How to pick a contractor
The first step is to know, which contractor you will use and believe you me it takes more than asking a few references. You need to know if the contractor finishes projects on time, does the contractor finishes projects within the budget, does the contractor takes full responsibility of every service and actions during project, is the contractor reasonable and flexible to deal with, is the contractor known by building suppliers and which building suppliers does the contractor use?
Have a realistic project time frame
The biggest mistake we make as contractors is not doing our homework well after site inspection. This results in small renovations, such as redoing a bathroom or kitchen, taking much longer than planned. Both contractor and the property owner must be clear on the design, how to use available space, which materials and building supplier to use, and what the budget will be. Once all these factors are perfectly understood, then the realistic project time frame will be known.
How to be a great client
For a project to end well, it takes a lot of effort from contractor and client. We often hear about bad contractors only, but from my experience, clients can frustrate good contractors too. Often, clients will change their decisions and renovations plans, and expect contractors to dust the trim every day during the project. This impedes the workflow of contractors and their staff and indicates that clients also have the responsibility to respect the workspace and professionalism of the contractors they have hired.
Can I afford it?
Out of all the big questions, the biggest and scariest question is often whether or not I can afford it. Going over budget is the first sign of poor planning. When you have a good contractor your budget will determine things like materials and the eventual outcome of your project. It is unreasonable to expect Grade A material at Grade C price or to expect the services of a qualified artisan at a semi- skilled personal rate.
To avoid unreasonable expectations that will only result in disappointment, sit down with your pay slip, bank statement and credit cards and figure out how much you can spare for the project. Accept what you can afford. Make sure that you take on at least an extra 20% for those inevitable issues that will spring up. Check your budget with your contractor regularly to make sure you're on track.
Finally, don't borrow to renovate if you can avoid it as a renovation is much more satisfying if you save up the necessary funds before you renovate.