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It takes a lot of time and effort to perfectly plan out a kitchen remodel that leaves you with a dream kitchen and a good remodeling experience. However, without some forethought and preventative measures, a kitchen remodel can get ugly very quickly. Here are 5 tips to keep that kitchen remodel on track and flowing smoothly.

Don’t be your own general contractor unless you want a second full-time job.

Unless you’re in the business of remodeling kitchens, it’s probably a good idea to hire a general contractor. Sure, a lot of DIY magazines and websites will show you how to save lots of money by being your own general contractor and doing some of your own work, but they fail to mention the potential headaches that can go along with overseeing a project. Being your own contractor means taking calls in the middle of a workday to solve potential problems or make quick decisions. For people that do this for a living, it’s not a big deal, because that is what they’re paid to do. For you, it might be a problem trying to rush home from your day job to give the plumber instructions when he/she runs into something unexpected. You may end up with the double problem of being billed for the time the plumber has to wait for your input as well as a not-so-understanding boss who is wondering why you need to rush home in the middle of the workday.

While we’re on the subject of general contractors, it’s a good idea to listen to what they have to say.

Another benefit of hiring a general contractor that is often overlooked is their expert advice. They know where to go for good products. They know which suppliers offer the best installation services. They know which sub-trades can be trusted to do good work. In general, they can help you get the kitchen you want without too many hiccups. Case and point, a recent client of ours opted to choose a different countertop manufacturer than the one we suggested, simply based on the fact that the showroom was closer to their home. This countertop manufacturer promised a quartz countertop installed in 3 weeks from the time of order, of which we were very skeptical. It ended up taking 8 weeks from the time it was templated and put into production for the finished product to arrive and, quite honestly, the client wasn’t happy with the end result. Sure, maybe that situation could have happened with the manufacturer we often use, but it’s better to go with the products and services that you are familiar with, rather than the one you aren’t.

Still, on that subject, take a good look at who you’re hiring as a GC.

The number one reason for a kitchen remodel going sideways is hiring the wrong general contractor for the job. Why is it so common to hear about a neighbor or a friend who wound up with a horrible remodeling experience? It’s because they hired the wrong contractor. Why do these clowns get hired all the time? It’s because they offer what appears to be a similar product as everyone else for an unbelievably good price. How do they get away with charging less than everyone else? They use inferior products. They don’t have the proper licensing and insurance. They cut corners on installation. They only work in your kitchen when they have time. The list is endless.

This begs the question, why are you hiring a general contractor? The answer, of course, is to make sure the project gets done quickly and well. If you’re paying a guy who isn’t doing just that, well…that’s silly. So, take the time to do a little research on who you’re going to hire and choose someone who fits into your budget AND you feel comfortable with.

Buy the best product you can afford.

So, here’s my analogy: I often have to replace some of my tools due to wear. Every time and I mean every time I skimp out on my tool purchases, they turn out to be duds. I would love nothing more than to pay a little extra for a tool that I never ever have to replace. Then I don’t have to spend a bunch of money replacing something that I don’t have to. The same holds true for your kitchen.

Because you are only remodeling your kitchen once (okay, if you plan on living in the home for the rest of your life and you are 20 years old, you might do it twice) you should think about buying better-than-average products. Something as simple as buying a good quality kitchen faucet and paying a few extra dollars for it could mean less money spent in the future on replacing it or have a plumber come and fixing it. Inexpensive, off-shelf, cabinets only have a shelf life (excuse the pun) of so long before they have to be replaced. Quality cabinets hold up longer and can even be refinished for a lot less than replacement. Overall, better quality products in the kitchen will mean a longer-lasting one.

Let your expectations be known and speak up when they are not being met.

You are paying for a kitchen remodel. Part of this remodel includes the process of getting from the old kitchen to the new kitchen, which is also what you are paying for. If you are unhappy with the process, it’s best to have a frank and open conversation with your contractor early. For example, every contractor should do their best to tidy up and put away tools at the end of the workday. If they don’t, and it bothers you, ask if it can be done. Most guys wouldn’t have a problem accommodating you. If you don’t, you’ll remember that stress long after the kitchen project is complete.