Define your Objectives
While most of us remodel for more than one reason, start by prioritizing your objectives. For most families, remodeling will involve a number of tradeoffs, so make a list of what you want your remodeling to accomplish and what objectives are most important. If you’re remodeling to reduce energy bills and increase comfort, then you’ll know to spend more on good windows and less on the window-dressing.
Determine your Budget and Financing
Once you start designing, you’ll be tempted to want everything your remodeler suggests. Create a firm budget before you begin. Talk to your financial planner if you have one, or visit with a mortgage banker to determine what you can spend and how you’ll finance the work. Then remember to keep a little aside for contingencies — surprises behind the walls of old houses are fairly common and may require unexpected repairs.
Build your Wish List
Similar to your objectives, your wish list will help you make choices as you design your new space. Here you can start with photos (the ParadeofHomes.org photo gallery may help, plus Pinterest and Houzz will be excellent resources). Add in products, features, materials, and colors that appeal to you. But don’t just put everything into a file, sort through your favorites and denote the importance of each (try three categories: Must Have, Really Want and Wishes and Dreams).
There are tons of excellent professional remodelers who will do a great job for you, but how do you find them? Start by touring during the Remodelers Showcase. You can meet remodelers and see their work without any obligation. You should also take advantage of the many online resources like Houzz to help you find remodelers that build the type and style of projects that appeal to you.
Interview Top Contenders
Once you narrow your prospective remodeler list down, interview them. Give them a rough idea of what your parameters are and your budget to see if they fit your needs. This step also lets you get a feel for their individual communications style and lets you understand exactly how they work. Ask them to walk you through the process — from the design stage to completion. Find out who will be on-site and who will be your primary point of contact and make sure you meet that person.
You’ll likely find one or two remodelers that seem just right. You like them, they have all the right answers, and you just feel right about them. But don’t stop there. Make sure you talk to three or more of their past clients. Ask about their remodeling experience: specifically what their project entailed, were they on-time and on-budget, what was it like having workers in their homes, and why they recommend the remodeler.