In recent interviews with Modernize, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. One of the most important steps of that process is your first phone call with a potential contractor, during which you will vet this contractor against the others you’re considering.

While finding someone you feel comfortable talking to is significant, it’s not all an abstract exercise. There are some questions you should definitely ask during this phone call to be sure you’ve covered foundational bases before moving forward with a solar contractor.

Use the guide below and adjust it to your own circumstances to ensure you get everything you need from your cabinet installer vetting phone call.

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Questions to ask potential contractors on the phone:  

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How much experience do you have with cabinet replacements and installations?
  • Will any subcontractors be used during this project?
  • Are you an authorized dealer for the brand you represent?
  • Will your company handle the permits needed for the job?
  • What is your project estimate?
  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • Can you provide proof of insurance for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage?

After this first call, take time to make any additional notes or follow up questions you may have ahead of your next meeting.

How long has the cabinet contractor been in business?

Simply put, the experience is tantamount to good work. And cabinetry is no exception. Years of experience could mean local expertise and technical knowledge that will elevate the quality of your installation or upgrade. Less experience isn’t necessarily bad or telling of a low-quality installation, but it does mean the rates and warranties should be lower, leaving you room to negotiate on pricing.

How much experience does the contractor have with cabinet installation?

When it comes to the quality and efficiency of cabinetry —which will determine the effect your project has on the increased value of your home— having a contractor who is aware of timeless cabinetry and lasting materials will be important.

What is the cabinet installer’s project estimate, and what happens if it changes?

Once you have an estimate of the project’s tentative costs and duration in your hands, you need to understand how it was conceived and what happens if anything in it changes. Be sure to get clarity on these details and don’t be shy to ask for an explanation if you feel you don’t fully understand something.

Agree that any unexpected project expenses will be presented in writing. Surprises, in other words, shouldn’t surprise you or your contractor, and they should definitely not surprise your investment.

Can the cabinet contractor provide a list of references?

While this cabinetry replacement or installation could stay with you (or at least your house) for decades, it will also build, or continue to build, their reputation into a prosperous business. Ask the contractor for testimonials from past clients and don’t feel shy to ask for contact information so you can call those references yourself and get a take on what their experience was like.

Connect with trusted cabinet installation contractors in your area with Modernize. This is an important investment you’re making, and the more information you have about the company you’re giving your hard-earned money to, the better.

Be aware of warning signs

Unfortunately, there is a small percentage of contractors who are not honest professionals. The best way to avoid scams is to choose a local, trusted contractor. You can confirm this by checking their physical business address, validating their licensing, industry credentials, and professional associations. You may also want to check that they are registered with the Better Business Bureau.

If something feels off about a contractor or business — go with your gut.

Here are additional warning signs to keep in mind:

  • Avoid contractors who request the entire project cost, or large cash deposit, up front.
  • Avoid anyone who pressures you to sign a contract immediately.
  • Be wary of any outliers in your quotes. All estimates should be relatively similar unless the unit type is significantly different.

Can the cabinet installation company provide proof of insurance for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage?

When home improvement projects result in accidents, you want to be sure your family, your house, and all the people involved are safe and taken care of. You want to rest assured that your contractor is fully insured for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage. Even with a clean slate of past accidents, it only takes one to harm your project’s outcome and, more importantly, your personal savings.

Warranties will also impact your quoted cost. Most installers offer manufacturer’s warranties that protect you from faulty equipment. Some might offer additional guarantees for the installation, as well, covering potential damage to your house. Be sure the quoted warranty is clear in what it covers—and in what it doesn’t.

The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your windows project is in good hands. You can access the interactive checklist by visiting the Modernize Resource Center or by Modernize Contractor Checklist.