What not to do in a kitchen reno – Brett White

As a Building Inspector, Brett White has seen some shocking renovations and he says one of the key areas not to get wrong is the kitchen.  He tells us about some of the worst mistakes you can make.
Kevin:  No doubt there are two areas of the home that will really appeal to buyers, and we’ve spoken about it in the show in the past. One is kitchen, and the other one is bathroom. Today in this segment, I’m going to be focusing very much on the kitchen, some of the dos and don’ts about renovating the kitchen. I’m talking to Brett White, who is the chief inspector for Inspect East Building Inspections out of Victoria.
I guess, Brett, it would be fair to say that in your building inspections, you’ve come across some shockers but you’ve also come across some really good kitchens.
Brett:  Absolutely. Yes, it’s an area of the home that people spend a lot of money on and spend a lot of time in.
Kevin:  Yes, they do. And it can certainly help sell the house, even encourage buyers to make an offer because it gives that first impression about what the house is like. I know the outside impression is important, but once you get inside, it has to feel like a home.
In an article I read that you wrote recently on our website, you talk about ignoring the little stuff. What do you mean by that?
Brett:  Some important aspects when it comes to kitchens. Ensuring all materials meet Australian standards is one of the first. People forget it is a wet area and it has a high usage, and those things are important.
Kevin:  What about the heights of the cabinets? Is there any regulation on those?
Brett:  There is. There is a set height. There is some tolerance built into those heights, but generally, they’re around 900 millimeters to top of bench. That’s for usability.
Kevin:  Yes. I have a mate who’s particularly tall, and when he had a kitchen put in, he made it oversize, he made it a little bit higher. How would he go on in selling that? Would he need to bring that to any kind of regulation?
Brett:  Like I said, there is some tolerance that can be built into that, and some people will have their cabinetry built higher, but that will deter potential buyers in the future. We’ve had that issue raised where clients have moved onto another property because of that fact.
Kevin:  I guess it’s important, too, when you are renovating the kitchen that you’re catering for workflow. What have you found? Are the smaller, compact kitchens more popular? Chefs have told me that’s what they prefer.
Brett:  Yes. Quite often, we’re finding upright cookers, walk-in pantries, lots of different layouts for kitchens, but it’s a high use area and those sorts of things should be brought into consideration.
Kevin:  What are you noticing in terms of style? Are people going for more of the open field, the kitchen flowing into the family area?
Brett:  Yes, open living areas, island benches with serveries or breakfast areas. It’s the hub of the home, so people really look at kitchens closely when they’re purchasing a home.
Kevin:  Is it possible to make a kitchen too trendy, put too many gadgets in it?
Brett:  Interesting question. There is a lot of focus on kitchens. Some people will go overboard with ovens and appliances in kitchens, where personally, I like to see it stripped back with some raw materials and a more robust aspect, personally. But you have to remember they’re one of the prominent areas and the photos are always looked at closely, and that high gloss level and that extreme finish is expensive but well sought after.
Kevin:  Anyone looking at doing a kitchen makeover or a remodel, who are they best to turn to? Is it an architect, or are there specialist kitchen designers you’ve come across, Brett?
Brett:  It depends on property to property. You need to realize your budget. And yes, some properties will require an architect’s input to get that design layout correct, and there are quite often large budgets spent on kitchen space these days.
What we do recommend is ensuring that all your trades are licensed and everything is done to Australian standards. We quite often see some unsafe conditions produced, upright cookers not being secured in position and the correct sealing – like I say, it is a wet area – and ensuring it’s all functioning correctly.
Kevin:  As a building inspector, you obviously look for all of those major defects. But do you also look at lighting and workflow and how a kitchen is going to work, or are you really just focused on the building?
Brett:  Mainly the building. We do take into assessment extraction and performance of the kitchen, but lighting is really a personal touch in those areas.
Kevin:  Great talking to you. Brett White is the chief inspector for Inspect East Building Inspections out of Victoria. A few good tips there for your if you’re looking at a makeover in your kitchen.
Brett, thank you for your time.
Brett:  Thank you.

Leave a Reply