Hiring Kitchen Remodelers
As the heart of the modern home, the kitchen requires special expertise and a thoughtful plan when being renovated.
A kitchen remodeler is an experienced professional contractor who understands kitchens from top to bottom and knows exactly how to put all the pieces together in this complex puzzle of a room. At least that’s the kind of kitchen remodeler you should hire. While any skilled finish carpenter can handle makeover elements like cabinets, flooring, trim and even some countertop fabrication, a full-blown kitchen remodel involves a lot more than surface materials.
Any skilled carpenter can install a cabinet, but a professional remodeler can integrate all the elements.
Even minor changes to a kitchen’s floor plan can affect hidden elements, like plumbing, wiring and duct runs. But more importantly, the layout directly affects how well the kitchen works on an everyday basis – not just for the cooks, but also for the neighboring rooms and, indeed, the rest of the house. For this, you need the expertise of a designer and contractor who know how to turn a household’s needs and desires into a beautiful, perfectly functioning workspace.
Professional kitchen remodelers come in many forms. Some are general contractors who manage the project from start to finish and who hire subcontractors for most or all aspects of the design and construction. Others are hands-on builder types who do much of the work themselves and may hire subs only for specialty jobs, such as countertops.
Some kitchen remodelers handle both design and construction, and some hire subcontractors.
There are also plenty of “design/build” companies that employ in-house designers, contractors and project managers who work together under one roof, offering complete remodeling services in an all-in-one package. Many kitchen remodelers strive for this kind of turnkey service, whether they achieve it through in-house teams or with the help of trusted subcontractors.
Kitchen design is a well-established specialty area in the home building and remodeling world. A qualified kitchen designer has comprehensive knowledge of kitchen layout, cabinets, fixtures and finishes, as well as everything behind the scenes, like plumbing, wiring and structural elements.
You can hire a kitchen designer to help you with any or all aspects of a remodel, from choosing colors and appliances to drawing up complete plans for the construction crew to follow. Designers may work directly for or with remodeling firms or contractors (in which case the design fee is included in the project price), or they may work as independent contractors. Kitchen-product retailers also often have designers on staff, as do some large home centers.
Kitchen designers can help choose colors and draw up complete plans.
Many kitchen remodelers become certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the leading national organization of kitchen and bathroom professionals. A Certified Kitchen Designer, or CKD, has at least seven years of professional design experience, among other qualifications. You can visit the organization’s site to learn more about kitchen designers and certification.
So, do you need a designer for your project? In most cases, yes. A successful kitchen plan requires careful assessment of the household’s needs and effective (often creative) solutions to meet those needs. A good designer can give you valuable advice and ideas at every stage of the planning process and likely will save you money before the project is done.
Finding the Right Kitchen Remodeler
Since kitchen renovations are by far the most popular type of home renovation, you’ll have no trouble finding scads of local kitchen remodelers to choose from. Start your search by asking for kitchen contractor referrals from friends and relevant professional contacts, such as tradespeople or real estate pros you know. Try using the Networx listings if you can’t find many word-of-mouth kitchen contractor referrals.
If you like your friends’ kitchen, ask them who did the renovation.
Arrange for free consultations with several candidates. Use these meetings to discuss your goals, dreams and (ballpark) budget and to learn about the remodeler’s experience and personal style and the types of projects he does most. In a nutshell, you want someone with a reasonably long history of projects similar to yours – both in scope and execution – and someone whose design sense and aesthetic sensibility appeal to you.
Check references carefully, and make sure all candidates are insured and licensed (as required in your area). Once you’ve chosen a contractor and/or designer, the next big step is finalizing the design and drafting job specifications to be included with the construction contract. Job specs outline every task to be done on the project and every product that will be purchased and installed (many designers include job specs when drafting a kitchen plan).
You can bring a kitchen remodeler some ideas of your own. Have you thought about concrete countertops? Wood counters? Stainless steel sinks? Other kinds of sinks? Don’t forget the overall style that cabinets and backsplashes bring to a kitchen.
Consult with an expert kitchen remodeler about your ideas. Fill out the form below.
Philip Schmidt is a home improvement author and editor based in Colorado. He enjoys honey-do lists and boring his family with random facts about houses.
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