A kitchen remodel is a large investment, so it’s important to hire the right company to make sure you get the results you want.
Search for referrals
Word-of-mouth is the most trustworthy way to find a qualified professional for your kitchen remodeling project. Start by asking your family, friends, neighbors, or social media connections what contractors they’ve had good experiences with, or if there are any contractors they wouldn’t recommend.
Make sure to press for details, ask what made it a positive or negative experience and whether they would hire the same contractor again.
If your personal connections aren’t able to provide you any referrals, turn to the internet.
Start by searching for “kitchen remodeling contractors in the Twin Cities”. Do your research on each result to make sure they’re reputable and have references.
Reputable contractors will make it easy for you to get in touch with them and see examples of their work. Be cautious of those who lack basic information, such as a permanent local mailing address, email address, or phone number.
After you’ve compiled a list of potential contractors, it’s time to do your research. Start by visiting each contractor’s website to verify their credentials. They should hold all required licenses from state and local municipalities, along with designations from any professional associations such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the National Association of Homebuilders.
In Minnesota, a building contractor, remodeler, or roofer license is required for anyone who contracts directly with a homeowner to provide building construction services in more than one skill area. Ask for the contractor’s license number and call 651-284-5069 or 800-342-5354 to verify the builder is licensed and to find out if they have a disciplinary history. The status of a contractor's license can also be checked online.
Look for contractors who have invested time and resources into earning certifications. However, not all certifications are as rigorous as others. Do some homework and find out the requirements. The specific licenses or certifications your home improvement contractor should carry will depend on the project.
The EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and pre-schools built before 1978 have their firm certified by EPA, use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers and follow lead-safe work practices. The EPA Lead-Safe Certification ensures that contractors are educated on the dangers of toxic lead dust and how to prevent lead hazards by following lead-safe work practices.
It’s good practice to hire a contractor that holds this certification.
In addition to making sure contractors have the correct licenses and certification to complete the job safely and legally, make sure they have liability insurance in case any damage occurs to your home. The contractor should also be covered by worker’s compensation. Ask for a copy of their insurance policies and check that they’re up to date.
Next, try to narrow down your list of contenders to three contractors and set up meetings with each.
This is your chance to get a reading on your candidates. How a contractor answers questions is important. If you feel that they’re too pushy or that they’re avoiding certain questions altogether, this may be a red flag.
After you’ve met with a few contractors, start checking references. It’s very common to ask for references, so any reputable contractor will expect you to do so.
A typical contractor reference list includes ten or more jobs with the name, address, and telephone number of each customer.
Some questions to ask include:
- Did the contractor stay on schedule?
- Was the job site kept neat?
- Were problems addressed promptly
- Was the contractor punctual for appointments and workdays?
- How has the work held up?
- Was the cost reasonable and clear?
If a client had a positive experience, they’ll be upbeat and honest about the contractor even if there were some small problems. If the experience was negative, you may notice them hesitating or answering indirectly. Try to read between the lines as you talk with each reference as they may not want to speak poorly of the contractor.
See the work for yourself
After you’ve talked to your contractors’ references, eliminate those that received poor reviews. Then, decide which projects you’d like to see for yourself.
Reach out to the references who:
- Seem open and forthcoming
- Hired the contractor for projects similar to yours
- Live close to you
Visit at least one finished project from each of your remaining top contenders. As you visit the projects, take a close look at the contractor’s work. Ask if it has ever needed servicing or repairs. Pay attention to the overall feel and specific details.
Get bids for the job and hire a contractor
By now, you should have eliminated anyone from your list who isn’t a good fit. The next step is to price the job with all of the remaining contractors on your list.
After a thorough consultation, each contractor will present you with a brief proposal and estimated cost for the project called a bid.
Be wary of any contractor who tries to pressure you into accepting a bid. Some contractors will try to get you to sign right away by saying their bids are only good for a limited time. However, quality contractors will let you take your time deciding which bid to choose and act graciously if you decline their bid.
After you’ve chosen your contractor and accepted their bid, they will draft a proposal.
Before you sign the proposal, make sure it includes:
- A detailed summary of the project
- What materials will be used
- The total cost of the project, or how the price will be calculated
- Specific timelines and exactly what will happen if the contractor fails to meet the deadlines in the contract.
Once you’ve reviewed and signed the proposal, your project will be underway.