A kitchen remodel can set you back a pretty penny so you must prepare well for it. First and foremost you need to decide what your budget is and stick to that budget. I cannot tell you how many clients I came across that wanted to have a 'simple' kitchen remodel, ended up upgrading everything, including the kitchen sink (pun intended). Once you've determined what it is exactly you want out of your kitchen remodel, start your hunt for reputable and LICENSED contractors. There are plenty of horror stories of kitchen remolding jobs gone awry, from gas leaks to plumbing issues, and everything in between. Hiring a licensed contractor basically guarantees that the job will be done correctly and that if any issues arise, the contractor will be back to fix it.
Once your scope of work is defined, and you know all your requirements (type of countertop, sizes, cabinets types, flooring requirements, etc.), it's always healthy to get two to three quotations before you select your contractor. Make sure to read reviews about your contractor before signing up with them!
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure that the price and scope of work are very well defined. The California Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) forces licensed contractors to include certain minimum requirements on their home improvement contracts, make sure yours includes the same. The main ones are:
One item often forgotten by clients is to ask for flooring / wall tile and countertops to be sealed as part of the contract. Make sure your contract includes for that. Otherwise your contractor will have to charge you for it beyond what the home remodeling contract price is.