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Kitchen Remodel: Where to Start, How to Finish

When starting a kitchen remodel, don't be in such a rush to hire a contractor as your first task. If you want a positive outcome, consider these things first. 

Start by making sure you have a good idea of what you want in your new kitchen -- you don't need a contractor to do this. 


From a practical perspective, nail down exactly what it is about the old kitchen you want to change, and what details you want in the new kitchen. Make a notebook for your kitchen remodel, and list in it everything you want in your dream kitchen. 


A good way to get exactly what you want is tear out magazine pages of kitchens you like and include them in your notebook; this will help your contractor visualize what it is you are looking for. You may have to prioritize your wants and needs to fit your budget later on, but knowing what you want will go a long way toward getting a kitchen you'll love.


Know your budget. One of the biggest complaints of people who have gone through a kitchen remodeling is that they went way over budget.


Make sure you know how much you can afford. If you are iffy about the budget, there is a possibility that you will choose an option you really can't afford, and you will only resent the project later if you are stressed about finances. 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, or in comparison to your neighborhood. Know your budget, and stick to it.


Also, make sure you understand that a kitchen remodel takes a lot of time, causes a mess, is inconvenient, and can be stressful. Many people don't realize how inconvenient a remodel can be, so they go into it with unrealistic expectations. Prepare yourself for dust, having strangers waltzing in and out all day, and having to prepare meals and do dishes in another room, or eating out. Knowing what you are getting into and being prepared to deal with it can lessen the strain on the family, and on the contractor.


Once you have armed yourself with a good plan, a set budget and a good attitude, it's time to find a contractor.


Ask for several referrals. Check them out, and be sure to ask the homeowners how they got along with the contractor, as well as how well he did the work.


Check out the contractor's credentials and licensing with local and state boards. Then make sure you meet with several contractors before making a final decision. Be certain the contract they offer addresses every aspect of the job, including a change order and dispute resolution clause. Remember, these people are going to be in your home, as well as being involved in a major financial investment. Take your time to choose wisely.


The Home Stretch

So the contractor has been chosen, work is almost done, and you can't wait to finish and be in your new kitchen! Before you sign the final paperwork, make sure you do a thorough inspection of the work. If you have questions for your contractor, ask. You've spent a lot of money on this project, and you deserve to get exactly what you agreed to (even if you really just want to be done with it). Don't let minor problems go unresolved in an effort to reclaim your home faster!


Finally, if your contractor has indeed done a good job, end the relationship on a good note. Thank him/her by offering to be referral for them. There is no better way to thank a good contractor than help him with his future business!


A kitchen remodeling can be a daunting task, but if you follow these tips you will be well on your way to a positive experience. And a beautiful new kitchen!




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Kathy Wilson is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com. Visit her for more home and garden ideas at http://www.thebudgetdecorator.com/ and http://www.thegardenglove.com/.

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