Step 4: Know Thyself—and Thy Family
As you collect information on what you'd like, maintain an open and honest communication with your spouse, partner, and family. Determine what each of you can—and cannot—live without. Make sure that everyone is on the same page. You will waste a lot of time—and money—if you sit down with your architect, designer, and contractor only to find out that you've not yet come to agreement. Figure out what you want before meeting with a designer.
Step 5: Determine Your Budget
Well, the fun had to end somewhere! At this point, compare your dream list and your dollars. Ask your potential design professional to break down the cost for materials, labor, time table, and so on. Know what you are willing to pay for and what you are not. Can you take or leave the sauna tub? Prioritize your list. Once all of this is agreed upon, set up a payment schedule.
Step 6: Recruit the Professionals
When you feel ready to begin your search for a professional, word of mouth is the most reliable way to begin. Ask your friends and good neighbors for the names of the designers, architects, and contractors with whom they've worked. It's wise to have a few choices. After you have a list in place, make phone calls to each. Their manner over the phone will help narrow your search.
Step 7: Make the Connection
After you've selected a few professionals via telephone calls, it is of the utmost importance that you meet in person with your design professionals. Ask them for references, check their portfolio, and ask them how well they know their subcontractors (the specialists who your contractor hires to work on your tile, pipes, windows, etc.) If at all possible, visit your potential contractor's current project. Is it neat? Is the crew professional looking and polite? This is your chance to ask lots of questions about everything. Feel free to show them your Renovation Book.
Take the time to have several meetings with your potential design professional. It is vital that before you sign a contract, you feel completely comfortable with them. Make sure that they understand your aesthetic, knowledge base, budget, and personality, and you theirs. These folks will literally be in your closets, bedroom, and kitchen, so it's important that you have a connection with them.
Step 8: Be Specific
Before signing on the dotted line, be clear about your expectations. Are you looking for a hands-off consultant, or someone to hold your hand through each and every decision? Would you like to oversee each plumber, electrician, and craftsman to come into your home, or would you like a general contractor to coordinate and manage the subcontractors? Will your designer be accompanying you to every showroom? Will your architect be helping you choose tiles? Know what you need. If a certain design team cannot deliver, find another team.