Because so many homeowners choose to remodel their kitchens, chances are you can find a remodeling contractor who specializes in kitchens. For improvements to just one room or area of the house, a kitchen remodel can involve a surprising number of specialists, depending on its scope. You or your general contractor may end up hiring everyone from cabinet craftsmen to electricians to plumbers to flooring specialists and countertop installation contractors.
Here a few tips for deciding who to hire for a kitchen remodel:
Who will be in charge?
It may be tempting to act as your own general contractor and hire each kitchen remodeling specialist on your own. While this can be easily accomplished for smaller scale kitchen improvements and there are potential cost savings, there are some drawbacks, especially for more involved projects.
A general contractor, especially one who has experience with kitchen remodeling’s multiple phases or features, will have the first-hand experience to deal with unforeseen issues that may arise during the project. What may seem like an impossible task to a first-time DIY remodeler, such as moving a plumbing drain or relocating an oven’s gas line, can be a relatively simple task for a general contractor.
Time can prove to be another drawback to acting as your own contractor for a kitchen remodel. While you may save money by hiring multiple specialists yourself, scheduling each segment can present an issue, especially if delays pop up. A general contractor or kitchen remodeling specialist will have experience planning out a project to minimize delays and will likely have network of reliable subcontractors.
It’s always a good idea to get at least three estimates before hiring a contractor or kitchen remodeler before starting a kitchen remodel. One way to find a good contractor is to ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors or family members who have had similar work done. You can do a more comprehensive search Angie's List for contractor reviews posted by other Angie's List members in your community.
If you’re remodeling based upon plans, sketches or 3D models, make sure you share them with each estimating contractor to ensure you can make apples-to-apples comparisons among estimates.
When interviewing contractors, be sure to ask about their experience in this particular remodeling specialty. Will they use subcontractors or do they have in-house employees perform the work?
Always make sure to ask for proof of a company’s insurance and bonding, if necessary, as well as their contractor or trade license if required.
Be sure to ask for and actually verify references from previous kitchen remodeling jobs. Call their referrals and ask about their projects. Were they happy with their remodels? Were there any delays or hiccups along the way? How well did the contractor, and his or her employees or subcontractors communicate? Did they clean up the job site daily?
These types of questions will help you make comparisons among contractors based on what characteristics you consider important in a hiring relationship.
As with any home remodeling contract, a kitchen remodeling contract should include several fundamentals:
- Information about who will be responsible for pulling permits and submitting paperwork for inspections, if necessary. Some kitchen remodeling improvements such as moving plumbing, natural gas or electrical wiring may require permits. In many cases, this will be the contractor’s responsibility. Be sure to get it in writing.
- Start and finish dates for phases and overall project should be included in the contract. Some homeowners will include daily penalties to the contractor’s payment for every day a project phase goes over deadline.
- A detailed project description including materials to be used, brand names of products and quality level of the materials to be used.
- The contract should spell out payment amounts and due dates. State and municipal laws regarding home improvement contracts vary, but as a general rule, never pay more than a third of a project’s overall cost as down payment or deposit.
- Make sure you have the contractor’s insurance coverage information and property damage liability.
- Warranties and guarantees for craftsmanship and the final product should be clearly defined. This can offer a homeowner an avenue to have repairs made if portions of the remodeling project breaks or is damaged due to deficient or incomplete workmanship weeks or months down the road.
- A lien waiver for material suppliers or subcontractors is a contract term that can help you avoid a mechanic’s lien if the remodeler fails to pay vendors or workers. Once the work is complete to your satisfaction and you’ve paid in full, signing a lien waiver or release to indicates the contractor is responsible for any remaining material supplier or subcontractor bills can limit your exposure to mechanics’ liens.