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How to Find a Kitchen Contractor You Can Love

By Alison Markham, Broker-Associate, GRI, Realtor® | February 20, 2008

If home is where the heart is, then the kitchen is the room where the pulse of the home beats strongest. Social hub, homework center, impromptu office, decision-making nerve center – the kitchen fills many roles beyond just a place for food preparation.

That may be why a tired, outdated kitchen can be a heart-breaker for the homeowner – and a deal-breaker for prospective buyers. And it probably explains why kitchens are the most frequently remodeled rooms in American homes.

Even just a minor kitchen remodel returns nearly 100 percent of your investment, industry statistics show. A major remodel returns over 90 percent of your investment at resale. The kitchen is not just where the heart is, it’s also where smart homeowners invest their money.

With kitchen renovations averaging $17,000 for small jobs and $43,000 or more for major projects, it doesn’t pay to go cheap when hiring a contractor. Sure, you can save money by trying to do it yourself – or by hiring well-meaning friends and relatives. But the risks, not to mention the duration of the project, increase exponentially when the work is not being done by qualified professionals. Few homeowners are equipped (or have the experience necessary) to handle installing high-end enhancements popular right now, such as glass backsplashes, stone countertops and under-mount sinks with designer faucets.

Hiring a professional, certified kitchen contractor can save you money in the long run by ensuring the job is done right the first time. Contractors will also know where to secure the best materials for the best prices, will be up to date on remodeling trends, and will understand all local building codes and regulations.

There are four steps for finding a kitchen contractor you can love – and trust with the heart of your home.

1. Seek – Word of mouth is a great way to find a contractor, but there are other valuable resources that can help if you don’t know anyone who can make a recommendation. Online referral services like ReliableRemodeler.com can help you match your project with local professionals.

2. Meet – Once you’ve identified three top candidates, meet with each. These guys will virtually live with you while the remodel is under way. It’s important that you not only trust them professionally but like them personally. During the interview be clear about your vision, goals, and budget. Communicate your expectations and put everything in writing for each contractor you interview.

3. Check – Talk to references and visit projects they’ve completed. Check credentials to be sure the contractor holds all required state and local licenses, and is insured and bonded.

4. Choose – With written bids in hand, it’s time to make a choice. Don’t rush to accept the lowest bid. Tempting as it may be, it may not be the right one for you. Likewise, the highest bid may not mean the best quality work. Extreme bids – high or low – may mean the contractor is inexperienced, or worse, dishonest.

Don’t allow any work to start without a written contract signed by you and the contractor. The contract should include the bid amount, scope of the project, timeline, how changes will be handled and a payment schedule. Keep a punch list of items that need to be finished or redone and don’t make the final payment to the contractor until the work is finished to your satisfaction.

To find the right kitchen contractor for your project or to learn more about remodeling, check out www.reliableremodeler.com.

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