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Style Magazine

The Remodel

Aug 31, 2010 05:42AM ● By Style


Hiring the right contractor for your project is the most important decision you will make. Utilizing a professional contractor will ensure that your project is done correctly, within the legal laws, within budget, and within your time frame.

You must be sure that not only does your contractor meet all state and local licensing requirements, but they should also be bonded and insured. To verify the contractor’s license and good standing, visit the Contractor State License Board’s Web site at In addition, it’s a good idea to ask your contractor for references…and call them. This gives you an opportunity to learn about your contractor and how they conduct business. Check to see if your contractor is a member of a professional trade association, such as the Sacramento Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) – an indication of ethical standards, commitment and a representation of the best in their industry.


Just as communication between the homeowners is important, it is equally important with your contractor. I have been the recipient of an agitated client wanting to know why the door to his office is not in the location as depicted on the plans. I had to reluctantly inform him that it was his spouse that authorized the new location of the door. Therefore, know what is going on with your project, who is locking the front door, what is being delivered, and stay in touch with your contractor. Weekly communication sessions with your contractor will not only keep you informed of the progress but will also give you an opportunity to discuss any of your concerns as well.


Prior to beginning your remodeling project – know your rights! Do not blindly sign any contract before knowing exactly what the job entails and what you may or may not be responsible for, should things go south.

A contract should include a complete description of all construction tasks, a payment schedule, and a time line of such tasks. The entire inventory of products to be used should be listed, which is typically provided by the designer. A contract also needs a list of responsibilities for the contractor and any subcontractor he might bring to the project. Warranty issues and changes to the project procedures, plus alternative dispute resolution clauses, should be described in case of future problems. As they say, it is better to error on the side of caution, as opposed to not addressing issues beforehand.


You must have a defined scope of work. If you receive a proposal with minimum description, you should consider throwing that one away. There is a minimum of 25 construction-task categories for any average sized kitchen remodel. Your proposal should include a detailed description for each listed construction task and a complete scope of work for the entire project. This is what you should use for comparison of each proposal that is submitted.

Once you or both you and your designer have completed all of the finish selections, the contractor can easily price these items. However, construction of the project is subjective; this section of the proposal must be critiqued. Lastly, it is imperative to make sure everything you pay for is in the proposal/contract.




  Very Bad

Install kitchen faucet, style ABC, model number #bcsInstall kitchen faucet if  necessaryInstall faucet
Install 20 lineal feet of 2x4 Wall 8’ high with header Assemblies for two windowsInstall walls in kitchen with two openingsInstall walls
Paint three existing walls and Ceiling – one color, one coat  With xyz semi-gloss enamelPaint walls and ceiling in kitchenPaint kitchen

*Make sure everything you pay for is in the proposal/contract


Another component to a successful remodel that seems to get overlooked is how to cope with the stress that may occur during the course of construction. For example, you might learn that your floor tile delivery will be delayed by two weeks, forcing you to either re-select or wait. Another scenario is that you arrive late to work because the delivery driver cannot find his keys to move the truck parked behind your car.

The best recommendation for these types of stressors is to realize that your day-to-day routine will be disrupted for the duration of the job. So, educate yourself and your family and prepare to cope with some disruption. A good source of information for what to expect is your contractor. He or she should be sensitive about your situation and be willing to assist you throughout your project.

Paul Strother is president of the Sacramento Chapter of NARI. To contact him or to find a reputable professional remodeling contractor, visit