The Top Ten Question People Ask Us About IKEA Kitchens

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1) Where do I start?
2) How much will it cost?
3) How do IKEA cabinets compare to other kinds?
4) What is the sequence of steps I need to take to get the project done?
5) How long will it take?
6) How can I avoid unexpected expenses?
7) What about permits?
8) How do I get rid of my old kitchen cabinets?
9) Can I do this with a very limited budget?
10) When do I install my new floor?

1) Where do I start?
You’ve probably already done the first step: you’ve gone to IKEA or looked at IKEA kitchen cabinets, and decided you want to remodel your kitchen using these cabinets. That’s the first step: a decision!
(Actually, all the steps are simply decisions. Any time there is a “maybe,” your project is likely to take longer and cost more).
If you are still shopping, carry on. IKEA cabinets are a great solution for many homeowners but if you want the unlimited possibilities of custom cabinetry, if you require wood frames (the boxes), or if you really want a “turn-key” remodel that you can turn over to an architect or interior design firm from start to finish, IKEA cabinets are probably not for you.
If you’ve decided, if you’re ready to get started, you will now need to know:
2) How much will it cost?
Make yourself a checklist or use this one:
  1. Cabinets
  2. Countertop
  3. Demolition
  4. Cabinet installation
  5. Flooring
  6. Appliances
  7. Lighting
  8. Electrical
  9. Plumbing
  10. Wall work or repair
  11. Planning
This is pretty complete list of the main items in any kitchen remodel project. Cost out each item as best as you can. Separate labor and materials.
Of course, if you know your plumbing or electrical was installed in 1911, or if you have an electric stove and now want gas, or if your floor is at an 18 degree tilt, your costs are going to include remedying these.
The only way to get a reasonably firm cost for the LABOR for your project is to have your contractor inspect your kitchen and provide you with a bid. Your part is to know what you want as much as possible.
Getting your materials cost is pretty straightforward in regard to new appliances or lights or flooring materials. But to get the cost of your new cabinets, you’ll need a kitchen PLAN. You can download the IKEA kitchen planner software, measure your kitchen and draft a layout in the planner. This generates an IKEA “shopping list” that is a reasonably good estimate of the cost of your cabinets.
Over the years, our company has evolved a planning service to enable our customers to know their labor AND materials cost ahead of time, as well as to get their questions about the remodel, about plumbing, electrical, walls, etc. answered so that they can confidently move ahead.
1. Inspect the kitchen
2. Consult with the customer. Find out what is needed and wanted, the customer’s ideas.
3. Measure
4. Draft the layout plan
5. Provide a detailed bid on the project
If your project is straightforward and you find the planning software reasonably simple to use, and if you only need a contractor to install the cabinets, try planning the kitchen yourself to save on a planning fee. If a customer emails or faxes their completed plan to us we can provide a bid on the installation and schedule it without a home visit. We also use a “pre-installation survey” to clarify what the customer needs and wants so as to avoid surprise costs in the middle of the project. It works. See number six below for more information.
3. How do IKEA cabinets compare to other kinds?
In our experience over the past five years and hundreds of projects, IKEA cabinets are probably the best product on the market in their price range. Other brands of “European-look” cabinets typically cost two to four times the price and can take six to twelve weeks to be delivered. Chain store offerings, almost all traditional styling, can have the advantage of wood drawers or frames, but can cost twice the price, take weeks or months to be delivered.
Ikea cabinets can support just about any type of countertop, including granite and cement, come with a good warrantee, and can even be customized to some extent. The main disadvantages we’ve encountered are the limited range of sizes, and the occasional irregularity in door engineering that results in small gaps. You will probably be very satisfied with Ikea cabinets unless you expect the result to be comparable to custom built cabinetry.
4) What is the sequence of steps I need to take to get the project done?
The first step is the decision. The second is setting a budget. Next is the time to plan the layout, with your own skills or with the help of your contractor or kitchen planner. The next is probably shopping for cabinet styles and appliances, and possibly flooring and lighting materials. You can order your cabinets (and other materials) and once you have a delivery date, schedule the project with your contractor. If you don’t have a garage or somewhere to temporarily store the cabinets and appliances, it is best to find out when your contractor is available before placing the order.
Once you have your materials, if you are only replacing cabinets and perhaps flooring and lights, and not moving or opening walls, the demolition of the old cabinets and counters is the first installation step. You can install new flooring before or after the cabinets go in but if you are leaving the cabinet feet exposed (no toekick) you need to have the flooring cover the entire kitchen. Otherwise, you can save on flooring material by installing flooring after the cabinets go in. You can paint before the cabinets go in, or after.
If you’ve ordered granite or other hard counters (as compared to lower priced butcherblock or laminates), schedule your countertop supplier for the day your base cabinets are in and level. The countertop company can then come and make a template.
If you want to add cabinet lights or other counter height electrical, this is done before the cabinets go up. It can be done after but it takes longer and adds cost.
Once your cabinets are built, hung, leveled and “dressed out” which means the insides, doors and drawer fronts are installed, you are nearly done.
Your contractor can install your appliances or you can do this yourself. We always suggest having your contractor install the dishwasher in particular because this requires cutting through cabinets. If you won’t have countertop for a few days or weeks, you can still install the dishwasher and hook it up later, once the sink is installed. The plumbing for the sink, dishwasher and a garbage disposal is usually all under the sink.
Finally, your flooring, cabinet lights (wiring done earlier) and any custom touches can be done.
If you are opening walls, a common aspect of kitchen remodels, demolition of the old wall and patching of the newly exposed surfaces is done along with the cabinet demolition.
5) How long will it take?
The fastest project we ever did: the customer called for the first time on a Friday. We schedule a planning service appointment for the next day, Saturday. We delivered the plan Sunday morning. After a few plan adjustments, the customer ordered the cabinets on Monday evening. The cabinets were delivered on Tuesday. We started the installation (13 cabinets) on Wednesday and completed the installation with butcherblock countertop and appliances on Friday.
More realistically, give planning a week, shopping and ordering a weekend or two, delivery another week, demolition of the old cabinets one day, installation three days, countertop one day (but sometimes you have to wait for counters to be fabricated), appliances one day. If you need electrical or plumbing or wall work, these add days, but not necessarily weeks. You can get most projects done easily in one month, from your decision to do it, to completion. Others take two months or longer. But some take less.
6) How can I avoid unexpected expenses?
It is nearly impossible to predict every single aspect of your project but establishing a relationship with your contractor from the start, meeting with him at the project location, and getting a detailed bid on all aspects of the project you are considering is your best means of prediction. The IKEA kitchen software provides a “shopping list” so if your kitchen is planned correctly, you should have a ballpark estimate of your cabinet cost. You can price and shop online for appliances, lighting and flooring even if you make your final purchases in a local store.
Keep in mind that the condition of walls behind cabinets or the condition of your floor beneath existing coverings can be poor but unknown until the demolition is complete. Likewise, your plumbing or electrical can need replacement. Plan a margin in your budget and ask your contractor to inspect as closely as possible. Keep in mind that your contractor can not see everything ahead of time although he should want to provide the best possible advance data because that is his job.
7) What about permits?
Permit laws and codes vary in every municipality. For this reason, on most small to medium sized remodeling projects, it is almost always the homeowner’s responsibility to get any permits. It is not hard to do. Simply contact your town or city hall. The City of Los Angeles has an excellent website, enabling you to learn the requirements and pay for your permits online.
8) How do I get rid of my old kitchen cabinets?
Demolition of old cabinets and counters is part of most projects. You can do this yourself but keep in mind that it is not just smashing stuff up. Some cabinets have been in place for many years and require quite a bit of work to take out. Some counters are very heavy. Get some muscle to help you if you plan to do this yourself. The cost of demolition services is usually well worth it.
Our company does not provide haul off of the old materials. We require the homeowner to provide a bin. Usually a 3 yard bin is sufficient for an average kitchen. If walls are coming out, a larger bin will be needed. Call your trash removal company or your city/town hall to find a bin supplier. Cost is about $100-$200 depending on the area. Some condo associations have large bins that you can use. Some homeowners have us stack up decent old cabinets and place them on the curb. They are usually gone within a few hours. Sometimes you can stack the flat parts and put them in your regular trash over the course of a few weeks.
9) Can I do this with a very limited budget?
Every project requires some investment of both time and money. Sometimes it is better to wait until you have some margin in your budget so that you can have what you want and afford the service you would like. Here are some ways to keep your costs down:
1) Do the demolition yourself. Get some friends to help if possible. It takes muscle.
2) During planning, use one wide cabinet instead of two narrower cabinets where possible.
3) Install flooring after the cabinets go in
4) Assemble your own cabinets and have your contractor install them at a lower rate
5) Install your own handles
10) When do I install my new floor?
This has been covered already but one more thing to keep in mind is that if you install the floor before you install the cabinets, make sure you protect the new floor with at least one layer (two is better) of cardboard (flatten the boxes your cabinets come in for this) during the rest of the project.