Updated: Jun 30, 2020
You've thought about updating your kitchen for years now. But, the timing was never right. Finally, you're ready to pull the trigger and start your remodel project. Only now you have no idea where to start?
There are so many things to consider when embarking on a renovation. First of all who is going to do it? What will it cost? How long will it take? OH MY, this can all feel so overwhelming but here are a few tips to get you started.
Where Oh Where Art Thou, Perfect Contractor?
Social Media is the New Yellow Pages
Instagram, Houzz, Facebook, and social media are now the new yellow pages. Yes, I said yellow pages, most people reading this probably don't even know what those are. So google it, right after you check out #buildersofInstagram, #contarctorsnashville, or #Builders in your area.
Social media allows you to connect with a contractor or builder and follow them. You can see their work immediately on their feed and watch their stories unfold on each job. This way you get an idea of their personality and virtually interview them without ever having met in person. This is really great for people who are new to an area and might not be able to get a good referral. And if there isn't a rush on finding a contractor immediately, you can find design inspiration on their feed. And you know they can deliver.
You can also check services like Angie's List or Yelp. This way you can read consumer reviews before making a selection. Hearing what other people are saying about a company is important. It can help you decide how a contractor handles a job.
Reading both positive and negative reviews are important. Positive reviews will highlight a contractor's strengths. And can still contain information about their weaknesses. They can even shed some light on how any issues were handled. Resolving problems quickly creates a happy homeowner in the end. And can easily turn into a positive review.
Assess the negative reviews. How many are there? Are there more negatives than positives? Keep in mind that problems and miscommunications do happen during a project. It isn't always 100% the contractor's fault. So take negative reviews with an open mind, but don't disregard them. The customer may not always be right, but a good contractor makes sure they're happy in the end.
Ask Your friends
The tried and true word-of-mouth referral is still the best way to find the right contractor. Ask friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. You can even join online neighborhood forums like NextDoor or your community's association. There are usually posts requesting referrals and will highlight a few neighborhood favorites.
TIP: Make sure you chose a contractor that is licensed, bonded and insured. You can find this information out, and about any formal complaints filed, at your state's contractors licensing board. In Nashville for license search and verification click here.
You Had Me At... $5,000 Below the Competition!
Cheaper isn't always better. In fact, that statement is true more often times than not. Yes...Always get 3 estimates, without question. But, weigh the overall value the contractor brings to the table. And, not who has the cheapest prices.
To save money some contractors use day laborers who are not licensed or insured. This could also mean that the workers change daily, so get ready for a revolving door. That doesn't mean they are bad contractors, it just means this something you really need to be aware of... upfront.
Many contractors have project managers and employees. And when needed they hire licensed sub-contractors, who are bonded and insured. This means consistency and protection for the homeowner. If a dispute arises that you can't settle, then the contractor's state licensing board can step in.
Another way contractors save money by using less-expensive materials. For example, kitchen cabinets range in quality from particleboard to custom made. Make sure you know what you're paying for and what you are getting.
Also, beware of being quoted with the least expensive options. Then every decision you make is considered an upgrade and followed by a change-fee. Look at the contract closely and determine if the contractor is operating with transparency before you sign it.
TIP: Ask questions! Know what you are paying for. Make sure that the contractor's bond and insurance are current. And ask for a copy of any sub-contractor's contracts.
Time After Time... after Time.. after Time. Will This Ever Be Over?
The timeline...sigh. You were planning to finish before the Christmas tree went up. You're 2 weeks behind schedule, so now you decide to go read the yelp reviews. Several reviewers posted complaints that no one was showing up on the job site for days.
You'll wish you had known this before you hired the contractor not after.
The solution? Get a detailed timeline with dates when milestones will be completed. Once you have this, you can do a weekly or even daily checklist. This will help you make sure things are progressing in a timely manner. You can address problems and anticipate any issues early on.
Many contractors juggle several jobs at once. This is a fairly common practice and usually not an issue. A seasoned contractor will assign a project manager to your job. They will oversee your project daily. It is important that your contractor still be on-site to inspect all work completed. So you need to clarify this early on so you know what to expect.
TIP: Communication is key! Make sure you know who, how, and when it is best to communicate. Project updates from the contractor should be often and consistent. This way you know that everything is on schedule and you can relax.
Now You're Ready to Get This Show on the Road
Many homeowners fear that a remodel will disrupt their lives for months on end. While it is true you should expect some disruptions. It doesn't have to take over your life. It all starts with understanding the process, embracing change, and putting the right people in place.
So take a deep breath and relax. Soon you will be enjoying the kitchen you've been dreaming of and it will all be worth it in the end.
So what are you waiting for? You got this!
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