2 Be an informed homeowner. Personal intrusion, noise, distractions, dust and inconveniences are often unavoidable but they can be managed if you prepare yourself and your family for the process of renovation. Make your home accessible to workers, and take time to understand their schedules. Some contractors may want to work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., others from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Discuss this with them so that their schedule accommodates your lifestyle. Plan some dinners out and a few weekend getaways to give you a break from the craziness around your house.
3 Be a good communicator. You must completely understand what you are getting into before you purchase any products or start any work. This means always asking questions, studying drawings and confirming all details with your contractor. A calendar and message centre can help you, your children, the contractor and tradespeople know what is happening in the house on any given day. Being accessible during the day (via cellphone or a work number) can help your contractor make fast, smart decisions as issues arise.
4 Plan to spend more than you thought.
On average, people spend 10 to 20 percent more on their renovations than originally planned. If you expect this at the outset, you'll feel more at ease when you add a feature you forgot or indulge in a luxury or two.
5 Check about your contractor's references when hiring someone you don't know. Most of us find contractors through recommendations. A good contractor pays attention to details, such as placing drop cloths and cleaning the site each day, is courteous of your time, follows up with your questions and bills on a regular basis. Does he or she have a cellphone or an email address?
6 Use a contract, and be specific. Is there a start and finish date to this project? Are there provisions for extended completion dates, payment schedules and material specifications? Who buys what and who does what? Upon signing, the contractor will probably ask for a deposit – typically 10 to 20 percent of the total job. If he or she insists on something higher, you should consider this a red flag. And it goes without saying that you'd be wise to avoid cash deals.
7 Keep a project log. Use a simple folder to keep track of products you have specified, dates of certain installations and what happens each day at the house. This will become your memory bank of the day-to-day goings-on at a chaotic work site.
8 Plan to visit showrooms alone and with your contractor. When you go on your own, you can dream, get ideas and be creative. When you take your contractor, reality will hit. The contractor can advise you on what will work in your home and the materials that he or she feels comfortable working with.
9 Be accessible during installation times.
Confirm that the showrooms you have purchased from can have a contact available. You should also be accessible by phone during the installation dates of products you have chosen. Nothing is more stressful for a contractor than installing a bathtub only to find that a part is missing or wondering how high to hang your wall sconce.
10 Be open to new ideas and changes from your original plan. You may think everything is well thought out and planned but inevitably, changes will need to be made. A good contractor will offer solutions to small problems and use his or her experience from past jobs to recommend what works best.