Ten Tips For Picking A Kablan

Ten Tips for Picking a Kablan

First and foremost, let me just say that I am not responsible for any retivut (leaking) in your walls merely because you have read this article! This advice is free, and as long as I am not standing there watching how the Kablan (contractor) works, you may not come back and complain to me! Secondly, I am a feminist but I have not yet met a female Kablan, so please excuse the fact that I will refer to the Kablan in the male form for the sake of this article. Phew! Now down to business.

A Kablan should be responsible for ensuring the highest quality of work in your future home. He will listen to your requests, always answer his phone and make sure to keep coming back until you are completed satisfied. The finished job will make you happy and when you look around your home, you will have only good memories from the building process and your dealings with him. Does this sound even vaguely familiar?

Most people flee from building and renovations like nobody’s business. Why is it so difficult to know how to pick the right Kablan?

People constantly fall into a few traps:

  • A low price quote

Do not always think that saving that money will pay off in the end. Sometimes it is better to hold off on some of the things you wanted to do and to pay a little bit more for better quality. Remember, you get what you pay for! In addition, if the work is of a low standard, you will probably end up paying more, in the end, to fix his mistakes.

  • A friendly smile

A smile is nice if you are married to him, but sometimes a gruff nature is reassuring because you know that he will be able to stand up and fight for things when you need them. He needs to deal with difficult workers and issues all day, make sure he has the ability to do so.

  • He’s your friend’s husband/brother/father/neighbor

Someone I know who wanted to help her co-worker, hired this woman’s husband to be their Kablan. This Kablan was so deep in debt that he took the first payment from them, gutted the apartment and left them living in vile conditions for a few months until he came back. Apparently, he used their payment to pay off his other debts and had to wait for more money before he was able to buy the necessary materials to start their job.

Here are the top ten things you should consider when hiring a Kablan:

  1. Get references. Usually three are enough. Make sure to speak to people who just finished their construction so that things are fresh in their minds and to people who are a year or two after finishing so that they can tell you if any problems have come up. Try to get the opinion of an unbiased skilled third party like an architect or engineer. It is important to know what materials and level of workmanship you are getting for your money.
  2. Make sure that he is willing to work with your architect or designer. A skilled architect will make you a refined and well-detailed plan but the builder needs to be knowledgeable enough to be able to improvise on these plans to maintain work progress. Improvisation and planning are both essential steps to the building process.
  3. Even excellent laborers make mistakes; the question is how they recover from them, what they learned and that they do not make the same mistakes twice.
  4. The three traits you should look for in a Kablan are character, competence and dedication!
  5. Let us not forget about honesty! Clients generally know much less about design and construction than the people they are dealing with. The best strategy to combat this is to use professionals with unquestionable integrity.
  6. A Kablan should be flexible. How does he react when you change your mind or have a change to the original plans? Is he able to adapt?
  7. Get detailed quotes and make sure that you account for all the details in the building project. Sometimes a lower quote is missing some of the hidden costs that one of your other quotes included.
  8. Do not compare your project with seemingly similar projects since, more often than not, it leads to faulty expectations and does not provide much help in your decision-making.
  9. Make sure that the Kablan has the payment fees set up fairly so that you can manage the payments and so that the money transfers hands after a fair amount of work has been completed.
  10. Finally, if you are already fighting with each other and you have not even signed yet, then do not sign! A lot of the work with a Kablan is personality and if you are not getting along now then go with your gut feeling. You need to be able to speak openly and regularly with your project manager. Open dialogue minimizes future construction problems and misunderstandings.

Paying a Professional

“Come over and see the renovation we just completed. I want your opinion. I am sure you’ll love it!”

“Maybe you can just stop in for a second and see my kitchen. I want to redo the entire thing, break down the walls where the balcony is, dig up the plumbing system etc. etc. and I just want to know what you think. It’ll just be for a second, okay? When you have a chance…”

These are the types of questions and comments I encounter regularly when I tell people that I am an interior designer. The first comment usually comes from a person who has already gone through the entire renovation process. They have some last minute things that need fixing up but otherwise, they are done! Finished!

In order to respond to this scenario I have to be as realistic as I can. It is like a case of someone who already had a haircut and asks you what you think. The hair is gone. There is no point in dwelling on the past. Just say you like it and that they look great and move on.

Eventually when I go over to see their renovation, I try not to focus on the work that was done. I like to comment on the nice feeling that I know people have from completing a renovation on their home. I will say things like, “I am so happy for you that you have more space,” or, “It must feel so great to come into your kitchen every day and feel that feeling of happiness from it being so new and open.” They are happy and I am happy for them.

The second comment means that the person wants you to come and give them lots of advice for free and then leave. They will handle the rest on their own (or so they think), they just need an initial push. Even if I do spend an hour offering my opinion, I know that there is so much involved in the renovation road ahead of them that the advice is really only useful if they follow through properly.

On the other hand, there is a response that I get, when I tell people that I am an interior designer, that I feel gives me the strength to continue to create and design. It is usually after someone has seen the work I have done. For example, if someone enters my home, looks around and then looks at me waiting for me to offer an explanation. I tell them that I am a designer and their response is usually, “Well, that explains it.”

I then go on to explain to them everything that goes into creating and designing. There are the planning stages: making sure to satisfy the needs and preferences a client wants in a home, using the right suppliers and trades people. Then the renovating stage which includes meeting deadlines, overseeing workers, adjusting to unexpected events and problems, being flexible! And finally, the finishing touches: color palettes, lighting, finishing the punch list, fabrics, furniture placement and one last look. We’re done!

Here is an example of a kitchen that was in desperate need of a makeover:


Kitchen before renovation

Kitchen before renovation



This kitchen was lacking everything! There was no style, no storage, the space was not used properly and the lighting left a lot to be desired. This was a designers dream…or nightmare! Depending on how you look at it.

Renovated kitchen

Modern Elegant Kitchen After Renovation I opened up the space. I made the most of the natural lighting and under counter and ceiling lights, dark cabinetry, Caesar stone counter-tops and stainless steel appliances to design a truly fantastic and usable kitchen.

I would never try to be my own dentist. I would not attempt to cut my own hair. I wouldn’t spend the years and years learning how to be my own lawyer. And I know, that when I do a job, my interior design experience and style are what make the final outcome look complete and truly beautiful.

Paying a professional is the first step to getting what you want done and to reaching your renovating goals. Properly. Professionally. With Style.