paul bookbinder

Column: School schedule or: If you fail to plan…

paulIn another age, when I was a shop teacher in junior high school—now called middle school so as not to affect self-esteem—we were all given a simple class schedule. It indicated where we should be each hour of each day, and life was simpler. In those days, we didn’t have A days and B days; each day was the same. We could count on it. I knew where I should be, the kids knew where they should be, and if we weren’t there, we knew we were in trouble.

But time marches on and schedules became more complex, not only for our kids, but for remodeling as well.

Just as every student needs a schedule to get through his or her school day, every contractor and sub-contractor needs a schedule to get through a given job. Although there are similarities between remodeling jobs, each project is unique and requires its own timetable in order to progress smoothly, depending upon what work is being done.

What follows is a typical example of a schedule for a kitchen remodel, which will include a new floor and a solid surface countertop. Please keep in mind this is a generic illustration. If you ask 10 contractors how they would handle the job, you would probably get 10 different schedules.

The first step is for the plumber and the electrician to disconnect the old pipes and wiring so that the appliances, cabinets and counters can be removed. Once that is completed the demolition of the room begins.

Appliances that are to be kept must be moved to adjacent rooms and those that are to be discarded should be removed from the premises. The old cabinets and counters are then removed and disposed of in an appropriate manner. If necessary, the old floor must be removed and perhaps the sub-floor as well. If the job calls for new sheetrock, the old walls must be removed at this point. When the room has been emptied of all these items, the plumber and electrician can return to do what is called the “rough-in.” This is when old pipes and wiring are replaced with new, and put in the appropriate positions for the new fixtures.

When the rough-in is completed, the sub-floor and new floor can be installed. In some cases, the new floor should be installed at a later date. After the floor is installed, it must then be covered to prevent it from being damaged by the steps that follow.

Now, if the project calls for new sheetrock, it must be taped and skim coated. Then sanded. Then coated. Then sanded again. If the sheetrock is just being patched, now is the time to do that process. All this is in preparation of the cabinets being installed. But not so fast; let’s have the painter prime the walls first. Even though you’ll have cabinets covering the walls, it’s best to have a coat of primer on them for protection against moisture.

After the wall preparation is complete, the cabinets should be installed, and once that is done, it’s time to template for the countertop. But wait, you shouldn’t template without the appliances being in position. So let’s get the appliances delivered and put in place, at least temporarily.

The big day arrives when the counter is ready to be installed. Once in place, the backsplash, whether tile or stone, can be installed. Then the plumber and electrician can return to connect the fixtures and appliances. And finally, the painter can complete his work and your project is complete.

Nothing to it, not when you have a schedule. Your schedule, or plan, is paramount to the success of your project. Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And while you’re planning, leave a little leeway for the inevitable; when one part of the job takes longer than expected or a contractor gets stuck with an emergency at another job site.

Oh, if I was only still in junior high school, cheerfully going from one class to another. This time, I swear, I’d work harder, and maybe not end up a contractor, planning schedules.

Paul Bookbinder, m.i.d., c.r., is president of DreamWork Kitchens, Inc. located in Mamaroneck, New York. A Master of Design from the Pratt Institute, and E.P.A. Certified Remodeler, he serves on the Advisory Panel of Remodeling Magazine. A member of the National Kitchen & Bath Assoc., he is also a contributor to Do It Yourself magazine. He can be reached for questions at 914-777-0437 or