Building a Kitchen: Materials and Installation

Kitchen flooring, cabinetry, plumbing and electrical work may be completed by several different subcontractors.

Michael Buchtel advises that an important attribute for those planning a kitchen is flexibility and the ability to compromise. "Have your designs in mind," he says, "but be prepared for minor changes that come along." Michael describes the kitchen he and his wife built as a arising from a process of compromise that lets both partners be able enjoy the new space.

Michael saved money on his kitchen by installing the wiring and some of the plumbing fixtures himself. Because cost-savings was one of Michael's main priorities, his choice of kitchen counter-tops was based on finding a material he could install himself. A tile surface was selected, and he and his wife worked together to install it.

It's important to remember that, in the installation of a kitchen, a variety of work will be done including flooring, cabinetry, plumbing and electrical work. This may mean dealing with a number of different subcontractors. The proper sequence of work should be considered in advance, and the kitchen work planned accordingly. Plumbing and electrical needs will have to be factored in long before construction starts.

Betty King and John Spracklen planned the layout of their kitchen in advance based on a number of distinct work areas that they wanted -- such as baking, clean-up and food prep areas. This meant that they also carefully planned the lighting for each of the specific areas. The placement of lighting as well as appliances, countertops and venting must all be planned before the drywall is installed.

Because they didn't want to use off-the-shelf, pre-fabricated cabinets, John Spracklen undertook the cabinet installation himself. He recruited the assistance of his brother who was an experienced cabinetmaker. The wood for the custom cabinets was actually taken from trees on the property where the house was built.

One advantage of being your own contractor when it comes to kitchens is the ability to incorporate customized or unique features. Al and Sharon Sain, for example, installed a pedal valve on their kitchen sink, making it simple to get water from the spigot simply by stepping on a foot-pedal. Sharon got the idea for this feature after a trip to her dentist's office.

From the DIY Network's "Be Your Own Contractor"