DIY home remodeling has really taken off in recent years, as today’s homeowners are now using step-by-step guides and video tutorials to renovate their kitchens, bathrooms, backyards, and more. The “Do-It-Yourself” movement has inspired many homeowners to tackle a variety of kitchen remodeling projects, such as installing vinyl flooring, fitting a new kitchen sink, or moving in new appliances.
However, DIY has its limits. There are some aspects of a kitchen remodel where it still makes sense—from a safety, price, and quality perspective—to bring in a professional. In this article, we’ll review some of the work in your kitchen that needs to be handled by a licensed contractor.
Removing interior walls
When planning their kitchen remodel, many homeowners put an “open kitchen” near the top of their to-do list. This trend toward opening up sealed off kitchens to the rest of the home was initially popularized by home remodeling TV shows. It’s now driven by buyer demand, as younger homebuyers—who make up the majority of today’s market—find open kitchens highly desirable. Plus, who among us hasn’t wanted to take a sledgehammer to one of their walls?
As it turns out, however, wall removal is far less straightforward than what you see on TV. If you want to remove an interior wall in your home, it’s important to consult with a licensed contractor before you start swinging. Here are two reasons why:
- Structural: Not all interior walls exist purely to separate one room from another. Some contain load-bearing beams that make up the structure of the home and support the weight of the second story or roof. A professional contractor will be able to assess whether or not the wall can be safely removed.
- Safety: Many interior walls contain pipes or electrical wiring. These will need to be carefully rerouted elsewhere so that the wall can be knocked down without any issues.
It’s also not a bad idea to talk with your realtor about your open kitchen plans. While open kitchens are generally something buyers want, they’re not a fit for every home. If the trade-off for an open kitchen floor plan is the loss of half of the kitchen’s cabinets and countertop space, knocking down those walls may not be worth it.
Working with plumbing, electrical, and gas
Your kitchen is the one room in your home with extensive plumbing, electrical wiring, and—if you have a gas stove—gas line connections. Any kitchen remodeling work that involves moving, reconfiguring, or connecting any of these three elements should involve a professional. Improper rewiring is one of the leading causes of home fires here in the United States, while a water leak from incorrectly fitted pipes can ruin your floors, flood your home, and lead to mold growth. Along those same lines, a gas leak is a serious home safety issue.
Our recommendation is that you hire a licensed contractor for anything that deals with water, gas, or electrical.
Installing new countertops and cabinets
New countertops and cabinets are arguably the most important—and certainly the most visible—part of any kitchen remodel. The relatively high cost of materials (most homeowners spend about 30-40% of their total remodeling budget on cabinets and countertops alone!) leads many homeowners to try to cut costs by handling the installation themselves. Here’s why that’s a bad idea:
Stone countertops—granite, quartz, and marble—are incredibly heavy. Safely lifting them and gently setting them into place requires several people who know what they are doing. For all the renowned durability that makes quartz countertops great in the kitchen, for example, stone is also susceptible to damage or chipping from being dropped or handled roughly. To ensure that your countertops are installed correctly, don’t cut corners: hire a professional.
Before you decide to install your own cabinets as part of your kitchen remodel, consider this: you’re going to both use and look at these cabinets every day for many years to come. Cabinet installation is complex. Too often, homeowners installing their own kitchen cabinets struggle to get these parts of the project right:
- Not addressing bows in the wall
- Not raising the bottom cabinets to account for flooring
- Not measuring properly
- Not leveling properly
- Not using the right cabinet screws
Anyone of these errors could lead to the cabinets being installed incorrectly, which will either cause functional or aesthetic problems for your entire kitchen remodel.
When in doubt, work with a professional
There’s no shame in bringing in an expert to help with these parts of your kitchen remodeling project. After all, this is their area of expertise: while you, as a homeowner, might only complete one kitchen remodel in your time owning the home, a professional kitchen remodeling contractor has the experience that comes with completing dozens of such projects every single year. Work with a true professional, and you’ll get the peace of mind that comes with knowing your kitchen has been installed right.