Tip #1: Think!
Examine your lifestyle, needs, challenges, dreams, goals and budget. What will enhance your space and make it work harder for you? What will you gain? Throw open the questions and possibilities; stretch your brain and your space and work it! You will be surprised at the ideas and solutions that will surface.
Tip #2: Organize
Create an idea binder and pack it with your dream designs, clippings, products, furniture and paints that you love and don’t want to forget. This will help you articulate your ideas with your designer, architect and contractor. Keep records of project meetings and comments. Track all costs. With any renovation, a lot is going on so document well. Organization can save time, money and your sanity.
Tip # 3: Plan & Prioritize
What is your priority? Identify it and don’t lose sight of it so that you stay on track and on budget. Planning and prioritizing in advance of your renovation will help avoid costly redo mistakes.
Tip #4: Budget
Know it and don’t blow it. Be on the same financial page as your partner; not doing so can demo a relationship. Meet with your banker or financial advisor to determine what you can afford and what fits your financial goals. Realtors are great resources for home values and what improvements make sense for resale (psst! kitchens and baths tend to have great return on investment). Splurge on one or two things that you just can’t live without but responsibly pull back on spending in other areas. Allow at least a 10-20% cushion for project changes, materials and product increases. Remember though, your goal is to plan well to avoid surprises!
Tip #5: Due Diligence
Ask Town Hall about permits and local regulations. Check condo associations for any renovation regulations. Ask friends and neighbors about their remodeling experiences, research on the web industry ezines and magazines and books at the library. Talk to a range of industry professionals. You can learn a lot just by asking. Cover your “assets” by being informed, prepared and confident.
Tip #6: Communicate
Be clear and sincere and ask questions. Create a second binder to track vendor communications, purchases and contracts. Good communication and documentation helps ensure better apples to apples bidding and is a good source for clarifications. Communicate uncertainties, questions, and concerns with your industry professionals and suppliers. Be sure to express gratitude for good work, added value and dependability.
Tip #7: Get the Right Professional
You are in hiring mode for industry professionals but you are looking for a partnership too. Great trade skills and integrity are imperative when hiring an industry pro; good chemistry and great communication get high marks too. Check ‘em out! Research and only work with those with great references, ample insurance and are licensed. Request a copy of their coverage and license; if your request is rejected, NEXT! Check references (do this, really!) and consult the Better Business Bureau. Ask the Building Dept. at Town Hall if they have experience with your prospective professionals too.
Tip #8: Get it in Writing
Request a written contract of work to be done and costs. Read well and consulting an attorney is a good practice. Get clarification on anything that is not crystal clear in the contract. Get all changes and cost adjustments in writing in a Change Order. A good contract can serve both you and your contractor well.
Tip #9: Schedules
Request a schedule with your contract from your GC and host regular status meetings. A project schedule is essential to keep your project on track.