When considering a kitchen remodel, most people are restrained to some degree by their budget. Because of this, they may wonder if they should hire a professional to remodel their kitchen or if they should attempt to do the work themselves.
The answer depends on the complexity of the intended model and the homeowner’s ability.
What jobs should you take on yourself? What jobs should you leave to the professionals.
Jobs you can do yourself
Many kitchen updates and upgrades can be done by homeowners. Projects that are good for homeowners to do themselves are:
- Update drawers and door pulls. This is an easy job that makes a kitchen look more polished and refined and requires only minimal skill.
- Update doors and drawer fronts. This project is a little more complicated, but adding trim and repainting doors and drawer fronts isn’t difficult and it makes a huge difference in the look and style of a kitchen.
- Accessorize. There are a ton of ways to use fabric or paper to update the look of a kitchen. Stainless steel contact paper can change the appearance of appliances. Pretty fabric can highlight the backs of shelves or cabinets.
Pot racks can be hung from the ceiling and spice racks can be mounted to the inside of cabinet doors. There are a lot of small projects that improve the look and function of a kitchen with very little expense.
- Replacing the backsplash. Doing a genuinely professional-looking backsplash update requires the proper tools and the ability to accurately and attractively cut your tiles. Easier and lower-cost options might include simply placing decals, self-adhesive tiles, or painting over the existing backsplash.
- Countertop resurfacing. There are a number of DIY options to update countertops with new surfaces. These vary in cost and complexity but can refresh an old kitchen without spending too much.
- Accent lighting. By using plug-in lights or rope lights, accent lighting can be mounted under cabinets to illuminate the countertop or over upper cabinets to highlight the room. This project is simple and requires only basic tools.
While these kinds of projects are quick and easy DIY projects, most major kitchen remodels will require the expertise of a professional. Generally speaking, you will want to hire a professional when:
When you need a professional contractor
- Your remodel involves changing plumbing. While most homeowners can install a dishwasher or change a faucet by themselves, it’s wise to consult a professional for changes to plumbing. A leak can go unnoticed for a long time and cause severe and costly damage to your home.
- Your remodel involves electricity.Modifying an electrical system can be dangerous and is best done by a professional.
- You need good results on time. If you have the time and energy to learn as you go and are willing to spend hours or days trying to figure out why something doesn’t work, then a DIY kitchen remodel is a good option for you.
But if you know that you won’t have the energy to come home and fix or troubleshoot kitchen issues after a long day at work, or you plan to sell your home and know that it will be inspected, then it’s better to hire a contractor and get the job done right the first time.
You should always hire a professional if there are any safety issues or risks. If the job requires power tools that you don’t have or are unsure about using, involves plumbing or electrical that needs to be up to code, or the remodel requires permits, it’s better to hire a professional contractor.
Here’s what to look for when hiring a professional for a kitchen remodel:
Firstly, take your time. A kitchen remodel is a major investment to your home and you want to hire the right person for the job. Consider your options carefully and don’t let anyone pressure you into making a quick decision.
Look for the proper credentials. Check the contractor’s website for their credentials. Your initial pool of candidates should include contractors who are licensed and bonded. The state issues licenses for performing certain kinds of work and often requires a certain amount of education and work experience. The state also often makes sure that licensed contractors pay worker’s compensation insurance.
A bonded contractor carries a form of insurance that protects a property owner in the case of failure to complete the job, so always hire a contractor who is both licensed and bonded. It is also a good idea to look for additional credentials and certifications. Professional associations issue credentials and certifications to reflect certain skills and education, which may be relevant to your project. Do some research and make sure that their certifications are current and valid.
Ask for referrals. Check with friends, family members, and people in your community to find out if they have had good or bad experiences with the contractor. Referrals are a great way to find good candidates.
Interview candidates. Narrow your choices down to 2-3 options and set up a meeting. Look for candidates who listen attentively and are trustworthy as this person will have access to your home. Then request a written estimate. It is good to be transparent and let them know you are considering other contractors.
Compare estimates. Make sure the estimates include everything that was discussed at the meeting and accurately reflects the scope of work, budget, materials, and schedule information. Does there estimate include any margin for changes or guarantees of completion? The written estimate shows how well the contractor listened to you and understood the job. The lowest cost estimate isn’t always the best.
Check references. Before making your final decision, check some of your top candidates’ references and referrals, asking how well the work was done and whether they would hire that person again.
Doing your homework will help make sure that you hire the right contractor for the job, and get the best results on your kitchen remodel.