Selecting a Remodeling Contractor
You’ve decided to embark on a kitchen and bath remodeling project. It is time to get rid of those outdated appliances or fixtures, and install new kitchen cabinets and flooring, and changing the layout to fit your needs. After all, whether this is a kitchen remodeling project or a bath remodeling project, you will be making an investment in your home and likely will not be doing a project of this magnitude in either of these spaces again anytime soon. You want your kitchen and-or bath remodeling project to be perfect in the end.
Evaluating kitchen remodeling contractors is a good place to start in the process. But here is why. You can buy the best of the best in kitchen appliances or bathroom fixtures, cabinets and flooring, but if you hire an inadequate remodeling contractor, you can end up with delays, poor workmanship, and a nightmare of a room. Here’s what to look for in a good kitchen and-or bath remodeling contractor.
Tip #1: Must Have Great Reputation
When you start your search for kitchen remodeling contractors, it’s important to seriously consider at least three remodelers. Don’t simply select the first one you find in a web search. Look for contractors with great reputations. This involves a few steps.
If you elect to search for a contractor via the Internet, be sure to check online reviews. Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau are two online resources you can use to check references. Always ask friends, family, and business colleagues for recommendations regarding any kitchen remodeling contractors who have provided them with good service in the past. They may know of someone who has had work done recently or may know contractors with a wealth of experience.
After exploring your options, and narrowing your list of contracts down to three, contact the remodelers you’re interested in and request references. Ask that they provide at least five past customers. In addition, contact your local builders association to find out if they are members and request references or satisfaction reports.
Contact the references provided and ask them questions you’ve prepared ahead of time. Questions regarding workmanship, promptness, meeting deadlines, site cleanliness, cost overruns, and their people skills are a few examples. Find out if the contractors offered an accurate estimate, kept to schedule, delivered as promised, and were professional in every way.
Tip #2: Must Have Years of Experience
A kitchen or bathroom remodeling contractor who has been in business for five, 10 or more years is often a good bet. Longevity usually means they’ve built a solid reputation. Also, that experience is passed on to you through the skills and knowledge that these types of contractors have developed.
Tip #3: Must Hold Appropriate License and Fully Insured
Check to make sure the kitchen remodeling contractors you evaluate all have the appropriate license and that it is up to date. There are consumer websites that offer state-by-state information on licensing requirements and that can help you determine if any of the contractors you are considering are abiding by the state license regulations. Also, you can ask to see a contractor’s license when they visit your home to give you an estimate.
The major problem in hiring someone who is unlicensed is in many states it often severely limits or negates your ability to pursue legal action for damages. Contractors who are not licensed are flying under the regulatory radar and that can end up costing you more money and creating a major headache down-the-road to complete your remodeling project.
In addition, the contractors you are considering should also be fully insured for any type of accident that may occur that may damage your property or those on it. This is also extremely important because the homeowner can end up being liable. Many states mandate that kitchen remodeling contractors have insurance.
Tip #4: Must Provide Warranty for Workmanship and Materials
All workmanship and materials should be covered by a warranty by the contractors on your list. Be sure to get all warranty-related offers in writing and be sure it is included in the contract. All procedures and types of coverage should be clearly explained. This is extremely important. Read it carefully. It may not be a bad idea for an attorney to review the warranty as well.
Tip #5: Must Provide Complete Estimates
Reputable contractors know part of doing business involves going to the site, talking to the homeowner, carefully evaluating the job and offering a free, written estimate. That estimate needs to clearly outline costs for every aspect of the kitchen and bath remodeling project. It is also important that the estimate includes payment schedules and agreed benchmarks of completion.
Tip #6: Must Answer Questions Directly
You want to take some time asking the contractors you are considering several questions when they come to evaluate your project and offer an estimate. This is a great time to get as much information as you can. If you listen carefully, and watch them as they answer your questions, you’ll start to get a good sense of each contractor and their capabilities.
It’s a bad sign if they don’t directly answer your questions, or don’t follow up on an unanswered question in a timely fashion. Demand that they give you specific answers to any questions you have. If they provide vague responses, you are leaving yourself open to potential problems after your kitchen or bath remodeling project begins. It is crucial that all of your expectations are met and you have documentation to support that. Be sure to ask the contractors if there are any projects that you can see directly. They may offer photos of recent jobs in a portfolio or online; that isn’t enough. Most reputable kitchen remodeling contractors are happy to arrange a time for you to see a past project in-person.
Information + Knowledge = Power
The more information you can gather on the kitchen remodeling contractors you’re considering, the more knowledge you’ll possess. That knowledge gives you leverage in dealing with potential challenges. Prior to investing any money on creating the kitchen or bath of your dreams, it’s essential that you find the right contractor for your remodeling project. Contractor evaluation will take some time. But the process will save you time and money in the long run.
See Kitchen Remodelers – Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right One and Six Questions to Ask Contractors for Your Kitchen or Bathroom Remodeling Project for more information about choosing who you work with on your remodeling project.
And be sure to research Kitchen Remodeling Costs: Get a Return on Your Investment as you consider your kitchen and bath remodeling project.
We want you to be as comfortable and confident in your contractor as possible. That means being informed about what kinds of qualifications you should expect. Of course, we hope you choose Kitchen Solvers!