Installing your handmade kitchen requires a mix of skills.
Countryside Kitchens are the single contact and manage all of the logistics for your project. We take the hassle and worry out of the installation by providing a complete end to end service so you are assured your kitchen is installed to the highest standards. On large projects where full time on-site project management is required, we partner with Newcraft who provide the specialist building services and manage the installation.
We offer a supply only option on our hardware. If you have access to specialist joiners, kitchen fitters along with the other trades involved in fitting a handmade kitchen we are happy to help with the custom made cabinets and worktops. Although we are at the end of the phone to help and advise, it is worth mentioning that the process of installing a handmade kitchen is not straightforward. We strongly recommend that you only consider undertaking this if you have experience of custom cabinetry and all of the skills involved.
A Countryside Kitchen Installation – How it works
A Note On Timings
Where we indicate time taken, this is to give you idea of timescales. In some cases times may differ significantly depending upon the details of your own project. As an example, the time it takes for plaster to dry can vary from a day to 5 or more days depending on if it’s a skim coat to a wall in the summertime to a whole room and ceiling requiring boarding, roughcasting and a final coat in a wet November.
It may seem obvious, but before work can begin, you will need to to pack up all the contents of your current kitchen. There is always a lot more than you imagine lurking in those kitchen cupboards and drawers particularly if you have been living in the house for a long time. Along with storing the contents, also make sure to cover up or ideally move any furniture out of the space. Things will get pretty messy, quite quickly, so it’s certainly better to remove as much as possible. A mixture of heavy duty cardboard boxes of the type used for moving house and some stacking boxes with removable lids. So a mixture storage with space for things you don’t need again until you have your new space complete and the everyday utensils, cutlery, plates, sauces, salt, pepper etc. – You alone know what you will need to get access to during the build, but tea and coffee making facilities are normally pretty high on the list!
A skip will be delivered to site where required.
The first job will see our joiners removing your existing kitchen furniture and any of the appliances we have agreed to dispose of. This part all happens incredibly quickly, so be prepared!
It’s often the case that you’ll get a little sinking feeling as you see your old kitchen being taken away, but don’t worry, the transformation is beginning. The goal for us is to strip the room back to a blank canvas from where we can build up the layers to your new completed Countryside Kitchen. It is around now that we may discover some gremlins. With over 40 years experience of fitting kitchens, we often think we have seen everything, but still we get surprises. Whilst we do all we can to minimise this and plan during our site surveys, one cannot see behind or under the units until they are removed. The most common occurrence, is for some additional plastering work is required. But in some older houses we have found all sorts, including one memorable occasion where the kitchen units were actually holding up the ceiling!
1st Fix and 2nd Fix
The work of plumbers and electricians consists of things you cannot see and the very visible. Think of taps and light switches. Whilst we switch on lights or fill a cup with boiling water, it’s easy to forget that behind the scenes are all of the pipes and connections that make this possible. The first fix is installing the unseen backbone, the second fix is the fitting of the switches and controls.
The First Fix:
The plumbing and electrical teams working on your kitchen installation will get all their cables and pipes into place. Whilst the room is empty they have unfettered access to install the ‘backbone’ in the most efficient way. Cables for power sockets, underfloor heat mat, smoke alarms, integrated appliances and the lighting system will be run by the electricians along with any AV and technology connections.
Plumbing work consists of moving, extending or capping off your water supply and waste pipes to accommodate the new design. If your new layout is significantly different, we may need to move the supply for the sink to another location or add/move waste pipes and feeds for your dishwasher and washing machine. The same applies to any gas pipes you may need if you’re having a new gas hob or gas range cooker. These all need to be put into place whilst the room is empty, so they are ready to be connected once the cabinets and appliances are installed.
N.b. during a kitchen renovation project it is quite common to need additional electrical work. Regulations are continually being updated, so it’s not unusual for this to become part of the project.
The First Period
After everything has been removed and the first fix is complete, we will now make good the surface of the walls. This can range from plastering a few patches and making good any damage during the rip out and first fix, to completely re-boarding and plastering the whole room. As an example, we may have removed tiles which are not being replaced so the wall will be uneven or parts of the room will need to be skimmed. (A skim coat is a thin layer of plaster creating a fresh, flat and smooth finish ready for painting). However much plastering is needed for your project, it will need time to dry out before more work can be done. Plaster is best left to dry slowly and naturally. Maximise airflow by keeping windows and doors open where possible. This helps to allow the moisture inside the plaster to dry out naturally.
By the end of week one we aim to have your old kitchen removed, the first fix complete and ideally any plastering work done so it can begin to dry out. Things that can increase this time are: unforeseen building works required, any wholesale change in specification, increased amounts of work required to floors, walls or ceilings, roughcast and finishing plaster required. If you are having a new floor laid be it tile or engineered wood this is done before the kitchen chassis and cabinets are installed. Laying the floor first ensures a uniform level surface on which we can install the furniture. Any potential floor covering costs saved on not doing this are often eaten up with additional configuration issues. It’s particularly important if you are having any large freestanding appliances, such as an Aga or large American style fridge/freezer, installed. With the floor complete, we are able to set the height of the worktops, the end panels and plinths without having to guess how much to lift the cabinets to accommodate any difference in floor height.
The Initial Fitting of The Cabinets
With any building project, there is always quite a lot of mess made before we can start to create. With the first fix complete, we have an empty room with all of the backbone in place ready to install the furniture and fit the appliances.
When the cabinets are delivered and the team set them in place you will see for the first time your new kitchen starting to take shape. All the time we have spent on the Kitchen Planner, thinking about colours, the positions of drawers, cupboards, tiles, splash backs, storage and the location of appliances begins to pay off as your new kitchen begins to emerge.
Usually we will start off with the base units. These will placed in the correct layout to make sure everything fits, before we start to secure them to the walls. Tall units tend to be done at the beginning, especially if they butt up to the base units. Once all of the units are installed, we can then start on the wall units. It’s done this way around so we can ensure the wall units are all at the same height as the top of any tall units and also to ensure we have the correct distance between the top of the base and bottom of the wall units (including worktop thickness). The plinth, any cornices and lighting pelmets can now be installed. It is almost always the case that there will be some adjustments required to the units. So don’t be surprised to see some of the units being loaded back onto the van and returning to the workshop. One for the many advantages of manufacturing our own units is that we are able to rework where required to ensure a perfect fit.
The Worktop Template
Once all of the base units are secured in their perfect place the next step in the process is for accurate measurements to be taken to manufacture your worktop. If you have chosen a stone worktop, F Jones will come to site and measure to millimetre accuracy the areas where your worktop will sit. Known as templating all the exact measurements are taken of precisely where your worktop will sit.
Almost no room is perfectly square and particularly in older properties, walls will have contours or bulges and all of this needs to be taken into consideration so the worktop marries exactly to the walls and the base units.
Once all of the measures are taken they are transferred digitally to F Jones who will generate the drawings of your worktops. Points to consider include where any joins or seams may be in the working area and also the edge profile of your worktop. Both are practical and aesthetic considerations so it is important to get it right for you. We are on-hand to help and advise on any of these considerations and practical implications. You will receive copies of the drawings to check that you are happy and then with the design team give your final approval to go ahead and make the worktops. The process of manufacturing the worktop is dependent on its complexity, however generally the turnaround time is 5-10 working days from giving the approval, to the worktop being installed.
During this time, there is an inevitable lull as until the worktops are installed there is little more we can achieve around those units. Nevertheless be prepared to make decisions on details such as drawer inserts or exactly whereabouts on the doors and drawers are the best position for the handles. It may seem inconsequential, but it’s actually hugely important to get right and the only person that has the right answer is you!
The Worktop Installation
This is where you will see the biggest difference in the shortest amount of time. As the worktops have been templated and manufactured to exactly your specification, it doesn’t take very long for them to be unloaded and installed. The transformation is immense. The worktop takes up 30 per cent of the visual area of your kitchen and in an empty room with just bare units to look at the change is dramatic.
The Second Fix
With the worktops in place, the plumbers, electricians and gas fitters will now return to site for their second fix. The plumber will connect up the sink and taps plus install any wet appliances such as your dishwasher or washing machine and test them. Any new re-positioned radiators can now be installed.
The electrician will connect up all of the switches and controls that were prepared for in the first fix stage. Power points above and below the worktop, cabinet lighting as well as any new lights in the ceiling can all be installed. Finally, if you are have a gas hob, this will be the last connection. We will ensure that everything is safely commissioned and certified. Although the end of the second fix will give you a working kitchen, there are still some last details to finish off.
The Tiles & Splashbacks
With the second fix complete we can now turn our attention to the cosmetic tasks.
You may have chosen to tile the wall in between the base and wall cabinets or alternatively installing a splash-back. Both provide an aesthetic along with more protection than painting alone. Nevertheless, we can only do this once the worktop has been installed so we have a finished level to work from. Again the tiling changes the room significantly from building site to kitchen.
The Decoration and Final Flourish
Decorating represents those final finishing touches that complete the project. This may be repainting the room, but will also include things like new skirting or architrave as well as filling or caulking any little gaps between cabinets and walls. Decoration is all about preparation. With the plaster dry, this will be smoothed off and where required a skim coat applied. At least a day is spent preparing for painting. Undercoats are applied to the woodwork, skim coats to new plaster and then two coats of your chosen colours.
Even when everything is finished and the last drop of paint has dried, there will almost always be some snags left to attend to. It could be something simple that no one has notices until everything is moved back into the kitchen, such as a chipped tile or something not quite in line. It’s in the nature of any complex project and to be aware of this up front will help avoid any annoyance or disappointment at the end of the project.
Sign Off and Completion
Now everything is complete, the design team will revisit and make sure everything is as your expect and we will sign off the completed installation. We will invite you to complete our post installation survey and on occasions may ask your permission for your kitchen to be photographed by Douglas Gibb whose work has featured in many premium magazines and publications. We will use the images as part of our marketing materials to demonstrate actual case studies. We wish you many happy years spent in your beautiful new Countryside Kitchen.