/ Home & Energy

Kitchen installations: have you considered everything?

A fitter installs a cabinet door as part of a kitchen installation

Are you thinking of a new kitchen for the new year? We asked a Which? Trusted Trader for their tips on a successful project.

You will no doubt spend countless hours browsing showrooms. You may opt for a full refit with new worktops, units and sink, or perhaps you want to replace specific parts such as the cabinet doors. Once you have set your heart on the perfect kitchen, next comes the installation.

Some retailers offer in-house installation services or have an approved list of contractors they recommend or work with regularly. Other kitchen suppliers may sell the materials directly to the consumer, who is responsible for employing fitters themselves.

A range of trades

A kitchen installation brings together a variety of skilled trades. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers and plasterers are the standard, and you may need the services of several trades depending on your circumstances

Some contractors can provide an all in one service. You can pay a set price for the installation and they will sub contract individual tradesmen to carry out any specialist work.

You may decide that you will take ownership of the installation and organise your own tradesman. This might be because you have a trusted connection who is in the industry for instance.

Installing a kitchen should be seen as a team effort, with each trade depending on one another to be able to complete their next task. 

The electrician cannot install the socket plugs without the wall having been plastered, and the carpenter cannot install the cabinets until the plumber has laid the pipes for the sinks.

This level of project management is something you need to be confident of when undertaking.

Read our guide on how to get a kitchen installed

Which? Trusted Traders advice

We asked Which? Trusted Trader of the Month for December – Property Developments Plus LTD to give us their advice on how to deal with complex home improvement projects. They told us:

‘The importance of project management is often overlooked and the gravity of responsibility underestimated when planning to carry out work within their own home. 

Too often I hear stories of how the kitchen renovation took months to finish, due to the inability to find a tradesman that was able to help.

A kitchen is the heart of any home, being without it for any period of time is stressful. So, with that in mind any kitchen renovation in a habitable home needs to be carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Projects like new kitchens are generally limited on space and therefore require a detailed schedule of work. You will need to get the correct order for the tradesmen to attend site, otherwise the project will fail  before its even began. The best way to achieve this is to employ one person that can coordinate the entire project using their own tried and tested team of tradesman. Generally speaking, this will comprise of a team that have worked together successfully for a number of years. Each and every one of them being a vital link in a strong chain. One missing link is a broken chain.

Too often we hear stories of how the kitchen renovation took months to finish, due to the inability to find a tradesman that were able to help. I would suggest to anyone, only attempt to project manage the job yourself if you have a comprehensive understanding of the process of works and what tradesman would be needed to carry out which part of the project”

Have you ever had a new kitchen installed? If so, did you opt for an all-in-one service, or did you manage everything yourself?  

And are you undertaking any home improvement projects in the new year? Let us know in the comments.

Are you planning any home improvement projects during winter lockdown?
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Comments

I just had a look at one of the above links and was surprised to read this:

Bigger changes, including new drainage, new electrics or adding a new gas cooker or hob will need Building Regulations approval. Read more in our tips on building regulations for extensions. Minor electrical work – for example adding a new socket or light switch – doesn’t need Buildings Regulation approval.

I wonder how many people know that all those changes require Building Regulations. Any new kitchen that it is not a direct replacement is likely to have new electrics. Our new electrics and gas hob were certified by qualified people, but we didn’t even consider Building Regulations.

As I understand it, for electrical alterations, say for kitchen refit, a Building Regulations Part P Qualified electrician can certify the work as compliant, provide a certificate of compliance, and register that with the local authority building control department or agency [they often use a consultancy to execute this for them]. A major alteration such as installing a whole new power circuit [e.g. for a big cooker unit] in addition to the existing consumer unit might require a separate Building Regulations application and test/inspection/certification on completion.

Significant alteration to the mains drainage certainly requires BRegs approval because changing the levels or flow directions, and defective connexions, can affect neighbouring properties, but diverting the kitchen waste from one existing outlet to another should not require approval. The work must be done competently and any sealing-off of an existing connection must be done correctly to prevent any back-flow of waste water.

Any work to a gas supply must be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered technician, and comply with the BRegs, who can certify the installation as compliant and submit the certificate for registration.

It is not unheard of for some of these steps to be skipped, but there are three potential adverse consequences: (a) the local authority will inspect and disapprove of the works requiring a complete re-installation, (b) the lack of a BRegs certificate will affect a house sale and possibly stop it either until an indemnity has been obtained by the seller or a satisfactory BRegs certificate has been produced, (c) any insurance claim arising from a fault in the work [e.g. fire or flood] could be repudiated.

Anyone managing a complex project should contact the local authority building control department or agency before design work is complete and check through what work will require specific approval.

My first project is to have the windows replaced. That was supposed to happen last Easter but coronavirus discouraged me from getting quotations.

I thought of replacing the kitchen when I moved in in 2016 but improving the lighting and installing replacement hinges has made me happier with what I have. I want to have the gas hob replaced with an induction hob and to replace the ovens which are 20 years old. I wonder if I will have to get a gas fitter to remove the hob or if some electricians are certified to do this task.

I will probably need new wiring for the hob, so plan to combine this with upgrading the distribution board and the supply to the garage with the intention of adding a car charging point. If I can get the windows done this year that will be a start, so the kitchen can wait.

Wavechange – In my experience, professional electricians will not touch gas work, but there might be some multi-skilled firms or individuals who do have Gas Safe registration.

Having carried out four kitchen refits over recent years I have found that electricians flit from one job to another at the direction of the main installer doing various stages of the fix in cooperation with the plasterer/tiler and cabinet fitter.

Thanks John. I think my best bet would be to have a word with the local Gas Safe engineer who looks after my boiler. I can cope without having a working hob for a few days until the electrician fits the new hob.

Phil says:
8 January 2021

The requirement for a gas fitter to be Gas Safe registered only applies if they’re working for hire or reward. It’s quite legal to do this work yourself providing you are “competent” so nothing to stop you removing the hob yourself providing you feel capable.

You are right Phil.

I can report that my new kitchen was installed without incident as part of the house renovation. It was carried out by the builder who subcontracted the electrical and plumbing work. The builder coordinated the kitchen installation and made sure that each tradesman dovetailed in so that work proceeded smoothly. On the purchase side I used a designer recommended to me by the builder. This was an advantage in many ways. The design was checked for practical installation problems, and the materials supplied as and when they were needed by the builder directly from the designer, without any need for me to become involved. I simply chose the design and the specification and paid the designer directly.
The Dekton worktops were both supplied and fitted by a Dekton specialist and I paid the firm directly for their work. The kitchen designer, merely passed the invoice over to me having first instructed the firm as to what was to be done. I chose the material and the colour as part of the initial kitchen design, the designer liaised with the Dekton firm thereafter.

The purchase of the white goods and the cooker could take up the rest of this page to relate. Suffice it to say that the kitchen designer did far more than was required and eventually paid for everything using her own personal credit card, before I reimbursed her. Everything was ordered in good time and everything – cooker, dryer, dishwasher, fridge and freezer (I have a new washing machine already) failed to arrive at the supplier’s depot on delivery day. The electrical retailer (not Currys) could not re-order. My designer personally re-ordered substitutes (with my permission) and saw that, with the exception of the dryer, they were delivered on time. The dryer was damaged on delivery to my house, the replacement ordered -in stock – and when paid for became out of stock. A third was obtained and delivered from John Lewis. I had ordered the kitchen from the designer and the electrical goods from elsewhere , on her recommendation. I was supposed to pay for these separately.
The kitchen is as specified and is installed with expert attention to detail. I am very satisfied with it. I ordered flooring and splash-back tiles separately from another builder’s recommended firm, which also supplied the bathroom tiling. These were obtained, as required, by the builder, who knew how much of each was needed for the floor and walls. As an extra, the builder also put in under cupboard lighting for me and a plinth heater.

I think the key to my successful installation was the fact that one person coordinated the whole project; was able to source tradesmen for plumbing and electrical work; was able to coordinate their activities; had the measurements of the room and could calculate how much of everything was needed in excess of the kitchen actually supplied by the designer and he could organise supplies to arrive as they were needed. My job was to work with the designer and to source the electrical goods. Even I was coordinated into the plan so that my choices were examined for practicality and problems ironed out to my satisfaction.
For those not having other work done in the house, the coordinator would be the fitter employed by the kitchen firm. The owner would probably liaise with the designer and the designer would work directly with the fitter. The fitter would either have the workmen needed to do the plumbing and electrics or, like mine, would subcontract this work, but be in charge of it. The success, or otherwise, of the project would be down to the skill of the firm used. My designer, was scathing about some of the new build kitchens, where poor quality units were badly fitted. This gives the industry a very bad name. It also seems that the fitter is more important than the choice of product in producing a good kitchen initially, though, of course, quality fittings are likely to last longer if they are within budget. I’m not sure, from what I’ve read here, that Which? has really been as thorough as it should have been in recommending and testing kitchen installation.

Patrick Taylor says:
8 January 2021

Sounds highly recommendable set of people. Local Traders would have been a useful place to recommend them.

9 months since moving in and we still have a very long list of things to do! Plan for this lockdown is come decorating but come the summer we are going to start on the big jobs. Now we are in the depths of winter we realise how leaky the house is so new windows and insulated floorboards are on the top of the list. I dread to think what our gas bill will be this year!

Kitchen also still needs doing but having fitted a new hob and oven ourselves it is isn’t as urgent as before.

Sadly not that many registered trusted traders in Belfast. It is a minefield choosing someone to do the work!

Crusader says:
9 January 2021

Insulated floorboards? I’ve never heard of those before, are they a local innovation in Ulster? Or are they more widely available? I have a hollow floor in my lounge and hallway and I’ve never thought of the idea of trying to insulate those floors. And surely any insultation under the boards would need to be removed where there’s cables and/or pipes running underneath, unless you can suspend them from the underside of the floor beams. And while on the subject of insulation be aware that some forms of thermal insulation are seriously flammable which surely needs banning after what happened at Grenfell tower. Rockwool is advertised as being thoroughly fireproof and meeting all the relevant standards of fire safety. I wonder how practical it would be to try and fit some under my hollow floors? I think the main problem to overcome is how to fasten it in place securely without having to crawl underneath the floor. I’ve been under there in the past doing various jobs and even got trapped down there once and I don’t want to go down there anymore after battling to destroy loads of filthy dry rot fungus down there which came through the brick wall from next door. Believe me it can travel through walls!

Phil says:
9 January 2021

There’s insulation board but that has to installed over the joists with the floorboards laid on top so the existing floor would have to lifted. Insulation can be wedged between the joists but if you do have a suspended floor it’s important to keep the space beneath well ventilated which may well have been behind the dry rot.

Crusader says:
9 January 2021

My underfloor space is well ventilated, there’s a big hole in the front wall with a terracotta vent in it, and I’ve fitted a sloping plastic vent over it to keep the rain out. The fungus definitely came from next door, I know because it did enormous damage in there, they had to remove and dump their kitchen base units and rip up the concrete floor in their kitchen, and rip out the staircase, and all their downstairs wooden flooring, and the surrounding skirting boards etc. and treat the fungus and then fit all new flooring, and stairs, and kitchen base units, and worktops etc. But I won’t let that amount of damage happen in my place, no chance! I always keep plenty of treatment kit ready for action and I’m well used to using it as I’ve lost some skirting boards in my kitchen too, even some new ones.

Margaret Hughes says:
18 January 2021

I had underfloor insulation installed in my bungalow back in September 2020. This is my second winter since buying in September 2018. March 2019 I had a new roof, the underside was insulated with Kingspan and the loft floor was insulated and boarded for storage. New bathroom and fitted wardrobes were next. New windows were installed May 2020, same time as new garage roof, doors and windows. A new boiler was installed in August.

The underfloor insulation did involve two men going underneath the floor boards. It had been explained what they would do, and they provided photographs during. I wanted to see the condition of the joists and boards, all sound, then photos after insulation applied. The fireproof insulation was first stapled to the underside of the floorboards between the joists. It was then secured with a netting, again this was stapled and securely fastened to the joists. Plumbing and electrics are clearly visible for any future work.

My gas bills have dropped considerably, and my house stays warm with the new smart thermostat being set 2 degrees lower than previously. Its the first time my bedroom has been warm! I do live just off Emley Moor in Yorkshire, it can be a bit bleak.

The kitchen is my May 2021 project. I was widowed 3 years ago (I’m almost 66) so I moved from the family home of over 30 years into a bungalow nearer my son and daughter. Trying to get all the improvement jobs done and finished so I can enjoy the benefits of the improvements. Fingers crossed for the kitchen! Only wood flooring to be put down then.

Only fair to mention that before retiring I was a project manager, bought and renovated buidings with huge budgets, I am still within my £30,000 budget, but will creep over as I have gone for premium kitchen and solid wood flooring. My response to Covid restrictions, I deserve it! All planning done on Excel spreadsheets. Three quotes and outline schedules of work for all but the bathroom, I used a chap that has installed 2 bathrooms at my last home and whose work I know is good. I just had to wait until he could fit me in!

Margaret – Well done. You have made a lot of improvements in the space of a little over two years. I am amazed that the work has come in within your original budget. Good pricing skills as well as good project management.

Patrick Taylor says:
9 January 2021

Possibly the Belfast traders who are good do not need to pay Which? for a badge as they get enough work by word of mouth. One thing unappreciated by the masses will be that the Which? Trusted Trader badge is not a guarantee of price/ value for money.

Is there a register of those firms that have been removed, or left after disputing arbitration and refusing to pay ?

As originally set-up Which? Trusted Traders was perhaps very eager to sign up members but the enforcement side – I suggested travelling inspectors for works – was not considered. There is also the mismatch of signing up the likes of Carpetrite but as they sub-contract all the fittings to people not covered it does rather make it a lottery.

Stannah – a multinational company made good use of the perception that Which? would only recommend good value to heavily using the Trusted Trader logo in its advertising. This seems to be a foreseeable problem which does not benefit consumers who do not understand that this is not a value or quality badge.

Personally I find the idea that Trusted Traders includes multinationals and franchises etc is completely flawed.

Crusader says:
9 January 2021

After reading some of these stories on here I’m glad I can do all that’s involved in kitchen fitting myself. But one problem is getting hold of the right stuff which is not always so easily available, like end trims for 28mm worktops in white. It looks like they’re only available in almost any other finish but not white, although I have seen them in white for the thicker 38mm worktops, but never in the 28mm size. And I’ve fitted lots of kitchens in the past, including the plumbing and wiring etc. and extraction ducting too. And I replaced all my old lead plumbing with copper when I moved in in the 80’s and I fitted a fresh bathroom suite, and I’ve fitted some elsewhere too. And you have to be careful with things like mixer taps as some of them can cross contaminate the water so they need non return valves fitting in their feed pipes. And I’ve fitted misophonia friendly hinges on my kitchen units now which prevent the doors from slamming as they have little hydraulic dampers fitted which slow them down as they close. But I don’t do kitchen fitting anymore as I can’t lift the heavy units and worktops anymore due to various problems. But I have upgraded my own units and made them stronger as well as quieter.

Crusader says:
11 January 2021

Not all mixer taps need non return valves, not if it’s a divided flow tap, one where the water doesn’t mix until it leaves the end of the spout. You can recognise those by looking at the end of the spout, they have two outlets side by side, and they’re normally used on kitchen sinks. But some others, usually intended for bathrooms and other washrooms let the waters mix inside the tap body and it’s with those that non return valves have to be used, not only because of the possibility of cross contamination but you don’t want mains water under mains pressure finding it’s way to a hot water cylinder or the wrong side of an expensive combi boiler or multi-point heater for instance. These latter type of mixer taps are intended for basins which are supplied from an all indirect supply, i.e. one where both the hot AND cold water come from a header tank, usually a very large one fitted in a loft. The usual arrangement with the indirect supplies is for the kitchen cold tap to be fed with mains water for drinking, known as potable water, and the bathroom hot and cold taps both fed from a tank. And the bathroom mixer taps can be recognised as they have only one outlet at the spout end, and they’re sometimes used on kitchen sinks and when used there or anywhere where they’re fed with mains water they must have a non return valve in each supply pipe. And I’ve worked on plumbing in loads of different houses and I’ve never encountered an indirect cold supply, but they do exist, so it’s something to check when buying an old house and you want to do some refitting involving plumbing.

Hello, I`m new to this site and very interested in your comments as we are about to embark on a major kitchen project which involves having a wet underfloor heating system and new flooring.
I wondered if anyone has experience of LVT flooring called EVOCORE or Wickes own brand NOVOCORE?
It’s a relatively new ( to this country I believe) click flooring system.
Any information gladly received. Many thanks. Rob

I’ve not come across them before – I tend to specify Amtico for high-end kitchens. Karndean is another reputable supplier in the UK.

From what I can find, it appears that EVOCORE and NOVOCORE are LVT products of Novalis Innovative Flooring, a Chinese multi-national. They are well established in North America, with products like Novacore [sic]. I presume the product names are variations to allow for own-branding and trademarking issues. You can probably find out more by going to their US site. They are quite aggressive at re-routing you to their UK site if you are not specific in your searches.

The only caution I would have from looking at the product construction is the clear PU top coat. Polyurethane tends to yellow, particularly in bright sunlight (UV). Depending on the base layer, this discolouration might become noticeable in later years, if an item of furniture is moved revealing a “footprint”.

I can vouch for both Amtico and Karndean being both excellent products albeit on the expensive side. Very durable and hygienic for kitchens and bathrooms. If laid on a suspended floor [rather than a concrete base] there needs to be a plywood overlay screwed down at close intervals; 3mm is OK but I would advise 6mm.

I agree 6mm ply screwed every 10 cm along the edges and in a 15cm square matrix all over.

I normally prefer to do my own floor tiling, as I can spend more time and get a better result than most. Due to shortage of time, we had our new Amtico kitchen tiles laid “professionally” when I was away on business.

Unfortunately, the edges of the plywood sheets are now becoming evident when viewed against the light. After inspecting one of the more noticeable bulges, it was evident the tiles were laid on 3mm ply, nail-gunned to the subfloor. Needless to say, some of the nails have now popped.

If it wasn’t for Covid-19 they would be back to rectify their handiwork. Up until now, they have only suggested that there could be a water leak somewhere causing a damp patch.

The only leak I can find is in my wallet for a job badly done.

Hi Rob,

Free samples are available online from many manufacturers and suppliers, so search them out and ask. If there are one or two you particularly like, ask for larger samples.

I can vouch for Amtico that we have in a cloakroom.

Our kitchen was always on the dark side so we went for Moduleo Transform Azuriet that has a very tiny sparkle that would hopefully reflect more light. The ivory colour we chose doesn’t seem to be available now, but Azuriet 46148 is very similar, has a 20 year guarantee, and we are really pleased with it.

Having gone through the “new kitchen” experience about three years ago, my general advice would be as follows:

1) Plan the space, the ideal workflow and the general layout of the kitchen.

Decide how you want to use the kitchen. Do you want a separate dining area? A separate utility room for laundry, dirty dogs and general household cleaning (what used to be called a scullery)?

In our case, this resulted in the dining room being integrated with the kitchen, and the existing utility room relocated, with the space again allocated to the new kitchen/diner. I know not everyone has that much floor area to play with and, because of the construction of our house, no structural walls needed to be harmed in the process.

But consider it now, even if you reject making any changes as too difficult or costly. In our case, the only refurbishment was to overboard, tape and joint the ceiling to hide the old Artex seams, and cut away, strengthen and rebuild the pocket door opening (below). Probably, £300 in materials plus numerous trips to the dump to dispose of the old internal partitions. Note if you do this as a DIY project, disposal is free – if a tradesman does it, he needs to charge and should in turn be charged for the disposal of trade waste.

2) Consider the doorways.

In our case, the redundant door to the kitchen could be closed off, as access is now by the double doors to the dining area. The doorway to the new utility is now a pocket (sliding) door. This saves space and means access to an extra tall cupboard is not blocked by an open door.

3) Do the constructional changes.

Ideally, everything can work around the existing kitchen so that this can proceed unhurriedly, particularly if you are doing any of the work yourself or with the help of a general builder.

Interestingly, John Lewis will not measure and quote until any structural changes are made.

4) Invite your kitchen planners in or go armed with accurate drawings of your new space.

Don’t get side-tracked into choosing doors, handles, countertops and appliances at this stage. Unless it is a totally bespoke kitchen, all factory-made kitchens use exactly the same carcass (cupboard) sizes. You can plan the layout and worry about whether you can afford solid limed-oak or MDF doors later. Planners will want to up-sell the more profitable premium products at the earliest opportunity and you may end up with less storage space as a result, to “fit” in with your budget rather than the space you have available.

5) Review the quotes.

Rather than be locked into choosing specific appliances at this stage, ask the supplier what discount they will offer on each of the brands they supply. Reserve the right to buy them elsewhere, if they can be found substantially cheaper. If the supplier is not willing discount, price match or allow self-supply, then walk away.

Be clear exactly how long the price quoted is valid for. Unless a manufacturer’s price rise is imminent, there is no reason for fall for the “50% off, but only until Friday” line.

Part 2 to follow …

Em has mentioned Artex, a ceiling coating that used to contain asbestos, which is harmless unless disturbed. Artex and similar coatings used to contain asbestos, which was not banned until 1999. A competent company should be aware of the possibility of Artex being present. Tests for asbestos are inexpensive but removal of Artex is expensive because this will require a specialist contractor.

Good point wavechange. It’s frightening how many injurious materials can be found in buildings. Arsenic in Victorian wallpapers, lead in paints, mercury from broken thermometers trapped in cracks, not to mention the modern organic materials we are only just learning to recognize as potential hazards. Glad I don’t live in Co-Rn-wall.

We have had textured ceilings successfully over-plastered to produce a smooth finish. Whether the original material contained asbestos I don’t know but it is completely concealed now.

I faced a bill of over £5000 to remove Artex and asbestos floor tiles. This had the advantage that the ceilings were open for plumbers and electricians to work inside and the joists checked for direction when adding strengthening structures to the building. I’m glad to say that the original house builders knew what they were doing.

Over-plastering of ceilings containing asbestos is permitted: https://www.aic.org.uk/asbestos-in-artex/ My surveyor warned me that since my house was built in 1999 there was a slight chance that the ceilings could contain asbestos and to bear this in mind if I wanted work done on the house.

As Em has said there are various potential hazards in old buildings.

… Part 2

6) Choose your kitchen supplier.

Now is the time to ensure the carcasses, doors, countertops and appliances are up to scratch as far as price/quality and your preferences and tastes. Can the supplier deliver and do what is required within an acceptable timeframe?

Is removal and disposal of the old kitchen units and appliances included? You can save quite a bit if you are prepared to strip old units and make good damaged walls, skirting boards and decorations. You also have the option to recover a bit of the cost by selling your old kitchen and appliances through eBay.

7) Make sure all the required trades and fixtures are as expected and be clear what is and what is not included.

Electrical work, flooring, tiling and painting are often not included or can be expensive extras if done by the main kitchen supplier. Even more so if they come as afterthoughts once the job has started. I was once charged £50 extra, to have the on-site contracted electrician fit an additional downlighter (I had supplied) in a new bathroom. It probably took him 15 minutes. As it was already work-in-progress, I had little option but to pay up when the final bill came through.

Yet with the help of my general builder/handyman, we fitted LED 20 downlighters in the re-boarded kitchen ceiling within a day. We also did all the re-cabling required as a result of removing partition walls, moving the oven to the opposite side and adding an additional 45 Amp circuit for the induction hob. I wired in all the new appliances as they were delivered.

I then employed a qualified electrician just to replace the old consumer unit and add in the new kitchen circuits. As part of this work, he has to re-test each circuit (old and new), so all the work I did myself is also covered by Part P Building Regs and I have the certificate to prove it. It cost about £400 for the upgraded CU and his labour.

I certainly don’t recommend you do your own electrical work or other DIY if you don’t have experience – except maybe painting the walls. I am a competent electrician, just not registered or have all the necessary test equipment for Part P self-certification. But I give it as an example of how you can save quite a bit of money by subcontracting some of the work to others and/or yourself.

Get any heating sorted out well in advance – ideally at stage 3) above. Do you need to move or resize a radiator? Would a plinth heater provide more space for cupboards?

8) Take time to go through each and every item on the inventory methodically and check the specifications and options, again and again.

This was the time we sat down with manufacturers’ catalogues and upgraded our thinking (and budget) in line with modern technologies. It’s one of those now or never opportunities, so don’t waste it for lack of time and careful planning.

Add carousels to make better use of the corner units? What about a pull-out larder? Do the drawers have enough cutlery dividers? Large bins for separate recycling, compost and refuse?

Sink and taps? Definitely do not leave this to the kitchen designer, as the price and quality varies enormously. Swan neck or “L”? Do you need a spray? Single or double bowl? Draining board(s)? Left or right handed? Is there enough room to fill the kettle under the tap without dipping into the sink?

What about a small under-sink immersion heater? If, like our house, the distance from the main hot water tank to the kitchen sink is 10 metres or more, you waste more than 2 litres of “hot” water running the tap from cold.

Is the fridge big enough? Do we want need a freezer compartment or a bigger larder fridge?

Change from a halogen to an induction hob? Great improvement – much faster and safer. No chance of a discarded tea towel catching fire. The only downside was changing my lovely but incompatible saucepans – which I sold on eBay for £150.

Is the extractor fan vented (good) or recirculating (expensive to run and ineffective)? Is it compatible with any heat recovery system you might have installed?

Pyrolytic – self cleaning oven? Fantastic! No arguments about whose turn it is to don the rubber gloves and spread caustic chemicals around.

Integrated microwave? Expensive, but one less appliance to shift around the countertop and collect dirt.

Corian counter tops? Eye-wateringly expensive, but no more than 20% of the total kitchen cost and paid for by opting for vinyl-wrapped MDF, rather than real wood painted doors – which nobody notices and will save maintenance in the long run.

The choice of countertop material caused the most debate and discussion over whether to go for laminate, wood, granite, marble, etc. But the result is an amazing, totally seamless, six metres of continuous worktop and hob splash-back. Literally nowhere for grease and dirt to build up or water to leak. Plus the countertops are made to custom templates in non-standard widths, allowing for a service void behind the base units, uneven walls (our fitter used a laser to align the cupboards) and giving us more work surface.

Even the Corian sink is integrated with drainage grooves and a drip lip on the counter top – again absolutely no seams or joints anywhere for water to seep into. We have yet to break a plate or glass – they seem to bounce. In fact, we like the material so much, we bought a Corian-faced dining table. No need for placemats and coasters or regular polishing and totally hygienic.

Integrated USB charging points in electrical sockets?

Will under cupboard LED lighting work correctly with your existing dimmer switches?

I even added a couple of rechargeable battery-backed emergency packs to the new ceiling downlighters, which means an unexpected power cut no longer plunges the kitchen into total and potentially dangerous darkness. Because LEDs draw so little power, these emergency backup supplies are now ridiculously cheap (£30 each), but I’ve yet to hear of one being suggested for a domestic dwelling refurb.

It is also an ideal time to look at your smoke alarms and upgrade to a linked system. They need changing every 10 years, irrespective of whether the test button “works”.

9) Get an independent professional to go over your ideas.

We spent £50 on a pre-order review from a good interior designer. She recommended we change the doors from ivory to white and use a wall paint colour to tone down the overall effect instead, as it would be more future-proof to changing fashions and better choice for resale. So also suggested a stainless steel chimney extractor over the hob as a feature, rather than the boring but practical integrated extractor we had chosen. At the same time she recommended fabrics for blinds and curtains to go with the kitchen, paint and flooring, so we were ready to make those soft-furnishing decisions once the fitters completed their work.

10) Sign the order.

Your final chance to negotiate on price and any extras.

With all that advanced preparation and planning, you should now be able to relax and know you are getting a good deal. In our case, we are delighted with our kitchen, which is now three years old.

Thanks for that, Em. I am planning to have the gas hob replaced with an induction hob. Some of these will run from a 13 amp socket and while I don’t think that is a good idea I would question whether a 45 amp circuit breaker is necessary or desirable. It’s worth reading what the regulations say about ‘diversity’, which essentially acknowledges the fact that not all the heating zones are likely to draw the full power rating simultaneously.

I agree that it is a good idea to have emergency lighting in a kitchen. I put an LED emergency light out of sight on top of the kitchen cupboards and it is remarkably effective. You have reminded me that I need to get my kitchen heat alarm added to the linked alarms in the house.

I would agree in the case of a standard domestic cooker, the Wiring Regs state that you can apply diversity to the maximum load with the formula: (10A + 30% of the load above 10A + 5A for the cooker switch socket). For my 5-zone induction hob that would be 10A + (73A – 10A) * 0.3 + 5A = 34A. That’s already pushing a 32A breaker to the limit, but I could get away with it at the technical design level.

But I feel the IET regs have yet to take account of some modern electronic circuitry found in induction hobs such this. It dynamically limits the power that can be drawn by all active zones to a maximum current of 47A, by balancing and limiting the load internally, if necessary.

It seems wrong to apply a diversity factor to further down-rate a circuit that is known to limit its own current demand, which happens to be well in excess of the design value. To me, it should be treated the same as an instantaneous 11kW power shower, which is what I’ve done. As this hob is available for 3-phase supply in other countries, it doesn’t seem like overkill to me, just over-caution maybe.

That makes perfect sense but it read as if you were having a 45 amp circuit just for the induction hob.

You make it sound so easy Em, if only . . . 😭

One thing we didn’t know about was isolation switches for kitchen appliances so they were an afterthought in cupboards and other hard-to-get-at places, very sensible in an emergency !!!. Had we known, it would have been easy to install a mini consumer unit just outside the kitchen door so if an appliance was leaking or on fire for example, it could have been turned off from a safe distance. Recently the dishwasher was making a strange noise and the corner cupboard contents had to be removed to turn off the machine. For easier access, the contents are all in large plastic containers, but it is still unnecessary hassle that could have been avoided if the kitchen designer had done his job properly.

I am very much in favour of having isolators above the worktop and above appliances, which encourages the user to switch them off when not in use, though one visitor ‘helpfully’ switched off the fridge and freezer on evening. Fortunately I noticed before heading to bed. In the event of a fire a local isolator may not be accessible and it is useful to have circuit breakers clearly labelled in the consumer unit.

I have always put a label on the isolation switches above the counter – they are not all in the most obvious of places [e.g. the boiler and extractor hood] – so that it is less likely that one will be turned off by mistake.