Pro tip: Always confirm that your professional is LICENSED.
We’ve seen it quite a few times. A contractor screws up big-time, and we get called in to fix or finish it.
Consider this guy for example. Since he’s a customer, we won’t use his real name, so he’ll be Albert for now. Albert hired a company to redo his kitchen for $8,000. What a steal, right? RIGHT. They tore out his kitchen, cabinets, sink and all, and disappeared. When he called us over, it was looking like this:
(Albert gave us permission to share these pictures, to let other people know the risks)
The sad thing is, stories like this aren’t even that uncommon. A licensed professional is accountable to the local local Home Improvement Board, but if the hired contractor wasn’t licensed, there’s no legal recourse.
The Home Improvement Board investigates complaints by homeowners, awards monetary damages against licensed contractors, and prosecutes violators of the home improvement law and regulations. Most Boards have a Guaranty Fund that compensates homeowners for actual monetary losses due to poor workmanship or failure to perform a home improvement contract. The Fund only applies to work done by licensed contractors. Find your local consumer protection office here for more details.
A licensed, accountable remodeler means that you can expect good conduct as well as good work. The Federal Trade Commission provides resources and a comprehensive guide for hiring contractors here.
A low bid shouldn’t be your only criteria for choosing a kitchen professional. Take this adage attributed to John Ruskin, for example.
“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.”
The renowned architect went on to say “The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.” That’s as true today as it was when he wrote it over a hundred years ago.
It takes skill and accountability to be a licensed kitchen remodeler, but anybody can be handy.
Even Weird Al Yankovic, the comedic musician, considers himself pretty handy: