How do I choose a kitchen and bath contractor?

How to hire a kitchen and bath contractor.

Follow these guidelines to choose the right kitchen and bathroom contractor for any job.

Know your budget

As with any large home improvement project, you should approach your kitchen & bath remodeling with a realistic budget in mind. Having a set idea of what you want to spend will help you narrow your list of potential contractors. Start your search for a kitchen & bathroom contractor on

Decide exactly what you want done

Envision what you want, then fill in the details. Will the floor plan stay the same? Do you want a new tub and, if so, what kind? Will the tub stay where the old one was or be moved? Cut out pictures of designs and aspects that you like and be prepared to show those pictures to the contractor. He or she should be able to realistically tell you if what you want is within reason.

Once you know your budget, visit fixture vendors. Tour a few kitchen showrooms or home improvement stores to see what's available in your price range.

Consider buying bathroom fixtures and cabinets yourself

Buying your new toilet, sinks, or cabinets directly from a wholesale supplier could cut your costs greatly. If you decide to buy your own fixtures, make sure you find a contractor that will install them for you.

Find out if a contractor only works with certain product lines and take a look at brochures to make sure the products fit your taste. Some contractors may refuse to install fixtures that you bought because it may affect the guarantees for their work.

Get estimates from at least 3 kitchen & bath contractors

If you see a substantial difference in price between contractors, don't be afraid to ask why. Differences can be influenced by labor costs, the cost of materials or special considerations for your job. Ask your contractors about their differences in price.

Make sure all estimates include the cost for removing and disposing of old fixtures. You don't want any surprises when it's time to pay your contractor.

Confirm plumbing license and insurance

In many states, plumbers and other types of contractors must be professionally licensed. Check the Contractor's License Reference Site, and with the appropriate division in your state (you'll find those phone numbers on the same website). Also, ask to see a contractor's proof of insurance before you allow work to begin.

Agree on payment schedules and a contract

Ask potential contractors whether they are open to a payment schedule that follows the work's progress. Also take a look at a sample contract or template to make sure it meets your expectations.

In the contract, you should expect to see a specific description of the work to be done, a payment schedule, a start date and an estimated completion date.

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