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How to Prevent Kitchen Remodel Disappointments and Disasters

Hidden costs, rushed jobs, missed deadlines, poor communication, and unreliable subcontractors are common complaints homeowners have during a remodel project.

Your contractor should never rush you at any stage, whether consultation or bidding. For example, it would be considered a red flag if your contractor didn’t have a long list of questions to ask in order to mock up a detailed and accurate estimate.

To prevent disappointments with your kitchen remodel, you’ll want to ensure that you ask the contractor all the right questions and have a timeline and contract in place before work begins. Prior to signing an agreement, make sure that you feel they clearly understand what you envision, along with clear steps on how they will get there.

The most professional contractors will remain accessible and keep an open dialogue with you, so be sure to vet these qualities from the start. It is also wise to put all of your communications in writing and refer to the contract as needed.

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Five Questions to Ask a General Contractor

What Type of Contract Will You Be Proposing?

This question is essential because there are two types of contracts your contractor can present. One is called a cost-plus contract, and the other is a fixed-price contract.

Cost-plus is the most common; unfortunately, it benefits them more than you. In a cost-plus agreement, the client agrees to pay the building expenses stated in the contract, plus profit. The “plus” amount can be defined as a percentage of construction costs or pre-arranged fees.

Contractors sometimes use “unforeseen problems” to inflate costs, and a cost-plus contract enables them to spend more than estimated on expenses and overhead.

A fixed-price contract is straightforward, and the total cost is just that - fixed. Having a fixed-price contract puts the responsibility on the contractor to thoroughly review the specs of your kitchen design and outline costs down to appliances, finishes, and site cleanup costs.

A fixed-price contract will likely be your best option as it signifies professionalism, experience, and confidence they will get the job done without hiccups.

How Long Will This Project Take?

It is critical to clearly understand when work will begin and end with milestones along the way. Even if your contractor promises to complete the project in three months or less, ask them follow-up questions to see if they anticipate any potential setbacks. Questions such as:

  • Are you bidding or working on other projects that could impact our timeline?
  • How will you handle any delays should they arise?
  • Will you inspect for structural integrity before setting a timeframe?

Despite what many contractors claim about scheduling, it is possible to adhere to the set timeline. It requires a thorough consultation phase where the contractor walks through the kitchen space and communicates with the kitchen designer and/or architect to learn about needs and preferences during construction.

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Will I Be Able to Use The Kitchen During Remodeling?

Not all homeowners want to or can vacate their homes during a remodel, so it is crucial to understand what your contractor’s plan is to make living through construction as accommodating as possible.

Before finalizing the contract, you should review the house rules, working hours, and specific periods and solutions for when the kitchen won’t be functional. This includes days when you may not have electricity or water. Sometimes contractors will set up temporary kitchens when possible and ensure a clean and safe worksite is maintained throughout the construction process.

Will Someone Be On-site Every Day?

The answer to this question can tell you when there might be breaks throughout the project and if you should expect construction delays. Because contractors have multiple projects taking place at once, they may have to divert workers to other job sites and may not personally supervise your project. There can be "downtimes" in schedules, but what is important is that the client is aware of how the schedule is set and how the project will progress. A project manager that clearly communicates with clients and keeps the project on schedule is key!

What is Your Warranty?

Many homeowners neglect to ask this question because they just don’t know it’s possible. A warranty or work guarantee includes quality of labor and materials and adherence to the contract. Because warranties can vary widely, you want to find out exactly what it covers and how long it will be in effect.

If you have more specific questions regarding products, styles, no-fuss design, or you’d like to set up a consultation to discuss your project, please contact us at Custom Kitchens. We are an award-winning design/build company that has been in business since 1950, and we would love to be your one-stop shop for your custom remodeling needs.

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