Finding a Contractor for an IKEA Kitchen Project

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I've written several posts about finding and hiring contractors but since I've gotten a few inquiries recently about this, I wanted to write a bit more.

Homeowners often save up for years to do a kitchen remodel. Since the beautiful model kitchens in IKEA stores seem to cost $5000 or less, one gets the idea that this is the actual cost of a kitchen remodel.

It's true that you can do a small kitchen for under $5000 if you do it yourself. Obviously the cabinets can cost half that or less so if you supply your own labor, it's possible. This means you do your own demo, have a way to haul off the trash generated (a bin rental can cost $500 or more in some cities), know how to do electrical, plumbing, appliance installation. You also have to know some carpentry to do a good job installing IKEA cabinets. It's simple, but the finish details of trim and molding make a big difference in the finished look, and these take skill.

However, the typical IKEA kitchen remodel costs $10,000 to $15,000. The materials for a full remodel, meaning cabinets, countertop, appliances and miscellaneous (tile, light fixtures, sink/faucet, flooring etc.) cost half. And labor accounts for the rest.

It is important to know that your labor costs are likely to be as much as, or more, than your materials costs if you want a licensed contractor with the skills and crew to do your project quickly, professionally, and with insurance and permits. If you haven't got the budget for this, it's better to wait until you do.

It's always a good idea to get more than one bid. The cheapest is rarely the best one to choose. Note that a good contractor can sense "price shoppers" on the phone. He can tell if someone is looking for the lowest price more than quality of work or good service and reputation. Consider that a good contractor doesn't want to drive to your house, spend time inspecting and talking with you, and then preparing an intelligent and comprehensive bid, all for free, if he considers that you won't accept his bid because you are really just looking for the lowest price.

The contractor you want is the one with experience, confidence, and know-how. You want a legal, licensed, bonded and insured person, who is polite, cheerful, helpful and trustworthy. Be willing to pay him a fair price for his work so that he can make a living and remain cheerful.

Rather than looking for the cheapest labor, one way to save money on labor is to do your research and understand the laws and rules for remodeling and permits in your local area. Once you have this knowledge, you can be more causative in choosing a contractor.

Compile a list of the services you know you'll need done (demo, trash removal, wall repair, adding outlets, appliance installation, etc.) and make sure your kitchen design is correct and complete. A remodeling contract that is comprehensive, that includes all that will be done, will cost less than a project with multiple change orders. No one can predict  with 100% accuracy, but the more you know, the more data you have before the project starts, the more control you have over costs.

I wrote an eBook a few years ago to help homeowners estimate labor costs. It's on Amazon for a buck, but click here to download a free copy. I hope it is helpful. Write me if you have questions or want to know about our expert IKEA kitchen design services. Expert design, by the way, will also save you money.

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IKEA Kitchen Projects During the Winter

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Winter can be a surprisingly good time to remodel a kitchen, in cold climates even. People get so busy with the holidays that the resources for kitchen remodeling become more readily available, and you have negotiating power with both contractors and materials suppliers that you don't have during their busier seasons.

January and February can be slow seasons for contractors so some of the best ones are available for smaller kitchen projects. Likewise, for those who love finding bargains, major appliances can go on sale and there can be really nice floor models to be found, as well.

Tile stores are other quiet spots in winter. Look for discounts. Sometimes you can hire an artisan tile setter through a tile store for very reasonable rates in slower seasons. Backsplash tile can add so much to an IKEA kitchen remodel that if you can find quality tile and have it installed by skilled hands, your finished kitchen can really be over the top, as they say.

Come March, there is usually another IKEA kitchen sale. If you plan your project in January, contract the project in February, you can order your cabinets as soon as the sale starts and have a finished kitchen by the time many other homeowners who waited for the spring sale even get started on planning.

The sales at IKEA are only worth waiting for under certain circumstances. Often, time is more valuable than the few hundred bucks you save. Scheduling the project for an optimal time can be a much greater advantage. Also, if you have a small kitchen, or will be buying appliances and countertop elsewhere, or if you are buying custom doors for IKEA frames, the total you spend at IKEA might be too low to earn any sale discount (there is a minimum purchase, typically $3500).

Anyway, consider a winter project. What else do you have on your calendar in January-February?


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