How to Choose a Kitchen Remodeling Contractor

The right contractor can make all the difference.  While we would like to assume that every contractor knows what he/she is doing, that just isn’t the case.  References are very important. Speak directly to the contractor’s previous clients.  Once you find the right contractor, you may have to adjust your schedule to fit when he or she is available.  If a contractor can’t get to your project for a few months, that’s a sign he/she is in high demand. High demand can mean he/she is really good.  This can also mean the contractor might be expensive.  On the other hand, inexpensive could mean the quote isn’t comprehensive.  You should get 2-3 quotes.  If they vary greatly, find out why.  Discuss all your expectations up front, don’t assume anything.

Your contractor must be a team player.  You, your designer, and your contractor all have the same goal: a completed project to everyone’s satisfaction.  Look for a contractor that specializes in the type of remodel you want, gauge the level of difficulty with the help of your designer and make a selection on the contractor’s previous work.  If you have an older home, there are specifics that will be different than a newer home.  Do you have any changes to electrical, plumbing, or other mechanicals? Are your floors level, walls plumb or will you be moving, adding, or changing windows?

How does your contract get paid?  There are several ways contractors like to work: Time and Material (T&M) and Contract Bid (CB).

Time and Material (T&M) is just what it sounds like: you pay an hourly rate. Time and Materials also includes time for the contractor running down materials, filing the building permit, waiting for deliveries, and meeting with and supervising sub-contractors.  If you make changes in the middle of a project, this will affect the cost of the project. A contractor that operates under T&M should be able to give you a high and low estimate for the job completion.  If you are willing to be flexible this may be the best option for you. Other factors may influence the time required to complete a project.  For example, if the contractor in the course of their work, finds a problem that needs to be corrected (unexpected wood rot, electrical hazard, etc.) these items cannot be left unattended.  Municipal codes require the contractor and the homeowner to address these issues. You should plan on a buffer amount over and above, perhaps 10%.

The other most common method is Contract Bid (CB).  This is a specific contract to complete the listed work on the scope of the project.  You will get a hard number that shouldn’t deviate.  In this method, the contractor will give you a budget for items like cabinets, counter tops flooring and their installation.  If you decide to spend more than the budgeted amount you will be responsible for the difference.  The other way to deviate from the budget is unforeseen circumstance or changes made during the project.  These will result in a “change order”, an addendum to the contract outlining the work and the cost.  Ask for a change order before you approve the work, you don’t want to be surprised when the final payment is requested.

Choosing the people that will remodel your home is important. In both instances you are entering a legal contract.  Either method may require up-to a 50% down payment.   It is within your rights to ask for proof of insurance and licensing information.  Choosing a team player will result in the best project management and outcome.