Hey, did you hear about the one where the Indianapolis kitchen contractor who was paid in advance just before skipping town? Or you’ve heard the one when the kitchen was torn down, but the products didn’t arrive when expected and folks were left without a usable kitchen for weeks or even months because the contractor didn’t notice it was on backorder?  Or you saw a review online about the work quality being worse then what the homeowner could have done themselves (and they’re not that handy)?

Horror stories abound, and while no one ever intends to hire a bad custom kitchen contractor, kitchen remodels are one of the most time consuming, complicated and costly projects, so it’s no surprise that even a well-intentioned but inexperienced contractor can fall well short of expectations. Hiring the wrong contractor, at the very least, will mean living with a kitchen that doesn’t make you happy. It could also mean hiring another contractor to come out and tear down the work you paid the bad contractor for and start over, ultimately costing you more than twice as much than if the job was done right the first time.

This doesn’t mean you should be afraid to remodel your kitchen.  If you do your homework and follow a few simple rules, the only regret you will have is that you didn’t do it sooner.

Doing Your Homework

Look for reviews online. You have so many resources at your disposal, and you should make use of all of them. Search for reviews on Google, Angie’s list, Houzz.com, etc. Good custom kitchen contractors will have lots of good reviews. If there are some negative reviews, read them and weigh them against the positive. Ask the contractor to explain the negative reviews as sometimes even good contractors can have hiccups. What matters is that they own it and fix it promptly.

Call your local Builders Association. They have a list of reputable contractors and can usually tell you which ones work in your part of town.

Check the Better Business Bureau rating and to see if any reported issues were resolved.

Have a phone interview with your potential contractors before inviting them out. Ask how long they have been in business, if they specialize in kitchens or is it just a sideline, if they do much work in your part of town, and if you can see a remodel in progress. Get references and call them. Ask how good the communication was with the contractor. Could you reach someone easily by phone if there was a problem? Were the laborers professional and did they clean up after themselves? And of course, were they satisfied with the end result?

Realistic Expectations

Don’t expect the project to run perfectly as unforeseen problems can and do arise. If you are upset about every minor delay, you will likely go insane. Keep in mind that you will have this kitchen for many years to come and a day or two here and there isn’t that significant overall. What is essential is that the contractor is prompt and professional when handling problem situations and gets things back on track promptly. A good contractor will let you know immediately when problems arise and will provide solutions for going forward as soon as possible.