1. Plan ahead. Making product selections early can avoid delays later. Proper planning can also help keep you on budget. You'll end up making the same decisions, but you'll know what they're going to be and what they're going to cost ahead of time.
2. Remember the big picture. Long-term maintenance, energy loss, and repair expenses can add up quickly, so make sure you include them in your calculations when comparing prices.
3. Find good help. Hire contractors who have more than three years experience, membership in the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), a good record with the Better Business Bureau, and positive customer references. Most importantly, select a remodeler you trust.
4. Visit a job site. When evaluating remodelers, visit their current job sites. The best contractors maintain clean and organized work sites, take precautionary measures to ensure safety, and know how to keep a low profile in a neighborhood.
5. Be a good boss. The most important thing you can do during a remodeling project, other than write checks, is treat your contractor well.
6. Insist on a detailed contract. If you jump into a remodeling project with an ambiguous contract—or no contract at all—you may as well hire an attorney and set a court date right away. The contract needs the right address, a start date, a completion date, and a detail of what is and is not going to be done.
7. Know what you're getting into. Sure, remodeling is exciting. But there's also a lot of frustration as you encounter unexpected snags, delays, and the inevitable inconveniences that come from living in a construction zone. You'll handle the lows better if you know they're coming. A reputable remodeler will condition your expectations before a project begins.
8. Pitch a temporary camp. Speaking of lows, it can't get much worse than living without a kitchen for weeks on end. Minimize inconvenience by setting up a temporary one away from the construction area. Include a refrigerator and microwave oven, so you can continue to make light meals at home.
9. Pack away your breakables. A remodeling project is going to affect every room in the house. The homeowners need to take down pictures, move vases, and pack away valuables before work begins. While you're at it, take steps to protect your immovable fixtures, including built-in cabinets and chandeliers.
10. Communicate. Remodelers can do some amazing things, but they can't read minds. Let the company supervisor or project lead person know if anything is unsatisfactory so they can deal with the issue.