Q: I’m ready to hire someone for a kitchen remodel, but I’m not sure what information I need to share with prospective contractors to hire the right one. Can you help?

A: When looking for the right contractor for your project, there are several topics that will arise during your first conversation, including their availability, how to begin the process and what you’re looking for.

One topic that often gets overlooked is the budget — don’t make this mistake. If you want the right contractor — and not just the cheapest — you’ll need to get serious about how much you’re willing to spend.

If this is your first time working with a remodeling contractor, feeling hesitant to discuss your budget is understandable. But it’s the first discussion you should have, and here’s why:

Contractors know how much it’s likely to cost. A good contractor has enough experience to establish a good starting budget. They know how much it generally costs to complete a project based on past remodels, and while each remodel is unique, the contractor’s experience plus the client’s budget will tell them if the project is a good fit for both parties.

Contractors can point you in the right direction. Most contractors specialize in types of remodels based on area, design and budget. A contractor who tells you that your budget is too small may specialize in the higher-end market. If they do, don’t be discouraged and continue your search. It’s worth your time to talk to them because they may recommend another contractor if you have a workable budget.


Discussing the budget will save you time. It’s easy to design your dream kitchen with a contractor without a budget. But an hour-long budget conversation may lead you to conclude that the cost to complete the project is twice what you’re willing to spend. You and the contractor can save a lot of time by starting with that conversation.

It’s not a negotiation. Clients reluctant to disclose their budget often believe they’re entering a negotiation and don’t want to show their cards. However, a good contractor has set costs for labor and overhead. The only thing that comes close to a negotiation is selecting materials to fit the budget.

Many factors go into planning a remodel and it’s safe to say that a starting budget may change once planning has been finalized, but it’s good to start with a number. Talking about the budget early will establish trust and clear communication with the contractor that will help you complete your remodel without breaking the bank.


Nathan Coons is owner and operator of Coons Construction LLC, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS), and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’s more than 2,700 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.