How to Hire the Right Kitchen Contractor … 8 Questions You Need to Ask
It’s not an overstatement to say that hiring the right kitchen contractor is as or more important than choosing the right kitchen cabinets. There are many talented kitchen contractors who can hang your cabinets and make them look as if they have always belonged in the home. That is the result you want at the end of the process, but you also want a contractor that truly listens to your wants and needs. And one who explains what can be changed, and can’t – and is willing to accommodate your schedule.
To safeguard your kitchen investment, you also want a licensed, bonded and insured kitchen contractor who comes with high recommendations. In short, you want a true professional. A verified professional contractor may charge a higher rate than a jack-of-all-trades handyman, but you gain the experience, efficiency and know-how you want on your team, especially if a part of the project gets tricky.
1) Ask your friends and family for referrals.
This may be the most important first step.,If your friends or family have hired a contractor and been pleased with both his work and work ethic, he (or she) should earn a place on your list. When you start with personal recommendations, you cut down on unknowns about how easy a contractor is to work with or how he handles problems. Your friends and family will give you the unfiltered scoop about contractors they’ve hired in the past.
2) Interview at least three contractors.
After you make your preferred list from the referrals, contact at least three of them for a preliminary discussion. You might also consider contractors you find who have earned good online reviews – just be sure the reviews are verified. Good websites for home improvement contractors include Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau. And of course, take a few moments to understand any negative reviews in case the issues mentioned send up a red flag.
Find out as much as you can about the contractor’s business; their team will be spending a lot of time in your home. Ask:
How long have they operated their business?
What percentage of their business comes from referrals or repeat customers?
For each contractor you interview, be sure they genuinely listen to your questions and concerns. If you build a good rapport with them and they can explain their process, how they usually schedule work, and offer a realistic timeframe to finish your kitchen, you’ve found a patient contractor. Be sure to get answers to all of your questions – if they are short or impatient now, imagine how they might behave under pressure!
3) Check out their credentials and insurance.
Every legitimate kitchen contractors carries good insurance to protect them if something goes wrong on the job. They also need a current business license. Make sure you see their license, photo I.D., and proof of insurance. Take copies of their license and the insurance contact information. These documents prove the contractor is a serious, viable businessperson who follows regulations.. The license, in particular, verifies that the contractor knows about building codes and permitting processes. Ask if they are a part of any professional associations such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) – always a mark in their favor.
4) Ask for references.
If you decide to go with a contractor referred by a friend or family member, you are ahead of the game. If that’s not the case, you’ll want to ask all of your candidates for recent references, people you can contact to ask about the contractor’s work. Any hesitation at this point is a red flag. A confident contractor will give you at least 3 or 4 references for clients from the past few years. Check the references with a quick phone call – you could even ask to see the kitchen. If the client is truly delighted with their kitchen, they might be happy to show it off. After a brief conversation with a past client, you’ll know whether or not their contractor should stay on your candidate list.
5) Get a written quote.
You probably won’t get this on the spot. The contractor may have to take measurements and go back to their office to review their costs and materials for the scope of work. That’s fine. Just insist on a written quote that itemizes materials and labor.
The written quote should present a bid price and a payment schedule – very often you’ll be asked for an initial deposit for materials. Ask about charges for change orders, a site plan and a project schedule. You’ll also want to ask about their warranty for both work and materials, and their process for dispute resolution. Get it all in writing, including a lien waiver.
6) Meet face to face.
You’ll want to talk to your contractor over the phone before you meet with them face to face. If they can easily explain what they do, who they work for, and the types of projects they take on, you’ll know you can discuss your kitchen remodel. The next step is to meet face-to-face and see how comfortable you are around them.
7) Can they help you plan?
If you are at the very beginning of your kitchen remodel, without a plan and unsure of where to start, you’ll want to ask if the contractor can help you with the measuring and design process. The best contractors will offer this service.
8) Trust the cabinet company.
Last but not least, if you don’t have the time to run through the gauntlet for contractor interviews, background checks, and business rapport, you can ask your cabinet company for help. At Cabinet Express, we keep a current list of licensed, insured and bonded contractors from every part of the country – respected professionals we have referred to our customers again and again. They will start from the beginning to measure your kitchen, work with you and the designer, and install the cabinets. If you can’t find a local contractor, we can help you find one.
Contact us to learn more about starting your kitchen renovation project.