Choosing the Right Kitchen Remodeling Professional

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If you are considering a kitchen remodeling or bath renovation in the near future, here are 7 Criteria to consider when choosing your kitchen/bath professional.

1. Showroom/Collection Center Appearance
A showroom demonstrates stability, providing insight into the company you are considering. Consider these:

  • Are the displays unique and represent a broad range of styles?
  • Are they complete, in a state of flux, or missing elements?
  • How well are the components integrated into a beautiful, functional, ergonomically designed kitchen or bath display?
  • Look closely at the “fit and finish” – where the countertop meets the sink or the cabinets, how the molding mitre cuts come together and other details

2. An Educational Approach
Let the owner or designer educate you. A showroom should be an educational center. You should walk out more informed and less confused than when you walked in. Look for:

  • Information booklets you can take home to study
  • A “storyboard” outlining the steps involved in the design and installation processes
  • A “cabinet comparison wall” displaying the differences in construction and cost of cabinetry
  • A portfolio of designs on display, or in a book
  • Magazines or books that feature the publication of the firm’s kitchen or bath projects

3. Selection of Quality Products at Special Values
Value rarely translates to the lowest cost. True value is getting the best possible product for your investment.
It is a common misconception that only national and regional chain home centers can offer cabinetry at lower prices. With the advent of national kitchen and bath buying groups, professional kitchen and bath design firms, through their membership, can offer quality cabinets (as well as many other products) at the greatest value. Buying group membership assures you that the firm can offer the best prices, quality service and the best value overall.

4. Highly Trained Personnel
Staff expertise and experience are the most critical factors in achieving great design and incredible value. A brief conversation can begin to tell you a little about the firm, but ask about:

  • Accreditation from national industry organizations
  • Employee background, education and length of association with the firm
  • Certificates of training from suppliers, such as cabinet and appliance manufacturers
  • Continuing education requirements and proof
  • Testimonials from past clients
  • References that you can explore yourself

5. Documentation
How well the firm you choose prepares for the eventuality beforehand (through documentation), as well as the “crisis” itself can be the difference between a haunting disaster and a great experience. An experienced firm will completely and accurately document the following:

  • Detailed floor plans, elevations and perspectives
  • Specifications for each product including costs, warranties, deliverables, timing, etc.
  • Complete specifications for the services provided; what is included, what is not included, what may be additional, and the like
  • Agreements for Pricing, Payment Terms, and Conditions

6. Specialized Services
What are your expectations? Some people just want a good design and will handle the rest, others expect the firm to manage the process from design through installation. Be sure the firm you hire fulfills your expectations.

  • What does the design process include?
  • Will they order everything you need to complete the project, including the little things you don’t see?
  • Will they manage the ordering process, or will you be on the phone asking about delivery dates?
  • Do you want the firm to hire, manage and pay the subcontractors such as the electricians, plumbers, tile installers, painters and others?

The rule of thumb in kitchen and bath design is the greater the specialized services, the greater the customer satisfaction. Look for key indicators that demonstrate how well your firm is schooled in specialized services.

  • Are they preparing a comprehensive “needs analysis”?
  • Is there an interactive budgeting system with a schedule of cost options in place to help quickly determine the scope of your project?
  • Is there a project manager on board that catches ordering mistakes and quarterbacks your installation and job completion process?
  • Are there forms and systems in place for written notifications after the sale such as change orders, delivery times, schedule dates, etc.?
  • Will you receive written tips to prepare for the projects?
  • Upon completion, will they ask you for a performance evaluation, regardless of the outcome?

7. Business Integrity
Be sure you judge the firms you are considering by their business integrity along with the other six criteria.

  • Look for a solid reputation. You can judge this from word of mouth in the community and written endorsements from recent clients
  • Look for a mission statement and values statement that resonates with you
  • Be sure the firm offers easy to understand warranties

As a home owner looking for the greatest value for your renovation dollar, you should consider all the 7 Criteria above when choosing your kitchen/bath professional.

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