How to Hire a Contractor
Who Does the Hiring, Why You Need One, Finding the Best, Making the Initial Calls
A kitchen remodel is a huge investment. Who you hire makes all the difference in how well the job turns out and what your experience throughout construction will be like.
Hire the right person, and you can relax knowing that your project is in good hands. Hire the wrong one and you could be facing problems, from unfinished work to being sued if workers aren’t paid.
Who Hires the Contractor?
Ideally, you, the homeowner, hire the contractor. You may choose to go with a contractor your kitchen designer recommends and uses regularly.
However, if you want to hire a contractor yourself — someone your kitchen designer is not familiar with — find out if h or she will agree to work with him. If the designer agrees, there will be a learning curve to them working together, which could impact the length of time it takes to complete the project.
Why Hire a Professional Contractor?
If you’ve decided to hire a contractor on your own, remember that your home is too important to entrust to anyone but a professional contractor who can:
- Save you money by doing your job right the first time.
- Ensure that your ideas are accurately translated into reality.
- Understand that your comfort during the project and its successful completion depend on effective communication and follow-through.
- Maintain a safe and neat job site to prevent damage to your home or injury to family members and pets.
- Ensure that your job meets or exceeds applicable building codes and regulations.
- Respond promptly to service calls and inquiries.
Finding Good Contractors
Start by asking friends, family and colleagues to see if anyone you know and trust has any recommendations for contractors they’ve used.
Searching for local contractors on the internet is an easy way if you can’t get any personal recommendations. Look at sites that post ratings and reviews, such as
- National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
- National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
- Better Business Bureau
- Angie’s List
- Home Advisor
See if the contractors you are interested in have professional-looking, up-to-date websites or a Google My Business listing. Then look for any ratings or reviews of them on the web.
It’s a good idea to search their names with key words such as “scam” or “rip-off” before determining that a contractor is the right one for you.
You can search for a contractor’s Business Profile at BBB.org to get their history of complaints, read verified customer reviews, and see if they are an Accredited Business.
Just as there are unreliable contractors, there are also unreasonable homeowners. Even a good contractor can receive a complaint. If one of your contractors has a complaint, ask for information about how it was resolved. If the contractor took care of it quickly and to the client’s satisfaction, that’s a sign of professionalism.
A contractor who holds a BBB accreditation should be at the top of your list of possibilities. A BBB Accredited Business makes a commitment to uphold BBB’s accreditation standards including:
- be trustworthy
- advertise honestly
- tell the truth
- be transparent
- honor their promise
- be responsive to their customers
- safeguard privacy
- embody integrity
Develop a list of three or four contractors to call based on your initial research. Your goal is to find at least two you feel good about and would like to meet with in person.
When you begin contractor interviews, your goal is to find a contractor you can work with, one whose interest in your project impresses you, one who listens carefully to what you say.
During the conversation, pay attention to how they speak to you and how they answer your questions. Be prepared to describe your project and when you want to start construction.
Be sure to ask:
- Are you licensed? Some states require contractors to have licenses and some don’t. You can check out your state’s requirements and more information on licensing here.
- Do you have insurance – personal liability, worker’s compensation and property damage insurance?
- What types of cabinets do you install – custom, semi-custom or stock? They might not specialize in kitchens, and you want someone who does. Installing cabinets is a specialty, and many contractors use finish carpenters who don’t always have the same experience as real cabinet installers do. It take a seasoned cabinet installer many years to be able to handle a complex, custom installation.
- Do you have references I can contact? A good contractor should have plenty of satisfied customers as well as satisfied suppliers and subcontractors you can call.
- When will you be able to start the job? A good contractor is also busy, and you want to be sure they can fit you into their schedule.
When you’ve finished calling the contractors on your list, select the ones who impressed you and request an in-person meeting to speak about the project further.
If hiring a contractor for your kitchen remodel project has you feeling anxious and unsure, we’ve compiled a list of things you can use to check a contractor’s qualifications.
1) What SERVICES does the contractor provide? And what areas does he serve? Start with the basics. You want to make sure the contractor is experienced with kitchen remodeling – it’s a specialty in itself.
2) REVIEWS. Ask to see reviews that demonstrate the contractor provides a great experience and has many positive reviews to prove it.
3) PHOTOS OF COMPLETED PROJECTS. Ask to see photos that show the projects the contractor has worked on.
4) LICENSING AND CERTIFICATIONS. Ask to see licenses that show the contractor is legitimate and meets any applicable regulations. Ask him to describe what type of work the certifications allow them to do.
5) GUARANTEES. Ask what guarantees the contractor offers beyond the manufacturers’ warranties.
6) COMMUNICATION. Ask who will be available to answer questions and address concerns during business hours. As if they respond to emails promptly or if they prefer to text.
KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.