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The Top Five Things I Learned Being my Own General Contractor

The Top Five Things I Learned Being my Own General Contractor

The kitchen and dining room are finally finished! And here is the big reveal!

All in all it took much less time than I anticipated and even with a myriad of hiccups I won't get into, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat... only, armed with more knowledge. I learned so much, so I thought I'd write a useful post for anyone who plans on taking on a renovation like this.

These are the top five things I learned being my own general contractor.

1. The truth is, nobody cares more about your renovation more than you do. That, unfortunately, means micro-managing is the name of the game. Pay attention to every single trade and what they are doing. Ask as many questions as you can and know exactly what is going on at all times before and during the process.

Bari J. kitchen renovation remodel green tile black cabinets

2. When doing a kitchen renovation, it's absolutely imperative to know the appliance and plumbing (sinks etc) specs before pretty much anything else gets planned. Pick appliances and sinks first. Read the specs backwards and forwards. Know all the numbers, make sure they are accurately communicated to your cabinet builder and countertop fabricators. Then keep on top of them to make sure everything is being built to these specs. One hidden detail in these specs is the location of the cords for your appliances. Make sure you know where they are and plan electrical accordingly. We had an oops with this on the oven. The old cord was on the left side. The new cord was on the right back. In trying to get the oven in, the cord had to be wrapped over making it so the double oven wouldn't go into place. In the end, my husband literally cut out the back wall to make room for it to go around. Let's just say the installers were less than pleased that very last day.

Bari J. kitchen renovation remodel green tile black cabinets

3. Leave at least a day or two between demo and installation. Use these days to have any drywall repairs done and paint. We only realized after the cabinets were installed that the new cabinets were set further back than the old ones. It would have been nice to paint that area between before the cabinets went in. You can also use this time for any electrical or duct work that needs to happen. Inspect the empty space thoroughly for any updates that must be made before cabinets go in.

4. Try to be patient and don't overlap your trades. They kind of hate being in each other's spaces.

5. Donuts and coffee are helpful motivation and atmosphere lifters for all trades.

  Bari J. Farmhouse sink kitchen renovation Elkay Fireclay


Tile: Mercury Mosaics Blue Grass 2x6" 

Sinks: Elkay Fireclay farmhouse sinks

Hardware: Schaub and Company - Menlo Park Collection Brushed Gold

Cabinets and shelving: Public House Creative

Brackets: Cascade Iron Co.

Faucets: Delta 9159-CZ-DST Trinsic Single-Handle Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Magnetic Docking Spray Head, Champagne Bronze (this is an affiliate link to Amazon which means that if you click through and purchase I will receive a small referral fee).

Appliances: Thermador ovens and stove top. Beverage coolers GE Monogram. Dishwasher, Thermador.

Counters are natural marble

Cabinet Color is Dunn Edwards Black

** Note: I received several products at no cost from the manufacturers including tile, sink and hardware. They are all products of my choosing and products I fully endorse! All three companies were an absolute joy to work with as well! **


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  • Alex

    Beautiful work! I know this is old, but PLEASE let me know where you bought that rug in this picture! I’ve been looking everywhere for something like it and it’s driving me crazy!

  • claudia

    Beautiful work- bringing color and layer to homes and design, thank you. I just picked marble counters for my kitchen (in an old california bungalow). It’s a greyish marble with blue patterning. I LOVE tile and colors but now I am worried that it will be to busy. Help? Suggestions? Everyone else is telling me to chose grey mist subway tile….

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