Know your options! Explore all the different styles and looks. Find what you like. Don’t get caught up in affordability at this stage. This is just the idea stage.
Create a wish file! Go through design magazines, catalogues, online and more, pull out pictures (don’t save the magazines). Keep in an accordion file or a notebook by room or by idea if only one room.
Research Contractors! Get at least 2-3 contractors for each type of work. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau, get both written and telephone references on each. Many will have fellow contractors they recommend; this can shorten your search for qualified installers significantly.
Get Quotes! Schedule time to have several contractors out at once to quote the various phases of the job. For example, just today, I had a dozen contractors out between 9-noon to quote at least 6 different phases of work I plan to have done. This method saved me time and still made it possible during the day. While I don’t generally have two from the same field in at the same time, it can happen. I find that it usually makes them more negotiable, knowing there is active competition.
Establish Your Investment! Once you have all the quotes in, you can decide what you are comfortable moving forward with now, in 3 months, in 6 months, and next year. Saying you can’t afford something before you know actual expense is a futile and ridiculous statement! Don’t second guess, get the facts and make an informed decision. Be sure to consider the big picture and long haul, and don’t cut corners in the short term that will come back and bite you in the long haul.
Schedule! Knowing the contractors’ lead times and materials delivery times will help you to schedule the work in the proper order (you can hire a general contractor to do this, or go for it yourself.) If in doubt, ask the contractor whether he/she wants to go before or after another contractor (flooring before or after paint, that is the question!?). Create a calendar with start dates and deadlines. Be sure any agreements signed include a clause for penalty to the contractor for delays and missed completion dates.
Follow Up! Go through and do a punch list for every contractor completed before paying the balance in full. It is infinitely more difficult to have them come back out once paid in full! Get smart and keep at least 10% of the job until you are satisfied.
Celebrate! Plan a remodeling party! Celebrate even small successes, a new floor, an incredible paint color, added crown moulding, new light fixtures. It all makes for a more beautiful life!