Kitchen renovation: your project management plan, step by step

Taking on a kitchen renovation is a big and satisfying job, so follow our expert advice for all the project management information and design tips that you need

Kitchen renovation: Marble kitchens
(Image credit: Magnet)

Welcome to our kitchen renovation 101. Whether you're planning a complete redesign and remodel, or simply replacing your kitchen cabinets, we'll help you plan and manage your project in a way that's efficient and stress-free.

As with all big home improvement projects, there's guaranteed to be a certain level of disruption. But our step-by-step guide to project managing a kitchen renovation should help mitigate any bumps in the road. Covering everything from design tips, to hiring a team and effective budgeting, keep scrolling and get your kitchen renovation rolling. 

For more kitchen ideas and inspiration take a moment when you're done to browse our design feature.

How long should a kitchen renovation take?

This completely depends on the space you're working with and on your plans but a full kitchen remodel for a medium sized space can take anything between 6-8 weeks. If structural work is needed then expect a longer renovation time, around 10-12 weeks and note that this won't include the planning and design stages.

In what order do you remodel a kitchen?

One thing's for sure and that is that you must finalise your ideal kitchen and design ahead of reaching out to professionals to start the work. It's good to be flexible, but you want to avoid changing your mind about vital design elements when work has started. Here's how we would go about it:

1. Decide on your new kitchen's style

Before you visit a kitchen designer, have an idea of which kitchen style you want to go for. Our handy guides are a great starting point for finding inspiration, whatever your style.

Traditional kitchen inspiration

Contemporary kitchen inspiration

Do your research and collect images that inspire you to help develop your scheme, and consult kitchen design specialists to make sure you consider all possibilities, when it comes to style and space planning.

2. Finalise the kitchen layout

Go armed to the kitchen design company with a good idea of how you want the layout to be. You’ll be living with your new kitchen layout for a long time, so think about how to make the space work for your lifestyle. ‘Decide what you want and need in your kitchen,’ advises B&Q interior design manager Cat Dennison. ‘How many people will be using it? Can it fit into your current footprint, or would it work better in a different setup?’

Consider activities beyond cooking, suggests David Vine, kitchens project leader at Ikea: ‘Do you need a work area, or a place to socialise? A place for pets or for laundry? Look out for smart kitchen storage solutions that will help you design a functional yet beautiful space.’

3. Ensure your kitchen measurements are sound

It's not just about turning up to a kitchen design company armed with all the measurements you need – from the floorplan to the position of windows and doors. ‘Check the condition of your walls and floors, too, as any remedial works may affect the measurements of your space,’ says Michael Burke, divisional installation manager at Homebase. ‘Consult a local builder to give advice on the floor level and any re-plastering. Get a second person to re-measure and check your measurements.’

4. Start the work at the right time of year

Ideally, plan to start your kitchen extension in early spring. The major part of the disruption should then take place in late spring/early summer when you’ll have more hours of daylight, and outdoor barbecues and cold suppers will be far more appealing.

Have a read of our guide to kitchen extensions.

5. Set a timeline and budget for your new kitchen

Once you have a clear idea of both your practical and design requirements, draw up a plan dividing up the project into specific tasks with deadlines, and assign segments of your budget. Don’t forget to factor in lead time for the fittings and fixtures you’ll be ordering, and set aside an extra sum (5 to 10 per cent of the total is usual) in case you need to make unexpected changes as you proceed.

6. Finalise your kitchen design

From DIY warehouses to bespoke kitchen companies, kitchen design specialists are there to help you with planning your scheme and usually supply drawings so that you can fully visualise your transformed space. You’ll need to select your fittings and finishes, including:

7. Hire a building or kitchen fitting team

You may want to hire an architect or find a builder to help manage the work if it’s a large project. Get at least three different estimates, and look for members of relevant professional bodies to give you greater protection if something goes wrong.

‘Ensure that you employ a qualified tradesperson to fit your kitchen, and for any gas and electric work,’ advises Michael Burke of Homebase.

Insist that your builder keeps the site as clean and tidy as possible. Make this clear from the outset. As well as reducing dust and dirt, a mess-free site is generally a safer site.

8. Prepare for the kitchen installation

If embarking on a major project, arrange with your builders to fit a temporary kitchen, comprising worktop, kitchen sink, microwave, fridge and electric hob.

Pack away the majority of your kitchen paraphernalia to minimise clutter during the works. Keep back only essential cooking pots and the minimum of crockery and cutlery.

Don't forget that you may need to inform your insurance company about the work you are doing so that you are covered for any mishaps – find out more about why you need renovations insurance.

9. Stay on site or visit the site regularly

While you may be tempted to go away for a couple of weeks while the worst part of the job is going on. Don’t. Not only will your absence pose a security threat, you will need to be on hand to make crucial decisions even if you think everything is finalised.

10. Make time for snagging

Most projects will need a little refining, so after the major work has been completed, make a list of details that have been forgotten, are missing, or wrong. Your contractor may have to return to finish these off, so allow for this in your deadline.

11. Renovating the whole house? Do the upstairs first

If your kitchen renovation is part of a larger project, and you know that there will be heavy renovation work (e.g. structural changes to walls, floor replacements, re-plumbing) done to rooms directly above the kitchen, do the kitchen after. The simple reason for this is that if you're repainting your kitchen, especially the ceiling, the fresh paintwork is likely to crack from the vibration; plumbing work in upstairs bathrooms also can cause leaks that will show through. 

12. Paying for your kitchen renovation

Working out a payment plan for your kitchen renovation is an essential step of the process. You'll need to agree the timeframe in advance, and how much you'll pay in deposit at the beginning of the project – this should never be more than a quarter of the total cost. 

If your project is turning out to be more expensive than planned, you'll need to figure out a way to finance it; the easiest way is by taking out a home improvement loan. A zero-per-cent credit card can also be an option, but avoid putting your kitchen renovation project on your regular credit card, as the interest will be substantial. 

More on renovating a kitchen: