What Should You Look for When Choosing a Kitchen Remodeling Contractor?

The kitchen is the heart of any home. It’s the room where all meaningful meals take place, providing a space for families – and sometimes guests – to bond. That’s without even mentioning the space it provides for discussions over drinks, board games, or for kids to take care of their homework!  

Since it’s one of the most utilized rooms in any household, it’s easily noticed when a kitchen starts to look tired, dated or simply doesn’t provide the functionality you need anymore. Whilst undertaking a facelift or remodel can be relatively straight forward with a good contractor, the process of finding a reputable provider isn’t quite as uncomplicated. 

We’ve put together a comprehensive list of items you need to pay particular attention to in order to make sure you are having the work carried out by a contractor you can trust.

Check Documentation

When assessing contractors, there’s a wide range of documentation you will need to take a look at to make sure it’s legitimate. Starting with insurance!

1. Insurance

Any professional contractor worth their salt will carry insurance that protects them against anything that could go wrong. Ask for their insurance card, and validate it by checking it with their insurance provider. If they cannot do so, you must stay away. You can’t risk uninsured contractors working on one of the most precious rooms of your household!

2. Licenses and Accreditations

Next on your documentation hit list is credentials. During your initial research, make sure that the contractor has the necessary licenses from both the municipal and state authorities. 

Next, look to see if they are a member of any professional accreditation schemes such as the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the National Association of Homebuilders or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The best contractors always invest in becoming accredited to differentiate themselves within the market.

3. Permits

Make sure that they will take care of all of the necessary permits – including inspection permits – for the works. Whilst they will cost you, they protect you against any poor workmanship and ensure that everything within your new kitchen space is built to code. Without permits, their work may be deemed in breach of local remodeling regulations.

Always Meet Face-To-Face

Once you’ve carried out your initial research and you’ve drawn up a list of potential candidates, it’s a must that you meet with them face-to-face. Upon arrival, the first thing you’ll need to do is interview them.

1. Interview

Interviewing them allows you to get the know the contractor better, understand whether they are a good listener, and determine whether they are a good fit for your project. Start by devising a list of questions to ask them. If you are stuck, you can draw inspiration from the NARI website. It’s important that you ask all of the contractors the same questions so you can compare answers.

2. Assess Manners and Appearance

Meeting with a contractor in person is also a great opportunity to get a hold on who they are as a person or a company. You need to pay attention to small details such as whether they arrived in a company van or not. Other items that you need to think about include:

  • Is the vehicle clean or dirty? 
  • What is the contractor wearing? Do you have a company uniform?
  • How do the tools look? Old and badly maintained, or brand new?
  • Are their tools stored tidily?
  • Do they come across as professional? 
  • Do they respect your home by removing their shoes upon arrival? 

Remember that your kitchen is an integral part of your home, so you need a contractor that is going to treat it with the care and respect it deserves. These small indicators will give you a good idea of how they will carry out the works.

3. Get into Specifics

Oftentimes remodeling projects go wrong when homeowners and contractors enter a project with different expectations. Drill down into what the payment structure is, what their clean up policy is, where they can and cannot go within your home, what time they will enter and leave the property, whether they will be using sub-contractors or not, and so on. Leave no stone unturned so there’s less likely to be any unwelcome surprises once the project is in progress.

Undertake Verification

Too often homeowners take a contractor at their word, and get stung in the process. Don’t let this be you! After your initial research and face-to-face meetings, it’s time to make sure everything is as it should be with your preferred contractor.

1. References

Perhaps one of the most important stages of vetting a contractor. Always ask for pictures and contact details of the last three projects, don’t let a contactor cherry pick whose details they give you. A contractor is only as good as their most recent projects. If possible, also ask for the details of previous clients who’ve had work done which is very similar in nature to your project.

Once you’ve collated of the information, go and meet the customers in person (with permission, of course). You can then see first-hand the quality of their craftsmanship and speak at length when clients who have experience of dealing with your contractor. You won’t only learn whether they were satisfied with the work or not, but also any quirks to look for when working with that particular contractor. If the pictures provided by the contractor don’t match what you find on site, it’s time to run a mile!

2. Research Company Information

Once you’re happy with their previous projects, try and find out as much information as you can about your preferred contractor. You need to get answers questions such as:

  • How many years has the contractor been in business?
  • Does the contractor maintain a permanent mailing address, personal phone number, e-mail address and cell phone number?
  • Does the contractor have an established presence in the community? 
  • Does the contractor maintain solid working relationships with other contractors e.g. electricians, carpenters and plumbers?
  • Does the contractor possess a trustworthy reputation among his employees and other customers? 
  • Is the contractor or are individual employees members of any professional organizations such as CGR (Certified Graduate Remodeler)?

If you are unable to obtain any of this information for a particular contractor, then it’s a good idea to opt for another contractor with verifiable company information.

3. Get Everything in Writing

Before proceeding with a contractor, it’s vital that you have everything in writing. You cannot easily hold a contractor to verbal promises, but you can hold them to binding contracts through a court of law. Everything needs to be included, no matter how specific it may seem. 

If a contractor provides you with a contract themselves, does it look authentic? Does it include everything you discussed? If not, it’s time to start editing and rewriting it to cover all possible eventualities. You should also include in the contract a clause about dispute resolution, a change order clause and an express limited warranty. Running it by a contract attorney isn’t a bad idea either; the cost of their services will be far less than that of repairing a kitchen you cannot use due to a disastrous remodel.

If a contractor wants to keep several items out of a written contract, it’s a surefire sign that they can’t be trusted.

Warning Signs to Look Out For

Now you know how to set up your remodel, it’s time to evaluate any potential warning signs and how they should set your alarm bells ringing if you encounter them. With that in mind, if you experience any of the following disengage with the contractor immediately:

  • They carry out door to door solicitation
  • They will only accept cash payments
  • They reuse materials from previous projects
  • They want payment in full at the start of the work
  • They offer their own version of financing
  • They put you under pressure to give a quick or immediate decision 
  • They won’t sign a legally-binding contract
  • They offer you a price significantly below local market rates
  • They offer time-based project pricing rather than a fixed fee

In addition to the above, it’s also wise advice in these situations to trust your gut. If you’ve got a bad gut feeling about a contractor, there’s probably a good reason. Trust your instincts and move on to someone you’re happy with.

Get Help with Your Kitchen Remodel from the Experts

Here at CaliCabi, we’re passionate about helping you create your dream home. We believe in open communication with our knowledgeable staff who provide reliable, personal support. 

From our initial consultation, you’ll find out why hundreds of other homeowners have trusted us with their Los Angeles home renovation projects. We are fully licensed, insured and bonded with an excellent reputation provided by hundreds of satisfied customers. We’re proud to stand behind our work, because our detail-oriented process ensures that you’ll receive exceptional craftsmanship – every time!

So why not get in touch with a member of our team to get your kitchen remodel off to the best possible start?