The kitchen is the heart of the home where people gather for meals, meaningful conversations, games and even for kids to do homework. But if your kitchen is not up to par, you may probably consider giving it a facelift or remodeling it. In either case a remodeling contractor can help guide you through the entire process. Unfortunately, finding the right contractor for a kitchen remodel can be a daunting task. Hiring the best kitchen remodeling contractor for the project can alleviate stress by ensuring that your project is on time and prevent the costs from increasing. The following are top ten tips when hiring a kitchen remodeling contractor:
Proof of insurance
When hiring a kitchen remodeling contractor, ask for proof of insurance. Ask the contractor to give you a copy of his insurance card to you. A good and professional remodeling contractor should have an insurance cover that protects him against any liability in case something goes wrong. In case the contractor does not have any proof of insurance, simply stay away. This also applies on any other sub-contractor or employee that you may consider to use. Ensure that the proof of insurance is authentic and valid. You can do this by checking with the insurance company. Remember, your kitchen is among the most important parts of your home and getting the best person to remodel it is the best way to ensure that it remains important.
Look at credentials
With recommendations in hand, it is important for you to do some preliminary research on the kitchen remodeling contractor of your choice. You can do this through calling the company the contractor is representing, or checking the website of the contractor if it is an independent contractor. During the research, try and establish whether the contractor holds all the necessary licenses from the state and the local municipalities and authorities as well as designations from any professional associations for example the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the National Association of Homebuilders and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). A remodeling professional who clearly understands his or her work will invest in the coursework and passed a number of tests to earn a particular certification.
Personally interview candidates
After getting a list of potential candidates, narrow down the list and even set up meetings. Meeting the contractors in person gives you a better understanding of the person you intend to hire for the job. Select about two or three candidates and interview them personally. You can come up with a list of questions to ask the potential contractors. Some questions are found on the internet especially in the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s (NARI) website. These questions are very important as they give you an insight of who you are dealing with. During the interview, it is also important to see how the contractor answers your questions. This will help in establishing a relationship with him or her. It is essential to point out that a good remodeling contractor should be a good listener. He or she must be honest and trustworthy.
After establishing a rapport with the contractor, it is time to ask for references and photos; what the contractor has been doing (projects). It is vital for you to ask at least three references; two of these references should be for the same type of project you want done. After getting the referrals, call the references and establish if they were satisfied with the contractor’s work. You can also ask the contractor to provide photos of his previous work. You should also ask to meet the customers in person if possible. In case the contractor provides photos that are not in line with kitchen remodeling, then it is advisable to check out another contractor.
Manners and appearance
If the contractor drove a company vehicle to your home, check the way the contractor keeps the vehicle and equipment. Are the tools neatly arranged? Is the vehicle clean? Is the vehicle well labeled? How is the contractor dressed? In case any of these questions is not answered satisfactorily, then know that there is bound to be a problem. The way the remodeling contractor handles his or her tools is somewhat directly connected to how he or she will treat your kitchen. Remember, your kitchen is a sensitive part of the house and it requires a clean, cautious and sensitive remodeling professional to make it look neater. During the preliminary meeting, check out how the contractor presents himself. Is he professional? Do you feel comfortable around the contractor or his employees? These are questions you must ask yourself when hiring a kitchen remodeling contractor.
Clean up policy
This is a very important factor to consider when hiring a kitchen remodeling contractor. Ask the contractor about the clean up policy. For instance, if remodeling your kitchen will take several days to complete, will the contractor be cleaning up the place at the end of each day or he will leave the wood chips, debris, dust and other materials laying there till the next day? It is the work of the contractor to ensure that the client’s home is left as he got it at the end of the day. The project area must be cleaned and tidied during and after the completion of the remodeling job. This shows some level of professionalism on the contractor’s side.
Get everything in writing
After selecting a contractor, it important to look at the documents the contractor has prepared. Are the documents authentic? Do they look professional? After establishing all these, it is time to write a contract. In the contract ensure that you include the start and stop dates of the project, hours of working time that you are comfortable with; you do not want a contractor coming into your home during odd hours. You should also include quoting and billing procedure. You should also state in writing that you require lien releases at the time of each payment as part of the contract from all sub-suppliers for work done and materials supplied. You should also include in the contract a clause about dispute resolution, a change order clause and an express limited warranty. It is important to create a thorough and well written contract and specification sheet with every single detail spelled out, including key clauses to protect you against any eventualities. You can even have the contract reviewed by a contract attorney. In case the contractor is not willing to put all these in writing, it is a high time you considered looking for another contractor.
Will the contractor sub contract?
Kitchen remodeling entails a number of things from wiring to counter top design, to flooring, to plumbing, to wall painting and so on. Some contractors have the capacity to do all these while others will sub-contract. Sub-contracting is basically getting someone else to do part of the remodeling process. In case this happens, the contractor should mark up those quotes for the project. This will show that the contractor is wants the work done right and in the shortest time possible.
Business experience and management
Experience is very important when hiring a kitchen remodeling contractor. You can know this by checking the time in years the contractor has been in business. You do not want your kitchen to be remodeled by a person who has no experience or someone straight from college. In order to establish management experience of the contractor, you can check whether the remodeler has the following;
- Does the contractor maintain a permanent mailing address, personal phone number, e-mail address and cell phone number?
- Does the contractor have insurance that protects you from liability?
- Does the contractor have an established presence in the community? Does the contractor maintain solid working relationships with other contractors for example electricians, carpenters and plumbers?
- Does the contractor posses a trustworthy reputation among his employees and other customers? Does the remodeling contractor posses a track record of success?
- Is the contractor a member of any professional organization or has he or she earned any professional designations for example CGR (Certified Graduate Remodeler)?
All these help in preventing ethical issues from arising during the course of the project.
Let the contractor get the permits
When hiring a kitchen remodeling contractor, it is important to ask the contractor to take care of the any permits. Despite the fact permits will cost you money; the inspection process of the remodeled area is meant to protect you from poor workmanship. Therefore, ensure that the remodeler get all the permits including the inspection permit as this will ensure that everything is built to code.
Using the above tips will help protect you from hiring unethical, unprofessional and inexperienced kitchen remodeling contractor. However, there are certain things to avoid when hiring a remodeling contractor to remodel your kitchen as can be viewed below:
Avoid hiring without verifying the references
Even after asking for references, some home owners do not verify the referrals. Simply hiring a remodeling contractor on face value can not only be expensive but it is also dangerous. In every business, word of mouth plays a powerful role. Therefore ask and verify the referrals you obtain from the contractor.
Avoid not getting into the specifics
Before the start of your remodeling project you must ensure that the contractor is clear in line with your vision, check the time the contractor has been in business, establish whether the contractor has been charged or involved in any fraudulent activities, establish what the contractor specializes in and above all check whether the contractor charges a lump sum payment before the start of a project.
Avoid going ahead with the project without a written proposal
This is one of the worst mistakes you can make when hiring a remodeling contractor to remodel your kitchen. It would be a big mistake to believe anything the contractor puts forth verbally. Remember, a written contract is legally binding and can be used in the courts of law. And in case something goes wrong after the completion of the project, the written agreement will help you trace the contractor.
Avoid getting lured by great deals
It is important to bear in mind that unprofessional contractors care very little about you or their reputation. Therefore, hiring someone disreputable, simply because they offered a great deal is the worst mistake you can ever make. Avoid falling for low bids and always look carefully at what you are being offered for the price quoted.
Avoid falling for unscrupulous contractors
Time and time again, home owners have fallen victim to unscrupulous workers who are out to rip them off. But how can you be sure that the remodeling contractor you are hiring to remodel your kitchen is legitimate? These are signs of potential rip-offs:
- They do door to door solicitation
- They only accept cash
- They use leftover materials from another project
- They want payment in full at the start of the work
- They offer their own financing
- They pressure you to give a quick or immediate decision
Avoid forgetting to check insurance cover
All professional home improvement experts should possess personal liability, disability, property damage and worker’s compensation insurance cover. Ensure that the contractor provides you with copies of all insurance certificates before starting the project.
Avoid being swayed into time and material contracts
Many home owners believe that a stated hourly rate will be a better deal than a fixed cost. This is never the case. It is good for you to understand the amount to be paid after the job is done not on a daily or hourly basis.
In conclusion, choosing the right or the best kitchen remodeling contractor can be quite a difficult process. But by avoiding certain mistakes you can be sure of a successful completion of kitchen remodeling project. Using the above ten tips when hiring a remodeling contractor to refashion your kitchen, you will be able to not only get the best in the market but you will also get value for your money. Think wisely, invest quality time and consider each aspect when choosing a remodeling contractor for your kitchen.