Things Your Kitchen Remodeling Contractor Wants You to Know
A kitchen remodeling contractor is essential to the success of your kitchen renovation project. If you’ve done your homework and researched and interviewed contractors, you know that kitchen remodeling contractors get many complaints on those online contractor referral sites. Sometimes, these complaints are legitimate. However, the majority of remodeling contractors are honest and competent.
They have their complaints too. They believe that the remodeling process could be improved if homeowners knew some important things before they sign the contract.
Other articles we’ve written about working with and hiring contractors have all been from the point of view of the homeowner. Here, we tell you what contractors want you to know.
A note about pronouns: For the sake of simplicity only, we will refer to the contractor as “he” or “they” in this article. We know full well that there are many qualified and experienced women contractors.
Things Your Kitchen Remodeling Contractor Wants You to Know
#1. He Wants You to Shop Around for Contractors
The kitchen remodeling contractor wants to know you’re confident that his company is best for your job. He wants to know that you’ve done your due diligence and selected him after interviewing others. He does not want you to be second-guessing your choice once the project has begun.
Not sure how to start looking for a contractor for your kitchen remodel project? Ask friends, family and co-workers to see if anyone you know and trust has recommendations for contractors they’ve used.
If you don’t get any personal recommendations, searching for local contractors on the internet is easy. 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 (A contractor who holds a BBB accreditation should be at the top of your list of possibilities)
- Angi (formerly Angie’s List)
- Home Advisor
#2. He Can Help with Permits, but Don’t Ask for Special Favors
Contractors can apply for the permits necessary for your kitchen remodel. This is one of the many services the contractor performs so that you don’t have to.
What the kitchen remodeling contractor can’t do is make the permit officers change the rules for your project. Do not ask him to try to do this.
Contractors usually have a good working relationship with the people in the permit office. One reason for this good relationship is that the contractor doesn’t ask them to do things that cannot be done.
Asking the contractor to make an exception for your job might jeopardize the contractor’s standing with the permit office. Plus, it could result in fines.
#3. He Doesn’t Want to Work with Your Relatives
A contractor’s network of tradesmen or subcontractors (subs) is one of his most important assets. He has go-to people, with others in line as back-ups. Equally as important, the contractor has a blacklist of problem subs, ones he knows to avoid.
By using your relative to install HVAC or run the electrical, the kitchen remodeling contractor would have to work with someone he has no established relationship with. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of a group of workers who are pre-screened to get the job done.
#4. He Wants You to Know What you Want in Advance
The biggest potential hidden cost in a kitchen remodel project occurs when you change your mind. Your contractor wants you to understand that just because something is not at your house doesn’t mean the work hasn’t been done on it. That behind-the-scenes work has a cost, especially when a change is made.
It’s not a rip-off attempt for more money on the contractor’s side; it’s because there has already been time and effort spent on the backend that may not be apparent to the homeowner.
Thus, the contractor wants you to be sure of your selections before work begins.
#5. The Kitchen Remodeling Contractor’s Subs Will Serve You Well
Should you have a problem with a certain person in the contractor-supplied trades, the contractor might pull that person from the project in an attempt to smooth things over with you and keep the project running.
Generally, you should have little or no issues with the trades if the contractor feels good enough to work with that person.
#6. He’s Not Trying to Rip You Off
Suspicious homeowners are sometimes convinced that contractors underbid remodel projects, so they can add in costs to the project after the contract is signed. While some unscrupulous contractors may do this, it does not represent the norm.
Contractors would love to have all of the work itemized on the contract. However, since we don’t live in a perfect world, change orders exist. Change orders are part of normal business when remodeling a kitchen.
The contractor wants you to protect yourself by making sure the contract includes a procedure for how change orders will be taken care of. Before the contract is signed!
#7. He Wants You to Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Renovation projects go over budget thanks to unexpected and unfortunate surprises that arise.. Even after your pre-project due diligence, not every problem can be caught ahead of time.
- You might open a wall and find that termites have eaten half the studs
- When the kitchen flooring is removed, you find that an undetected water leak has rotted the subfloor and floor joists
- A wall is opened only to find mold or structural rot
- The wall you planned to remove turns out to be load bearing.
If you’re remodeling an older home, the contractor may discover structural damage, faulty electrical work or outdated plumbing behind the walls.
Any good contractor can handle these problems. However, they want you to be prepared for the unexpected. You can make sure you’re covered by including a contingency fund in your initial budget.
Many designers and contractors recommend setting aside 20% of your budget for unexpected costs. That way, you have a resource to draw from without impacting the design plans for the kitchen remodel. Unexpected and unplanned for repairs can easily cost several thousand dollars.
#8. They Want to Fix Little Problems Before They Turn into Big Problems. Or Lawsuits
Speak to your contractor as soon as problems arise. If you are unhappy with something during the project or you need to make changes to something you see that you don’t like, speak up.
You shouldn’t feel like you’re being a nuisance by delivering clear information to the contractor. Don’t be afraid to speak the truth.
Further, don’t let your feelings fester. If an electrical outlet in the kitchen is in the wrong place, waiting to voice your opinion until days after you notice it is a bad idea. These issues should be fixed immediately, before they snowball into other problems. For example, not mentioning that the outlet is misplaced until after the backsplash has been installed means breaking and replacing tile instead of simply making a new hole in the drywall.
While no contractor wants to work with an unreasonable client, he does want to address your requests now, before the project is finished. Be civil and professional when talking to the contractor and resolve issues before they turn into resentments that lead to lawsuits.
Often, you can simply speak directly to your contractor to settle any disputes or problems that may occur. With discussion and good will, you may be able to resolve the issue without losing time or creating additional expenses for legal procedures.
#9. The Contractor’s Fee Is Non-Negotiable
Remodeling contractor fees can seem high. The contractor’s fees / labor charges represent the highest line item on your estimate. Can you try to bargain down the fee?
Contractors can be very helpful when it comes to saving money. Those who operate in an honest and professional manner (which is the majority of them) work with you and your kitchen designer to stay in your budget. So, by tapping into the contractor’s years of experience, he can help identify many places where you can cut down costs.
However, the contractor’s markup is not an area open to negotiation. If you think their fee is pure profit, know that only a portion goes to the contractor as personal income. The contractor also has a business to run, and that pays for the business.
Although there is no guidebook or set of rules to consult concerning how to work with your contractor, we at Kitchen Design Partner believe the things contractors want you to know as outlined in this article will smooth the way for a successful and satisfying kitchen remodel.
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.