Ready to Renovate?


Maybe you’re planning a move, maybe you just want something new. Before you shop for appliances, take a look at the bones of your kitchen.

We’re talking renovation.

Dory Alport, owner of plumbing supply business A. Alport & Son in South Fallsburg, is the fourth generation to run the enterprise, which started in 1936. 

What’s important in a proposed kitchen? “Timeline and budget,” she said. “We can accomplish anything if we have a budget and a timeline.” She recommends working with quality contractors. And, as you think about what you want, “go into a showroom, get ideas on Pinterest or Houzz.” 

Tom Sanford is the owner of Catskill Mountain Kitchen and Bath in Kingston, NY, and has 30 years of experience in the business of kitchen design and construction. Like Alport, he stressed the importance of the budget, calling it “the biggest determining factor.” 

A good designer can work with almost any budget, but they need to know what that budget is from the start. This means some homework for the owner. Know what you can afford to spend, then start the process.
“[A] kitchen installation: new floor, new lighting, cabinets, can average $25,000,” Sanford said. That doesn’t include appliances. Depending on what you want, the total can climb over $100,000. 

In any renovation, surprises lurk. Electrical work might need to be changed to Ground Fault Interruptor (GFI) he said. “Is the room out of square?” In other words, sure, the room started out with 90-degree angled corners and straight walls, but, over the years, the walls became thicker (new plaster, new coverings) or cupboards were added, or the whole place got jacked up in the last renovation and nothing has been the same since. Change happens in old houses, and could mean that cookie-cutter kitchens won’t fit. “A quality contractor and kitchen designer can look [for these problems].” 

Watch for wiring damaged by mice, or plumbing that might need to be completely re-done. Walls can harbor wet or dry rot. These unknowns drive up the cost of a project.

When you do get to work, use contractors that are insured, Sanford said.

There is one major advantage to using someone local: “Nothing beats a local business with decades of experience and an understanding of… conditions,” Sanford said.

Dubious? Think about plumbing. Water is usually hard here, and a filter is a must if you just spent money on a luxury shower or faucet.  But the online store that just sold you the pretty system might not tell you that. 

Sanford agrees with Alport that coming in with images of what you like is a great idea. “I don’t dictate, I just like to let it flow,” he said. The design evolves as he gets to know the client and the space. 

But, “If you want it done with quality and with confidence that it will last, you will have to pay for it,” Sanford added.

What are you paying for? “Fine details, cabinet hardware.” But most of all, “You pay a contractor to know what to do...You are paying for their years of experience.”

The takeaway

1. Decide how much you can spend. 

2. Who are you? Are you nostalgic? Modern? Do you want your appliances hidden or out in the open? Do you collect a lot of kitchen stuff or are you a minimalist? Get to know design magazines and sites like Pinterest and Houzz. Search on “renovating kitchens.” Decide what appeals, print out images or collect them online. 

3. Visit your local showrooms and bring your image collection. Talk to designers and be honest about your budget. 
Then choose your local sellers and contractors. You’re not just helping business stay strong, you’re talking to people who know your area and its challenges.

4. Start with local contractors and businesses.

5. Make sure your contractor is insured. Remember, too, that you’re paying for their years of experience as well as time and materials.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment