, light switches, plumbing materials and paint.
2) Can I see a copy of your insurance?
On occasion works can go wrong. Whilst rare, it is better and will offer peace of mind if you know in advance that should anything go wrong and it’s the builders fault, he has valid insurance.
3) Where’s the stopcock and fuseboard?
This is a question your builder will ask you. Both of these need to be accessible as the builder will need to reach them during your kitchen works. Particularly if you won’t be present during the kitchen works, it is necessary to show the location of these to your builder in advance.
4) Where do you want your isolator switches?
Again, a question for you…Appliances are generally connected to the electrics in your home directly behind the actual appliance. But this means if ever you want to turn the electric off, such as to your fridge or freezer, you would need to pull the whole appliance out in order to do this. To make life easier, and safer, isolator switches allow you to turn the electric off to each individual appliance via a switch on the wall or within a kitchen cabinet.
When thinking about where you want to locate these, remember that they need to be accessible but are not required on a regular basis (which is why the inside of a cupboard works well so long as they are not obstructing access).
5) Do you need new lights and sockets, and if so where?
When deciding your kitchen layout you need to decide how you want to use your new kitchen. This includes where your kettle, toaster, any other small appliances will be located/used. Depending on your preferences you may require additional sockets, or in different locations to those already in place. You are remodelling your kitchen, but your existing electrical setup may not match your new design. If this is the case, now is the time to change the position and number of your ceiling lights, wall-mounted sockets, phone and TV points etc. You must also decide where your under-cabinet light switch should be, as well as if one switch will control all the lights, or if are you want multiple zones, and therefore might need multiple switches. Discuss this with your builder before the work starts. (In our case we required an additional fuse box to the one already in place, and this meant the cupboard housing for the original would no longer fit. This resulted in an unexpected cost of having a new cupboard built).
6) What sort of finish do you want for your socket points?
You may want a different colour and finish from a standard white socket plate, and in which case you need to let your builder know, otherwise it is likely this is what you will get! This is also the case if you want dimmer switches, a two or three gang plug etc. If you are intent on a specific style or finish then you need to let your builder know this in advance, and also agree which of you will be supplying such items and within what time-frame.
7) Are you going to use a skip?
Skips are more common for large extension projects but even with the removal of a small kitchen there may be a lot of units and rubbish to dispose of-and it has to go somewhere. It may be there is room on site to store the rubbish until your builder/fitter can remove it at the end of the day. But in larger cases a skip may be required. If so this should be established and included in your quote ahead of works, and with all associated charges clearly shown. The latter might include the cost of skip hire and even a parking permit for it.
8) Will you dispose of my fridge and freezer along with the other rubbish?
Fridges and freezers contain Ozone depleting substances, and therefore need to be disposed of in a controlled environment, rather than the same way as other appliances. This means not all builders will take them. Whilst you may have agreed for all rubbish to be removed from your kitchen it is worth specifically checking your quote includes removal of your fridge and freezer. If not, you can call and arrange for your local council to collect and dispose of these appliances, although a charge may apply depending on what borough you live in.
9) How long will I be without my sink and fridge?
Living without a sink and fridge for any period of time is an inconvenience, but especially so for parents of young children. If you know in advance how long these goods will be out of use for, it will help you plan and prepare for all of your family’s needs. In my kitchen, the fridge was removed on a Tuesday morning, and I knew our installation was beginning the following Tuesday. Knowing this meant in the weeks leading up to our works starting I could reduce the amount of food I was buying, to save it going off. And at the same time we made lots of dinner arrangements with friends and family for the period in which we knew we’d be without.
From the point of removal to the installation of the new fridge depends on your scope of works, but it is worth checking if your fridge could be moved somewhere it can still be used until the new fridge is in place and working.
10) Where will tools and materials be stored between visits?
If your job is to last for a number of days and involve the same builder/kitchen fitter, they may wish to leave their tools on site between visits. But it is better to know and agree this in advance as there may be risks associated with this. For example, if there are other tradesmen on site and tools go missing/get mixed up, who is liable? (Work tools are expensive!) Or if you are still living in the house will this be an inconvenience to you? And will they be tidied tool boxes locked at the end of every working day? This is particularly noteworthy for parents of inquisitive children, as keeping them safe during building works is paramount.
11) Do I need to organise parking permits for you?
All tradesmen will require parking close to the site of works, and it is important to check in advance if you need parking permits, and for how many vehicles. It is easy to check online whether you can apply for a trade parking permit, but this should be done well in advance of the works starting. If parking permits are required, you should be clear from the outset who is responsible for paying for this, whether it is you, your kitchen supplier, or the tradesperson.
12) Plumbing: Can appliances be connected to a soil vent pipe to remove waste?
Appliances can be connected to a soil vent pipe to remove waste but this is more costly than using the existing waste water pipe.
13) Can you confirm you are installing our extractor ducting?
If your extractor is ducted, make sure your builder is aware that they are installing the ducting, making the required holes in walls, and supplying all ducting including an external vent cover. Also make sure they know the recommended diameter for ducting is 150mm, and made of rigid plastic.
14) At what point will my kitchen walls be decorated?
Decorating should take place prior to the kitchen installation but the decorator will need to return after the fitting to apply a final coat and if needed repair any minor scrapes that might have occurred.
15) Will my pipes be lagged?
Pipe lagging is a type of insulation for water pipes which retains heat. This means it is energy saving, but as well as this, it prevents condensation forming when the pipes are cold. This in turn reduces the chances of your pipes freezing and bursting.
16) Can you fit shut off valves under my sink?
If ever your sink were to leak, clog, or crack it is important that you can quickly and easily shut off your kitchen’s water supply. Otherwise water can cause a lot of damage to your home. The shut off valve is a small and simple valve located beneath the sink, but don’t just assume your builder/plumber will fit one; ask and make sure in advance of your works.
17) Will you fit earthing straps?
Copper pipes are usually used when plumbing a new kitchen but these must be ‘earthed’ to reduce the risk of electricity and water coming together within the kitchen. Bonding earth wires to copper pipes is a way of ensuring your pipework is safe to touch.
18) Who will be coming to site?
The builder is likely to call upon the services of plumbers, electricians and painters & decorators, each of who will be visiting your home at different times throughout the course of your works. Whether you are present during works or else out at work, wouldn’t you prefer to know who is entering or leaving your home? Remember, it is your home and you have a right to know who is planning on coming into it.
19) Will I receive a gas and electrical certificate?
You should always receive a safety certificate following any works that have been carried out on your gas or electrics. The reasons for this are obvious, but it is also worth noting that you that you require both these certificates should you ever decide to rent out, or sell your home.
20) How long is the guarantee on the work carried out?
Should you experience a leak in 6 months’ time (or something else to that effect) you need to know if you can recall your builder to fix the works, and whether or not there will be a cost involved.
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