A Guide to Evaluating NJ Kitchen Contractors

NJ Kitchen Contractor and Design SpecialistsIs it time to start remodeling your kitchen? You’d be surprised at just how much happier you are when your kitchen is a place you actually enjoy spending time in. Think about it – you prepare your family’s meals in there, the stuff that keeps them well-fueled and healthy. Isn’t it in your best interest to make that space into an area where you actually want to spend time in? We certainly think so.

The problem for most people is the process of actually choosing a home improvement company can be very stressful. Most people don’t know what to look for and more importantly, what not to look for. We definitely don’t want to give all contractors a bad name, but there are definitely unscrupulous contractors out there, that it would be in your best interest to avoid.

After reading through this article, you should be armed with a majority of the knowledge you’ll need to make an informed decision about which remodeling company you should go with.

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Hiring Guide for Kitchen Remodelers in NJ

Be Clear About What You Want

This one is a whole lot more about you than it is about them. Here’s the thing: no one is a mind reader. They can’t give you the type of results you’re looking for if you can’t communicate what you’re looking for to them effectively.

Also, beware of using vague or abstract words which don’t actually describe anything specific. Saying things like “I want our cabinets to look elegant” or “it should make everyone who sees it very impressed” are all things that are very hard to gauge, and not things you want to tell your chosen kitchen makeover specialist.

If at all possible, try to find pictures, whether from magazines or on Houzz, of things that are close to what you’re looking for. Be specific about what kind of materials you want used and if you have any special requirements for how things are to be installed. This is definitely the time to let them know that you might be a difficult client, if you feel you might be. What you don’t want to do is know you have a lot of strange requests and wait until the work has already started to tell the contractor about your special requests. If you do that, you can bet your quoted price is going to rise pretty quickly.

Get Everything In Writing

Even the most honest company will have some trouble remembering exactly what was said in a verbal agreement. Verbal agreements rarely mean anything and they are very open to interpretation. Make sure to draw out a contract and include everything you think is important and then include the things you don’t think are important. It can never hurt to have everything you’ve agreed upon in writing.  In fact, we would advise not to start any type of work without a clear contract that is mutually agreed upon, including a project timeline and clear payment schedule.

If your kitchen designer or remodeler is reluctant to draw up a contract with you, then that should definitely be a red flag and you should not feel the least bit bad about walking away before moving things along any further. Any contractor that can stand behind the work they do will make sure to provide you with a contract if you ask for one, and most times even if you don’t.

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Agree On a Deposit Amount

It’s normal and understandable for any contractor to ask you for a deposit before starting any work. It allows them to cover their costs for supplies and materials, as they can’t operate in the red for the majority of the time they’re working with you. That said, the deposit terms need to be reasonable for you as well.

Most reliable local remodeling companies will take anywhere from one-third to one-half of the quote as the deposit. Some clients get scared off by having to pay a deposit and search around for a contractor who will work without a deposit. They may even find one too, but beware, most contractors who will work without a deposit will find some other way to make their money back. Don’t be afraid of the deposit, just make sure it isn’t more than half of the quote.

If a company is asking you to pay their full quote upfront, that should be grounds for dismissal for consideration to remodel your kitchen. All too often, companies that take full deposits upfront either disappear entirely or perform the work very slowly. After all, they’ve got your money already, what incentive do they have to get the job done in a timely manner?

Establish a Timeline That Works for You

You need to use your kitchen and the work crew needs to go home to their family each night and move on to the next job eventually. That is why it’s so important to hammer out a timeline for the work to be completed. Of course you don’t want your kitchen to be out of commission for any longer than it absolutely needs to be, but you don’t want your contractor to rush the job either – someone will just have to come out and fix it again sooner rather than later.

Another important thing to understand is that sometimes things fall behind schedule. This can either be entirely the contractor’s fault, or due to no fault of their own. If you see them working hard day in and day out, not taking excessive breaks, showing up on time and not going home early, then don’t be too quick to get upset with them about the timeline – they are trying their hardest. That doesn’t mean you can’t approach the boss for updates on the projected completion date, but do it politely unless they are clearly slacking off on the job.

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Be Realistic With Your Expectations

You know that old saying “don’t expect champagne on a beer budget”? It definitely applies here. If you are looking for a very luxurious kitchen with all the best fixtures, but you can barely afford the stuff they sell at Home Depot, this is not a problem that your remodeling contractor will be able to solve for you. If you can’t afford to pay for nice fixtures, then your kitchen won’t look as nice as you want it to, no matter how good the contractor is at performing the work.

At the same time, you may want to test out your prospective contractor by throwing out a few totally unrealistic requests from the very beginning. You don’t have to actually move forward with them, but try to gauge their reactions. If you throw out ideas for wildly extravagant fixtures and note that you have a very small budget, your contractor’s reaction will tell you a lot about what they will be like to work with. If they tell you directly that you need to manage your expectations more realistically, that means they are an honest company that likely won’t try to give you the run around later on. If they tell you that everything you’re looking for is fine, even at such a low budget, you should be very wary. Contractors like that are usually looking to cash in later by adding a bunch of extra charges for all of those extras you wanted.

To help our homeowners understand what a New Jersey kitchen remodeling project costs, we have put together a comprehensive guide that you can read here.

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NJ Kitchen Renovation Guide Conclusion

While there are probably hundreds of different techniques you could use to tell whether or not a remodeling professional is worth trusting, using the ones above will help you weed out a majority of the bad ones. After that, just use your own instincts to measure whether or not the remaining ones are the right choice for you.

Of course, you can always call us and set up a meeting to see if we’re a good fit for your project.  One of the things that is included in our service is identifying and helping you select a reliable, local kitchen remodeling contractor that suits your project.

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