If you're like many homeowners, your kitchen remodel serves a variety of functions beyond food storage and cooking. Children often use a kitchen for homework or school projects, and a kitchen's refrigerator may serve as a catchall for notes and the family's schedule! For many people, a kitchen is also a place for entertaining friends or for just enjoying a glass of wine before going out. Because a home's kitchen serves so many purposes, consider calling a contractor as soon as this space in your home becomes outdated, dull, and drab.
A good kitchen contractor will be responsive to your plans for a new kitchen, should be able to offer cost-savings options, and should have a solid contract and quality guarantee for their work in writing well before the renovation begins.
To ensure you choose the best contractor for your home's kitchen remodel, note a few factors to look out for and some tips on how to ensure you end up with a kitchen you love for years to come.
Call Kitchen Contractors After Researching Your Own Plan
Calling kitchen contractors and just telling them that you want a new kitchen is not the best way to begin a remodel! Instead, take some time to research various kitchen styles, noting what you find attractive.
For example, are you drawn to very traditional kitchen styles, with white cabinets and dark wood floors and dark tile on the counters? Do you enjoy a simple and clean look in the kitchen, with no frills or accents around the cabinets and little hardware or other such accessories?
When browsing various photos of different kitchen styles, you might even circle or make notes regarding the details or features that you prefer about those different designs. These details might include the veining of granite countertops, the detailed handles of Tuscan-style cabinets, or the casual character of a cottage style kitchen. By noting the specific details of each kitchen design, your contractor will get an idea of the features they should include in your new kitchen.
Figuring a Budget for Local Kitchen Remodeling
You'll need to have a budget before you arrange for local kitchen remodeling, and this can be difficult for homeowners, as very few people have unlimited funds to spend on a new kitchen. To help you come up with a workable budget, keep a few tips in mind:
- A good 5%-10% of your budget should be set aside for unexpected expenses, such as plumbing repairs or bracing of the home's subfloors.
- Take measurements of your kitchen's floor and countertops, and price various materials for those surfaces. A few price comparisons can give you an idea of how much you'll need to pay for granite counters, laminate floor tile, and so on.
- Note if any materials or features in a kitchen are a "must-have." You can then consider cost-saving alternatives for cabinets, countertops, flooring, and so on.
Choosing Kitchen Remodel Contractors Online
Once you have an idea in mind of the kitchen you want and the price you can pay, start shopping around for kitchen remodel contractors. You might ask friends and co-workers for referrals, but be cautious if they recommend their friends and family! They may merely be trying to get business for people they know, no matter the quality of that contractor's work.
It's good to note review sites for local contractors and the rating these companies have received from past customers but read the comments as well the actual scores. Some negative reviews might have nothing to do with a contractor's work; for example, a potential customer may think a contractor's quote was too high, so they leave a negative review even without having hired that person!
It's also good to browse the website of a contractor and note if it's professional and easy to navigate. A good website shows that a contractor is responsive to customers, and is financially successful to maintain that site as well.
What to Expect From Local Remodeling Contractors
Once you have a list of local remodeling contractors you want to interview for your renovation project, note a few things to consider before you make your decision:
- A contractor should ask about your preferred kitchen style, and may even work with a designer who can assist you in choosing coordinating cabinets, flooring, and paint colors for your new kitchen design.
- A good contractor should be very honest with you, even if they need to share information you don't want to hear! For example, you may not like hearing that your home's subfloors will need bracing to withstand the weight of granite counters, but it's good to know all potential costs and work required before a remodel begins.
Getting a Quote From Local Remodeling Contractors
A contractor will put a quote in writing and will have you sign an agreement before work begins. Note what you might look for in their quote, contract, and other such paperwork:
- A contractor should have a guaranteed end-by date, with information as to how they will handle the situation if they should go past that completion date. For example, you might be given a discount on your quote for every day they're late.
- A contractor should have a guarantee for their work and the materials used so that you can have them repaired without cost as needed. Note the length of this guarantee; a 30-day warranty might signal that the contractor is not confident in their work or materials, as the materials used in a kitchen renovation should last longer than a month!
A quality kitchen contractor will also have a price-lock guarantee that gives you enough time to decide moving forward. Be very cautious about high-pressure sales tactics, such as telling you that certain materials are only available for a limited time or that the company is running a special sale that expires the next day. A kitchen remodel is expensive and means disrupting your daily routine for many weeks, so you should be given lots of time to consider this work!
It's also good to carefully reconsider a contractor who continuously tries to "sell you" on materials and features you don't need for your kitchen, and which would put you at the high end of your budget or even over your budget. For example, a contractor might continuously encourage you to get marble countertops when you prefer a more affordable granite, or might insist that you choose cabinets made of a certain expensive wood when simple oak is acceptable to you. A quality contractor will work with your budget and respect your choices rather than trying to always "hard sell" you on more expensive options.
How Much is Renovating a Kitchen?
Renovating a kitchen can cost thousands of dollars, and the actual price will vary according to the amount of work to be done, the materials you choose, and if your home needs any prep or repair work first. The size of your kitchen will also determine the price of a renovation, as will details that require specialty contractors; for example, installing additional outlets in a kitchen will need the services of an electrician, which will add to the job's overall cost.
If you do find that a remodel quote is out of your budget, don't give up too quickly! Ask the contractors you interview for some alternatives to the materials you want, and note if you can spread out the work to save money. For example, you might have the kitchen repainted, and new flooring installed this year and then new cabinets and countertops installed next year. You may need to be a bit patient in waiting for that kitchen of your dreams, but spreading out the remodeling work this way can allow you to afford it better overall.
What Happens During a Home Kitchen Remodel
A good contractor should keep you updated about their overall progress and show you what they're doing throughout the job, but keep in mind that any renovation worksite can be very dangerous, especially to children. There may be open areas of the floor, exposed electrical wires, and sharp tools scattered throughout the worksite, as well as loose materials including floor tiles.
To ensure your home's kitchen remodel stays on schedule, and to ensure your safety, be cautious about expecting to get guided tours every day, and never assume that you can "help" your contractor in any way. In most if not all cases, it's good to allow your contractor access to the home every day and then stay out of their way as much as possible! You'll also want to secure children and pets during this time, so they don't get injured or cause damage to the remodeled area.
If you take your time to review any potential contractors and read their agreement carefully, and then cooperate with them throughout the planning and construction process, you will end up with a stunning kitchen that is functional, fabulous, and ready for you and the family!