Once you’ve identified what kind of help you need, the next step is to find qualified professionals, interview them, check their backgrounds and references and formalize your partnership with a legal contract. Begin by focusing on the trades that constitute the most important and complex aspects of your remodeling project. A skilled custom cabinetmaker, for example, is much harder to find than a journeyman plumber. ln these specialty trades, the very best subcontractors are in high demand, especially if they have unique abilities; you’ll want to hire them and lock them into your schedule as soon as possible. Once your primary subcontractors are in place, it’s generally not as difficult to find plumbers, electricians and laborers to fit your schedule.
Finding Good Contractors
Word-of-mouth is usually the best way to find good subcontractors. Ask neighbors, friends, coworkers and relatives who have finished a remodeling project to recommend good professionals and warn you about those to avoid. Many of the finest tradespeople don’t advertise at all; they rely exclusively on word-of-mouth. Another option is to contact a full-service kitchen design center or a design/build firm; both can provide nearly any contractor you might need, from a general contractor to painting and wallpapering workers. However, this service is generally reserved for paying clients.
Many building supply centers are also entering the remodeling business as a way to sell materials; for a price, they will supply you with a list of local contractors. Also, builders associations and local trade guilds often publish lists of qualified contractors. Finally, you can consult the Yellow Pages. Look under each trade-such as Contractors (General), Building Contractors, Electrical Contractors or Kitchen Remodeling. This can be risky, however, so be sure to scrutinize any kitchen contractor you find in the Yellow Pages-especially those not endorsed by word-of-mouth or a reputable organization. In general, look for a contractor who’s based relatively close to your home. A local contractor with an established business relies heavily on his or her reputation in the community and is therefore likely to take your job seriously Also look for a contractor who has a lot of experience with projects similar to yours in size and complexity. Before you make any calls, you can weed out contractors who aren’t insured, as well as those who aren’t licensed-if that’s required in your area. You can ask to see proof that the contractor meets these requirements at your first interview. Once you find a contractor you trust to do one part of the project, you should ask him to recommend other professionals. For example, a good carpenter will probably know skilled electricians, cabinetmakers, plumbers and flooring contractors.