How Do I Hire a Contractor or Installer?
Hiring a general contractor, installer, or other professional can easily benefit your kitchen remodel. The level of professional work needed is simply dependent on what the project entails, your budget, and even the drive or ability to tackle the remodel yourself. If you are still debating whether you should hire a contractor or go the DIY route, check out our full blog DIY vs Professional Kitchen Remodel for more detail.
Despite the increase in popularity of DIY renovations, more than ⅓ of all home improvement projects require a professional’s help with ½ of all kitchen and bath remodels needing the same level of assistance for cabinet installation specifically. (Home Improvement research Institute)
We encourage all of our customers to make an educated decision for their kitchen remodel based on what they need to hire out. If you need a professional’s help, there are 9 steps you can take to hire the right contractor or installer for you.
1. List your kitchen remodel needs.
Have your list of project wants and needs ready to discuss with the general contractor or installer you decide to hire. Your list should include things like cabinet and countertop tear out, new wall paint, backsplash installation, rerouting plumbing, moving electrical outlets, cabinet installation, etc. It is also helpful to include photos of your existing space in the request.
Have your project drawings ready as well. Whether this is a cabinet design or architectural plans, having this information available to send to your potential contractor will help tremendously. He or she will need this to provide you with a quote and any recommendations they have for your list.
Once you know the wants and needs of your project, you can efficiently search for the right professional to hire.
2. Determine who you need to hire.
Do you need to tear out walls, move plumbing, or rewire electrical? All of these decisions play a part in who you decide to hire. Let’s look at the difference between a contractor and installer or other specialized professional.
A general contractor is a person responsible for overseeing a construction project. In this case, a kitchen remodeling contractor would serve as the general contractor for the project. He or she will hire out other professionals like the plumber, electrician, cabinet installer, flooring installer, etc. for you to complete your remodel. They may be involved in some of the labor themselves, but overall will be managing the entirety of the project.
On the other hand, a specialized professional, such as a cabinet installer, electrician, or plumber, will have expertise and knowledge in one area of the kitchen remodel and will only perform the labor for what they are hired to do. This is a great option if you plan to DIY a large part of the project, but still want to hire out the things you are not experienced in.
3. Get recommendations.
Word of mouth is still a great way to find good quality recommendations for your project. Talk to your friends and family about who they have previously hired for remodels they have completed. Maybe even find a local building inspector who will know which kitchen remodeling contractors routinely meet code requirements in your area. Discussing options with people you trust will go a long way to making your final decision.
You can also research local contractors, installers, plumbers, and more using reputable websites like Home Advisor, Houzz, or Thumbtack. These sites are helpful in locating service providers in your area and then giving you contact information to start making calls. You can also read plenty of reviews from other satisfied customers to make a well informed decision. Thumbtack, for example, will even specify if the professional you are researching has experience in general home remodeling or kitchen remodel specifically.
4. Get multiple quotes.
Request quotes from multiple contractors so you have price points to compare. The average price range to hire a general contractor will vary depending on your area and what type of work needs to be done. For that reason, we recommend researching the average cost for your location by zip code to know if your quote is too high or even too low. If a quote comes back much lower than what is common for your area, it could mean the quality of the work will suffer.
You can also try comparing the cost of a contractor to one or two specific professionals mixed with some DIY remodeling. Ask yourself, is it worth having someone else to handle the tough decisions or, would you rather oversee every detail? These are the questions that will help you best determine what makes the most sense for your project.
5. Interview them.
Once you have scheduled a phone call or in person meeting with a potential contractor or installer have a list of questions ready that will help you make your final decision on who to hire. Referring back to step one, you will also want to bring along your wish list and design plans.
Ask these questions to each contractor you interview to accurately gauge who is best for your project.
- Do you offer/do the remodeling services I need completed?
- Do you take on projects of this size?
- Can you offer me a list of previous clients you have worked with or show me work you have done for jobs like mine?
- How long have you worked with your subcontractors/suppliers?
- How many other projects will you be working on at the same time?
- Confirm the contractor’s license and insurance.
After the interview, you should be able gauge if the person is compatible with, not only the needs of your project, but your personality as well. Don’t forget, this person will be in and out of your home for the duration of your remodel. It is always best for both parties that everyone works well together. At the end of the day, it is best to go with your gut and the knowledge you have gained since starting your research.
6. Leave Room in the Budget for the Unknown.
While determining your kitchen remodel budget, it is a good idea to set aside about 10%-15% for unforeseeable conditions. Your hired contractor can also help you determine roughly how much to allocate for this based on their inspection of the space before starting.
For instance, if you wish to tear out a wall, in hopes of creating an open floor plan, there can be unexpected obstacles that come with that. The wall could be load bearing and require a beam to replace it or it could have electrical or plumbing inside that needs rerouting. No matter what your remodel entails, having an experienced contractor to help you navigate everything is key.
In addition, read our article, Cost to Remodel Your Kitchen, for more details on planning and budgeting.
7. Get a timeline.
Based on your gathered info, determine how long the remodel will take to complete. As previously mentioned, much of what your chosen professional will do for you and the amount of time it will take to complete it is based on the scale of your project and their availability. For this reason, kitchen remodel timelines will vary from pro to pro and remodel to remodel.
If you are choosing to hire specific professionals, like a cabinet installer and plumber, remember to create an overall timeline for the kitchen renovation based on their part in the process to get a good idea.
8. Negotiate payment.
Research what is fair for your area and understand the cost value of what your professional is doing for you. Don’t just choose the cheapest quote you receive and don’t let price be your only factor for deciding. As mentioned in step 4, if a quote comes back much lower than what is common for your area, it could mean the quality of the work will suffer.
That said, don’t be afraid to negotiate payment if you feel an offer is too high either. Ask for what you think is fair but be willing to listen to any explanations of cost the professional has as well. Any genuine professional wants to offer you the best price for the level of work they are doing, but remember, they also add major value to the service they are offering as well.
Finally, set up a payment plan in advance so that all parties are on the same page prior to any work starting. Every contractor and installer handles this differently, so be sure to choose an option you are comfortable with.
9. Put it in writing.
Last but not least, sign an agreement stating exactly what you have settled upon with your chosen professional. If for some reason it is not already proposed, ask that everything you have verbally discussed be put in writing for both parties to sign.
Something we think is important to include in such a contract would be a statement related to how your professional handles timeline extensions and costs associated with that.
For instance, if half way through the remodel you decide to add a new “to do” to the list, what is to be expected? How much time will that add to the already determined
completion date and how much cost to the already existing budget? This is just one example of many details that should be included in your contract. At the end of the day, only sign something you are 100% satisfied with. The goal for all involved should be to insure a successful kitchen renovation and a happy customer.