Here’s how to survive the reno when the kitchen is out of commission
Living without a proper kitchen can be easily managed with some forward planning. Image: Thinkstock
Replacing or updating a kitchen is one of the most exciting and rewarding renovations you can do to your home. But it can also mean many weeks of disruption and challenging living conditions.
According to the Housing Industry of Australia, statistics show that the average kitchen reno costs between $12,000 and $20,000, and takes from four to 12 weeks to complete.
The time the job will take depends on a number of factors, including the extent and complexity of the renovation, whether structural alterations and council approval are required, or if asbestos is present in the existing building.
Selection and availability of the necessary materials and appliances, as well the tradies, are also considerations.
The good news is there are ways to minimise the upheaval. Here’s our five-point plan to surviving the reno and getting back in quick smart.
1. Plan, plan, plan
The top recommendation for any renovation is to get all the planning right before work begins.
Making decisions along the way can add extra charges to the bill and precious time to the project.
Start browsing showrooms and consulting designers at least three months before the planned start date. This means you can get all the design elements fully resolved.
Source all the contractors and confirm their availability, then work with them to create a realistic schedule and a firm budget.
Pre-order the materials such as stone or granite benchtops and glass splashbacks, as well as the appliances. Check with each supplier exactly how long delivery will take.
Book a skip for the demolition process, making sure it’s big enough. Allocate time to shop around for good deals and have exact floorplans and measurements on hand.
2.Proceed with caution
If you are planning on doing the bulk of the work DIY, it can be helpful to do the renovation in stages rather than all at once, particularly if there are young children in the family.
This will minimise the disruption, but be careful not to fall into the trap of letting the job drag on.
Familiarise yourself with the most effective order of work. Making mistakes like putting the flooring in before installing the cabinets can end up being an expensive and time-consuming learning curve.
If possible, arrange to spend time out of the house, either for a short holiday or a visit to friends or relatives.
Try not to plan your renovation at a time when other significant events may be happening, such as weddings and births, or when all the overseas relatives are coming to stay.
Keeping stress down helps the project go smoothly.
Renovate in order
Stick to this basic work schedule for a stress-free, successful reno.
TEAR OUT the old kitchen and dispose of what’s not being re-used.
START the rough-in work, which includes any framing, plumbing, or electrical changes.
GET the work inspected. If the codes have been followed, it should pass.
FINISH lining the walls when the work is approved. Apply primer to seal the plasterboard’s facing paper.
INSTALL the doors and windows, including the trim,so you are working with the finished edges when putting in the cabinets.
HANG the wall cabinets, then the base cabinets.
PUT IN the sink, taps or mixer and benchtops.
ADD the new appliances.
INSTALL the light fittings.
LAY the flooring.
3.Create a stand-in
Designate a spot to put together a temporary kitchen. Somewhere with access to a sink is ideal, such as the laundry. If not, take over another room, the office, a spare bedroom or even the garage.
If that’s not possible, you can still create a functional area away from the construction work that will get you over the worst of the disruption.
First and foremost, find a spot for the fridge. The next focus should
be creating a workspace.
This may be the dining table or a mobile kitchen island, or you could keep a couple of the old cabinets and use them for both storage and benchtops.
Minimise your appliances and equipment and instead opt for a few multifunctional items. The kettle, microwave, electric frying pan and
a slow cooker can be useful.
Create storage space for pantry items. Cardboard boxes will do at a pinch. And use plastic containers for utensils, so you can easily find what you need. A decent camp stove can also be surprisingly effective and you can make use of the barbie, if weather permits.
4. Plan your meals
Preparing meals outside your comfort zone can be a real challenge, and eating out every day will quickly inflate the budget.
Simplify your choices and plan your menu week by week. The main aim is not to stress about preparing elaborate meals in compromised conditions, as well as avoid heaps of washing up.
Work cold foods like sandwiches and salads into the plan and one-pot meals like stews and curries for variety.
Use marinades, seasoning and herbs to enhance simple meals, and importantly, prepare and freeze as much as possible in advance.
Keep soups, stocks and other liquid foods in airtight containers. Leave a 30mm gap at the top of the container so the liquid can expand as it freezes.
Muffins and cakes
Wrap muffins and individual slices of cake in a double layer of plastic wrap, then infoil. Store together in a sealable plastic bag.
Store raw mince, flattened, in a sealable plastic bag so it thaws evenly. Keep cooked dishes in small portions in airtight containers.
Fritters and patties
To make it easy to separate these, store them in single layers between sheets of freezer paper in an airtight container.
Cook pasta bakes in freezerproof, ovenproof dishes, then cool. Cover the dish with a double layer of plastic wrap, then foil, and freeze.
Meat for the Barbie
Wrap individual portions in a double layer of plastic wrap, or layer them between sheets of freezer paper. Store in an airtight container.
5.Keep an eye on the prize
A well-designed and functional kitchen will add value to your home and provide lots of enjoyment and utility for you and your family for many years to come.
So it’s worth keeping this thought in mind when you are in the midst of dust and debris, cooking another meal on a camp stove.
Various experts recommend taking pictures of the progress, as well as of the end result of the renovation to keep frustration at bay and your eye on the prize.