Remodeling a kitchen may seem overwhelming—there are so many options, it is hard to know where to start.  Here are some questions to ask yourself that can really help get you moving in the right direction.

  1.  What do you NOT LIKE in your current kitchen?  (Layout, appearance, functionality?)
  2. What do you WANT in your new kitchen?How do you primarily use your kitchen now?  Do you foresee this changing?
  3. How long do you plan to stay in this home?What is your time frame?
  4. How do you plan to pay for your renovations/what is your budget?

So you answered these questions, now what?

You have an idea of what you want, but don’t know how to find someone reliable that can take this from an idea to reality.  Most people get stuck here.  Most will ask their friends and family for recommendations.  That is a really good idea, you can learn a lot from the experiences (good and bad) of the people in your life that you trust.

You need to pick a contractor, which is the scary part.

You have several options... go with a large national company, a chain building products store or a local kitchen specialist to name a few. All have pros and cons.

Franchise Kitchen Companies

  • Pros – Price due to buying power of multiple franchise owners, local owner has personal  stake in the success of his business.
  • Cons — Franchise owners may or may not have much experience with installations.  Some have only purchased a business with little or no experience and are “learning as they go”.   They pass along “franchise fees” in the cost of their products.  May be limited in product lines and services offered.

Large Home Improvement Store

  • Pros — Large “demonstration kitchens” set up to get ideas about products and colors.  Special financing offers.  Manufacturer’s rebates sometimes offered.  Store stands behind the product, a place to go if you are dissatisfied.
  • Cons —You must pay 100% up front and start paying the day you order your kitchen.  The installers are independent contractors who are not employees of the store, so you don’t know who will actually be doing the work in your home. You may have 4-6 separate contractors, tile, cabinet, electrical, plumbing.

Self service means self service, most of these stores rely on you to make accurate measurements of your kitchen, no designer comes to your home to offer suggestions for improvements or modifications that may not have even occurred to you.

    • Lack of communication—by using independent contractors, there is an extra layer between you and the person actually doing the work, which leaves a lot of room for misunderstandings and miscommunication.

Keep this in mind — What if something unforeseen arises?  Do you have confidence in this contractor that you’ve never met to think “creatively” to solve unforeseen problems such as:

  • uneven floors and walls
  • mold
  • water damage
  • mis-measurements

Local Kitchen Specialist

Pros — Experience specifically  with kitchen remodeling.  When you call, you speak directly with the contractor, no middle man.  You can check references and credentials so you know who is coming to your home.  Ease of scheduling by dealing with a local company that works around your schedule.  Design consultation in your home with an experienced professional who can make suggestions, offer solutions, accurately measure and narrow down the “unforeseens”.  You won’t hear, I can’t do that, it’s not my job.  Pay in increments, typically an initial deposit and remainder paid a t completion of project, which gives you protection that the work will be completed in a timely manner and to your satisfaction.

Keep this in mind — An independent craftsman has a personal stake in having satisfied customers.  His name and reputation are at stake since most of their business comes by word of mouth.

Cons — Financing, you must pay by check or credit card, no special financing terms.  Many are small businessmen and could go out of business.  Not all contractors are licensed and insured.

When selecting a contractor things you should look for: Proof of business license, liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance

Uninsured guys may be cheaper because of lower overhead, but what happens if there is an accident or property damage in your home?  You’re left holding the bag.

References: A good contractor should be able to provide a minimum of three recent, verifiable references for the specific type of work you want done.  Some can arrange to meet with prior customers in their homes so you can see their work and talk personally to the homeowner about their experience.

Rapport with the contractor: Does he understand what you want?  Is he responsive?  Does he try to “sell you” something or does he work with you to find solutions?   Do you like this person?  It is a proven fact that people like doing business with people they like.


Make sure you are comparing apples to apples.  Many people choose a contractor solely on price, but it is important to know what the price covers.  Are there add-on charges?  What is the quality of the product? What is the quality of the workmanship?

Look for a fair price—you get what you pay for.