When you hire a general contractor to help you with a kitchen or bath upgrade, it’s hard to know what to look for, isn’t it? You’ve reached the stage in life when you want nice things done right, but if you’re like most of the homeowners we talk to, you don’t have a bottomless bank account to make that happen, so the value is an essential factor. So, who do you choose?
If this is your first remodel, it’s easy to think you want the “best,” the “fastest,” or the “cheapest,” depending on what your primary goals in getting your kitchen or bath upgrades done are. Every family has unique needs. Having been in the home improvement industry for a fair bit of my adult life, I’ve learned that not all contractors are equal, and of course, what they tell you in their marketing may or may not play out, but there are a few things you can look for that will make your experience better.
First, what kind of remodeling team is the best?
There are three primary paths you can take when it comes to kitchen and bath upgrades. You can DIY the job yourself, but given you’re reading this guide, that’s not you. You can hire an architect or interior designer and put them in the driver’s seat to get the job done. Or, you can find a kitchen and bath contractor and manage the project yourself.
- If you want to go the DIY route, study everything you can. There are tons of terrific books, blogs, and YouTube channels. If you’re not an expert level DIYer, you might want to start with one or two of the smaller projects first to see if it’s a good fit for you.
- When hiring interior designers and architects, the single best way to find the right person is through a personal referral. You can ask a former client all about the process and see the results for yourself.
- If you think you’d like to hire the work done but feel confident you can make your own design decisions, with a little expert help, then keep reading. This guide is for you.
From here there are two paths you can take
Once you’ve decided to hire help, but manage the project yourself, you can choose to either hire individual contractors for every phase of the project, or you can go with a full-service kitchen and Bath upgrade contractor. For the first option, get as many firsthand referrals as you can, and you’ll need to study the process to know what to look for. If you want a full-service kitchen and bath upgrade contractor, keep reading.
Look for someone with a quick and straightforward consultation process
At Explore, we work hard to ensure our consultation and estimate process takes no more than two trips to your home to complete. We offer virtual consultations as well. A good full-service firm should be able to quickly provide you with a range of options, with clear, upfront pricing that makes decision making easy and helps eliminate surprises.
- Find someone with dedicated wholesalers, that offer a range of product and design options so you can compare ideas to find the right one for you.
- Choose a company that has the experience to back them up. You’ll want to see pictures of products and installations to know what you’re getting.
- If the firm is unresponsive to phone calls and emails, that won’t get better in the construction process, so find a good communicator.
We come out, measure your existing kitchen or bath, give you the details to plug into our kitchen and bath visualizers, and we can have project totals ready for what products you’d like to install.
Find a contractor who can give you one “go-to” person
You’ve heard the saying “Too many cooks will spoil the soup” and in contracting, it’s absolutely true. You need to have the one-point person for your project that can then serve as your go-between when decisions must be made, or something changes. This is only achievable if you hire an architect/designer, or a full-service kitchen and bath upgrade contractor.
- The margin for error increases with each person you must discuss options, changes, scheduling, etc. with. The closer you can be in contact with the one making the decisions, the better.
- Long chains of command or multiple “bosses” will slow your project down as they work to combine the necessary information.
- With a full-service kitchen and bath upgrade contractor, everything is handled in-house, with dedicated service providers, wholesalers, and installers who all work from the same playbook.
Explore kitchen and bath in McLean, VA builds partnerships with all our team members, so we never have to guess how things will be managed. In many cases, contractors will hire new subs for every job, leaving the process up to interpretation with each new project.
Get the design right from the very beginning
Since we work with eight exclusive wholesalers, you’ll never get a sample or image that isn’t the actual product we’ll be installing. A good full-service firm can offer this. No guesswork. You’ll know from the beginning, exactly what to expect.
- All drawings and elevations should be developed with a team of dedicated installers and the companies that make the products.
- It’s best if your contractor works with local suppliers. For example, if you’re in Northern Virginia, you can walk in and see the products we offer firsthand.
- A full-service team works together to develop the plan, that way expectations are met with actual results. You never have to guess whether the tile guy and the cabinet guy understand how they are working together.
A full-service kitchen and bath upgrade team can save you time and money in this department by getting things right the first time and handling any minor changes quickly and efficiently with standard procedures to handle any and all contingencies.
Avoid structural complications
It’s not always possible to install a kitchen or bath the way you would like due to load-bearing walls and other construction barriers. You need a short chain of command between your contact and the person managing structural issues to get quick answers.
- Architects will know, and over plan every part of the design process, this will be clear when you get their bill.
- Designers are good and understand many limitations, but if they don’t know who the contractor is from the beginning, getting consults on moving walls, or making adjustments can create costly delays.
- A full-service team will have someone on call that can answer these questions from the beginning, so that your design will fit your space, every time, with little room for error.
Avoiding these kinds of mistakes will save time and money. Working around an unknown construction barrier can double or triple the price of a project very quickly. It’s best to know upfront what options are realistic and what the costs will be to correct any obstructions.
All your experts onsite when needed
With a full-service kitchen and bath contractor, you get the experts you need in constant contact. Instead of waiting for a designer to create workarounds for challenges, your team will have one line of communication from beginning to end.
- You’ll be working with a known catalog of options, so there is no guesswork on availability, color, or quality of materials, limiting change orders.
- The entire team will be familiar with the design process, minimizing miscommunications about drawings and plans from design consultants to the contractor.
- Your designer and contractor will be a part of the process together, from the beginning to streamline communication and decision making.
With Explore, we only work with a set group of contractors who all understand our system, products, and processes. It allows us to give you the most flexible results, with a minimum of fuss. This is what you should expect from a full-service design team.
The process is cost-effective
You might save money by going the DIY route on labor, but it’s not likely to be as much as you’d think. Kitchen and bath upgrades are a pretty steep learning curve for the beginner and costly mistakes are easy to make. With a professional architect or interior designer, expect to pay more than the first estimates, the process never gets cheaper.
- Firms like Explore Granite & Quartz LLC and ExploreKitchens.com are rare, working with exclusive wholesalers to supply great options in a tightly controlled supply chain to keep costs down.
- Contracting through a full-service firm puts them in charge of keeping the project on budget. They will be fighting hard to keep costs down, as that helps them maximize profits.
- You need to factor your time into any home improvement project, whether that’s doing the work yourself, or just constant meetings with designers. With a full-service firm, we work to minimize your time involved.
At Explore, we put the customer first. We have from the very beginning, and respecting your time and energy is a part of that. We don’t want to waste it. Any full-service firm should do the same. We give you a price upfront, and unless there are changes, that price sticks, so the less time we waste, the better it is for our bottom line.
To us at Explore, this is one of the most exciting things we offer. Full-service firms work to develop an exciting, on-trend, line of products that will work together seamlessly. This means we can offer you the easiest and fastest custom kitchen and bath upgrades.
- We can customize any surface or product within the range of our offerings to create inexhaustible combinations for a one of a kind kitchen without waiting months for products.
- Pricing is set with our exclusive wholesalers and installers, so we can quote any installation with confidence, quickly. No more waiting for weeks to find out if you can afford it.
- We prefer to make changes before construction begins, but if changes are needed in the process, we can help minimize time and cost through our dedicated supply line.
At Explore, we encourage you to “Explore First” we want you to investigate options and we know we’re not the right company for everyone. We do, however, feel that we are the single greatest value in kitchen and bath upgrades in the Northern Virginia region for mid-grade luxury kitchens. Check us out. Explore our product lines.
Owner/Operator, ExploreKitchens.com and Explore Granite & Quartz LLC
Class A general contractor in Northern Virginia, specializing in kitchen and bath remodeling