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What to expect from the kitchen remodel design process

Chances are if you’re preparing to shell out several thousand dollars on a kitchen remodel, you’re probably not going to demolish a few walls, rip up your floor, and tear out some cabinets before sitting down and asking yourself, “Now, how do I want my new kitchen to look?”

As much as we sometimes wish we could skip the design process entirely and move right into putting a sledgehammer through the wall, it is best to plan out the entire renovation before the project begins.  The best way to ensure you have a successful, at-or-under-budget remodel is to create a detailed, thorough design plan and stick to it!

Now, if you’re thinking to yourself, “But I don’t even know where to begin designing a kitchen,” then worry not. As a company that specializes in designing and constructing home remodels, Lamont Bros. has guided numerous clients through the kitchen remodel design process. Now, we’re going to share some industry practices about this process with you so that you know what to expect when you’re ready to start designing your own dream kitchen.

By the time you reach the end of this page, you should have a greater understanding of how a kitchen remodel is designed, from the first consultation right up to the start of construction. Once you know what to expect, you can start planning for your own kitchen remodel.

What is the process for designing a kitchen remodel?

Let’s make one thing abundantly clear from the start: you are going to attend a lot of meetings. Why? Because your design team cares enough about you to double-check every detail and make sure you are happy with what you are getting before demolishing and replacing your current kitchen. 

Though none are identical, most design firms will use a similar process for developing a kitchen remodel design plan. Our company happens to use a 3-phase system for designing a remodel before we begin construction. This “Design Roadmap” as we call it, helps homeowners understand the purpose and importance of each step, and how adhering to the process sets you up for the most successful remodel possible.

The timeframe for a kitchen remodel can vary depending on the scope of work and lead time on materials. The schedule provided in this article is based on our average job timeline.

Phase 1: Design Concept – Weeks 1-5

Congratulations! You’ve decided to remodel your kitchen, and now you want to start designing. Instead of drawing up the plans and contracting out the work yourself, you’ve chosen to hire a design/build firm like Lamont Bros to handle the project from start to finish. 

Step 1 – As-built Survey – Week 1

A design consultant (DC) and a designer* come to your home and spend several hours getting to know you, your style, and your expectations for the remodel. They want to make sure that your new kitchen is uniquely tailored to your needs. 

After discussing the plan, the designer will stay to measure your kitchen and begin designing the remodel using state-of-the-art 3D modeling software. 

*Note: A Design Consultant is different from a Designer. The Design Consultant is the homeowner’s guide who helps them navigate the design process and make decisions about their remodel, whereas the Designer is more focused on developing the technical drawings and design plans of a remodel. 

Step 2 – Concept Review – Week 2 – 3

After two weeks, you are invited to a showroom meeting with your DC, who delivers a slide presentation about your remodel, featuring 2-3 possible floor plans and 3D computer renders of how your project might look! Now is the time to really dig in and make the tough decisions about the layout, structure, and style of your new kitchen.

The goal is to sift through the different options and select the best to create one design that best fits your own personal needs.

Step 3 – Product Selections – Week 5

When designing your kitchen remodel, cabinets are one of the most important selections you’ll make.

Your design team will likely need a week or two to complete the initial phases of the design process. Then comes the time to start selecting specific products. Your DC will give you a curated list of items to consider, including cabinet lines, appliance models, and trim. 

Don’t hesitate to ask for changes now; it’s the best time to be picky and make adjustments before the plan moves forward. You’re the one who has to live with the finished product, so it is important for you to be happy with it.

Concepts Phase Review

Now that you’ve reached the end of the Design Concept phase, you should have a pretty good idea of:

  • Budget – A range of how much you can expect to spend on the full project.
  • Scope – All the changes you can expect by the end of your remodel.
  • Timeline – When you can expect to start using your new kitchen.

Phase 2 – Construction Plans – Weeks 6-17

Once you know how you want your kitchen to look, your design team will draft floor plans for your remodel.

Okay, now that you know what your kitchen is going to look like, it’s time to start planning how you’re going to make that happen. This is the part of the process where we move away from the artistic design phase and move into the more technical side of things. 

Your DC will now bring on a project manager and structural engineer to plan the transition from old to new. This includes making sure your new kitchen will meet all the necessary code specifications.

Step 4 – Architectural Draft – Week 7

For the last several weeks, your build team has been hard at work. They’ve studied your current floor plans and drafted an architectural design for your remodel. 

These plans differ from the initial concept renders in that they contain structural, electrical, and elevation notes. While the concept renderings are designed to help you visualize what the space will look like, the architectural plan is designed to show you how your build team will make the necessary changes to get you there.

Step 5 – Site Walk – Week 8

Now, the team needs to inspect your home so they can make any final adjustments to the plan and bring the construction crew up to speed.

Expect for your DC, designer, project manager to be part of this meeting. Any subcontractors, including plumbers, electricians, and HVAC, will likely be present, as well.

Step 6 – Final Drawing & Selection Review – Week 8

The plans have been drafted, checked, double-checked, and now it is time to lock them in. To make sure that you’re getting exactly what you want, the team will meet with you to do a final review of the design and construction plan. 

Step 7 – Sign Contract – Week 11

With the plans fully developed, your DC and project manager will need a couple of weeks to price out the entire kitchen and adjust the budget accordingly. Most design/build firms will offer a fixed-price contract, meaning if the project goes over budget, the homeowner will still pay the same price.  

Now, all that’s left for you to do is sign on the dotted line. 

Once the contract is complete, your build team can begin requesting permits and purchasing materials for your remodel. Due to long wait times, this process lasts for 7-8 weeks after signing the contract. Shipping delays or permit denials may extend this time out even further. 

Plans Phase Review

Once your plans are finished and the contract is signed, you should have a full understanding of:

  • Project Drawings – A full set of plans and drawings showing how your kitchen will look and what steps must be taken to complete it.
  • Product Selections – All of the specific cabinetry, appliances, and finishes that will go into your kitchen to give it the perfect, just for you look.
  • Final Cost and Timeline – The total bill for the remodel, as well as a projected timeline of when you can expect each phase of construction to be completed.

Phase 3 – Construction – 5+ Weeks

Wait, you mean there’s still more to do before you get to break ground in your kitchen? Well, yes. Remember, your team wants to make absolutely sure you are on board and happy with the direction of the project. 

Step 8 – Pre-Construction Meeting – Week 18

Before your old kitchen comes out and your new one goes in, the build team needs to take the reins from the design team. You should meet with your project manager and on-site superintendent to talk about how they intend to bring your plans off the blueprints and into your home.

They will also want to discuss a protection plan for the parts of your home outside of the remodel area. Your build team wants to make sure that they take care of your home while they are in it. 

Step 9 – Begin Construction – Week 19-22+

Okay, you’ve waited long enough. Now you get to sit back and watch the magic happen. If you ask nicely, one of your carpenters might even let you swing a sledgehammer into the wall. (Just sign the liability waiver first.)

Step 10 – Change Orders

Let’s say you had a brilliant revelation while your build crew was hard at work in the middle of your remodel. Perhaps you just need a hidden passageway behind your cabinets or a wine cooler under the countertop.

While the construction phase is the second-worst time to change your design (the first being once the project is done), a change is still possible. Talk to your remodel superintendent about your idea, who will pass the request up the chain of command.

 Also, expect to pay extra every time you decide to change your design.

Construction Phase Review

By the time you reach the end of the construction phase, you should have:

  • A new kitchen! Yay!

Want to learn more about the kitchen remodel process?

Now that you’re an expert on the remodel design roadmap – from the early design concepts phase to the start of construction – check out our article that explores the construction timeline of a kitchen remodel.