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Starting a Remodel Remotely

Posted on May 7, 2020 in:
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Remodel
  • Homeowners

A designer working on plans at her desk

Q: I’ve been thinking about remodeling my kitchen for years now. It’s always been dark and disorganized, but with my whole family cooking and eating from home three meals a day, seven days a week, it’s even harder to cope. With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, can I still remodel my kitchen? And if so, how does that work?

A: Three months ago, you may have gone to the grocery store or sat down to a meal with a dozen friends in a crowded restaurant and thought nothing of it. Now, restaurants have shifted to no-contact delivery or closed altogether, and a grocery run means wearing gloves and a mask and always staying at least six feet away from every other person you meet. It’s no secret COVID-19 has changed the world, likely forever.

Even so, the short answer is yes. You are absolutely able to remodel your kitchen. Here’s how:

Step 1: Contact a professional

This step really has not changed. Start with a little due diligence—check designers and kitchen and bath experts out online. Visit their website, read their reviews (carefully and a little skeptically) and, if possible, confirm your findings from multiple sources.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential designers and remodelers, picking up the phone is a powerful and important step in the process. Your designer or remodeler will be a great source of information in general. You’ll be able to go over your project with them in detail and get an idea of what projects they are able to work on just by talking with them.

Step 2: Set up a virtual design consultation

Once you’ve selected a company for your project, it’s time for a more in-depth meeting about your needs, wants, and budget for your project. The best companies to work with are going to be organized and capable of using technology to meet with you by video. This might be through Skype, Facetime, Zoom, Google Hangouts or similar methods. If you are not savvy with this sort of technology, the company should be able to carefully walk you through the process.

Step 3: Samples, design & process

Just like most industries currently conducting business, everyone is making it a priority to keep their clients, their vendors and their staff safe and healthy. Design choices can be shared through email, video conferencing, phone calls and the like. Samples and materials can be dropped off or delivered by mail or courier, along with return instructions for pickup. The overall process will be up to the company you choose to work with, but while additional safety measures are likely, they should only add a slight delay, if any, to the ordering process.

While we are under a stay-at-home order, nonessential construction may be limited. If you are just starting a remodel process, however, this may not be an issue, as design and product ordering cycles take some time. Once restrictions are lifted and nonessential construction and installation are available, installers will likely continue to exercise extra caution like changing out boot covers, wearing gloves and masks, and regular sanitizing measures between jobs, as well as interacting with each other directly only when necessary.

The key is to get started, be open to the use of technology and think flexibly about how you interact with the professionals that you hire.


Dave Giltner of Bauformat Seattle, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’ more than 2,700 members, write to

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