The kitchens of today are often a far cry from kitchens of old. The kitchen has become one of the most important rooms of a house. Not only do we cook and eat in our kitchens, but the kitchen has become a room for social gatherings. With the kitchen evolving into a "multi-purpose" space, the need to maintain the space or even the desire to improve the space has become a top item in home improvement. Food prep is only one part of the function today. The counter tops alone are likely to cost more than an entire kitchen 20 years ago. Today's kitchen requires more electrical service and contact points and the layouts are often much larger with some designed to accommodate two cooks at once.
For those who want a new kitchen but are staggered by the prices quoted, understand that contractors typically mark-up cabinets and appliances 50% or more. If you, the home owner, purchase those components and take responsibility of scratches and dents, etc.; you might be able to find a kitchen contractor who will do the installs without the markup. This approach is likely to save you thousands.
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The scene here is within the cellar area of a 1929 addition to an 1880s house. A remodeled kitchen has been installed above this area. The relatively large metal duct dropping from the floor above and extending through the rear wall is for a down draft exhaust fan attached to the range above. In this particular case, a deck has been added against that rear wall and it is attached to the house via a ledger plate secured to the framing. That ledger plate is tight against the damper plate for the exhaust ducting making it completely ineffective. This is the type of thing that can happen when a detail like this is overlooked or not covered in the contract documents.
The floor insulation, the wiring runs, and the flexible duct work all indicate amateur workmanship. While everything must be checked out and there may be no specific problems with what is seen here, amateur workmanship is always a potential warning that other problems may exist, unseen.