Comparing kitchen renovation quotes and Contractors can often get confusing and overwhelming with so many varying factors to take into consideration. Our guide runs through 10 Red Flags to keep an eye out for when comparing quotes to help you make the best choice.
Pressure & Stress: Extreme Sales Tactics
Although there are some success stories out there, there are also many, MANY negative reviews of companies that use high-pressure sales tactics during the quotation process. These are the crowds that demand a signature right there and then after putting together a basic quote in just a few minutes; No one feels at ease by these sorts of sales tactics which can often be quite intimidating and overwhelming as they completely remove your opportunity to seek out more information in your own time.
Reviews of such companies often include stories about said company completely ignoring the client after having received that all-important signature and deposit, excessive and often unreasonable delays in the delivery and installation process, issues with the quality of the products themselves, and the list goes on. Once again, there are many success stories out there too however, if something doesn’t seem right to you and you do not feel comfortable signing a contract on the spot, then trust your gut instinct and consider other options!
NO Written Kitchen Renovation Quote or Contract is provided
A major red flag to keep an eye out for is a Contractor that does not supply any form of written quotation for you as the client to approve of; A simple verbal agreement and handshake won’t cut it these days! Having a formal written kitchen renovation quote (and Contract) to browse through before proceeding to the next step of actually hiring your Contractor is crucial as it allows you to accurately compare between any other quotes you’ve received for the project as well as ensuring that all of your requests have in fact been included in the price, avoiding any costly surprises during your project’s construction.
When you accept a Contractor’s quote, they should issue you with a Contract that outlines key information such as payment stages, a timeframe for the project, etc. together with approved specifications and drawings, a copy of their Builder’s license and current insurance information. This is a requirement in Victoria for any building works over $10,000 – You will find helpful checklists to assist with the step on the Victorian Consumer Affairs website:
Significant Price Differences Between Kitchen Renovation Quotes
Most will advise you that the crew that gives you a price smack-bang in the middle of all your collected quotation figures is the one to choose however, this is not always the case. Proceeding down this list, there are many more factors to consider, from ensuring all design requirements and preferences have indeed been included in the final cost as well as licensing and reference checks have been carried out to your satisfaction.
You may also notice significant price differences between the quotes you’ve received; if this does happen, run through each one with a fine-tooth comb to see which items have and have not been included in the final price; it can often be surprising to see just where the differences lie! You may notice that one Contractor has allowed for top of the line finishes and appliances whereas another has used budget range items, thus creating a significant cost difference. One Contractor may include certain items such as appliances, stone benchtops or glazing within their final price whereas another Contractor may have these items as optional extras. Pin point where the differences are and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
No Consideration of Relevant Permits and Insurances or Licenses
Generally in Melbourne Australia, a kitchen renovation only needs a Council Permit if the proposed renovation affects the exterior facade of your property, for example, if additional windows are to be installed or if there is to be an extension added on to the home. If you are unsure what the rules are in your area however, it is always best to contact your local Council and seek their advice on what permits may be required. If you do require Council permission for your project, your Contractor should factor this in to their quote (or at least, acknowledge the requirement for the permit and advise that these costs will be dependent on your local Council’s fees).
Insurance is another factor that must be included; Your Contractor should be able to provide you with their own insurance documents and certificates as well as specify the additional cost that is applied for Home Owner’s Warranty Insurance where applicable, which is a type of insurance that is specific to your project and should be under your name as the property’s owner. This type of insurance only applies to kitchen renovations where the total cost of the works is over a certain amount (for example, over $16,000 in Victoria) – Visit HIA’s website for more information on the relevant insurance requirements for your project.
Your Contractor should also be able to provide you with a copy of their Builder’s License which you can check the status of here by providing their name, business name or license number. There are 30 different classes of domestic building work, each category only allowing the licensee to perform certain types of projects so it is important to ensure your selected Contractor is actually licensed for the job!
This one is a bit of a big deal in the sense that it will have a severe effect on the final price provided in your kitchen renovation quote. Your written quotation should include detailed specifications of items and products that are included in the project. When comparing your quotes, it is important to keep in mind that your selected kitchen renovation finishes (i.e. benchtop type and brand + selected colour, cabinetry finishes, etc.) each have different price tags which is exactly why having a complete and thorough Specifications document drawn up by a qualified Interior Designer is so important!
Without being specific about what you want included in your kitchen renovation at the qouting stage, Contractors will allow for their preferred products. One Contractor may allow for a new Caesarstone benchtop from their Standard range (their most cost effective options) for example, whereas another Contractor may allow for a colour selection from Caesarstone’s Supernatural range (a much higher price tier!), creating a drastic difference between quotes and thus not allowing for an accurate comparison. Having created a Specifications document that includes all of these items will make it much easier to compare apples with apples when selecting the best Contractor to hire while also eliminating any guesswork and potential misunderstandings from occurring during the construction process.
You kitchen renovation quote should include the following items, as outlined in the Specifications documents that would have been created together with your Designer:
- Supply & Installation of: Specific cabinetry style and finish that is being used (i.e. Laminate brand and type, Vinyl Wrap brand and type, etc.)
- Supply & Installation of: Kitchen hardware, including hinges, drawer runners and any specific storage or pull-out units (i.e. Corner Lazy Susan units, oil and spice pull-out cabinets, etc)
- Supply & Installation of: The kitchen benchtop material and thickness (or any decorative or mitered edges) as well as the specific brand and collection that has been allowed for in the quote (eg: Brand: Caesarstone, Collection: Deluxe Range) where relevant
- Supply & Installation of: Cabinetry handles (including soft close features, touch-to-open varieties, handles and knobs)
- Supply & Installation of: The type of splashback with a description of the specific material to be used (eg: Glass splashback with defined allowance of either standard colour, metallic colour or mural/photography)
- Supply & Installation of: Kitchen flooring, where necessary, including description of material, brand and type
- Supply & Installation of: Kitchen lighting, where necessary, including description of lighting fixtures, brand and type
- Supply & Installation of: Fittings and appliances
- Inclusion of relevant trades: Cabinet Maker, Electrician and Plumber, as well as other relevant trades that may be applicable to your project such as a Stonemason where a stone benchtop has been allowed for, a Glazier where a glass splashback has been allowed for, etc.
If you have yet to select these items, the Contractor should ideally specify the allowance they have made for these options in the quote to ensure you are staying on budget when it comes time to actually make these selections.
As you can see, it is quite an extensive list! This list is of course, simply an example that can be used as a rough guide of what to expect to see in complete and thorough kitchen renovation quotes – there can be more or fewer inclusions listed that are unique to your individual project.
NO Scaled Documentation is Provided: Plans & Elevations
If you have hired an Interior Designer, they should have prepared all the necessary plans, elevations and specifications documents that your kitchen renovation quotes will be based on. If not however, then your Contractor should be able to provide at least a simple drawing of your new kitchen (at a minimum) that is drawn to scale, ensuring that all relevant measurements and constraints have been taken into account in order to provide an accurate quote. Professional drawings from the Contractor should be supplied after acceptance of the quote.
Many Contractors prefer to create more detailed drawings during the quotation process that may show items such as drawer configurations and sizes, benchtop thicknesses, the exact placement of key appliances, etc. that will give you a clearer understanding of the proposed renovation (and this sure is an excellent sign of a good Contractor!). You can usually expect to pay a set amount (or design fee) if you would like to keep these detailed drawings and seek advice or quotations from other companies based on this design; any construction company will not allow the use of their copyrighted designs by others so your best bet would be to hire an Interior Designer to compile these documents for you first before seeking out kitchen renovation quotes. This will ensure all Contractors are quoting on the exact same design (ultimately allowing for more accurate comparisons as well as potential savings throughout construction as all key decisions have been made in advance, avoiding the dreaded Contract Variations!) and items while also allowing you to have more control over the final design.
Preparation, Rubbish Removal & Cleaning
Proper preparation of a kitchen renovation should ideally be included in your Contractor’s quote. Although not necessarily a red flag (as you may prefer to perform this step yourself), it is still extremely important to attend to! A good Contractor will use drop sheets to seal off off any adjoining areas of the home (where necessary) to minimise the amount of dust and rubbish spreading through these spaces as a result of the construction works. Any carpeted or timber flooring that tradies will have to walk across in order to actually access the area being renovated should also be protected to ensure there is no damage caused throughout the process. Should any furniture, accessories or soft furnishings (such as curtains for example) require removal or storage, this of course is up to the property owner and not part of the Contractor’s work.
Cleaning up both during and at the end of the project is also something to check for in your quotation. Your Contractor should ideally allow for hiring and removing an adequately sized skip to dispose of any items and builder’s rubble throughout the construction phase of your project (of course, if you have opted to perform demolition works yourself, this will be the home owner’s responsibility instead!) as well as a thorough clean at completion of the works, otherwise you may risk coming home to a renovated kitchen filled with rubbish and dust!
Lack of References
You should not feel awkward about asking a Contractor for references – It shows that you are interested in them and any good Contractor will happily offer you a few client’s contact details for you to look into. This can of course be a little difficult if you are looking to hire someone that is new to the industry, in which case, they may be able to offer you a previous employer’s contact details so it never hurts to ask. If possible, you can also ask the referees if they would be happy for you to visit their home to actually see the Contractor’s work or at least email you a few photos.
Slow Progress when Quoting
Although a significant amount of time and effort goes into putting together a comprehensive kitchen renovation quote, a Contractor shouldn’t take an excessively long time to provide one! In general, 1 – 2 weeks is standard for smaller renovations such as kitchens or bathrooms while you can expect to wait approximately 3 – 4 weeks for a quote for larger projects such as new home builds, substantial extensions and major renovation works.
Should a Contractor be taking too long to get back to you with their quote, this may be a sign that:
- They may not be interested in the project
- They may not have the financial capacity to carry out the works
- They may have issues with time management
OR they may already be overwhelmed with ongoing projects! Now, this one can be a positive factor as it can be a sign that they are in high demand but, it strongly depends on the way they handle it. If they are upfront and honest about their current workload and are able to at least offer you a realistic time-frame of when you can expect a quote (good communication truly is king!) then that’s fair. If you find that they are not sticking to this however and are instead, stringing you along with empty promises, then this is definitely a red flag!
How much should a Construction Deposit be?
By law in Victoria, a construction project will require a 10% deposit if the total Contract price is less that $20,000 and a 5% deposit if the total Contract price is more than$20,000. If a Contractor is expecting any more than these percentages to start on your project, this is obviously a sure red flag. A good Contractor will clearly define each stage of construction with the relevant payments due at each, allowing you a clear and definite understanding of the costs involved prior to actually signing any Contracts.
Make sure to ask for further clarification or additional information to be supplied if one or more of these issues occur during the process of seeking your kitchen renovation quotes – It is always best to ask when in doubt! At the end of the day, obtain as much information as you possibly can, seek out references and reviews and don’t forget to trust your gut instinct!