More than a handyperson, less than a general contractor
September 26, 2017 10:35 AM   Subscribe

We bought a home last week. Yay! Before we move in, we want to change out the range (for an electric oven + gas cooktop taking its place), sink, and countertops. This seems pretty small-potatoes for bringing in a general contractor (we've had trouble getting on peoples' radar for small jobs in our area). We think we can manage everyone ourselves, but we're not sure which people we need to manage.

We figure the rough list is:
1. Someone to tear out the current countertops.
2. Oven + cooktop installation.
3. Sink installation.
4. Counter installation.

Is this right? We're not sure who we can contact to tear out the old countertop (it's not the same as the installer, right?). Likewise, we're unsure if we got the ordering above correct.

Our big question is: which contractors do we need to get in touch with?
posted by The Notorious B.F.G. to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would bet anything that whomever you contract with to install the countertops would do the whole project. the cooktop and sink installation, in particular, probably need to happen after the countertops and not before, because the lip of the sink/cooktop will sit over the countertop. Also, they may want access to the old countertop to use as a guide for the sizing of the new one, particularly areas around the sink and anything that's at not quite a right angle.
posted by anastasiav at 10:45 AM on September 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: At least one counter person we talked to more or less said "I don't do demo -- you need to find someone to remove the old one before we begin". She ended up being higher-end than we wanted though, so it could just be a market segment issue (i.e. you'd only hire a high-end countertop person if you're doing a big remodel).
posted by The Notorious B.F.G. at 10:51 AM on September 26, 2017

I'd speak with some remodel contractors. Short of personal recommendations, I guess Angies's List is a thing people use. Otherwise you can project manage it yourself, but you'll be contacting the individual subs yourself. So someone with remodeling experience would be easier, but more expensive.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:56 AM on September 26, 2017

the lip of the sink/cooktop will sit over the countertop
It depends, many sinks are now undermounted.
posted by soelo at 11:00 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ask your real estate agent to recommend someone. It is normal for a home to need repairs or changes before or after a sale and they have people in their rolodex for this.
posted by kindall at 11:00 AM on September 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

Maybe you're talking to a bad counter person, but 1, 3, 4 were all done by the same folks when we re-did our countertops.

(note that the sink was originally top/flushmount and became under-mount with the new counters. They re-adjusted the disposal pipe accordingly, supply lines were braided, so no worry there. )

Are you doing a one for one swap on oven/cooktop ? (same size/dimensions, same fuel, etc and is it one unit, or cooktop separate from the oven ?)

edit to add the same question about sink: are you replacing the sink, or just re-install the sink after new counter tops are put in ? (ours was re-install, not all new)
posted by k5.user at 11:19 AM on September 26, 2017

Depending upon the age of your plumbing and your old sink, there might be more than just sink installation.

Our original plumbing of our sink was very old-style; we had copper going up directly to our faucet control knobs that fed to faucet - we had a plumber in to cut the copper further down and put on valves with screw ends - most current faucets have flexible supply hoses that screw on to assumed existing undersink fittings. As I've not done any copper welding this was 100% a plumber job.

Additionally, our drain of our new sink was not in the same location as the old sink (old was 30" wide, double sink, new is 36" wide single giant basin). However I did the drain pipes myself, abs cement isn't so scary. I doubt most countertop installers would do drain or supply.

Our countertop people were not super high end, but it was quartz countertop and they installed our new undermount sink for no additional charge. We bought our sink from a 3rd party, be aware that some of the installers had a $300-500 "cutting" fee if you didn't buy a new sink from them. And their sinks were in the $600-2000 range - so about twice what sinks go for. I seem to recall that our installer could also do demo, but we'd done the demo several months before (I did all the work of demo and reno except for the countertop installation).

Obviously they'd charge for the demo. Failing that, most any handyperson should be able to do the demo.

They provided (for free) a section of quartz that could be used for a cooktop if we later replaced our range. This has me suspecting that they'd also handle cooktop installation - that's purely a guess. Oven installation would seem a bit more iffy.

I was really happy with our countertop people, but I'll assume you're not in south western Ontario and that won't help you. As great as they were they said at multiple times that they didn't do any plumbing or gas line connections (locally that's also done by most plumbers).

Also, our installer wouldn't cut the quartz until measurements were taken on the countertop-free cabinets. They specified no countertops prior to measuring. With a lead time of about a week from measuring to cutting to installation, so be prepared that there could be a disruption to your use of the kitchen. Temporary plywood / hardboard on top of the cabinets can get you through that time.
posted by nobeagle at 11:40 AM on September 26, 2017

Demo for this is pretty easy; you may be able to do it yourself. In my area, new gas install is done by a plumber or the gas co. I had to get propane, and the propane co. installed the line and set up the stove. Propane required a kit to adapt the stove. A handyperson who does countertop can install the sink. If you go to some stores and pick out what you want, get the specs, it may go easier. If you get granite countertops, they'll likely have an installer or be able to give you a list, and even Home Depot may have recommendations. I wouldn't buy anything until you have everything chosen; it's amazing how many things need special installation if 1 component is different. My nonstandard (pine slab) countertops became a big pain, but I do like them.
posted by theora55 at 11:44 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

we want to change out the range (for an electric oven + gas cooktop taking its place)

Well, does your house have a gas meter? If not, call the gas company and see what needs to be done. If you live in a rural area you might be calling a propane company.

Is there a gas line to where you want to install this? If not, a plumber can probably handle that. They should be pulling a permit and you may need to get your gas lines reinspected before your gas can be turned back on.
posted by yohko at 11:52 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

In my condo, 1, 3, and 4 for kitchen and 2 baths were all done by the tile shop owner (a licensed contractor), his crew, and his subcontractors (i.e., plumber for the sink installation).
posted by elphaba at 1:31 PM on September 26, 2017

When I worked for a GC, we would have had a carpenter's assistant do the demo (so handyman or moonlighting carpenter, for you) a plumber and electrician do your oven, range, and sink, and a countertop company do your counters. There would be a bit of a dance involved: pull permits, demo, rough plumbing and electrical, inspections, countertop templating, big wait (two weeks) for countertop fabrication, countertop install, finish plumbing and electrical, more inspections. For a smallish job, it's actually a lot to manage and schedule.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:18 PM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're switching from a freestanding range to a built-in oven and separate cooktop then you need some cabinetry help too, or at least a good finish carpenter.

More generally, your question leaves out so many critical details that the order of operations part is unanwerable, and I'm doubtful that you're prepared to manage this yourself. I think you need a GC of some variety, even if it's not a big outfit.
posted by jon1270 at 4:16 PM on September 26, 2017

your question leaves out so many critical details that the order of operations part is unanwerable

Yes, this.

You don't necessarily need a GC though. If you go to a store that sells cabinets, sinks, countertops, and stoves they will probably be able to arrange the installation.
posted by yohko at 6:04 PM on September 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

As someone who supervised the installation of three kitchens in our house, I agree with a lot of the above advice: you need to figure out the utility hookup needs for your stove and sink. If there are any changes to their wiring or plumbing needs (which it sounds like there are?) then things become more complicated. You can skip the starred items below if you exactly match your current hookups.

Here is the order of operations and who would lead, in the absence of a GC. I'm assuming that you'll want an undermount sink.

1 Plans* - an architect, engineer, or you
2 Permits* - you
3 Demo - a random handyperson; anyone with the necessary tools, ability to handle the weight involved, and a truck to take away the current counters
4 Rough plumbing and gas* - plumber
5 Rough electrical* - electrician
6 Inspection - you, but get the plumber and electrician to attend
7 Sink - plumber
8 Counters - the place you buy the counters from will offer to install them for you. Counter prep, e.g., fresh plywood if necessary, would happen before the sink and could be done by the random handyperson. The counter people might be willing to do it as well.
9 Faucet - plumber
10 [Range and cooktop? -- I don't know exactly the kind you describe, but I'd pick one and then read its installation guide to see what expertise is needed, and ask the plumber and electrician and countertop store.]
11 - Inspection

You didn't mention a fridge, dishwasher, or food dispose-all or whatever those things are called -- are those part of the plan or not changing? You didn't mention any changes to the lights. And you didn't mention a range hood. Come back to us if you'll be making any change to those as part of the project. (In case your past housing has been like mine was, FYI, range hoods are actually required, at least in my jurisdiction.)

You can do this, but it'll just take awhile to figure out.
posted by slidell at 6:19 PM on September 26, 2017

We have done a similar renovation recently.

Like others said, do you already have gas hookup and in the right location? If you don't, you'll need permitting, a plumber, opening up the walls (and then fixing it again).

Our countertop guy installed the countertops (once the cabinets were in) as well as the undermount sink. (We installed the cabinets ourselves, but you can totally hire a cabinet person to make and install them. They might have a suggestion for who can do the demo.)

An experienced handyman *can* probably do the whole thing, but probably in not as polished a way as a GC, since it's not their usual work. But I think you're best off going to a remodel/renovation company if you're really looking for a hands off experience.
posted by ethidda at 9:41 AM on September 27, 2017

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