Kitchen Remodel: Find the Best Contractor

Kitchen remodeling is a popular project -- particularly after moving -- but most people mistakenly put the initial focus on finding a kitchen contractor.

From a practical perspective, it makes more sense to figure out exactly what you want to change in your old kitchen, and what you want in the new kitchen. After that, you can choose your contractor.  

Keep a notebook of your dream kitchen: tear out magazine pages of kitchens you like and include them in your notebook, which will help your contractor know what you want.

At this point you're just dreaming of your favorite kitchen, but at some point you'll need to draw up a budget to accomplish it. If you mess up the financial side, there is a possibility that you will choose an option you really can't afford, and you will only resent the project later.

You also want to consider that you may not get a good return on your investment if you remodel your kitchen too lavishly in comparison to the rest of the home, and to your neighborhood.

Also, be realistic about how hard these projects are: they take a lot of time, make a mess, are inconvenient, and up everyone's stress level.

Knowing what you are getting into and being prepared to deal with it can lessen the strain on the family, and on the contractor.

Find Your Contractor

Once you have a good plan, a set budget and a good attitude, go locate a remodeling contractor.

Ask potential contractors for referrals and be sure check them out, being sure to ask the homeowners how they got along with the contractor as well as how good a job he did -- you'll want someone you get along with on a personal level since they'll be spending so much time in your home.

Check out each contractor's credentials and licensing with local and state boards. Be certain the contract they offer addresses every aspect of the job, including a change order and dispute resolution clause. Also be sure to ask about insurance.

Kathy Wilson is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for