|Rod Sutton's Editorial Archives|
Kitchens continue to register as the No. 1 remodel project consumers do inside their homes. Full-fledged redesign or expansion inevitably means that the kitchen's functions will be shut down for some period of time. The larger, more expansive the job, the longer the homeowner loses the ability to cook in their kitchen.
Many remodelers set up temporary kitchens in another room--hotplates, microwaves, miniature refrigerators are staples. For short jobs--two or three weeks--this set up may work. But for longer jobs, the temporary kitchen will be complemented with meals out--lots of them. Smart remodelers will provide coupons to their clients for meals, but the client is still eating in a space not their own.
Feinmann Remodeling Inc. friremodel.com in Arlington, Mass., has developed a system to eliminate kicking the client out of the kitchen: It moves the kitchen into another room. The kitchen is dissembled instead of demolished, and the pieces moved into a dining room, for example. Appliances, cabinets, sinks are all moved.
Feinmann covers the floor in the dining room with a hard panel such as Homasote. Then, it moves the appliances in. Temporary water, gas and electrical hookups are run, allowing the client to use the appliances just as if they were in the real kitchen. Cabinets are moved in and fit into the available space. In one kitchen we visited, the dining room had a fireplace in a corner, right between the refrigerator and the sink. The client had placed a large fish tank in front of the fireplace, giving the room more of a kitchen feel.
Rick Cutler, the lead carpenter on this job, says he spends a lot of time making sure the kitchen is functional. Customer satisfaction comes first at Feinmann. Cutler says coming in and seeing the client fixing breakfast for her two-year-old in a room fully functional as a kitchen does a lot for keeping the environment pleasant. In this case, the clients were out of their real kitchen for two months.
The service is not free, though. Feinmann charges $600 for the service, plus the company's markup. "We charge enough to deliver excellent customer service, which results in great referrals," owner Peter Feinmann says.