Ask Questions Before Choosing a Remodeler
Choosing a remodeling firm can be confusing. You talk with a few firms, everyone seems nice, their photos look good, and they seem capable of doing the work.
But… it’s a BIG decision. This is your home we’re talking about.
You will also be living with this company for several weeks, most likely even months. This decision requires some serious thought. But what should you think about?
The following is a list of the important questions you should ask when interviewing a remodeler. The answers to these questions should assist you in determining the right firm for your kitchen remodel project.
Are they licensed and insured?
Any firm you consider should be licensed to do work in your area. This license should be held by the company and not an agent that allows them to work under their license.
You should also understand insurance coverage. What is covered under the company’s policy? How much coverage do they have?
Do they have experience with kitchen remodel projects similar in scope and size to yours?
You do NOT want to be the first person who has ever done a kitchen remodel project with a remodeler.
Ask to see examples of similar projects, at similar budget ranges.
You should also consider visiting and talking with at least one past client who has experienced a project like yours.
Can the remodeling firm you are considering provide you with an outline of their process?
How is the project developed and how will it proceed? Are there fees associated with this work? Are there regular check-ins to review overall design ideas? materials to be used? a timeline for what comes next? where the budget stands?
Will the firm provide you will a sample construction contract to review?
Ask to see a sample of the firm’s standard contract before signing anything.
Items to look for:
- a start and completion date
- the cost of the project
- a draw schedule that outlines progress payments
- any allowances for items not yet selected
- what has not been included
- information relating to the relationship between the builder and the client.
The contract may also be tied to a set of drawings that outline specific areas of work. Make sure the contract covers any areas that cause you concern.
Is a permit required? And, if so, who is responsible for it?
Most areas require a building permit for a project. There may even be several permits required. Who is responsible for procuring these permits? Are the permit fees built into the contract? A reputable remodeling firm will know about permit requirements.
As a consumer — you want a permit. It costs money and is a hurdle to overcome, but it provides you with a level of protection. When you apply for and are granted a permit, it means that your project will be inspected regularly by building department officials. This means your project will be built “to code” and that it’s built to a good quality standard.
If the remodeling firm you are considering tells you “they don’t need a permit”, this is not for you.
Has the remodeling firm you’re considering ever worked with your kitchen designer?
If they have not worked together in the past, this is not a deal breaker, but it will help to ease your project along it they have a relationship based on past experience. You should ask the remodeler if you are responsible for material selections beyond what you’ve selected with your kitchen designer. For example, if the lighting fixtures you selected are not available and the remodeler asks you to make another selection. Make sure you understand what costs may be associated with these materials. Is there a contingency in the contract that addresses this issue? If not, there should be. Will the costs be covered under the contract? Or are these costs additional to the construction contract?
Who will actually work on your kitchen remodel project?
Will all of the work be completed using subcontractors? Or is it mostly built using “in-house” labor, i.e., employees of the remodeling firm. Are there standards for subcontractors? Does the company have long term relationships with these subs? For any people that are employed by the remodeler, are there standards like background and drug testing?
Who is responsible for overseeing/ supervising the work?
You should know who will oversee the project.
- Is there a project manager for the project?
- What are their responsibilities?
- Will this person be at the jobsite every day?
- Will you be able to meet with them regularly?
- What is the best way to contact them if you have questions or concerns?
What type of warranty is provided?
If this is not outlined in the remodeling firm’s standard contract, ask what work is covered and for how long. The remodeler should provide you with any warranties associated with materials used in your kitchen remodel – appliances, windows, etc., all items that are covered by the manufacturer.
These simple questions should make choosing a remodeler a little easier and hopefully give you the confidence to move forward.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but the answers to these questions should provide a foundation for making an informed decision.
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.