In the life of a house or apartment, there comes a time when you need to update the kitchen.  Maybe it’s just the countertop, or maybe it’s a full renovation.  It doesn’t matter.  When you start this process, these are some things to always keep in mind.

Contractor’s Reputation:  I have seen countless contractors suggesting they are “reliable”.  I assure you, their word is not “reliable”.  When you are looking for a contractor, always get references.  Some large home improvement stores, such as Lowes, will offer to subcontract out and stand behind the work.  It is nice to have the support of a reputable brand, but it is still important to check on who will be doing the actual work.

Insurance:  Is the contractor covered by an insurance policy for this project?  If not, think long and hard prior to letting them work in your home.

Timeline:  Every contractor will tell you that they will “get you scheduled right up”.  However, that may mean they’ll start in a week or a month.  It is important to get a timeline in advance.  While they might not keep the timeline, at least you will have something with which to use as leverage (their word!) to encourage the completion of the project.  In my first kitchen renovation, I did not get a timeline and two months later the project was still “almost done”.

Cover The Details:  Unfortunately, when you decide you want a new set of cabinets installed, that does not mean the contractor will pay attention to items like the liner and where the outlets are when they install the new cabinets.  Yes, if they are good they will.  But many won’t.  It is important that you discuss these details with the contractor at the start of the project (you initiate the conversation if they don’t!), and document the resulting requirements.

Money:  Don’t pay in full up front if there is any way around it!  I think that speaks for itself.

The Review: I had a less than stellar experience, and found upwards of 15 items throughout the process that were in need of fixing.  But even if you have a great contractor, items will come up.  Always take a detailed look at the work being done, and ask yourself 1) is it correct and 2) is it the way I want it.  During the actual renovation is the easiest time to fix what you may not like.  Usually contractors will not have an issue working with mid-project adjustment requests (to a certain extent).

I hope you enjoy your new kitchen and best of luck!