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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Be prepared with your kitchen appliance choices

By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer

One of the most exciting and challenging parts of the remodeling process is choosing the finishes, fixtures and appliances.

While selecting asphalt shingles, furnaces and the type of insulation that will go into your project is very important, it is nice to get to the part where you can have some fun and spend your money on something you and your family will actually see and use every day.

Microwave drawers are one of the hot new appliances people are installing in their kitchens.

In architectural jargon, this is called "FF&E" — finishes, furnishings and equipment.

We strongly suggest specifying all of these items prior to beginning construction, which means to provide a specifications manual to the bidding contractors.

This should include information such as the manufacturer's name, the item number, color choices, etc., for each selection so the contractor can include exact costs in his bid rather than a low-ball estimate trying to guess what it is you want.

It helps you to avoid costly change orders during the project and delays once construction starts.

Your kitchen plan will start out as a schematic design, meaning it will generally show the location of the basics, such as a sink, oven/range, dishwasher and refrigerator.

As the design progresses, however, the generic refrigerator will need to become real so the correct size can be shown on the plans, enabling you to coordinate appliances, cabinets, windows, doors, etc.

Not all appliances are created equal. The standard kitchen appliance package — dishwasher, microwave, fridge and range — starts at $2,500 and goes up to $30,000 for a luxury kitchen with all the gourmet appliances, says Dave Evans of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery in Salt Lake City.

A kitchen with all the bells and whistles definitely changes the bottom line. Keeping the kitchen appliances simple will open up more money to use somewhere else, but at the same time, maybe taking off a few square feet from the addition will allow for a little more luxury in the kitchen.

The kitchen isn't just for the cook anymore. It is the center of the home, where a modern family spends a lot of their time and the central hub for homework, paying bills, scheduling and other daily tasks.

When it is time to entertain, you know how most of us gravitate to the kitchen for that satisfying combination of food and conversation. So, budgeting for a terrific kitchen makes sense to a lot of people.

This is where a master plan comes in handy: It becomes a matter of determining where you can skimp and what you can't live without. One place we suggest people go to get help with prices and prioritizing is a professional showroom.

Living in the age of instant information and big-box everything, there is still a lot of value in the showroom concept. Even though you can see photos online, there is nothing like walking through a showroom kitchen where you can see it, touch it and understand how an appliance or plumbing fixture would actually work for you.

Take Ferguson's Salt Lake showroom for example. It has full kitchen suites representing a range of budgets that showcase different options of appliances available in each price range.

A lot of times, a client will see a kitchen in a showroom and recognize that the 36-inch wide fridge doesn't have enough space for them. At that point, they can work with the architect and contractors to redesign the layout for a bigger fridge.

Remember, it is a process. But changes are a lot easier to make at the beginning when it is a matter of altering your drawings and not moving your walls. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2010 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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