How do I find out if my contractor is licensed?

If you are looking to do a remodel on your home, it is imperative you research your contractor to verify the validity of their license.  We have been in construction and remodeling for over 25 years and it is shocking to us the stories we have heard about contractor scams!  Educating our customers is a high priority for us and for that reason we want to share with you how to check the validity of a contractor and their associated license.


Step 1:

Go to

Step 2:

If you know the contractor’s license – you can enter it on the right hand side of the page.  Alternatively, if you do not know the contractor’s license, there is a link for you to do a search by company name or by the license holder’s name.

Step 3:

Review the Business Name to ensure it matches any information you have been given including website, contracts, and any marketing material (business cards, brochure, etc).  Some companies use a dba (doing business as) and in that case, the dba will be noted on the CSLB website.

Step 4:

Some contractors use a mailing address.  Others have their physical location noted on the CSLB website.  Find out if the address listed on the CLSB is a physical location or a mailing address.  Compare the address and phone number on the CSLB website to any marketing materials (contracts, business cards, brochures) given to you by the contractor.

Step 5:

Take note of whether the company is listed as a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation.  Typically a sole proprietor is a “mom and pop” shop.  We are of the opinion that the most legitimate organizations are corporations.

Step 6:

Review the issue date, re-issue date, and expiration date.  You are checking to see if you feel comfortable with the length of time the company has been in business as well as when the license expires.

Step 7:

There is a section called License status.  You will want this to say “current and active”.  If it says anything other than that, you will want to question whether you want to pursue the relationship with this contractor.

Step 8:

Review the Classifications.  A “B General Contractor” is licensed for all trades in remodeling.  All other licenses are for specific trades (ie:  Electrical, framing, etc).  If you are working on a large remodel project, you will want to work with a “B General Contractor” because any other contractor is not qualified or licensed to do multiple trades.

Step 9:

Bonding information.  Verify all information is current and active.

Step 10:

Verify Workers Compensation is active and current

Step 11:

Personnel List.  In our minds, this is a BIGGIE!  Anyone who is in your home presenting you with an estimate for your home remodel is required to have a HIS card (or be the license holder for the company).  Sometimes it can take a while to get the names loaded on the website, but any person in your home should have an active HIS card (provided by the state of California) or should be the owner of the company. Do not be afraid to ask for this information – the HIS card is issued by the state after diligent background checks, this is a step that is taken to ensure your personal safety.

One way to find out if you are working with a legitimate contractor is to ask who you will be writing out checks to.  Is it the name of the company or the name of the person standing in front of you? A legitimate company will ALWAYS have you write out a check to the business name, not an individual.

There is very little recourse available if you hire an unlicensed contractor to do work on your home and they do poor quality work or break the contract.  Many times homeowners insurance will not cover any injuries or damage if the work was completed by an unlicensed contractor.  Additionally, if you are working with an unlicensed contractor you have no way of knowing if they have a criminal background.  Protect yourself and your home by doing your homework before hiring a contractor for your remodeling project!

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Why Do Contractors Take So Long

Have you ever had a home remodel completed and wondered why the project took so long?  Or are you considering remodeling and are concerned about how long the project will take?  Most people only consider the time spent in the house doing the actual labor.  There is actually quite a bit that happens behind the scenes of a major remodel which you may be interested in learning about.


When a job is awarded, there is a lot of paperwork that has to take place.  Accounting files have to be compiled and entered into a database.  Pay schedules have to be entered into accounting software.  Folders are created and distributed to various team members which include details about the scope of work.


Measurements have to be taken of the existing space.  Detailed CAD drawings are drawn, which are used to tell the installers where, how high, and which direction to install the products which will be installed in your home.


Waiting for permits is never fun and can take several weeks sometimes, depending on the city.

Product Selection

Product selection has to be completed by the homeowner.  Once everything is ordered, the wait time begins for all the material to show up.  Most contractors will not start a project until all the material has been delivered to reduce the construction time spent in the home.

Purchasing Department

The purchasing department coordinates schedules to make sure installers are available to start and complete the project without stopping.

Internal Coordination Meetings

Your contractor will have several internal coordination meetings to ensure the project runs smoothly.  Accounting, purchasing, design, and project managers meet more than 3 times during your project.   They will discuss the scope of work and coordination of laborers, layouts and designs, and confirm all applicable permits and inspections have been received, as well as confirm all materials are ordered and received in the correct quantities.


Demo is actually pretty quick, we admit it.


The installation timeline depends on what the scope of work is in the home.  Tile will take longer to install than carpeting, for example.  Also, if you have a contractor who is using specialized trades in a small space, it may take a little longer to complete the installation because, for example, it can be difficult to have 2 installers in a small hall bathroom working on two projects at the same time (ie:  your electrician and plumber).   If it is a larger home remodel, it is easier (and quicker) to have multiple trades working throughout different areas of the home.


Inspections are scheduled by the city who performs them.  Your contractor does not have control over when they will show up.  Most times your contractor is given a 4 hour window that the inspector will show up.  In addition, some home remodel projects require several inspections.

“Pick up”

Pick up lists or customer service lists are created by the contractor and the homeowner towards the end of the project.  Pick up does not take long, but sometimes it can take homeowners a while to decide what they want touched up, if anything.

Just like any other industry, the remodeling industry has many steps, stages, and people involved.  You may be surprised to know that there can be up to 10 installers in your home during a remodel and behind the scenes are another 10 individuals working to make sure the project runs smoothly.  When you consider the coordination that takes place to make sure your remodel is completed quickly with quality workmanship, the process is pretty intriguing.

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How to keep frustrations to a minimum during your kitchen remodel

We equate remodeling to pregnancy.  At first you are cautious, then you are optimistic. Eventually you are scared then you are uncomfortable.  You get frustrated and anxious toward the end and then you have a beautiful baby, I mean, kitchen.

Kitchen remodeling (and any other major remodel) can be stressful.  You and your family will have to make tough decisions about who to select as your contractor and how much you want to invest in your remodel.  You will have to make timely decisions about the design aspect of your kitchen remodel.    To top it off, your home will have little privacy as contractors and installers build your new kitchen.

Sometime in the middle of your project you are going to get frustrated.  It happens to everyone and it is because of the high level of stress you are encountering during construction.  You will want the job to be over and you will want to take out your frustration on someone.

As a customer (or potential customer) of Classic Home Improvements, we wanted to give you some information and tips for you to refer back to when you have those moments of frustration.

  • HGTV versus Real-World Renovations:  When it comes time to select your material (or your contractor), do not expect to pay the prices you are seeing on HGTV.  Most of the material featured on reality television is featured by advertisers who severely discount their material to networks as an advertising method.  Also, do not expect your remodel to be completed in a weekend. Reality television shows are for entertaining purposes, please do not use them for information gathering, you will be sorely disappointed if you do.
  • Homeowner Communication:  There will be over 100 moving parts in your remodel.  You will have no less than 20 people involved in your remodel.  Communication is imperative during your remodel but the key element is not that you communicate – it is that you communicate with the correct person.   You will be designated a project manager and it is absolutely critical that 100% of your communication is with your project manager to ensure your project is completed smoothly.
  • Keeping Informed by your Project Manager:    We have the benefit of working in the industry so we understand what is happening behind the scenes of your remodel.  Our goal is to keep you informed of what is happening every day during construction because we do not want you to think “nothing is happening” if you come home one day and it looks like nothing has changed. You will get daily updates of your project via email or text, we encourage you to interact with us if you have a concern.  You should never have to wonder “what happened today”.
  • Let Us Do Our Job:  We have found that most times when homeowners get frustrated during their remodel it is because they are trying to manage their own project.  We encourage you NOT to try to do that.  Reading articles online about construction, working as a handyman, and watching HGTV does not make you a contractor.   Think about it, when you go to your mechanic do you tell him how to fix your brakes or do you instruct a surgeon how to stitch you back up?  We are the professionals you hired to remodel your kitchen, let us do our job.  When you selected Classic Home Improvements to build your kitchen remodel, there had to be a specific reason.  We ask customers why they hired us and typically the response is that we were professional, we were responsive, or we had great referrals.  If and when you get frustrated we ask that you remember why you hired us.
  • We are not done until we say we are done:  Construction is a lengthy process and needs to be completed in a very specific sequence to ensure it is completed properly.  We encourage you to ask questions if you are truly worried about something, but we need to remind you not to try to manage your own project, that is why you hired us.  If something looks unfinished that is because it is unfinished.  We are not done until we say we are done. Trust us to complete your project in the sequence it needs to be completed in.  We want your job to be completed just as much as you do and we expect the same high quality of work you do.
  • This still isn’t done:    I know, I am repeating here.  We are not done until we say we are done.  Here is what you need to know:  once we have everything just about wrapped up, your project manager will walk the project on his own to create what we call a “pick up list”.  These are items that are not to our standards and need to be fixed or completed by our installers.  Once our internal pick up list is completed, we will invite you to meet with us at the project to point out any concerns you have.  Any items on your list of concerns that we agree are not to industry standards (or our high standards) we will fix for you.
  • We say we are done:  Now, we are done!  We pride ourselves on our high level of workmanship and we are pretty confident you are going to love your finished remodel. We will invite you back at your home to meet with our project manager and confirm we are completed.  At confirmation of completion we will ask for our final payment and have you sign final completion paperwork.
  • Feedback is important:  Classic Home Improvements is dedicated to continually improving our processes and procedures.  Employees and vendors are directly affected by reviews which name them personally and for that reason they are dedicated to providing the best possible customer service.  We have grown leaps and bounds above our competitors in customer satisfaction because we listen to our feedback and make adjustments based on them.  We will ask for you to respond a 3rd party, Guild Quality, when they reach out to you for a review of our services.  It will take you only 5 minutes but will make a huge impact on our organization.
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How to prepare for a bathroom remodel

Once you have selected and ordered all your finish material, you will get an estimated date of delivery.  Upon receipt of all the material and inspection to confirm it is all in one piece and has arrived in its entirety, your contractor will give you a start date for construction.  It is imperative you are ready for construction the day that your demo crew arrives.  What do you need to do to prepare?  Here are some tips:

Entry way

Please relocate any shoes or shoe racks placed by the door.  They are a tripping hazard during construction.  Also, if you have anything on the walls which could be damaged by brushing up against them, please remove them temporarily to protect them.


Clear all hallways.  The floors will need to be completely open to avoid tripping hazards therefore it is important to remove any rugs.  Your flooring will be protected by plastic.  Remove anything hanging on the walls including shelving, pictures, artwork, and clocks to avoid being accidentally brushed into and knocked off the walls.

Adjacent Rooms

During your bathroom remodel tools will be used which cause vibrations.  For that reason, walls adjacent to the bathroom will need to have all shelving, clocks, photos, and artwork removed.   In addition, if you anything against the wall such as a china hutch, we respectfully request that you move those away from the walls to avoid potential damage from the vibrations caused during your remodel.

Bathroom Space

  • Remove everything you want to keep from your bathroom.  Anything not removed from the bathroom will be considered trash.  This means if you want to keep your towel rings, towel racks, shelving, pictures, photos, etc – you need to take them off the walls.
  • Remove any shower curtains, rods, and shower curtain rings.
  • Take out any plants.
  • Remove everything from the bathroom including the shower curtain and anything inside of your bathtub or shower.
  • Clean your toilet.  This is more of a courtesy than anything.  Your contractor will need to remove the toilet, wouldn’t it be nice if the toilet was clean for the installer to remove?
  • Clean your shower and tub.  Again, this is more of a courtesy than anything else.
  • Clear out your cabinets and medicine cabinet.  Again, anything not removed will be considered trash.
  • Take out any rugs. They are a hazard and we would not want to damage any rugs during the remodel, especially if you intend to keep them.
  • Remove your trash can.  We will not use your trash cans so go ahead and place them in a secure place.

We might suggest closing as many doors as possible each day to avoid the spread of dust, which is inevitable during your remodel.

Watch the progress!

We understand you are investing a pretty penny into your remodel.  You want it to be perfect.  We do too!  Just a couple of notes for you:

  • Trust Us:   You hired us because you had confidence that we are the professionals, that we know construction better than you do.  You hired us because you trusted us with your home.  You hired us because you did not want to manage your remodel.  So we ask you to continue to trust us while we complete the construction phase of your project.  With that being said, if you have questions – ask us!
  • It may not be apparent:  Every day you come home, it may not be apparent what we have accomplished.  There are a lot of behind the scene actions that take place that you may not be aware of.  We will send you an update every day of what has happened so you do not have to wonder what is happening.
  • What you see is NOT what you get:  There are specific stages to construction that you may not be aware of.  This means that during production you may look at something that looks “unfinished” or that does “not look right”.  It is important to remember that there is a process to everything we do.  We are not finished until we say we are finished which means – Trust Us – trust us that your completed project will be exactly what you asked for.
  • Pick Up List:  Near the end of the job, your project manager will have an internal “pick up list”.  Once that list is completed, we will schedule a time to meet with you to walk the project to complete any additional “pick up” items that you would like to see completed.
  • Project Completed:  Once we have completed the items on your pick up list we will ask you to walk the job with us again to verify the project is completed to your satisfaction.  At this time we will request final payments and have you sign all final release documents.
  • How did we do?  Within 30 days you will receive a phone call from Guild Quality (a 3rd party company) who completes surveys on all our services.  We ask that you take a moment to answer their questions.  Having honest feedback from our customers is imperative to understanding where we excel and where we need to focus on improvement.  Within 30 days we will also request to meet with you one final time to take “final photos” of your project for marketing purposes.
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How to prepare for a home renovation

Planning for a home renovation is an exciting and potentially stressful time.  Preparing for your home renovation is imperative to ensuring you have a positive experience.  Once your contractor has given you a start date you can begin your pack- up process.  It is best if you take 2-3 days to completely pack up your existing space before the remodel begins.  The last thing you want to do is have your remodeling contractor leave on “demo” day because the house is not ready to begin work.  Here are some tips for how to prepare for your home renovation project:

Decide if you are going to stay in the home during your renovation

A home that is being remodeled is many things.  It is dusty, it is loud, and it is an inconvenience.  You may want to consider staying with a friend or family member if you are going to have a major home renovation.  Another option may be to rent an apartment or stay in a hotel for an extended stay.  Alternatively, home renovations are a great time to leave town and go on a vacation.

If you are going to stay in your house during your renovation, it will be important to decide which rooms will be yours to inhabit during the remodel.  If you have a larger family, you may need to spend some time working on a bathroom schedule.  Condensing your home to one or two rooms during a remodel can be stressful so it will be important to keep your inhabited space clean to keep stress to a minimum.

Decide where you will prepare and eat food during your renovation

Most likely if you are planning a major home renovation, you will be remodeling your kitchen.  This means you will need to decide where you will prepare your food.  Do you have space in a loft, garage, or bedroom for you to prepare meals?  Will you be eating, sleeping, and reading in the same room during your remodel?  Wherever you plan to prepare your meals, you will need to set up a small temporary kitchen.

You may find that you can not prepare your meals and eat in the same location.  If you are preparing your meals in a loft area or in a garage, will you eat in there as well?  Is it possible to eat in an office area or in the backyard?  Does everyone eat at the same time?  It will be important to plan out these details before the renovation begins to avoid making stressful last minute decisions when blood sugar is running low and children are hungry.

Decide what you will eat during your remodel

You will have no pots or pans and no dishwasher.  Eating during a renovation can prove to be complicated, especially if you are feeding a  family.  If you decide what you will eat before your remodel begins, you can properly prepare yourself as well as stock your temporary kitchen.  This is a great time to explore your family’s favorite casserole dishes or crock pot meals so you can prepare them and freeze them to eat during your remodel.

Prepare your adjacent rooms for your remodel

Prevent disaster and heartbreak by removing items from your walls.  During your remodel there will be tools used which will cause vibrations to the walls.  In addition there will be quite a bit of foot traffic in hallways from the installers, inspectors, and project managers.  For this reason, it is important to remove anything attached to the walls in the remodeled rooms as well as in adjacent rooms (including shelves, pictures, and prints).  In addition, be sure to remove any floor mats to avoid any tripping hazards.

Remodeling is incredibly dusty.  To avoid getting dust on upholstery and on knick knacks you should box up what you can, making sure to apply labels to your boxes.   Anything that can not be boxed up should be covered  with thin plastic wrap.  If you do not want to invest in plastic wrap many times customers will simply drape old sheets over their furniture as protection. Clean up will prove to be much easier if you protect the surfaces in this manner.

Have a plan for your children and animals

Kids and animals are curious by nature.  They will need to be restricted from the construction zone for their own safety.  If you have a young child who naps during the day, it will be important for you to realize construction will be continued during nap time.  It may be in your best interest to make alternative plans if your child needs a quiet space to sleep or if you have multiple children who can not be supervised continuously.

It is important to have work zones restricted from pets during your home renovation project. Pets are sometimes easily frightened by loud noises.  If your pet is easily upset you may want to consider finding care for them outside of the home during your remodel.

Prepare yourself

You home renovation project will be loud.  Your home will be dusty.  You will not always have plumbing or electricity (especially if doing a bathroom or kitchen remodel).  Your privacy will be interrupted.  Some days you will need to have a glass of wine and unload your stress.  Other times you will need to take a walk to the park or go to the movies just to get out of the construction zone.  It is okay to feel stress during your remodel.  Keep a positive attitude, trust your contractor, and understand the renovation process is temporary.  Construction is not fun, but once it is all over, you will have a beautiful new home.

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How to prepare for a kitchen remodel

Once your contractor has given you a “start” date or a “demo” date, it is important that you prepare yourself for construction.  Preparation comes in many forms.  First you will need to come up with an eating plan for the duration of your project.  Second, you will need to pack up and store your current kitchen so construction can take place.  Third, you have to prepare a temporary kitchen space.  Here are some tips for how to prepare for your kitchen remodel.

Decide what types of meals you are going to eat during your remodel

Chances are you will do a mix of the following eating plans.  It is easy to fall into a rut of eating out a lot during your remodel because it is “easier”, but it is not healthier and you would be surprised to know that after a few weeks of eating out, you will actually crave home cooked food!  Plan meals around small appliances:  microwave, toaster, or toaster-oven, slow cookers, electric griddles and skillets, hot plates, and coffee makers.

Eating In Options:  

  • Prepare meals and freeze them
  • Cook frozen meals in an electric oven
  • Cook in the crock pot
  • Cook using an electric skillet
  • BBQ on the weekends

Eating Out Options

  • Sit Down Restaurants
  • Fast Food Restaurants
  • Pizza (this can get old very quickly)
  • is a great way to order restaurant-style food and have it delivered to your house
  • Help coordinate a family or friend potluck at someone else’s house

Tips for packing up your kitchen

  • Set up a temporary kitchen before demolition of your existing kitchen
  • Keep items that might need to be unpacked (such as seasonings) in an area that is accessible.
  • Label your boxes!
  • Relocate throw rugs which are in the pathway to the kitchen
  • Secure objects such as wall-mounted china, photos, prints, or other breakable collectibles.  These items may fall away from the wall or shelf and break during construction because of vibrations of the tools.
  • Find a secure location to keep your mail (most people keep it in the kitchen and are upset when they lose bills because their routines are disturbed during their kitchen remodel).

Create a temporary kitchen station

  • Move your old refrigerator or a small mini-fridge to a convenient space close to a water source.  Add a table with a microwave and place a trash can below the table.
  • Keep a stash of non-perishable snacks such as soups, condiments, and cereal.
  • Stock up on microwaveable frozen dinners.
  • Keep essential items handy such as paper towels, garbage bags, dishcloths, dishwasher soap, paper cups and napkins, paper plates and utensils.
  • Coffee pot:  Don’t forget your coffee pods (or filters with coffee grounds), Coffee mugs, Sugar, Cream
  • Electric Oven:  Don’t forget your oven mitts
  • Electric Skillet:  Don’t forget your spatula, cooking spoons, tongs, oven mitts, pam cooking spray
  • Crock Pot:  Don’t forget your spatula, cooking Spoons, oven mitts, pam cooking spray
  • BBQ:  Don’t forget your cookie sheet, grilling utensils, basting tools

TIP:  Small appliances such as microwaves, toasters, toaster ovens, hot plates, crock pots, and small electric grills will be immensely helpful in preparing home-cooked meals.  Just remember, the area where you set up your temporary kitchen may not be able to support multiple appliances running at the same time, not to mention other electronic items typically used in that room.  You might need to have only one thing plugged in at a time to prevent tripping the circuit breakers.

Eating Tools

You will be without water in the kitchen for a few weeks so plan to do the dishes in another sink or a bathtub.  Or stock up on disposable plates and cups, paper towels, and disinfectant cleaners.  Even if you decide to use disposable eating utensils – there are a few items you will want to make sure you have set aside for your use.

  • Wine cork screw
  • Potato peeler
  • Can opener
  • Forks, Knives, Spoons, Steak Knives
  • Tongs
  • Spatulas
  • Scissors
  • Cutting Board
  • Plastic Sandwich Bags
  • Plastic Freezer Bags
  • Trash Bags
  • 3-5 Tupperware containers with lids
  • Plastic cups or real glasses, depending on what you prefer
  • Styrofoam coffee cups or real coffee mugs, depending on what you prefer

Cleaning Tools

  • Dish soap
  • Dish towels
  • Paper towels
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • House cleaners (many homeowners keep these under the kitchen sink.  You will want these cleaners for the rest of your house during your remodel)
  • Many homeowners keep their pet food under their kitchen sink – do not forget to set that aside for your 4 legged family members.

Other tips:

Your home will not be child-proofed during your remodel so explain to little ones where they can and can not go.

If you have pets you will need to restrict their access to the construction area, especially during work hours.  If it is difficult to keep work zones sealed off, or if your pets are easily frightened for upset by loud noises, consider finding a pet sitter or care-taking facility for them, at least during work hours.

Preparing your kitchen to get remodeled should not be too daunting of a task.  If you take a few days to prepare your space, you will find the organization will help you get through the remodel easier.  Using the tips above should help alleviate some of the stress of preparing and living through your remodel.






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Best Remodeling Contractors in San Diego California

Classic Home Improvements meets with hundreds of homeowners a year offering free kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel, whole house remodeling, and room addition consultations. Consumers are often reminded by the California State Licensing Board to get competitive estimates when preparing for a home remodel project and for that reason, we are commonly asked who our competitors are.

We believe that an informed customer is the best type of customer.  We are not one to shy away from friendly competition and we believe in being transparent with our clients.  For that reason, we share who we believe to be the best remodeling contractors in San Diego.

  • Lars Remodeling and Design:  In 2016, when we last visited the website for Lars, we found their services were categorized as Whole house Remodeling, Outdoor Living Remodeling, Room Additions, Kitchen Remodels, Bathroom Remodels, Design-Build Remodeling, Custom Home Builders, and General Contractor.  Classic Home Improvements considers them friendly competition in all categories excluding custom home building, which we do not offer as of yet.
  • Jackson Design and Remodeling:  When we last viewed their website, Jackson expressed their specialties as a design build contractor offering kitchen remodeling, bathroom, remodeling, and whole-home design services.
  • Murray Lampert:  According to their website, this company specializes in architectural design, residential second story additions, single story expansions, room additions, kitchen remodels, bath remodels, and total home remodeling.  When last researched by Classic Home Improvements, their license was active and their reviews were quite solid.

So there you have it.  A few remodel companies we consider to have healthy competition with.   Each of these competitors have (as of 2016) a great reputation as far as we can tell, beautiful images of completed projects, and are appear to be client-focused.  As always, we recommend verifying all licenses and insurance are current on the California State Licensing Board and verifying reviews on your own.

Classic Home Improvements

Classic Home Improvements is a home renovation contractor and is located in Escondido, Ca and offers kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, outdoor living remodeling, and room additions to homeowners in San Diego, CA as well as Temecula, CA.

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10 Ways Homeowners Can Avoid Remodeling Delays

We have all heard horror stories about a contractor who took too long to complete a project. You know the story, the one where the contractor swore the project could be completed in 5 days but it really took over 3 months to be completed.  Remodeling projects slipping over their projected completion date is a common remodeling problem, and one that can be avoided.

How do you avoid these types of miss-communications?  Where is the breakdown?  Why is it so hard to nail down a completion date on a remodel?  Would you be surprised to know you, as the homeowner, have a lot to do with how quickly a job progresses?!  Here are some ways you can be sure to help move the project along so the project is completed on time.

  1. Establish communication with the right person

    We all know good communication is key to any relationship, but why does it affect completion dates?   Construction is complex and involves many parties including the homeowner, designers, regulators (city for approvals), subcontractors or employees, and consultants.  If one party is not communicating with another, a break-down ensues.  For the purpose of this post, we encourage an open line of communication with your sole point-of-contact.  When you sign your contract, ask your contractor to be very clear who that point of contact is.

    Here is an example for you from a construction point of view:  If you talk to the framer and ask him to change a size of the niche for your new shower, he may say “sure, fine”.  If the framer does not tell your sole point of contact (usually a project superintendent), then the tile installer may not know about the change which means  you will be short on bull-nose.  If you have an insert tile or a special order tile, this will delay your project while you wait for the extra material to come in.  Construction is similar to a production line in manufacturing. Make one change in the front of the line without telling the next person in the line and all of a sudden your project (and its timeline) starts falling apart.

  2. Record questions

    Being informed about processes, procedures, and different products is all great.   What is not great is stopping workers several times a day to answer questions or discuss scope of work changes.  If you are a person who likes to do a ton of research, we suggest having a pad of paper and writing down your questions, concerns, etc to review with your point of contact.  As a remodeling contractor, we are often told by workers that homeowners come in frequently to ask questions about a process.  As a worker, and a human, we look for distractions, especially when doing repetitive work (field workers in construction face incredibly repetitive tasks).  So a simple question can turn into a 30 minute conversation, plus the time it takes to get his or her brain re-focused on the original task at hand.

    For each moment a worker is explaining a process to you, he or she is not completing the task at hand.  This goes back to making sure you are discussing questions with your point of contact.  Your point of contact should be answering any questions or concerns you may have.  Additionally, many times the worker does not have all the answers because he or she does not see the overall project, just the piece that is currently being worked on.

  3. Do not delay on selecting products

    Once you have selected your contractor everything starts moving relatively quickly.  Or at least, it should.  After your contractor has taken measurements of the space to remodeled it will be your responsibility as the homeowner to select the products to be installed.  This sounds easier than it is, we know.  Remember that in construction one decision affects several other decisions.  This means cabinets can not be ordered for a kitchen remodel until appliances have been selected because the measurements of the appliances affect the remaining space available for cabinets.  Countertops can not be fabricated until you have selected your sink.  Electrical wires can not be installed until you have selected your lighting.

    Make a day of it, make a weekend of it, but make it a priority to order your products as soon as  you have the green light from your contractor.  Need help?  Ask your contractor for assistance.  If you have hired a design build company to remodel your house, chances are you will have assistance in navigating the scary place which is product selection.

  1. Select products without a long back-order

    For the sake of everyone’s sanity, please pay attention to whether or not the item you are ordering is in stock!  How could a contractor possibly have a completion date which you both agreed on if the finish product will take 4 weeks longer than the anticipated completion date?  Are you ordering tile with a long back-order?  If for some unfortunate reason the tile measurements are “off” (or tile gets broken during installation, which can happen), if you have ordered custom tile or tile that is back-ordered, this will delay the completion of your project.  If there is a kitchen faucet or a lighting fixture you simply can not live without which has a long back-order make sure you discuss this with your point of contact so you can understand how that decision will affect your anticipated completion date.

  1. Be decisive

    Be confident in your decisions.  What do we mean by that?  Your design.  Once you have signed your contract and signed off on your final design, stop looking on the internet for additional ideas….we know, its temping.  Don’t do it.  Revising your design will not only affect your completion date, but it may very well affect your project price (which is another concern for homeowners who remodel).  Prices should not fluctuate once you have signed your contract.  The only three things that could possibly affect your pricing if you are working with a reputable contractor are (1) design and scope of work changes requested by the homeowner after the initial contract is signed and (2) unforeseen construction problems (such as finding mold when your contractor does his demo work, (3) unforeseen scope of work changes required by a city official (ie:  during permits or inspections).

  2. Do not add changes to your scope of work

    Again, be confident in your decisions and do not search the internet for additional ideas once you have signed off on your project drawings.  If you make changes to the scope of work once the final drawings have been approved the engine on your remodel has to stop or at minimum slow down.  What do we mean by that?  Here is an example:  You decide after you have ordered your kitchen cabinets that you would like to have a wine cabinet installed.  The wine cabinet affects cabinetry, countertops, and electrical trades.  New drawings have to be made, cabinet orders change, and once all those changes are made you will need to sign new drawings and a new material order takes place.  That one change could cost you a day or a week.  Either way, it is a delay.  Some homeowners are willing to cause a delay because of a “must have” item.  Just understand the delay is not due to your contractor, it is due to a change of scope of work.

  3. Have your home prepared for the project to start

    Having your home prepared for the project to start means just that.  Are you remodeling a kitchen?  Make sure your cabinets are 100% empty and packed away somewhere safe. Remodeling your bathroom?  Take everything off the walls, clean out the cabinets, clean out the toilet, and make sure the hallways are cleared for workers to have a safe traffic area. Once the project has started, stay clear out of the area.  Do not pack boxes in the space.  Any time the workers have to spend removing your items from the work space means they are not working on the remodel.   If you are not sure how to prepare for your remodel, reach out to your point of contact for guidance.

  4. Allow access to the home

    This seems to be a key item we need to discuss.  When you are having your home remodeled, it is important your contractor has access to the home during regular business work hours.  Some homeowners want to be home when the work is being completed.  If you want to manage the schedule by dictating when the workers can start, stop, and what days they can work, I promise you your schedule will be compromised.  Contractors will generally ask to have a lock-box with a special code allowing them to enter and exit your home while keeping the contents of your home safe.  If you trusted your contractor to remodel your home, it is imperative you trust them to have access to it when you are not home.  Not allowing access to the home during regular business hours is a key to keeping your project timeline on course.

  5. Avoid micro-managing your project

    Let me ask you this:  When you take your car to the mechanic, what happens?  You explain what is wrong, the mechanic takes a look, explains what the price will be and you leave until the work is complete.  Right?  The same is with your remodel.  You have hired your contractor because he or she is the professional, trained specifically in construction and remodeling.

    The construction process is complex.  To the untrained eye, you may believe something is missing if you see an electrical wire hanging loosely or a baseboard that is unpainted when all the others are already painted.  What you don’t see is the reason for why that part was left “unfinished”.  If we can offer one of the biggest piece of advise it is – understand that the remodel is not complete until your contractor says it is complete.  This means that if you see something you are concerned about – make note of it.  If it is still a problem when your contractor says the work is complete, bring it up during your final walk through.

    Every contractor should offer a final walk through before asking for a final payment.  This is the time to bring up any unfinished work or any workmanship details that may concern you.  This does not mean if you see an electrical outlet on the wrong wall that you do not bring it up.  That is an obvious miss-step during the remodel and one that the contractor should by all means catch before you do.

  6. Be available

    If there was one thing we could say to help a homeowner help their contractor complete their job on time it is – be available!  When your contractor calls you and needs you to make a decision, consider it a high priority.  When it is time to do a job walk with your contractor, make sure you are available.  It may be that the longer you delay the job walk, the longer the job sits because a decision needs to be made.  When it is time to select your product, don’t wait for the weekend you are free – make the time to make it happen.  Be available and be present (ie:  avoid distractions) when meeting with your contractor.

Remodeling your home is a team effort.  Once you have selected a contractor – you have essentially invited a new partner into your personal space for 3 weeks to a year, depending on the size of your project.  Nurture the relationship.  Communicate, be accessible, and be confident you have made the right choices from the moment you selected your team-mate.


Classic Home Improvements

Classic Home Improvements is a licensed general contracting company specializing in home remodels in San Diego, Ca and Temecula, Ca.  This company offers design services as well as remodeling services.  Their office is located in Escondido, Ca and has a kitchen and bath showroom which is available by appointment only to homeowners looking complete a kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel, or whole house remodel as well as home addition projects.

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What Type of Kitchen Layout Do I Have?

You spend every day in your kitchen, but do you know what shape it is?  Do you know what it’s labeled?  Do you know what shape you want it after your kitchen remodel?  Here is a quick guide to understand your kitchen better before you meet with a professional about your upcoming kitchen remodel.

L-Shaped Kitchens

White Kitchen Cabinets

L-shaped kitchens are probably the most popular layout seen in kitchens. L-Shaped kitchens usually have a sink on one side and stove on the others. Most homeowners will expand their kitchen to add an island and keep the L-Shape design but give it an updated look, and like the picture above the sink can be relocated to the island to allow more countertop space in the L Shape.

I-Shaped Kitchen

Bright Modern Galley Kitchen







This simple kitchen layout is one you see in smaller spaces like lofts or open apartments. This kitchen is a single galley kitchen or single wall kitchen. This is a simple design that works well in the smallest of spaces and it looks very modern.  This is a budget friendly kitchen because there is less cabinetry to be used and less countertop area.

U-Shaped (C-Shaped) Kitchens 

U Shaped Kitchen






This kitchen layout creates the perfect work triangle between the stove, sink and refrigerator. This is the kitchen best for those busy chefs of the home. The U-Shaped kitchen at times even offers a peninsula area for guest to sit and watch the magic happen. In other U-Shaped kitchens the peninsula may not be present but can be a wall of cabinets or other appliances may be on that wall. If an entertainment space is desired, an island can be created within the U-shape.

Galley Kitchen








Galley kitchens seem to have been the norm in older homes. The simple pattern of having a set of cabinets run down a narrow area of the home can be boring if you let it. Galley’s can be modernized to look more inviting by adding modern cabinets and hardware. Another way homeowners are adding some variety to their design is by knocking out one of the walls to the galley and opening the space and making that wall an eating bar keeping the galley shape but making the kitchen more accessible.

Island or Peninsula

Dark wood cabinets with white countertops







Adding an island or peninsula to your kitchen remodel can be a fun project because you are creating a space for entertaining.  Some homeowners like to have their family members sit at the peninsula to visit while they cook or so their children can finish homework while the parents prepare meals.

After viewing the layouts above, you may decide you want to completely gut your kitchen and create a new layout.  Most homes have the space to allow for a complete layout reconfiguration, which layout would you pick?

Classic Home Improvements

Classic Home Improvements, a San Diego based remodeling contractor, offers design build services to homeowners in San Diego and Temecula.


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Open Versus Closed Kitchen Remodel

When it comes to kitchen remodeling, there is no specific book you can read that tells you exactly what you are supposed to do with the space in your home. Every home is unique and so are the occupants inside them.   Only you can truly decide on what is comfortable and how a space can be most functional for your family.

If you are planning on remodeling your kitchen and trying to decide if you should create an open concept space or keep your current closed kitchen, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to lead you down the path that best suits you and your family.

  1. Why are you considering an open concept?

    Is it because you saw a beautiful kitchen in a magazine or on an HGTV sitcom?  Don’t forget that your entertaining and cooking style may differ from anyone else you know.  Unless you are planning your kitchen remodel to sell to your sister or neighbor – plan your space so that it suits your specific cooking and entertaining needs.

  1. Is your kitchen dark or does it feel closed off and gloomy?

Are you considering an open kitchen floorplan because you feel like your kitchen is dark?  You can lighten up your kitchen by adding canned lights, a skylight, or by raising your ceiling.  Perceived darkness should not be a leading decision-maker for opening up your kitchen.  There are plenty of ways to be creative in remodeling your closed kitchen.

  1. Are you organized?

    Galley Kitchen White Cabinets






Some homeowners like to entertain but they are not organized and they would prefer to keep their disorganization behind closed areas which means a closed kitchen is probably preferable to an open one.

  1. Do you like (or need) help when preparing food?

If you are an entertainer who likes to throw potlucks or who has a big family who comes over often for meals, you may prefer to have an open kitchen which allows multiple people in the kitchen without stepping all over each other.  We like to ask the question:  How many butts are in your kitchen?

  1. How do you want to allocate your budget?

Some homeowners would rather invest their kitchen remodel budget into higher end cabinets or deluxe appliances rather than invest in reworking the layout which can be expensive when dealing with tearing out walls.

Everyone’s needs are different.  When we ask homeowners what they are looking for in a design, we have some who need an open concept so they can keep an eye on their young children.  Other homeowners say they like to keep their food preparation separate from their entertaining and would prefer everyone stay out of their kitchen.  Your lifestyle will dictate what the best design is for you.  If you need help determining what that style is, invest in some free design consultations with local San Diego contractors.

Classic Home Improvements

Classic Home Improvements is a general remodeling contractor offering kitchen remodeling services to homeowners in San Diego and Temecula.  Their showroom is located in Escondido, CA and is by appointment only.

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