Step 4: Interview prospective contractors
Take the time to interview prospective contractors. Remember that you and your pro will be sharing the space and making decisions together for the duration of the project. Connecting with a person and being able to communicating well is more important than the numbers, which can always be negotiated. At the initial phase, it’s key to pick someone that you feel comfortable working with.
Here are some questions you can use to start off your interview:
What’s your business history?
Knowing a contractor or subcontractor’s business history is important to make sure that they are legitimate and reputable.
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you certified, licensed, bonded, and insured?
- What percentage of your business is repeat or referrals?
- Are you a member of a national trade association?
- Do have a list of references from your past 3-4 projects, including a present project?
Do you provide a detailed written contract?
Misunderstandings happen, especially with projects as complex as a kitchen. A detailed written contract helps you and the contractor know what is expected from each other. The contract should be very specific. It should detail each step of the project and include an estimated completion date.
What is your process for change orders?
Change orders are part of every kitchen project because there has never been a perfect kitchen remodel. It is not possible for yourself or the Pro to account for every single detail in the initial contract. Make sure that each change order is agreed to by everyone. Clearly note the change, price, time and any adjustments that need to be made.
What are your payment terms?
A contractor’s payment terms often depend on the scope of the work. Generally, the contractor will ask for an initial deposit of up to 30-50% of the total budget. It’s not recommended to pay the entire job up front. You should hold a significant portion of the money until the project is completed, and all details are to your satisfaction.
Do you provide itemized pricing?
A quality contractor will provide a price estimate itemized with cost of labor, demolition, materials, electrical, plumbing, permits, and more. An itemized list is important because you may encounter unexpected expenses midway through your project. For example, say you discover mold in your walls. To properly clean it, you need to trim back your existing budget, so you decide to put in a less expensive countertop than the one originally discussed. It’ll be important to know the exact cost of the first countertop, to make sure you’re credited back the right amount.
Who will be working at the site?
Your contractor will not be the only person working on site; in fact, they may not do any of the physical labor. It is very common for GCs to be responsible for supervising and coordinating multiple projects and job sites including your project. Ask your contractor for a list of subs that they are using. The subcontractors are the muscle behind the remodel, and you’ll want to know who they are.