Taking advantage of low interest rates to remodel kitchen for basically free (interest savings).

The wife and I have wanted to redo our kitchen for years. We purchased our house with a 30 year mortgage and payed on it for 14 years, refinanced once for lower percentage rate and same amount of years left to payoff. Now with interest rates dropping as low as they are, we refinanced again for a 15 year mortgage (16 left on old mortgage) and took out13K to redo the kitchen with lower monthly payments (setup with bi-weekly payments to pay off even faster). We did 100% of the demo, wiring, plumbing, and cabinet installation ourselves, so that the money could go to materials. This process was a nightmare for many reasons, but in the end we absolutely love the result. We started this project in mid-April and finished in mid-October, so six months from ordering materials to completion. There were Covid delays every step of the way, but we were only out of a fully functioning kitchen for 2.5 months (2 months longer than planned). The 13K budget was for cabinets and countertops, the new appliances were on top of that. I learned a LOT in the process and have a few new tools for the next project (this is my first kitchen remodel). Hopefully other DIY Home improver’s (AKA too frugal to pay someone else top dollar to do it for you … at least that is my case) find this inspiring and a way to accomplish their house dream renovations for “free-ish” (mortgage interest savings).Here is the kitchen that we started with.​This is the kitchen that we started with. Old cabinets stopping 12″ shy of the ceiling. Notice the inset drawer faces at the angled sections!Once the mortgage was going through, the first step was to measure the existing cabinet layout, making layout changes, and start looking at on-line cabinet options. There are many options out there, but finding one suite of cabinets that fit your needs is a difficult proposition where you can find 90% of what you need, but that one or two cabinets of odd dimensions is not available. At that point, you have to start again with a different cabinet builder. Ultimately, we went with semi-custom Manganite (color) cabinets from Home Depot’s on-line store. The price was right and we were able to get what we wanted in the 13 matching cabinets that we needed to order. The cabinets came with soft close doors and drawers. To aid in this part of the process, I suggest taking measurements and drawing out a schematic of your “vision” for final cabinet design. Our changed layout included extension of top cabinets all the way to the ceiling, extending the cabinet above the refrigerator to be 24” deep instead of previous 12”depth, redesigning the stove hood type from a 90 degree into the wall to straight up through the roof, and extending the peninsula depth to include 12” deep base cabinets on the back side of the peninsula.Here is that rough sketch:​Here is the rough sketch of the new kitchen layout.From this layout sketch and size of cabinets available, we were able to identify where spacers were needed. For instance, the 13.5” space currently to the right of the stove was to be filled with a 12” cabinet, so a 1.5” finished same color spacer would be needed to attach to the edge of that cabinet to fill the extra space (top and bottom cabinets). We ordered 3” spacers that could be cut to fit throughout this project, as needed. I originally purchased a jig saw to accomplish cutting these with a jig, but quickly decided (first cut) that I needed a real table saw to make these cuts precise and uniformly straight.​This is the table saw and jig saw used for this project. The table saw was used for the straight spacer cuts and the jig saw for electric box, vent, and plumbing cuts.Once the layout was finalized and cabinets ordered, it was a hurry up and wait scenario. Covid-19 associated delays in manufacturing of the cabinets and associated hardware delayed the original delivery date for the cabinets by 1.5 months. Original delivery commitment was mid-June, but we ended up getting the cabinets at the end of July. Covid or not, delays may happen at any time, so I strongly suggest refraining from demo until the cabinets are in and inspected for a complete order and satisfaction. Otherwise, you may be waiting another 2 months for a replacement that is required to move forward with the project and a prematurely dismantled kitchen. At the same time, give yourself time for unexpected surprises behind your existing cabinets and feel free to demo what you can live without.​This is the wall with the previous vent and holes where tile was expected in the new kitchen. Electric was also in the wrong place for the new kitchen plan.This was the wall behind the stove cabinets with holes in the drywall where I expected to have tile in the new kitchen, so I ended up with more work than expected and happy that I did this while waiting for cabinets. Also note the location of the vent out tube and the electric box. Both of those had to be moved. The vent was redirected straight up through the roof and the electric box was moved to be hidden behind the stainless steel vent column. This included placing some 2×4 studs within the wall to accommodate the mounting of the new electric box location and hood mount (no photo, but just cutting a 2/4 to size and screwing to existing studs where you want them, simple and minor). With those changes made, it was simple cutting a new drywall piece and screwing back into place (to cut drywall in a straight line, scour the drywall cut line with a razor blade, then bend at scour and you have a straight cut piece).​Here you can see the new drywall with the moved electric box. Also moved the drywall seam to below the counter tops for ease of hiding that joint. The rest will be tiled or covered by cabinets.Now that cabinets are delivered/approved and I have the area behind the stove reconfigured ahead of time, I have the real work ahead … Demo and installation. Knowing that once demolition hit we would not have a kitchen, I scheduled counter top measurements for the following Monday to give me 9 days to finish cabinet installation. Cabinet removal was pretty easy with just a few screws holding them to the wall and a couple screws holding them to the adjacent cabinet. Remove screws and remove cabinets. Some screws were stripped where I needed to use vise-grips to grab the heads and slowly remove them. The countertops came up easily with a few upward pulls. This part was pretty simple and straight forward. If you remove all the screws and the cabinet does not move, look again because you missed a screw somewhere. I worked my way from right to left around the kitchen to minimize time without a sink/dishwasher (above/below pictures).​Installation of cabinets. Notice the temporary level guide board on the back wall for the upper cabinets.Installation of the upper cabinets was pretty quick and easy. The process entails measuring down from the ceiling to where the base of the cabinets are going to sit, attach a horizontal board at that level line, perch the cabinet on the board and screw them into the wall studs through the back of the cabinets. Also place screws into the adjacent cabinet sides, as applicable. In the above picture, you can see the use of a board to place the stove cabinets in place and level. You will also notice that the old sink cabinet is still in place. That is because the plumbing needed to be disconnected to remove that cabinet, but I could not turn off the main water to the house due to a previously unknown been hive at the shut-off (they would start attacking when within 10 ft … Africanized bees and mean). With a looming deadline and a budget, here is my multi-layer “bee suit” and flying insect killer used to attack that hive. I also went out at the coldest part of the night (summer in AZ so not that cool, but late).Middle of AZ summer with layers and every bit of flesh covered (missed the nose) to battle the bee hive … I am moderately allergic.​This is the 4.5 lb hive that had to be removed in order for me to continue with the project. Flying Insect spray applied for two nights before I was able to approach successfully.Once the hive was taken care of, I could turn off the water and take a torch to the copper pipes, remove the copper plumbing apparatus, and sweat on copper caps to those copper inlet pipes. I am sure there are many sources and videos detailing sweating copper, so watch those and don’t listen to me. In general, it just takes a torch, silver solder, flux, and a slice of bread. Turn off the main water, heat the soldered joint until you can pull the connection apart. Water will run out of the pipe, so have a bucket ready. Stuff a little bread into the inlet pipe, add flux to the outside rim, connect copper end cap, heat until the silver solder melts into the joint, turn on water, and check for leaks. At this point the old sink cabinet can slide right out (after removing the screws from back wall and sides of adjacent cabinets). Important: keep the drain trap attached and full of water to keep sewage smell from emanating throughout the house. Disconnect shortly as needed, but replace and fill.I have covered the ease of installing the upper cabinets, now for the lower base cabinets. Installation of the base cabinets were a challenge. I had granite countertops ordered for installation, so being level was paramount (front/back/left/right and across the entire kitchen). I used a combination of a 4 ft level (across cabinets) and a couple 1 ft levels (front/back on each cabinet) and started working from right to left around the kitchen with wedges under the cabinets where needed to get them exactly level. Unfortunately, as I worked my way around, I would find a new high point and would have to work backwards to fix what I had already done. Then I would move forward again to find a new high point, causing me to work backwards again. After three redoes of the lower cabinets from stove to peninsula, I finally borrowed a laser level to find the high point in the room and work backwards from there which happened to be the area that I planned to set in place last.(back corner of the expanded peninsula). We are talking about minutia of fine tweaking, so no photos will help to explain. In the end, I ordered the “EZ Leveler” kits for each of my lower cabinets and the fine tuning was simple moving forward. These kits involve drilling holes in the face plates of the lower cabinets and screwing in the levelers to the front and back of each cabinet. Once installed, you can adjust the front and back heights with a simple turn to make fine adjustments (see picture). These are then covered up by the base plates.These are the ex level adjustments. The top knobs raise and lower the back and the lower ones raise and lower the front. Micro adjustments were super easy using these.​Once cabinets are in place, the kick board cover the holes and levelers.Other than leveling, the other major issue I was running into is where my kitchen layout had non-90 degree angles (cabinet options are available to handle 90 degree turns as a single unit). The old cabinet doors and drawers had faces smaller than the actual cabinets and the new ones were as wide as the cabinets. This created clearance issues with opening and closing drawers at the angle points. Those same clearances were exacerbated by addition of handles. I used all of the spacer boards in my original design to shift everything way from those angle points to provide at least minimal clearances without cutting drawer fronts. In the end, I still had to cut one handle to make things work.​Here you can see the tight clearances that I had with the drawer faces and the one handle that was cut short on the left side.​Even with the handle cut, I barely had the clearance I needed.At this point, I successfully reached my 9-day window to have cabinets in place and ready for the counter tops to be measured.​Here are the cabinets installed, level, and ready for the Granite measurements and installation. (My final product)From here, the counter tops were measured promptly, but cutting and installation was stalled for 2.5 months. We lived with it on disposable plates/cutlery/cups … and washing other dishes from the front yard hose (back yard was tied to the kitchen water input so was capped and non-functional). If delays are expected, I suggest installing a temporary sink, temporary plumbing and not taking the long wait. I just believed the short delay, by short delay, by short delay excuses long enough that it no longer mattered.​Here would be your temporary sink option that could have been plumbed and used during the unexpected 2.5 month wait.The final bit of this piece is the final product with counter tops and the stove back splash. Granite counter tops come with installation, so not DIY. The back tile at the stove gave me an opportunity to give my neighbor who owns a tile install company a small job, so also not DIY. I take credit and criticism for everything else. I know that I need to replace that pantry door … and change the door knob. My plan is to custom make the pantry door, which will be another project. I have tried to explain this process thoroughly, but I am happy to answer any questions that people may have.​Here is the final result of the kitchen remodel. In total, about 7K for the cabinets and 4.5k for the granite. Came in at budget plus the cost of a few new tools. via /r/DIY https://ift.tt/3pncl0T

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