1. Try not to live in a home that is being renovated, if possible. You will drive yourself crazy trying to clean, cook, and to keep your family safe. Move in with extended family or rent for a short period of time while your home is being renovated. Convince your family it will be fun, sort of like an adventure...
2. Hire the best contractor, carpenter, painter you can afford and check references! Ask to see completed projects and speak with former clients personally. I advise you to not hire a contractor on a photographic portfolio alone, there are beautiful design portfolios that are fraudulent, so beware!
3. Have one "point person" whom you work with directly. Usually that would be your contractor and they will handle all your concerns with their staff. Place your contractor's cell and home phone numbers on speed dial. I recommend you have a special mailbox on site where you can drop off notes and to-do lists.
4. Stop in every day at different times to check on progress. If you see or hear something you don't like or know that it is wrong say something! For instance, don't wait for them to tile the bathroom in hot pink and then say, "Oh, I didn't select that!"
5. Make all design decisions early in the process, develop a solid plan and stick to it. It's important to have faith in your design vision and allow the process to happen. It's hard to judge an interior when it is half complete. Also, remember to get all quotes in writing and review carefully.
6. Don't lay tile until all tile for that project is on site and is inspected for color variation and quality. Open all of the boxes and check first!
7. I recommend that all floor stain samples be done on site and on the floor you are staining. Stain color can be tweaked on site if it is necessary.
8. When visiting your construction site, always wear sturdy shoes or heavy boots and watch where you are walking. Construction sites can be dangerous with rotting floors, nails, loose boards, etc. so be extra careful and mindful of where you are stepping.
9. If you are on site and someone urges you to use a construction staircase and you are uncomfortable, just don't do it. Never let anyone on a construction site push into something you are not comfortable with, wait a few days until a bannister is installed or safety precautions have been put into place especially when dealing with staircases. Also, never visit a construction site when it is dark or when alone. Wait for normal business hours to visit the site when the contractor and crew are there.
10. Be flexible during a renovation project. No matter how much you plan and cover every last construction detail, something inevitably comes up or goes wrong. When it does, take a deep breath, go for a walk, or do some yoga and try not to lose your cool. I always wait 24 hours and then proceed with a solution that everyone can live with. A renovation project is like life, nothing will ever be perfect, you do the best you can, and then move on. For instance, in our featured project, the original powder room tile was a warm creamy color. When the tile arrived and we opened the box, it was a mid-gray tone and nothing like our original sample! Yes it was disappointing, yes it was upsetting, but we found a second tile choice within 48 hours and were busy tiling three days later. I have found that if something doesn't work out, your second choice can even be better. Trust me, I have seen it happen many times over the years! Always keep in mind the finished result and how beautiful it will be.
I hope you found my tips helpful and can put them to use!
Yours, Tara Wilke