We’ve heard it all before, ‘My cousin Vinny can do that kitchen remodel for you cheaper than any contractor around’. Or ‘Charles did our bathroom and I think it looks great, saved me thousands’.
Saving money on a room or whole house remodel is important, but as they say, you get what you pay for.
In setting up that first meeting, let the prospective contractor know what you are wanting ahead of time. Tell them that you want a new kitchen and all that’s involved. New cabinets, counter top, flooring, back splash, new paint on the walls and a nice new floor.
You do this for two reasons. One, so that the contractor has a ‘scope’ of what you want done and also so they can bring samples, pictures of past work and references from their past/current customers.
An experienced remodeling contractor will come organised and ready to perform a ‘take off’ of your work. He/she will, if experienced, ask you more questions about the project than you have even thought about, reasons to do this or try that.
And have a budget, what you willing to spend on your project, before the contractor gets there and be able to add 10 to 15% just for unexpected items that will come up thru the remodel.
Have you done this type of work before
Even the most experienced of contractors haven’t done ‘everything’ in their lifetime and some of the younger, know it all folks, can have a hard time admitting that when asked. But ask you should.
Tearing out and replace new kitchen cabinets for example. A lot of thought will have to go into this process on your part as you will no doubt have a time when you can’t use your kitchen. But to minimize that down time should be stressed in the initial meeting with a contractor.
What will you do with the old cabinets and trash, dumpster on premises? What about the plumbing and electrical, can they do this themselves up to code or do they have to sub it out to other professionals.
Do you have any references
If you got the name of a contractor from a friend or relative, that contractor has at least one reference that you can hopefully count on. But you should never be afraid to ask for more.
An established professional contractor should have a list of willing names and numbers to hand out to a prospective customer like you. A successful contractor will build his/her business around the people to whom they’ve pleased in the past.
Can I get an insurance certificate with my name on it
This question is important for a couple of reasons. One is to make sure the contractor has liability insurance to begin with. And the second is to get your name on a copy of that insurance as the ‘holder’ of the policy while work is being done on your home or business.
Walk away from a contractor that says no to either of these questions, as they are most likely on the shady side of the profession.
Are you licensed
In the State of Pennsylvania, all contractors are required to be registered with the State. If they don’t have a State registration, and they do shoddy work for you or they skip town in the middle of the project, you actually don’t have a leg to stand on if you have to take them to court.
Sort of a ‘buyer beware’ on your end, for if they are registered with the State and you have a complaint, the state will back you in your endeavor to get you money back or help you force the job to it’s completion.
If the estimate doesn’t have the contractors license on it, as required by law, ask them for their number and have them put it on the estimate and contract.
What type of guarantee/warranty do you offer
For any major project, like a kitchen remodel, new hardwood floors throughout your home, at least a 90 parts and labor warranty should be expected.
But you should not just get an ‘implied’ warranty, get something on your contract that states what the warranty will, and just as importantly, won’t cover.
I’m sure you can think of more questions to ask on that initial visit, but making a list of things to cover is the best way to ensure you get your ducks in a row before you agree to spend you money.