A lot of homeowners know about contractor licensing, insurance, and bonding because of warnings they’ve heard on the evening news about avoiding contractor scams. In brief, a license is a state-issued certificate, stating that the company in question has passed all of the state requirements for licensing in that state. Each state sets its requirements. Explore Kitchens is a Class A General Contractor in Virginia.
Tile – Aspen Collection from Explore Kitchens
Ask about licensing, insurance and bonding
Insurance is issued in two primary forms, one is workman’s compensation, and you should see a copy of their insurance certificate before they begin work. This protects you as the homeowner, in case any injuries occur while onsite in your home.
A bond is similar to insurance. It is a fund that covers a homeowner in the event that the contractor cannot fulfill their contract and complete the job. A claim is then filed against the bond to help cover any damages.
In Virginia, a license is required for anyone doing construction, remodeling, or repair, of over $1000 for a single project. Explore Kitchens of McLean, VA has an A grade contractor’s license, meaning we are registered with the state, bonded, and insured. A Class A license in Virginia can take on projects over $125,000
An A grading contractor has been qualified to engage in any size of a construction project in the state of Virginia, it is the highest possible certification.
- Not all states require contractor’s licenses for general construction work. If you choose an unlicensed contractor, your legal recourse may be limited, if there are problems with your job
- Contractors should carry copies of both insurance and bonding documents. Request to see and keep a copy of both
- If your contractor is licensed, look up their license number with your state to make sure it is valid and see any complaints registered against them with the state
Ask about the contractors and subs they use
Even if the company your estimator is with is licensed, most companies use other installers and subcontractors. In most states, their actions will be covered under the general contractor’s license, as they are considered the supervising contractor.
- Ask about their relationship. Have they worked with the installers before? Do they have their in-house team?
- Check certifications from any installer, especially if they will be working with electrical or plumbing. Both of these specialties require specialized licensure in most states.
- Ask to see insurance certificates from any contractor not covered under your general contractor’s license.
At Explore, we work with an in-house general contractor. All of our installers have worked with our wholesalers extensively and are well acquainted with their product lines. We have vetted every installation team before they set foot in your home.
Ask about the materials and products they will be installing.
Your estimator should be able to show you manufacturer’s specifications, and Material Safety Data Sheets for material, product, or chemical use in your kitchen and bath upgrades. If they do not carry them with them, ask for website links, or printed materials for any products that are installed.
- Ask the difference between marble, quartz, quartzite, and granite, for example. Stones are not all the same
- Ask about the quality of cabinets they will be installing, before delivery, as return after receipt can sometimes be tricky. We only sell top of the line, Wolf Classic Series Cabinets
- Get samples of tile and stone. Be sure you have accurate color samples for cabinets and finishes on sinks and hardware. It’s best to find this out early
Explore Kitchens is happy to help you explore and do due diligence on our suppliers. We are glad to answer any questions. If we don’t know an answer, we will find out and get back to you. Your contractor’s estimator should share a similar attitude about fully disclosing all details of materials, service providers, and processes in your home. If they are not, it doesn’t mean they’re a lousy contractor, but it should raise concerns.
Ask about maintenance procedures.
At Explore, we look for products that are both rugged and low maintenance, and beautiful. Less customer-centric contractors frequently sacrifice quality for profit. Your kitchen and bath gets used daily and should be easy to clean and maintain. Get printed information from the manufacturer about the best maintenance practices. You should also ask for printed copies of any warranty on any of the products.
- All surfaces should be able to be cleaned with appropriate household cleaners. Ask about abrasives and chemical agents, which can cause hazing or etching
- Look for products that require little or no sealing, or conditioning. At Explore, we sell the Granite Gold sealer. In most cases, it only needs reapplying once a year
- Look for heavy-duty hardware, pulls, and bath fixtures. They will get a lot of use, anything flimsy, or with a poor quality finish, will show signs of wear early
Your kitchen or bath upgrade should be easy to maintain and keep its original beauty for years to come. Most contractors work hard to sell the right products, but doing your due diligence can help protect you from scams, and unintentionally fragile products.
Explore kitchen remodeling in Northern Virginia and surrounding cities from the Tysons, VA studio office.
McLean, Vienna, Great Falls, Centreville, Oakton, Reston, Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church
Owner/Operator, ExploreKitchens.com and Explore Granite & Quartz LLC