Kitchen Remodeling: What to Expect

So, you've been flipping through those home and design magazines and you see the kitchen of your dreams. What's involved in making that dream a reality?

Any remodeling project includes three phases: design and pricing, obtaining permits and actual construction. The entire process of a kitchen remodel can take from nine to 18 months.

1.  The Design Phase 

In a typical kitchen remodel, you can expect to spend a minimum of six weeks in the design phase. It's important to take your time and make your choices carefully to avoid mistakes, overruns and delays later in the project.

Recently, my company completed a renovation of a mid-‘40s brick saltbox with two stories and a basement. The kitchen was too small and had only one door, which limited flow through the space. The clients wanted more open space for entertaining.

By adding a 12-by-33-foot addition across the entire width at the back of the house, we created an open kitchen and family area. The kitchen has two distinct work areas—a cooking area with stovetop, oven and microwave and a prep area with a sink and another oven.  We placed a center island with a sink across from the cooking area, installing task lighting over the island and prep areas. That project took about 11 months from our first meeting to completion. Though it was an extensive project, the homeowners did not need to move out. We set up a temporary kitchen for them in the dining room and put up plastic and plywood as a dust barrier.

2. Obtaining Permits

Generally, obtaining construction permits from the city or county takes about six to eight weeks. However, if you are working within an older historic home, the historic review board of that jurisdiction must approve the plans before you can obtain permits.

Take the case of a young couple who purchased an historic home built in the early 19th century in Arlington's historic Maywood neighborhood. In 2008, we began a renovation for them, removing an historically insensitive addition from the mid-1890 structure, then building a new three-story addition in keeping with the historic significance of the house. The new addition incorporates an enlarged and modernized kitchen and family room on the first floor.

The kitchen remodel included all new cabinetry and all new appliances that required new gas and electric connections and venting. In the breakfast room off the kitchen, we custom-built benches to match an existing farm table the clients owned. The benches also open up for storage. Because the homeowners entertain frequently, we installed a commercial-sized range with double oven and eight-burner cook-top and added an island with seating so that the cook and guests can all enjoy wine and conversation while dinner is being prepared.

3.  Construction

Usually about 14 to 16 weeks after signing the contract, you can expect construction to begin. The kitchen is perhaps the most complex construction project because all of the building trades have to become involved: plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning (HVAC), tile, flooring, cabinetry and, of course, the remodeler.

A simple kitchen remodel can take four to six weeks. Our company recently completed a kitchen reorganization, reusing a lot of the existing KraftMaid cabinets. We added an island work area, new appliances and a new lighting plan. We also realigned the sink to center on the window. The whole process took about three months.

So what should you expect in a kitchen remodel?

A basic kitchen remodel, which includes replacing the appliances and rearranging existing cabinets can cost from $40,000 to $60,000. Creating a whole new kitchen can run $60,000 to $80,000. Needless to say, planning and determining the scope and size of the project are very important. Every 1/4 inch matters here—take your time, and get it right.

 If your plans for the kitchen make-over include expanding the home with floors above and below the kitchen, the construction phase can take four to six months. For a simple remodel, you can probably stay in the house and set up a temporary kitchen—with a microwave, refrigerator and water access—in another part of the house. Summertime can be a good time to remodel your kitchen. You probably don't do as much cooking when the weather is hot and you also have the option to cook outside on the grill. Otherwise, you probably need somewhere else to stay while construction is underway.

Michael Sauri started his career as a rock guitarist and got into remodeling as a hobby. In 2005, Sauri incorporated his remodeling company, TriVistaUSA, in Arlington, Va. In 2006, he hit the big time, when he was featured on the HGTV renovation series, “Curb Appeal.” He completed three projects that were featured on Curb Appeal in 2006 through 2008 and are still featured in reruns.

Sauri has made a name for himself in the nation's capital, winning two "Grand" CotY Awards in January 2012 from the Metro DC Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry in the categories of Commercial Interior and Residential Basement Interior. This is Sauri's fourth year as a local CotY winner.

In May 2009, Sauri received a Green Home Choice Award from Arlington County for his own home. He was recognized In November 2010 as a finalist for an ECO CEO award from Washington Smart CEO Magazine.

Sauri has been featured in The Washington Post Magazine and in the Washington Business Journal.

For more information on TriVistaUSA, visit