If you’re a homeowner, you’ve heard all the horror stories of kitchen remodeling projects gone bad. Many of those stories involve irresponsible, unqualified, and even unlicensed contractors who don’t get the job done right, or don’t get it done at all. The big mess that’s left behind often blows the project budget right out of the water.
To avoid being the subject of a remodeling urban legend, check out these tips on how to pick a great kitchen remodeling contractor.
Word Of Mouth
The best way to gather information about great local kitchen contractors is by talking to your neighbors and friends about who they used for their own remodeling project. Having been through the experience at least once, they can guide you away from trouble and toward the most qualified professionals.
If you have a good relationship with someone in the building trades, such as a carpenter, electrician, plumber, or HVAC installer who is involved in local residential projects, he or she may be able to offer a few names. Building tradesmen work as subcontractors all the time, so they know who handles project details well, schedules wisely, and pays them on time.
Keep in mind that few projects ever go perfectly, but how contractors react to the inevitable bumps in the road can say a lot about their professionalism.
If available, read online reviews from places like Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List, but do so with a gimlet eye. Clients who’ve had a great experience don’t always think to write a review, whereas the clients who’ve had conflicts can’t wait to vent. Also, Angie’s List doesn’t allow anonymous reviews, but many others do, so there’s no way to check if the complainer was an actual client. Cross-check these sources with the Better Business Bureau and the licensing board for your state to see if there are multiple complaints or disciplinary actions to support the negative reviews.
Licensing boards are a way to weed out fly-by-night contractors from the ones who take the business seriously. Check your state’s licensing requirements and make sure that the contractors you’re considering are appropriately licensed, bonded, and insured. A designation from a reputed professional organization, such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association, is a positive sign.
Check how long they’ve been in business, as well. Local contractors earn their longevity by building up a business of satisfied customers.
Once you’ve got your list winnowed down to a few names, call or meet the contractors to show them the project plans, ask for an estimate, and pose some pertinent questions, including:
- Customer references
- How many projects do they work on at a time
- His most recent project of this scale
- For what parts of the project does he use subcontractors
- Typical payment schedule
- Availability for the work
The interview is less about an exchange of information and more about getting to know one another better. Because there are so many details involved in a kitchen renovation, communication is key when hiring a remodeling contractor. Make sure, whoever you pick, that he answers all your questions to your complete satisfaction.