Step to take for remodeling? Need advice please!

azmomNovember 4, 2012

We are in the planning stage of remodeling kitchen and 3 bathrooms. We are keeping the same foot print, not much plumbing and electrical changes. We are not sure what are the sequence of events that need to occur. Below are some of the (dumb) questions we have:

Our understanding is that we should have a detailed design in place for the new kitchen and bathrooms and then call GCs to provide quotes and their references. Once we decide the GC we would go with, we would then form a formal contract with a lawyer to review. Is this understanding correct?

If it is, how detail should the plans to be? Should we have details such as exact measurements, the type of counter top, brand and model of toilets, bath tubs, fixtures, cabinet and its options we need..etc.?

If it is, do we hire someone to work on the design since we do not have experience, know how, and time to come up with good designs?

We received good recommendation for two GCs, both of them offer design service. Do we allow using them for designing? Do we pay them for the design before the quotes?

Or do we tell them from the beginning that they are one of the two we would like to get the bids? Do we wait until they finish all the details of the design, and we determine who would get the job based on the quotes of their detailed designs? Is this the right process?

We want to be fair, we do not want to take advantage of anyone. We don't want to waste anyone's time to invest tons of work for a job that may not win.

I think from the questions we ask, it is clear that we have never done remodeling before, we sincerely need your advice. Thank you.

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I'm in AZ also and know just what you are going through. I am 7 weeks into our actual remodel and beginning to see the light of day! We are remodeling kitchen and a powder room off our entry way. We did remove a couple of walls, and had electric, gas, and plumbing lines to move and or add. I thought about what I wanted for a long time but soon realized that there were holes in my plans.

The best advice I can give you is to ask friends and colleagues who have gone through a remodel who they used and if they would recommend them. Even with a recommendation, do due diligence yourself and check GCs with the Registrar of contractors and BBB. You don'y want anyone who isn't licensed and bonded. Don't take their word for it, check it out for yourself. It only takes a few minutes on line and you wont regret it. If the GC you go with has subs, make sure they are licensed and bonded also. When you are on the Registrar"s website, you can check to see if there are any complaints against them.

We (I) decided to go to a certified Kitchen/Bath designer for some workable plans. We interviewed several (5) and you have to be careful about that also. Some of them would not do a thing without a sizable retainer paid first which I thought was silly. How would I know if they had a clue without seeing their work. I finally chose a designer who came to the house, measured the areas involved and discussed with me in general what I wanted to accomplish. She drew up a couple of designs and when I saw that I liked her ideas, I paid her a fee and after several more discussions and changes I had the plan I wanted to use. You will find that most Design companies can and will recommend GCs to do the work, but we hired our own.

I think I must be rambling and I don't want to bore you.

As for hiring the GC, yes get quotes from at least 3. They expect that they won't get every job they bid on so don't worry about hurting their feelings or wasting their time. The GCs should give you a fairly detailed bid which should include the types of materials they would use, a reasonable timetable whether or not they use subs and if they do, who they are. How they will want to be paid, (do not ever pay too much up front) Yes, do have a contract. GCs expect that too. We also, when it came to choosing the GC, checked out their work not just looking at pictures but going to actually see their work and talk to past clients. They should be proud of their work and will gladly arrange to set up a meeting with satisfied clients.

This website is fabulous for doing research and I am so glad I found it before getting into this project. I check out a lot of things so I have a clue at what to expect and what I want done. is also a good source for design ideas. As far as fixtures, appliances etc. goes I found that doing on line research helped a great deal. I also found I could save A LOT of money ordering from online purveyors like, and many others.

I hope this helps, if you haven't been bored to tears and have other questions, let me know.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 12:30AM
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Hello Linda,

Thank you so much for the response, it is very helpful.

I have sent you an email through this site, look forward to your reply.

Thank you again.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 10:45AM
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Good advice - you wouldn't believe how many people that I've spoken to who don't check references or even check the state licensing site for licensing, bonding and Workmans Comp. coverage. I agree with last poster; check the information yourself. I've had contractors who were angry that I'd checked or said one man operations do not need Workmans Comp, yet they were expecting to do work that would take more than one person. However, despite the knowledge, we did make the mistake in our current giant project, in that we didn't get an in-depth agreement. I hope it doesn't come back to bite us (we just wanted to get started before the bad weather ... now it's in the bad weather phase, and we have very little in writing). Also check with the authorities, for us it's city planning, about permits; we spoke to one contractor who said permits are just to make money for the city/county, others have said you need permits for just x, y, or z (all incorrect), others said we had to pick up the permits (in our area, the person pulling the permit is responsible for ensuring the work is done to code). Research your products; last year, I had to be insistent and put it in writing when I wanted specific flooring; the contractor kept arguing and trying to color match the linoleum that I wanted with vinyl! Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 10:05PM
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