From a simple paint job to full redesigns, updating your kitchen can breathe new life into one of the most important rooms in your home. It is also a sure-fire way to increase your home’s resale value.
If you are going to hire a contractor to do the renovation, there are several checkpoints to mark, even before the process begins.
Reliability comes with a good referral. If you know someone who has recently given their kitchen a facelift, and had great results, ask which company they hired. When you do find a good contractor, be prepared to wait. The best companies are usually booked months in advance.
You don’t always have to go with the first contractor you speak to. Interview at least two, and look at their portfolio or photo gallery, if they have one. But don’t go overboard. Three, or maximum four, quotes should be enough. Make sure you see these contractors’ credentials. Are they licensed to practice their trade? Are they affiliated with associations in their field, such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), or the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB)?
Get it in writing. Once you have decided on a particular company, it is very important that all details about the job be in writing. This contract should outline items such as the price and payment schedule, a site plan and the scope of the work. A schedule of primary construction tasks, accompanied by a change-order clause should be included, and a written procedural list for close out.
You should also protect yourself with an express limited warranty, a dispute resolution clause and a waiver of lien. The latter will prevent subcontractors and suppliers from putting a lien on your house, if the contractor does not pay their invoices.
Another way you can avoid headache, and heartache, is to call your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) office. Most reliable organizations are happy to register with the BBB, and add this accreditation to their advertising materials.
But there are renovation nightmare tales in every city. One story tells of an owner who set up a specific credit card so the supposedly reputable contractor could buy supplies as the major renovation job progressed. Unfortunately, when the owner checked his statement soon into the project, he realized the contractor had racked up over $30,000 in personal purchases on that card. The bad news for the contractor was his client was a very good lawyer.
Another consideration is insurance. Are the contractors insured for damage that may occur due to negligence during the construction process? Would your current home insurance cover significant damage if the contractor was underinsured, or lied about being insured at all? A quick phone call or two could alleviate many sleepless nights until your beautiful renovation is complete.
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