It is so exciting!! You have decided to embark on a major renovation--maybe a new master bath, a complete kitchen overhaul, a finished basement. So many things to consider, so many decisions, so many things to buy. It's gonna be a sparkly, spectacular dream come true, right?
Well, it could be.
Or it could be a big ol' mess.
Sadly, over the years I have had many conversations with people who have had the latter experience--and it is always painful to hear them talk about the choices they made after the fact, wishing they had just called me a little sooner so that their outcome could have been so much better.
Because this is a process that I help people through on a daily basis, I would like to share a few important tips to consider if you are embarking on a home renovation, so that it can be a productive, satisfying journey with a fabulous result, and NOT an anxiety-producing snafu resembling bad reality tv.
Here are some of the most important things to remember:
- Hire a Contractor Carefully: This person is going to be an intimate part of your life for a few days, a few weeks, or perhaps even a few months, and the effects that they can have on your life can be far-reaching, long after the project is wrapped up. Check their references, ask to see pictures of their previous work, make sure that they are insured, and make sure you feel confident and comfortable communicating with them. You will have a lot of questions to which they should willingly and promptly give you straightforward answers.
- Get It In Writing: Before a hammer can be swung, the scope of the whole project and its costs should be clearly outlined in a proposal/contract written by your contractor. Sure, there still can be things that are added or changed as the project goes forward (I pretty much guarantee there will be), but you should have it in black and white at the start what they said they would do for you, and at what price.
- Do This For Yourself, Not for Aunt Sally Who is Visiting Next Month: While an upcoming event is often the impetus to start a project around the house, it is important to take the long view on whatever changes you are going to make. Don't be hasty and pick materials just because they are on hand, or because it will enable you to fit nicely into a contractor's schedule. The ones you really want may take weeks to arrive, and you should wait for them. Your goal here is a space that you will love for years or decades to come. Don't settle for an outcome that you will feel so-so about just to meet a self-imposed deadline or to have it finished a couple of weeks sooner.
- Examine Your Expectations: Even if your contractor promises you that the whole thing will be easily completed inside of two weeks, are you okay with it if it isn't? Even the most reputable tradesmen come up against things that are unexpected, outside of their control, and that delay progress. If your schedule doesn't allow for that, wait to start the project. Also, make your best effort to get your head around the fact that your house will be very different for a while. Even with the work area sealed off, there will be clouds of dust settling into a fine film on flat surfaces, hours of loud compressors humming, and groups of men coming through the door very early in the morning (at an hour when normally you may still be in your underwear).
This all may seem overwhelming, but take heart--when done carefully, intentionally, and when executed by skilled hands, your new space is sure to be wonderful and very worth all the hard work and expense!