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How to choose the right contractor for my kitchen remodel

Thinking about a kitchen remodel can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a plan in place. One sensible and organized way to solve any kitchen remodeling dilemma is to choose the right contractor for the job. Finding the right one can be frustrating as it seems that almost everyone has horror stories about dealing with contractors who leave remodeling projects unfinished, or abandon them altogether. Fortunately, there are reputable contractors out there. The question is how do you find one who knows what they’re doing. Here are some ways to locate the right contractor for your kitchen remodel job.

Plan it Out

Before you even connect with a contractor, know exactly what you want done with your kitchen remodel. Be specific with a general written plan and layout of the space or spaces that will be affected as well as what you want the area to look like, and what materials will be needed. Whatever your lifestyle, and how it relates to your kitchen should play a major part in your plan. You want a kitchen remodel that is going to accommodate the kind of time you spend in the kitchen.

Recommendations

Sometimes the best sources for reliable contractors are recommendations and references found through family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, social media connections or those working in construction or related building trades. Ask them what their experiences have been with contractors who have either done work for them, or for others. Hardware and home store employees may also be able to be of help in providing referrals for local contractors.

Research

Once you find contractors and company names, do some research online or through the Better Business Bureau, and any other reporting agencies as well as any disciplinary boards that govern contractors. Also, check on general contractor licenses and subcontractor licenses in your area along with any possible complaints or litigation proceedings that may have occurred with any of them.

When you do engage a contractor, get a copy of his or her license and copies of licenses of any of the major subcontractors who will be on the job. Also, concerning subcontractors, ask the general contractor what work will be done by subcontractors and other company employees. Ask for a listing of employees who will be working on your remodel so you know who is coming and going from your home.

Communicator

One important aspect in your contractor search is connecting and communicating with one who not only specializes in kitchen remodels but converses with you easily and comfortably. You want to know as soon as possible whether a particular contractor is going to be the right fit for your remodeling situation. Since you are likely to be working closing with him or her, you want to be on the same wavelength and interact without major conflicts or difficulties during the remodeling process.

Contractor Contact

Once you have found at least three reliable and verifiable contractors, set up a consultation/interview with each one. Have a list of any questions that come to mind concerning your kitchen remodel. For added assurance as to the quality of a contractor’s work, ask each one for samples or a portfolio of their past work, particularly with previous kitchen remodels.

After the interviews, get a bid in writing from all three. Compare the bids and make a point to include any and all materials and actual tasks to be performed. That way you can compare all thee and determine any discrepancies among them and make an informed decision as to the contractor you want to use. You can negotiate as to the bids made at this stage, but any serious changes will likely occur once you secure a bid and before you sign a contract.

Busy Contractor

Other indications of an expert and trustworthy contractor are not only their verifiable references and expansive portfolios, but their level of business. Most better than average contractors are busy on a regular basis and would likely be unable to start your remodeling project right away.

Contract

Now that you have chosen a contractor, you’re ready to get down to brass tacks in a signed contract, but before signing on the dotted line, you want to make sure that every aspect of your contract specifically states what will be done with your kitchen remodel. Deadlines should be included as well as payments for work completed and exact materials for use. A comprehensive contract is important but if you feel that anything has been omitted or changes need to be made, write up your own additions or change orders to include any other work, costs and materials. Whatever you do, don’t sign a contract for the entire amount of the remodel budget. There are almost always going to be added costs that will pop up during the middle or end of a remodel. So, you want to be prepared for at least a 10-15% increase over your contract.

Payments

At the beginning of your contract you don’t want to advance more than 10% of the total costs for the remodeling job. Your original contract should include a progression of payments and a payment schedule. You want your money to remain on your project and not be used to complete a contractor’s job elsewhere; however, if more costly materials are needed right away, a larger advancement (of up to 30%) may be necessary.

Permits

One really important job responsibility of your contractor is to acquire any permits that are required with a kitchen remodeling project. Most any renovation or remodeling jobs do require permits. Some contractors will suggest overlooking the permit process because of the cost, but that means violating ordinances and making yourself subject to fines. Any work completed needs to be inspected by a city or country inspector to make sure that the work has been completed according to code. You don’t want your kitchen remodel to be under violation because of work that hasn’t been permitted. The lack of permits can be problematic when a homeowner thinks about selling or leasing their home.

Documents and Receipts

Always get any receipts for materials and other products from your contractor, and keep a record of them. Also, acquire copies of lien releases from the general contractor and any subcontractors before you make any progress payments, or other payments. If a contractor doesn’t pay subcontractors or other employees, a lien could be placed against your home for nonpayment.

Insurance

Before initiating any remodeling project, confirm insurance coverage through your own homeowner’s policy as well as what would be covered through a contractor’s business insurance. Always get a copy of the contractors company insurance policy.

Final Payment

Obviously, it is critical that you don’t make final payment on your remodeling project until the job has been finished. Some contractors are known for moving away from one job and going on to another before the previous job has been completed. Make sure that the lien releases and receipts are in your possession as well before making final payment.

Your kitchen remodel can go smoothly if you choose the right contractor, and can verify their work and credentials. With a plan in mind and direct “contractor to homeowner communication,” you can have a successful kitchen remodeling experience. If you are still unsure of procedures to follow in acquiring an experienced and trustworthy contractor, complete the online contact form and an expert will get back to you with the answers you need to make an informed decision.