Kitchen's Kitchen

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  • Oh... what's happening today?

    Tiling prep mostly. Taking up of the panels that were on the oak floorboards, lifting the oak floorboards, an inspection of where the pipes and cables are underneath, repairs to oak floorboards if needed (mostly looks good though), then a new layer of panels on top that the tiles will go on.

    This will not be completed today... and I do not see a wet diamond saw anywhere, so I guess that will turn up tomorrow to handle the porcelain tiles (nibbling and cutting will get old very fast otherwise).

    Also talking to the cabinet company Harvey Jones on the last points: choice of handles (brushed stainless steel), choice of worktop (the gold veined Cosmic Black), do I have the tap and sink on-site? (yes), the final invoice is coming and needs to be turned around quickly, etc, etc, etc.

  • I would have thought a company like HJ would handle the entire room start to finish, so you only have to deal with one contractor?

    How many different contractors have you had to get quotes from / research etc?

  • How it falls:

    Harvey Jones - single contract and point of contact

    • Design the kitchen (I've had 3 iterations and a few minor changes)
    • Recommend a few builders (if within some distance of their showroom - if you're in Scotland I assume you find your own) and/or provide requirements for the kitchen to be prepped to before fitting (their recommended builders just know this stuff as they've done it multiple times)
    • Build the cabinets and deliver them primed (discount of almost 40% on list price)
    • Acquire the appliances (and major discounts on list price, +25% off for Miele)
    • Acquire the worktop (only minor discounts on what you'd see listed online)
    • Fit the kitchen, and appliances
    • Paint the cabinets
    • Fit the worktop, sink, and tap

    Builder - single contract and point of contact

    • "Make good" the room ready for the kitchen install... which means clean room with plumbing and electrics where they should go, floor ready and walls finished.
    • Final snagging of anything that was done in the "make good"
    • Arrange all other trades, and co-ordinate with Harvey Jones to align the schedules

    For me... the "make good" was actually the job I needed doing. This involved the full electrical rewiring, changing consumer unit, the new boiler, new plumbing, new floor, full replaster, etc. I also asked for a bit more to be done, the shelving, lighting, some small tasks in the bathroom, etc.

    So in my case the builder has done a load of work himself but also organised, scheduled, and is handling payment for: plumbers, electrician, plasterer, tiler, painter.

    I only have to care about 2 people and 2 contracts, both of which are fixed price (unless I change things) and known up front.

    I will freely admit that I went into this with no idea what it would cost or take to do... and it exceeds what I imagined a kitchen might cost by almost double my original uninformed idea (also I'll admit to going a little bling in my choices). But... for what I'm getting, and the work being done... I think I'm actually getting a bargain. If I tried to do this by organising all the trades and managing them... it would be higher than what I'm paying and nowhere near as good as what I'm getting as well as taking a lot longer. I definitely love that the builder has solid relationships with a load of trades he rates highly... and how he holds them to that high standard.

  • As it stands today:

    • The builder has been absolutely incredible, as have all his trades... would recommend very very highly, an absolute pleasure to work with and have on-site
    • Harvey Jones have been weak on communication and really need to have a better sense of what this price point should mean for communication... it's all last minute and disorganised - I think they've not adjusted to the COVID "everything is by email" particularly well, and no doubt my name isn't helping them find stuff
  • and no doubt my name isn't helping them find stuff


  • Day 8

    It was determined that the floor wasn't level enough.

    As in... with 60cm x 60cm tiles, there were a couple of small spots in the floor where a gap might exist underneath due to the wood not supporting it well enough. And if it so happened that one placed a heavy thing there many years into the future, one may be able to crack a tile (I doubted it) or pop the grout (this is more likely).

    So... boards removed, new water tight boards put in, foam around the edges, and a self-levelling mix poured which should dry overnight. It also means that the height difference between the hall and kitchen can be ramped at a really shallow incline - a few mm difference over about 1m... so the little ramp in oak is no longer needed, it will be invisible due to the shallow gradient.

    Then tiling tomorrow.

    I've chosen a light grey grout... because it matches the wall, and the builder recommended it (and by now I've understood he has a meticulous eye for detail).

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  • Did you use Mapei? The cyclist/builder ven diagram on them is legit.

  • Get that ban hammer out.

  • Day 9

    Tiles laid... grout will be tomorrow and I assume the skirting boards will go on too as the painter is on Monday.

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  • They look good. Nice and calming.

  • Day 9

    The tilers have finished the grout work, and the room is now ready for skirting boards and paint. It just has to dry out a fraction more... so the flat heater is on 20'c and this floor heater is helping, and the windows are cracked so that some of the moisture can escape.

    These are photos now... this may be it until Monday, unless the builder turns up later to do the skirting board.

    The grout will dry much lighter than it looks... it's closer to the light grey marbled veins in the tiles.

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  • floor looks really nice and i'm sure that the photos probably don't even do it justice!

    a bit off topic but do you plan to get double glazing?

  • Are they going to pop that boiler off the wall to finish around it? It looks quite close to the back wall which is going to make paint / paper a bit tricky. I'd have thought.

    We had an issue where with a boiler in a similar location the 'hidden' edge by the back wall collected condensation on the wall itself and it made a mess of the wall's finish over time. It seemed to attract / trap damp air which then turned to water on the surface of the wall.

  • The floor tiles are interesting and look great. I wanted them to not be too reflective in the day as there's a lot of light that floods that room, yet at night when it's dark I wanted the floor to not be too dark and to absorb light so you can see the floor clearly. I don't know how these tiles do that, but I left 8 samples out for a few weeks observing them at different times of day... and these tiles do exactly what I wanted them to do, and they have exactly the feel and aesthetic I wanted. I'm chuffed.

    As for the windows. Not doing anything with them right now.

    The rear window is double glazed, the skylight is a large one and double glazed, and then the sash windows are single glazed. But it's a kitchen, I'm not looking to hermetically seal it and through cooking and activity in the room it's not a cold room naturally. Also the sash windows give on to a SE facing enclosed space between the back of the row of houses, so no storm ever hits it as storms are typically SW or NE.

    Basically heat is not a problem in that room, if anything I leave those windows cracked open most of the year and when I do close them the radiator under them keeps the warm cosy and the room naturally creates heat.

    So nope... sticking with the non-draught proofed single-glaze sash windows in there.

    I should note that I had my sash windows serviced in December, and only the front of house gained draught proofing... I want the rest of the house to breathe, but without an obvious draught running through the house.

  • Are they going to pop that boiler off the wall to finish around it? It looks quite close to the back wall which is going to make paint / paper a bit tricky. I'd have thought.

    Unsure. But the plaster did go right up to it, and that area has dried well due to the boiler running a reasonable amount in the cold.

    I guess I'll see what happens. The builder is OCD on details though, and I do not doubt that if there's even a risk of it not being perfect for a long long time to come that he'll handle it now. The way he lifted and resealed and levelled the floor just because of a tiny spot of flex in the underlying floor boards in a single place gives me every confidence he's applying this standard everywhere... other examples being the rebuilding of the wall to handle the shelves, the moving of a few socket points to make them perfectly level to the new worktop, etc.

    I trust him and his choice of trades a lot now. So if the boiler has to be popped off to make it perfect, that's what will happen.

  • must be really nice to have that confidence

    we bought and redid our first flat in 2019 and it was a steep learning curve. Did some myself, had some work done by friends and family, and some done by pros. The quality of the work from all parties left a bit to be desired although the place is looking pretty good for a 120 year old tenement. I would do it quite a bit differently next time, budget allowing.

  • must be really nice to have that confidence

    It's huge.

    When I started I thought the most important thing was choosing a kitchen cabinet company and that the builder and trades were secondary.

    Now I think the kitchen company isn't that relevant and I could've saved a lot of money by approaching the cabinets differently.

    It's the builder that makes the difference. And I am really happy that I have such a good one.

    He works London-wide and to the North of London... and basically I'm going to be recommending this builder forever now.

    He truly holds a Dammit level of OCD which is a hell of a thing to find in a builder. And every trade he's had in, has been close to that standard too... with Leigh (the builder) double-checking everything they've done to make sure it's perfect.

    I have no regrets for the cost of the building work, boiler, electrics, etc... none for the appliances I've selected... but the cabinets are going to have to be pretty incredible for me to think that bit was good value. I already think that if the builder is this good, then I could've compromised the quality of the cabinets and he would've made it work anyway and it would hit the same quality point.

  • the only tradesperson who i can say was totally faultless was the guy who did our bathroom. Came recommended from a pal and we had to wait 6 months for him to have a slot for us. Worth it though. As you say, the quality of the work is often more important than the product, above a certain baseline anyway.

  • I'll probably talk to your builder when we get round to doing ours. The works look and sound great. Re: Cabinets... what would you have looked at instead of HJ?

  • what would you have looked at instead of HJ?

    I mean... perhaps I would've researched it better in the first place.

    I thought you pick a kitchen shop and they're doing the whole thing, so what you see in the showroom is pretty much it. But that's wrong, cheap cabinet showrooms use cheap taps and sinks, cheaper worktops, etc... and I was judging those showrooms on the overall experience.

    So when I went into Harvey Jones and it's all finished to the standard I seek, my assumption is that I've got to use this level of company to achieve this level of finish.

    But what I've learned is how wrong I was... there was nothing stopping me from buying cabinets from anywhere and still buying a quality worktop, good sink, and doing all the building work.

    I'd avoid materials that wouldn't age well, would likely still go for painted wood cabinets instead of any chipboard, etc... even MDF is actually OK. But that means I would've looked a lot further afield than just Harvey Jones.

    When I did look at those places, i.e. Wickes... I'd come away thinking they couldn't reach the standard I wanted. If I'd had the builder first and knew how good he was... I would've been open to most cabinet makers so long as I was left in control of all the rest (sink, tap, worktop, appliances, etc).

  • Yep trade is the important part.

    If you get a 40k kitchen fitted badly it will look worse than a 5k kitchen fitted well - and the there’s shades in between I suppose.

    This guy seems like the bollocks so you’ve got a lovely spec kitchen with a fitting to match

  • Thanks for this, incredibly useful perspective as we are planning a similar project in the next couple of years

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Kitchen's Kitchen

Posted by Avatar for Velocio @Velocio