How to get a kitchen installed
Fitting a new kitchen can be a major job, requiring a lot of time, patience and skill. In a Which? survey of more than 2,000 people who had bought a new kitchen, we found that only 8% installed it themselves.*
If you’re not confident you can fit your own kitchen, we explain how to find professionals to carry out the work instead, and what to expect during the installation.
How to find kitchen fitters
Whether you’re considering using the fitting service recommended by your kitchen retailer, or choosing a kitchen fitter yourself, these are the key things you should look out for.
Use an approved kitchen installer
Check whether the installer has been accredited or endorsed by an organisation that you can trust. This can include professional trade associations such as the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installers (BiKBBI) or the Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association (KBSA).
Trade associations and endorsement bodies usually set standards for the conduct of their members and offer an independent complaint resolution service, which can help you resolve problems if anything goes wrong.
Don’t just take the fitter’s word that they’re a member of any associations or schemes – check that they’re listed on the organisation’s website.
Get recommendations and check reviews
Ask around among friends and family to see if anyone has used a fitter that they would recommend. You may even be able to visit their home to see the trader’s work firsthand.
If this isn’t an option, look at the customer reviews of traders you’re considering to see what other customers thought of them. If the installer is a Which? Trusted Trader, you can check its reviews on our website, which have been moderated to check their authenticity.
Be objective when looking at reviews. Do the comments sound genuine? If there are any negative comments, what are the reasons and has the trader responded to try to resolve the issue?
Look at pictures of kitchens they've fitted
Check the fitter’s website, social media channels and (if applicable) their Which? Trusted Traders profile to see pictures of kitchens they’ve previously worked on. Customers may also have included useful images in online reviews.
Pictures can help you to see the quality of the trader’s work and whether they’ve handled projects similar to yours, particularly if you’re planning a major renovation.
Get several quotes
Always get at least three quotes, and ask for them to be supplied in writing, including a breakdown of all the costs.
As well as materials and labour, you should check that extras such as waste disposal are included, as these additional costs can mount up.
Hire specialists when necessary
It may be worth using specialist traders for some aspects of the job, particularly if your project is complex or you’re using expensive materials, as you may achieve a better finish.
For example, if tiles are a key feature of your kitchen, an experienced tiler might complete the job more quickly and to a higher standard than a kitchen fitter who doesn’t specialise in tiling.
For certain jobs, you should always make sure you hire someone with the specialist skills to carry out the work safely. For example, gas appliances should only be fitted by a engineer, and electrical work should be carried out by a qualified electrician.
Hiring a kitchen fitter
When you’ve found the right person for the job, do a bit of background research and get all the right paperwork in place before you start.
- Ask about the insurance your trader has. All traders should have public liability insurance and additional insurance to cover any employees.
- If the company you bought from is installing your kitchen, find out exactly who will be fitting it, as many companies sub-contract to third parties. You'll need to know who to contact if any problems or delays arise.
- Check which technical services your fitter can provide (for example plumbing) and whether they charge extra for this.
- If any parts of the job will be subcontracted, find out who the contractors are so that you can check they’re also qualified and properly insured.
- Extensive kitchen work should come with a contract to be signed at the outset, including details of guarantees, the total cost, a payment plan and a completion schedule. The schedule will help you understand what is happening day-to-day and when to expect traders or deliveries.
- Ask where the installer plans to cut their materials if necessary, such as worktops – will they need to use space in your home, garden or garage?
- Find out if you will lose the use of your kitchen sink during the installation. How long will this be for and will you have access to a temporary sink?
Paying for kitchen fitting
A new kitchen is a big investment. A kitchen fitter may reasonably ask you to pay an instalment up front to cover the cost of ordering goods.
Large jobs should include payment terms in the contract. Depending on the size of the job, you may be asked to pay in a few instalments.
Whatever happens, make sure a significant amount of payment is reserved until completion. That way, you have an incentive for the kitchen fitter to complete the job to a high standard and within the schedule you’ve agreed.
What happens during a kitchen installation?
The installation process will depend on how extensive your refurbishment is, the condition of your property, and whether different traders (such as plumbers and plasterers) are also needed. But the basic running order will be:
- Removal: your old kitchen and appliances will be taken out and disposed of.
- Plumbing and electrical work: any preparation of utilities needed for the new kitchen will be carried out. Your installer can also double check measurements.
- Repairs: your walls may need to be made good after the kitchen has been ripped out, particularly if you’ve taken down tiles. This may require a plasterer to be brought in and time for the plaster to fully dry before work can continue.
- Painting: once the walls are up to scratch, they can be painted.
- Flooring: if you’re getting a new floor, this is likely to be installed once the messy job of painting is complete and before the new kitchen goes in.
- Installing units: normally the fitter will start with the base units for the kitchen cupboards before moving on to the wall units.
- Worktops: these can be fitted once the units are in place and cut to fit around hobs or sinks. Your sink will probably be installed and connected at this stage.
- Tiling: once the worktop is in, your tiles can be fitted.
- Finishing units: one of the final jobs will be to fit cupboard doors, drawer fronts, plinths (which run along the bottom of the base units) and cornices (which run across the tops of the wall units).
- Appliances: ovens, dishwashers and any other appliances will be installed right at the end. Specialists may be needed to do the work, particularly if you have gas appliances.
- Certification: at the end of the job, your installer should provide certification to show that any electrical and gas work meets industry standards.
- Handover: Inspect the kitchen with the installer to ensure you’re happy with the final result and that surfaces are level, door handles line up, and drawers and cupboards open and close properly.
Should you stay in your home while your kitchen is fitted?
Don’t underestimate how messy, noisy and disruptive installing a kitchen can be. Removing plasterwork will create dust that can spread throughout your home, and you’ll probably have to use a launderette, cook in a microwave and wash plates in the bathtub until it's finished.
You may want to temporarily move out of the property if your renovation will take several days, particularly if you have young children, pets, or family members with respiratory problems that could be aggravated by the dust.
If your kitchen fitting company offers project management and you trust them to handle everything, you may be able to leave them to it. Some of our Which? Trusted Traders who offer this service say that their clients go on holiday during installation.
But if that isn’t the case, you’ll need to be available to sign off decisions if any changes are necessary, as issues may come to light after the original kitchen is removed.
*Survey of 2,238 Which? members in May and June 2019