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Refitting kitchens

Consents

Other than in listed buildings, refitting a kitchen shouldn’t raise any planning issues. However, there are a number of areas where Building Regulations sometimes apply:

  • New drainage
  • Structural alterations, e.g. taking out walls and chimney breasts
  • Gas fitting and boiler/cooking appliance installation
  • Electrical work involving provision of a new circuit or consumer unit

The last two items are usually self-certified by approved installers, but for drainage and structural alterations Building Control will need to carry out inspections to check that new installations are satisfactory. If possible ventilation should also be upgraded with ducted extractor fans (e.g. to cooker hoods) and trickle vents to windows and doors.

Kitchen planning

There’s more to designing the layout of a kitchen than first meets the eye. Kitchens depend on quite elaborate plumbing and electrical connections all being in the right place. So it’s essential to carefully plan your requirements well in advance, as changing the position of fittings at a later date can cause a lot of extra expense and hassle re-routing electrics, gas pipes and plumbing.

There’s a lot of detail to get right when installing new kitchens, not least fitting new units into odd-shaped old rooms with bowed walls, minimal sockets and antique pipework.

It’s important to carefully consider the hot and cold water supply routes, the wastes for sinks, washing machines, and dishwashers, and vents for dryers. Check the position of all the new electric power point sockets and light switches in relation to the new units and appliances. Also bear in mind the positions for fused isolator switches, oven master controls, cooker hood fans and vent ducting, and any under-unit lighting – not forgetting to check available power supplies for waste disposal units or water softeners and so on.

Kitchen suppliers can normally provide a detailed 3D image of the room to help visualise the new units in place before ordering. But rather than rely on a salesperson’s advice, it’s not too difficult to conceive your own 'virtual kitchen' using a simple pad of graph paper. Carefully sketch the layout, looking down from above. Draw a plan of the kitchen to scale, starting with the main walls, and then add all the window and door openings, marking the positions of radiators and sockets. Then draw an elevation view looking at each wall in turn as if standing in the room. Cutting out scale shapes of units and appliances and sticking them on your grid-plan can prove extremely useful in preventing expensive errors later.

Completion

When all the plumbing is complete and all the sinks are fully connected up, there are some key checks that should be carried out before making the final payment to your kitchen installer:

  • All new units should be well fixed to the walls and floors and the doors and drawers should operate freely.
  • Worktops should be of the correct thickness and neatly joined with a good seal or upstand where they meet the walls.
  • Non-return valves should be in place to the various water supply pipes.
  • Waste water should discharge satisfactorily.
  • All new plumbing should be tested as fully watertight.
  • New pipework should be connected up to appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
  • All new electrical work must be fully complete and operational, with sockets and switches tightly secured and a test certificate provided.
  • Any new boiler must be commissioned and tested.
  • Any necessary Building Control Completion Certificate must be provided.