This Wellington homeowner returned from her holiday to a brand new kitchen.
WORDS Joanna Jefferies
● The initial $20,000 budget had to be revised after discovering significant plumbing issues and damage, and the completely revised kitchen renovation cost $50,000
● Renovation timeline: one month
● Best decision: “The wooden tops, it looks so nice, they’re Rimu – they custom made them” - Wiebke
● Type of home: turn-of-the-Century villa
● Mixing old with new: Wiebke chose to keep her old dishwasher, oven and fridge, while opting for new cabinetry, counters and tapware
● Real marble versus marble-look engineered stone: Engineered stone is less porous and is so hardy that Housing NZ has been installing it in their houses for the past 10 years, says Chris
Imagine handing over your keys and hopping onto a plane for Europe, then four weeks later returning home to a freshly renovated kitchen. Avoiding the mess and disruption of a renovation sounds like a dream, but it was a reality for Wellington villa owner Wiebke Heise.
In her initial consultation with Refresh contractor Chris Bath, a simple refresh of the cabinetry paint and new drawer handles was on the cards. However, as Chris delved a little deeper he found that there were significant plumbing issues under and behind the cabinetry that meant a surface renovation would have been a waste of money.
“On inspection of the cabinetry, there was a broken drawer and swelling – it was really on its last legs. We discussed that with her, and we started pricing up what a new kitchen would look like.”
Once Wiebke understood the issues, she decided to go ahead with a complete kitchen renovation – along with fixing plumbing issues that would only degrade her kitchen further, it would allow her to get rid of the U-shape layout and upgrade to a gas cooktop, which was at the top of her wishlist.
The deal clincher was knowing she could go on holiday during the renovation period and Chris would keep her abreast of any issues that might arise.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to live in a construction site for four weeks in my house!” says Wiebke.
Down to design
To help Wiebke make design choices for her kitchen before her trip to Europe, Chris took her to his kitchen manufacturer, who was able to 3D-model her kitchen design with the measurements Chris had taken.
She chose a shaker-style cabinet front, with solid timber benches on two sides of the kitchen, and a marble-look quartz cabinet top on the other. Chris was able to guide her through the budgetary impact of choosing different finishes, such as the custom Rimu counters.
However, a marble-look engineered stone countertop was one aspect Wiebke wasn’t sure about, says Chris.
“She was concerned that the engineered stone might stain and what that might be like, but we were able to talk about the fact that natural marble is more porous. She was able to meet with the supplier and pick out the slab which resolved some of her concerns.”
Another aspect Wiebke wanted resolved was her painted floors, which she wasn’t fond of. They are pine floorboards laid on top of existing flooring. Wiebke wasn’t convinced of the cost of having them removed, and so it was decided that they would be lightly sanded and the spot where part of the old kitchen cabinetry was removed would be patched up. “The way the floor guy patched things up was a real success,” says Chris.
A uniquely Wellington challenge
Due to the siting of the Wellington villa, in a steep valley, there were fairly significant access issues. Chris mitigated some of the issues with the various trades by making sure they were fully informed of the steep hill access to the house. This was particularly important for the removal of the existing kitchen and for the floor sanders who needed access to carry in heavy machinery.
Access to the underfloor space for fixing and moving plumbing was equally tricky.
“It was an old home with no obvious access underfloor; there were already significant holes [in the floor under the cabinetry] where previous plumbers needed access.”
Negotiating these issues and communicating any issues to Wiebke while she was on holiday were key successes of the project, says Chris.
“Taking someone’s kitchen that they didn’t know was leaking and putting in a new kitchen knowing that it’s not going to be leaking and have any issues is emotionally something nice to tick off.”
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