IKEA Kitchens: The Permit Issue


...and visit our website to find out about expert IKEA Kitchen Design Services

Here's something you might not know. If your house is 50 years old, or older, the chances of being able to remodel the kitchen without handling your electrical panel, and maybe house wiring, is low.

Most houses built in the 1960s or earlier have 100 amp electrical panels. That's the total load available. In 1960 we used a lot less electricity per house, right?

If your house was built in the 70s, you might have a larger panel. In the 80s, even more likely.

If you have a 100 amp panel, remodeling your kitchen is almost always going to require that you upgrade to a 200 amp panel. Among other electrical needs, the new kitchen is almost inevitably going to require additional outlets. Each city has it's own codes but almost every city requires a permit for a kitchen remodel and codes specify how many outlets are required.

The problem is that one goes into IKEA to see those beautiful display kitchens and the prices seem to be utterly affordable, $5000 or even $8000, and you see the kitchen that is like your kitchen and it seems doable. But IKEA is selling cabinets. Appliances. Countertop. It sells products. It is not in the remodeling business and there is no benefit to IKEA to help you understand about remodeling, the process or the costs.

Recently, IKEA fired all their many local installers and hired one national company to provide kitchen installation services. As with the local installers they had before, there is a huge, glaring oversight. The locals, and the national company, DO NOT PULL PERMITS. This is, if you really look at it, unbelievable. If you get a bid from their installer, anywhere in the US, read the fine print: that company is not responsible for permits. You, the homeowner, are responsible for permits.

How much does a typical homeowner know about permits? Can a homeowner pull his/her own permits? Will there be other issues if you pull permits? How much will it cost? Will the work be inspected? Will the added room over your garage put in by the former owners create a problem for you if you get a permit for a kitchen remodel?

Scary as this may start to sound, it is really not such a big deal. The issue is that an IKEA kitchen is not a matter of buying some cabinets. It is a remodeling project in which you are using a particular brand of cabinets. And knowing about remodeling, which includes permits and electrical and so forth, is the job of a licensed, insured remodeling contractor. The IKEA installer is not, not really, this. Don't be fooled. And don't do your project without permits.

Here are just a few reasons you want to include the cost of permits, and whatever prep work may need to be done to satisfy the safety/permit requirements, as you plan your project:

1) It is illegal to do a project without a permit, where permits are required. Why be paranoid for the rest of your life to save a few hundred bucks?

2) Permits ensure safety. They ensure the work is done right. The permit fee you pay will provide you with a city inspection of your contractor's work. Totally worth it!

3) Your city's permit and zoning rules keep your neighbors from opening a 24/7 liquor store in their home. Support the system.

4) If you do work without permits, that work is not recorded by the city. It was never done according to any bank or lending agency so if you go to sell or refinance someday, you've got a less valuable property.

5) In some cases, non-permitted work has to be torn out when you try to sell. Or if it is discovered by the city. Or if your neighbors don't like it.

6) Penalties for non-permitted work can be high, added to the cost of having to get the permits retroactively. There are construction companies that make a living bringing homes up to code. They are not cheap.

Include permit fees and a contractor who can pull them for you, if needed, in your budget planning. Read the fine print in contracts from an IKEA installer (who I advise against as you will likely end up paying more that it seems at first, and getting much less customer service, compared to a good, legal, local contractor).

Do it right the first time. 

If you'd like to discuss your project with me, I can offer you a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Here's my calendar, just pick a time that works for you.

Susan


Our company, Modern Family Kitchens, offers an IKEA kitchen design service. We can provide this service locally, or remotely. We think you'll spend the least and get the best results when you invest in expert design. Call or write us to discuss your project. 877-550-1753. info@modernfamilykitchens.com








Tips for the IKEA Kitchen Sales


...and visit our website to find out about expert IKEA Kitchen Design Services

I've written before about IKEA kitchen sales but I wanted to make sure my friends and readers know that, in spring and fall, and sometimes summer, we can look forward to another kitchen sale. I know there are many of you who have been saving and/or planning your remodel and eagerly awaiting this upcoming sale.

The first step is the decision to go ahead with the project. This usually requires a reasonable estimate of the true costs involved. Get my free ebook to help you with this.

The second step is measuring the kitchen and working out the layout of cabinets: the design phase. I encourage you to enlist the help of an expert kitchen designer who has broad experience with IKEA cabinets. I cannot overstate the importance of at least having an expert review your design if you do it yourself. Even if you have tight budget, or a tiny kitchen, invest in expert design. You can often save money on your purchase by doing so, and inevitably the finished look and functionality will be better. You are going to spend thousands of dollars on materials, you are going to tear your home apart, you are going to be dealing with gas, electrical, water lines, plumbing, lighting, codes and permits. Given all this, do get expert help with the layout. If there is no qualified IKEA designer in your area, write me and I will forward to you the resources I have. I would suggest getting the design process underway a minimum of one month before you order, if possible.

Once your design is done (the designer should provide a comprehensive list of all IKEA parts and materials you need to buy), you are ready to place your cabinet order. During sale periods at IKEA, the sooner you order, the better. As the sale moves toward an end, the lines get longer, the waits longer, the sales staff more harried, the delivery service slower, etc.

Another benefit of working with a pro designer is that their finished plan and parts list will make it much easier to order. We have had customers call to say that when they went to order, especially during a sale, they breezed through the process while they saw others sitting at those IKEA computer terminals sweating with frustration. Save your marriage, hire a designer. Even more important, ensure your kitchen design is truly optimal.

The discounts and offers during IKEA kitchen sales vary but typically, if you buy appliances at IKEA at the same time, you can save 10-20% on your total purchase. This can be a significant savings, or it can be barely anything.

Let's say you've chosen Abstrakt (high end door style) cabinets for a fairly large kitchen plus laundry area. You might spend $9000 on cabinets. If you order Caesarstone at IKEA also, you could be looking at a $13,000+ purchase. 20% off is $2600! Sometimes you have to buy three IKEA (Whirlpool) appliances to get this 20% discount. If you don't want IKEA appliances, consider buying one or more of their least expensive appliances that would qualify you for the discount, and reselling these on Craigslist. A $200 dishwasher, or even three of them for $600, would be a worthwhile purchase to save $2600!

On the other hand, if your cabinet costs are $3500 and you are only buying one new appliance, the sale discounts might not be a factor in the planning and timing of your project.

Timing is a key issue on many projects if you do want to take advantage of the sales. If you have a dry secure place to store the delivered cabinets, you can order during a sale and do the project any time. But more likely, you will want to be ready to do the project, budgeted funds in hand, finished design in hand, contractor hired or in sight, before you order. IKEA cabinets should not be stored outside, even under tarps, for more than a day or two. Note that a pallet or two of flat-packed IKEA boxes is a huge, heavy thing.

One other tip for the sale has to do with ordering extra or spare parts. One small downside of IKEA cabinets is that from time to time a door style will be discontinued. If one of your cabinets is damaged, you might not be able to get a matching replacement part. You can ask about this at IKEA, whether your chosen style is likely to be discontinued, and often the salespeople will know.

If you'd like to discuss your project with me, I can offer you a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Here's my calendar, just pick a time that works for you.

Susan
Our company, Modern Family Kitchens, offers an IKEA kitchen design service. We can provide this service locally, or remotely. We think you'll spend the least and get the best results when you invest in expert design. Call or write us to discuss your project. 877-550-1753. info@modernfamilykitchens.com








Lessons from Small Apartment Kitchens


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...and visit our website to find out about expert IKEA Kitchen Design Services


We started out remodeling a whole building's worth of small kitchens, about 35 of them. The building's owners had hired a cabinet maker to build custom cabinets into each of the units in an historic Pasadena, California building. Not only was the price outrageous, but each kitchen took three months. Which means three months with no rental income!

When I came on the scene, I had a strong interest in quickly completing the rehab of each unit because my pay was largely leasing bonuses. I wanted the units done, the owners' happy, and most of all, I wanted kitchens that wow'd prospective tenants. These apartments were on the small side, the rent on the high side, and although they were in a great location, there was also lots of competition for qualified tenants in the neighborhood.

So we turned to IKEA for the kitchens. A quick tour with the Owner gave us the go-ahead for two trial kitchens. We made our first IKEA kitchen mistake at that point, which was measuring and designing ourselves. Of course now we are pros but that first kitchen took two weeks to install because of planning errors. Another reason I strongly encourage people to work with an expert designer.

We used Adel birch doors for these first two. The cabinet guy had been using plywood painted white and although the kitchens he built were nice enough, they just did not compare with these new IKEA kitchens insofar as wow! factor. I demonstrated the corner lazy susan and the smooth drawer glides when I showed these units when they were done. They rented almost instantly. At market rent.

We went on to install IKEA kitchens in the rest of the building. We learned as we progressed but even the units with tiny kitchens leased quickly. It's hard to ignore a beautiful kitchen in an otherwise ordinary apartment. And boy, do those drawers slide nicely, year after year.

The Owners, of course, were interested in the bottom line. The cabinet guy had been charging about $6000 per kitchenette, more for the larger kitchens. Our IKEA versions ran about $2600 for cabinets and $1500 for installation. Note that this installation price did not include any demo, plumbing, electrical, or countertop installation. Remember that, often, you will pay the same or more for installation as you will for your cabinets. Labor cost is almost always the larger part of a kitchen remodel budget.

I am proud of the beautiful kitchens we left behind in that beautiful old building. I heard not long ago that the building had been sold and I am certain the net profit was significant. A lot of work went into the rehab, but the costs were contained and reasonable. Those IKEA kitchens will endure for two or more decades. That's a lot of rent.

The choice of durable doors, strong frames, and, most of all cost and the speed with which we could get a unit completed (average was three weeks from demo to occupied) were major issues with the kitchen cabinets for these rental units. A homeowner doing a single family home has more issues to address. But it is still true that IKEA cabinets are reasonably priced, durable and beautiful, and once your design work is done, you can have a new kitchen in just a few weeks.

If you'd like to discuss your project with me, I can offer you a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Here's my calendar, just pick a time that works for you.

Susan

Our company, Modern Family Kitchens, offers an IKEA kitchen design service. We can provide this service locally, or remotely. We think you'll spend the least and get the best results when you invest in expert design. Call or write us to discuss your project. 971-313-4449. info@modernfamilykitchens.com