A Client’s Guide to Kitchen Remodels: How to Prepare for the Contractor Meeting

There are many stages involved in kitchen remodeling projects. The most important part of the process is not just knowing what you want, but how to explain it perfectly to the contractor so they know the exact direction. This involves fleshing out everything at the beginning stages so that there are no hiccups or misunderstandings later on.

The initial contractor meeting is usually held at least a week before the construction begins and lays the framework for the remodel process.

If this is your first big remodeling project, meeting with an experienced contractor can be intimidating. In addition to all the relevant lingo, you need to know how to explain your ideas in a  way that  leaves nothing to the unknown.

Here are some of the essential pointers that will help you prep for the meeting.

1. Understand that Contractors Are Not Mind Readers

For contractors, it’s very difficult to work with clients who have no clue what they want. Contractors are not foreseers and cannot predict what design and products will live up to your
expectations.

Whether your remodeling plans are bare bones or extensive, start by preparing a comprehensive list to effectively identify your needs, challenges, desired materials, ect. This list can include all the major and minor problems that need to be taken care of during the remodeling process, the possible changes that you would like to see, your taste, and other specifications. Don’t make the list all at once. It’s wise to build these ideas and information tidbits up over the course of several weeks, months, or in some cases, years.

You can start collecting clippings from magazines, photos, or a piece of a material sourced from a store. Printing out anything you find inspirational or even save bookmarks to explain your
exact demands and inspiration to the contractor. This will help them assess what exactly you want and give them a clear picture of what they need to do.

During this stage, be sure to ask lots of questions regarding the feasibility of your project. In the end, it is all about both parties being on the same page and keeping any guesswork at bay.

2. Have a Defined Budget

Often times, it can seem like there is no real end to the remodeling project costs.

Before you go into a contractor meeting, it’s imperative that you have a budget in place before asking for professional input. Contractors should be well-versed in the various qualities of
design, trends, materials, and vendors. By knowing your tentative or fixed spending limit, they
will be able to provide some helpful insights that are within your means. With their knowledge, they can help you add or remove the things from your specifications. For instance, if you want a
new backsplash but your budget can’t accommodate it, the contractor may suggest a better alternative or offer something similar within your constraints.

In a nutshell, by defining your budget, the contractor can give you a list of options that will accommodate your demands realistically.

3. Outline ALL Your Goals and Priorities

In accordance with the list you have formulated, you need to have overarching goals for the project; both short and long term. Keep in mind, these overarching goals will likely involve a number of smaller ones. When you are conveying these to the contractor, get as detailed as
you possibly can. This includes the organization of the kitchen, how the overall layout will take shape, and most importantly, the functionality. These, of course, need to be in-sync with your
lifestyle and schedule.

Additionally, you want to outline each objective and arrange them in the order of their priority. For instance, one of your major goals might be to have X amount of storage space.

  • What kinds of things do you want to store?
  • How high do you want the cabinets to go?
  • What are your most used kitchen items?

If you use a certain appliance frequently, it would be wise to have an ideally sized cabinet for the item located close to where you prepare meals.

You also need to ensure that you include tentative timelines and milestones for the project.

  • What date do you want the cabinets to be completed by?
  • When do you want the entire project to be done?

Be realistic and keep in mind there can be plenty of unforeseen delays to come up. For example, a material may be out of stock, there could be an issue with permits, the contractor might be
sick, ect. All of which can delay a project for days.

When you explain your goals and priorities to the contractor, they will be able to plan the remodel efficiently and in a more accurate manner, irrespective of the size and scope of the
project.

You should also discuss other aspects of your goals and whether the materials available can support your original idea. Or whether a certain artifact is going to be extremely difficult to
replicate and you can make do with something else in lieu of it.

4. Factor these Goals into the Floorplan

  • Have you given a thought to how your goals will actually be implemented in the kitchen?
  • Where will all the appliances be set?
  • Exactly how much space will the new additions occupy?
  • How about the ventilation and the lighting?
  • What will the traffic flow look like?

You want to provide visualization of how this list should be put into action. Prepare a floorplan
with accurate measurements, the variables (plumbing, ventilation, ect.), and the direction you want to take with the remodel.

A sure shot answer to these questions is taping the layout on the floor and walking through it to see how convenient it is for you. This will give you the perfect idea of the space prior to drawing it out on the actual floorplan. Note the pros and cons and talk about it to the contractor during the meeting.

An experienced contractor has likely seen all kinds of floorplans and can direct you to the most ideal solution. For example, most functional kitchen layouts include a triangle between the major appliances. This triangle is designed to make your kitchen workflows and storage needs much easier and avoid having to move around excessively throughout meal preparations.

5. Do Your Research Before Asking for Recommendations

When preparing for a kitchen remodel, you will likely have a lot of questions. This may be in regards to materials, arrangements, appliances, and much, much more. There is only so much
you can learn from Googling.

While you certainly want to get professional insight, you shouldn’t ask for recommendations without a fair share of prior research. For example, if you are asking for cabinet or countertop material recommendations, you should have an idea for things like the price points, durability, and long term value.

Moreover, conducting thorough research beforehand can help you protect yourself from any possible misleading. In some cases, contractors will try to give you unnecessary upsells or try to pressure you into paying for something you don’t need. If this is the case, you need to have as much background knowledge as possible. This will also help you to determine whether or not this is the contractor you want to hire.

The Wrap

Kitchen remodeling is a complex undertaking. It can become exceedingly complicated when you don’t know what you want and leave a huge communication gap between yourself and the
contractor. We hope that these points have elaborated on how you can make the meeting with the kitchen remodel contractor run smoothly and productively.

San Diego Kitchen Pros has several decades of experience in kitchen remodeling and we know how difficult it can be during the initial stages. We’re always working to provide the best solutions possible and help people get the kitchen they want. Feel free to reach out to us, we’re just a call away!