What to Expect During a Kitchen and Bath Remodel

You’ve hired your contractor, selected your materials, and paid your deposits for your kitchen and bathroom remodels. Now what? Do you stay in your house during the construction (or if you’ve just purchased a new home, do you move in now or later?) Or do you book it to the closest beach for a few months and “work from home from another home”? If you stay in your house, will you still be able to cook in your kitchen? Use the bathroom? If you rent a home elsewhere while work is being done, how will you handle the suspense of not knowing what is going on in your house?

In normal conditions (i.e. pre-COVID), a kitchen and bath remodel is a major undertaking that requires time and money, especially in California. During the current pandemic era, experts say to expect it to cost 50% more and take 50% longer. Despite those daunting figures, we are busier than ever with kitchen and bath remodels all over San Francisco, Marin, Oakland, and Los Angeles. So we thought we’d put together a little guide on What to Expect – and remember, your home is in good hands with your trusted and experienced designers at Coddington Design.

Image: Coddington Design’s Woodside project/Vivian Johnson Photography

Dust, Noise, and Intrusion

The biggest and most obvious thing to expect is the major intrusion into your space and the mess that comes from the demolition and installation phases. Yes, you will be temporarily displaced. Yes, your home will look like a tornado came roaring through. But when done professionally and properly, the demo and installation team will protect your home by blocking off rooms with plastic sheets, protect floors with Ram Board, and may even use a HEPA filter for the dust.

Workers will be in and out of your house all day long – and they usually like to start early and end by 3pm. Expect the constant sounds of drilling, hammering, debris vacuuming, and occasional smashing. The tile saw is especially harsh on the ears. Pets need to be safely locked away, as fronts doors will be used frequently to bring supplies in and out. You may need to rely on take-out for dinner and the underused basement bathroom for a while.

Image: Work in progress at Coddington Design’s Mountain View project

A toilet in your shower, and other odd daily scenes

Don’t be surprised to see things out of place, temporarily rearranged and in general disarray. Your contractors know what they are doing – the shower is the best place to store the toilet while the floor is getting retiled. There are boxes upon boxes of hardwood flooring in your hallway because they need to acclimate to the interior temperature before being installed. Your contractors aren’t being careless – and ideally, they will communicate to you their plan before taking over your space.

Image: Guest Bathroom in progress at Coddington Design’s Mountain View project, with requisite toilet in shower

Periods of Silence

After the initial flurry of demolition, you may find that some days are quiet, with only one worker present for an hour or two. You will probably think, where IS everyone? Why aren’t they sticking to the schedule? Rest assured that they are on schedule and aren’t slacking off. Scheduling is a huge part of the job (just ask any Project Manager) and takes a great deal of coordination among multiple tradespeople. Were your walls just primed? Great! Now they need to dry before painting can proceed. Was your kitchen floor tile just installed? Super! No one can walk on it for 24-48 hours, so for that time period, the painters will be painting your cabinet doors offsite. In fact, activity is often happening offsite (the tile installer is picking up the tiles and grout, the painter is at the paint store mixing more cans, someone is making a trip to the dump with all of the demo’ed debris). So while it may seem like no one is working, trust us – they are, and things are likely on track and on schedule.

Image: Tile setting in Coddington Design’s Nantucket project

Emotional Upheaval

As you witness your home being smashed, you may feel a tinge of sadness. This often comes as a surprise to many homeowners. My baby took her first bath in that sink! This kitchen is where we shared so many happy memories! This is all normal, and expected, and totally valid. Our best advice, as your Home Design Therapists, is to keep your perspective, remember that change is inevitable and not synonymous with bad, and you will create new memories in your new space.

Image: Work in progress at Coddington Design’s Nantucket project

Initial Regret, followed by Beautiful Relief

When you see bits and pieces of the work in progress before the final result, you may experience feelings of “Oh no, that’s not what I was expecting, what have I done?” You may email your designer in a panic – this doesn’t look right! Sometimes, your gut reaction is correct, and we will do everything we can to make it right. But, in our experience, when you see pieces of the puzzle, rather than the whole picture, it can look disjointed and confusing. This is when you need to trust your designer. The work will get completed, and things will come together for a beautiful, amazing result.

Image: Work in progress at Coddington Design’s Mountain View project – we repainted this island after the client’s initial reaction was right. Much better!

Ultimately, whether you stay or go is up to you. If you keep in mind the points above, you can make the best decision for you and your family. Through dust, displacement, delegation, and maybe a few nostalgic tears, your home will eventually return to you, in much better shape than you left it!