There is a lot to think about when creating your new custom kitchen. Before you start tearing it up, there are a few important steps to take.

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Q: We’re excited, and nervous, about planning for our kitchen remodel. Any advice?

A: There is a lot to think about when creating your new custom kitchen. Ideas can be simple or complex, expensive or budget-conscious. No matter the scope of your project, it’s advisable that you enlist the help of a professional, whether it is an experienced kitchen designer or a contractor with kitchen-remodeling expertise. Not only can these professionals advise you on the practicality of your ideas, they can also ensure that the local building codes are properly incorporated into the design.

So, before you start tearing up your kitchen, take these important steps.

Plan the space. Before you begin the project, map out and plan the work you would like to have done. Collect photos of kitchens, features and materials that you like from home-design websites or magazines. Decide on the color palette or theme, and include the many little ideas to start off with; this will give the professionals more to work with and provide a better chance of making your ideas become realities.

A remodel can be anything from updating kitchen cabinets and appliances to knocking down walls for expansion. Consider the locations of any gas, electric or water sources if you plan on moving any sinks or appliances. Also, design your kitchen with functionality in mind. Arrange kitchen cabinets, islands, sinks, ovens and other appliances in places that will complement the way you and your family use your kitchen.

Make a budget. After you have an idea of what aspects of the kitchen you want to change, decide how much you are willing to spend on the project. A kitchen-design professional can help you put realistic numbers on your expectations.

Once you have a budget, try your best to stick to it and carefully monitor purchases throughout the process.

It’s also a good idea to budget for any unexpected expenses that may arise. For example, you want to incorporate a feature that wasn’t part of the original plan but you have your heart set on it. Or an unforeseen expense comes up after the tear-out begins, like having to replace electrical wiring or plumbing that wasn’t up to code. Whatever the case, it’s always best to be financially prepared.

Visit a showroom. If you want to see cabinetry examples firsthand, visit your local kitchen and bath showroom. Experienced staff will be able to walk you through the kitchen-design process, and you’ll be able to see many different samples of materials and colors, and get ideas.

Hire a pro. Even if you don’t have a perfect idea of what you want yet, a professional can help you figure it out. They will be able to recommend all the other products and materials you will use. Be sure to shop around for a reputable professional, and check their references and what people have said about their past jobs before committing.

Cindy Draper is the marketing manager at Canyon Creek Cabinet Company and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the MBA’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to