Kitchen Remodeling: Choosing the Right Contractor for Your Kitchen
The time has come for you to have your kitchen remodeled. You’ve saved up, collected inspiration, established an approximate budget and determined what you want from your new kitchen’s design. Now it’s time to take the first step in the remodeling process: hiring a general contractor.
This decision can be stressful in itself, but this article will take you through everything you need to know, from start to finish.
What are kitchen remodeling contractors?
Many homeowners are looking to remodel their kitchens these days, so now you can find a remodeling contractor who is also a kitchen specialist. Kitchen remodels can involve a surprising number of specialists, so it’s worth having someone who knows the ins and outs of kitchen design. A general contractor may work alone or hire other tradespeople like flooring specialists, plumbers, electricians, cabinet craftsmen and countertop installation contractors.
A good kitchen remodeling contractor can turn your project from an overwhelming task to a stress-free journey. Someone with experience dealing with other contractors can be invaluable, especially to new homeowners who aren’t sure of or fully educated on the logistics.
Do I need a general contractor for a kitchen remodel project?
Whether or not you need a general contractor for your kitchen depends on the size of the room, and the extent of your remodeling aims. A general building contractor may contract for specialty work, but they have to hire a specialist contractor to do the work or hold a specialty license for that work. A more extensive project may require a larger team of laborers.
Hiring a general contractor to remodel your kitchen is like hiring a wedding planner: they know who to hire, and they can take care of all the details you may not have thought of. Their knowledge will help you get the job done much more quickly and efficiently; if you try to complete the whole project yourself, you’ll likely spend twice as much time learning each skill from scratch.
How do I choose a remodeling contractor?
Choosing a remodeling contractor takes time, so it’s important to prepare well in advance of your chosen start date. Be prepared for a lot of communication throughout this journey. You’ll need to ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, check each prospective contractor’s references, potentially visiting sites of finished projects. You’ll have to confer with your potential contractors to determine prices, start and estimated finish dates, and once the project has begun, you’ll spend a lot of time co-planning with your contractor.
The hiring process can be a huge undertaking (potentially as much as a part-time job for you!)so we’ll break the entire process down into steps.
Our Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Kitchen Remodeling Contractor
As with any lengthy home improvement procedure, it’s always good to break the process into steps. That way, each time you make progress, you feel one step closer to your goal, rather than seeing one more overwhelming task in front of you.
Let’s go through each step:
1. Compile a list of contractors: aim for at least five or six names so you can compare rates, experience, and availability.
Ideally, these contractors should be local, as they’ll be more familiar with where to buy the best materials for the best prices. You can find a lot of valuable information on trade forums and review sites like Yelp, Houzz, and HomeAdvisor, but be sure to ask your neighbors, too. According to a survey of 1,729 homeowners, 42% of homeowners start their search for contractors by asking friends for recommendations, so there’s a lot to be said for word-of-mouth referrals.
You’ll want to find someone who is visibly proud of their work and can provide plenty of pictures, links, and testimonials. A tradesperson who can’t show you a website or portfolio probably won’t be the right choice for you.
2. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, research your choices.
Here are some ways you can determine if a contractor is worth pursuing:
- Check each contractor’s portfolio, which should display at least ten completed projects. Ten previous remodeling projects should help you ascertain if the contractor is to your standards.
- Reach out to each contractor’s references and previous clients and ask them if they like their kitchens. Ask if the kitchen was completed on schedule, whether problems were addressed promptly, and how they felt about the contractor’s work ethic. Here, you want to ascertain if the client would consider hiring the contractor again. If the contractor’s previous client would recommend them to you, the contractor has made it to the “next round.”
- Find out each contractor’s experience level. If a contractor has been in business for several years, they’ll have had time to cultivate a reputation, so it should be clear whether or not that reputation is satisfactory. A reputable contractor will likely have developed a good rapport with vendors, which could offer you a greater selection of materials, and better prices.
3. Visit finished project sites, if possible.
Keep an eye out for crooked tile work, messy grout or caulking, inadequate lighting fixtures, poor “traffic flow” between the sink, stove, refrigerator and cabinets, poorly-installed storage, or counter space. Any other issues should be clear by looking at the kitchen, and hopefully, the previous client will be forthcoming with their honest opinions.
4. Interview prospective contractors.
Remember, you’ll be spending time making decisions together throughout the project, so it’s vital that you connect and communicate well. You want to select someone you trust and feel comfortable working with.
In your interview, you can discuss each contractor’s payment terms, deposit percentage, and how they go about making any changes or recalls.
You’ll also want to find out who your contractor will have working on site with them. Some general contractors don’t do any physical labor, so you’ll want to know who’s doing the physical work in your kitchen.
If you haven’t been given this information yet, it’s worth checking that each interviewee is certified, licensed, bonded, and insured. In other words, do they have the official documents that protect all involved parties and allow them to work on your kitchen? Anyone who doesn’t have the necessary documents and certifications can probably be crossed off the list at this point.
5. Request bids from your chosen contractors.
By now, you should have your list narrowed down to two or three contractors. Ask them to break down the prices for clarity – this should allow you to get rid of underpriced or overpriced bids. The lowest price may be tempting, but if it’s significantly lower than the rest, it may not get you the best results. Similarly, if a contractor’s price is notably higher than the others,’ they should have the experience or results to back up why.
At this point, you will have spoken to each contractor’s references, and you should be comfortable with the time taken for each project. You should be clear on the size of each contractor’s team and confident in the quality of their work. The handful of names you’re left with should be reputable contractors with plenty of proof of high-quality work.
6. Choose your contractor and evaluate their contract.
Contracts are often lengthy and tedious to read, but when it comes to your home, it’s worth reading every word. It’ll be for a room you have to live with for a long time, and flooring, plumbing and electrical mistakes can be costly to rectify.
Your contract should include:
- The names and full contact details of all laborers and material suppliers. For safety reasons, you want the details of anyone who will be entering your home.
- A detailed list of work to be completed, to avoid any future disputes.
- Start dates and approximate end dates.
- Daily work hours.
- Itemized pricing for materials and labor.
- Payment terms, including the deposit figure.
- Agreement that the contractor will secure relevant permits and lien releases for sub-contractors and suppliers.
- Exhaustive proof of insurance, bonding, and licensing.
Once you’re happy with every section of the contract, you can sign it and begin looking forward to the start date! Once the project begins, try to be available to answer any questions your contractor may have. The clearer you are about your requirements, the less room there is for human error. If an unforeseen problem arises, be willing to work with your contractor to resolve it together.
Finding the right contractor for your project can be difficult; we’ve seen how many steps need to be taken to find the right person for the job. Just like any project, it’s always possible to do it yourself, but with Skipp, the process is so much easier and eliminates the misunderstandings that many homeowners struggle with.
Skipp is a design and renovation company passionate about helping our customers create their dream kitchens at the best price and with the least amount of stress. We know you’re busy.
We give you complete control of your kitchen remodel by providing access to customized, architect-quality remodel services at competitive prices. And because it’s all in one place, you don’t have to worry about going from contractor to contractor and designer to designer. It’s all right here! We only partner with the very best contractors, so you can skip all these steps and get on with planning for your beautiful new kitchen.