1. Be wary of changes and additions midstream. Quite often you will see another way to improve your home after construction has started. Be careful. Homeowners often do not grasp the magnitude in time, cost, new plans and delay that a "small" change can create. Approach this decision with caution and discuss it with your contractor. Remember, the later in the schedule you make a change, the higher the cost of modification. If you feel a change must be made, expect it to cost more than your estimate. Furthermore, you will be asked to pay at the time of the change, not at the end of the job. Solution: Discuss and ponder plans well in advance of contacting a designer, then engage in an extensive dialogue with the designer before the start of construction is even considered.
2. Expect a few delays. Delays come from many sources, all unexpected. Some are due to suppliers -- the model you want is out of stock, the truckers are on strike, etc. Other delays occur if changes or additions surface. Sometimes plans need redrawing, sometimes constructions must be torn out. Subcontractors provide another source of delay. They work many job sites, creating a potential domino effect: a delay on a previous job will make them late to yours.
3. Don't panic when you know you told them what you wanted and it is not happening. This may be just a simple omission. This is a case where selecting an experience remodeling firm with good communication helps tremendously. Make sure you get together with your firm early in the process to check the plans, specifications, selections, and schedule carefully.
4. Don't be surprised by incorrect plans. It will happen, especially in remodeling. The only perfect set of plans is in Heaven. You, the contractor, and the workmen will all view the plans from different perspectives, using them at different levels. Solution: Contact the contractor in an easy mood, confident that any difficulties can and will be solved. Good communication in the early stages of a job minimizes this type of problem.
5. Live with a bit of mess. During remodeling, a "mobile factory" is created that does produce a good deal of trash. Some phases of remodeling generate more waste than others. And, of course, the workmen have to eat lunch. Solution: Clean-ups should occur regularly. If you plan to entertain while the remodeling project is underway, simply request that the area is clean before the event.
6. If you have a problem with a craftsman, take it up with the contractor. The contractor has selected a qualified professional craftsman who is likely doing the proper thing according to the plans. If you feel something is proceeding incorrectly, contact the contractor directly about what you think is wrong. Craftsmen get their instructions from the contractor, so don't confuse the communication lines.
7. Remember, work may not always fit the estimate. Some items are notoriously hard to estimate for cost and/or time: wallpaper, hardware, lights, carpet, counter tops, special tile or glass work, special cabinets or trim features. In remodeling, some details simply have to be worked out on the job. Solution: Full discussion early in the planning coupled with thorough research of options leads to more steadfast decisions with less uncertainty in estimates. Fine tuning of your selections may be needed in the field but most decisions should be hammered out before beginning construction. Changing your mind costs money. The later the change, the greater the added cost.
8. Not everybody is going to like your changes. Don't be overly worried about criticism by neighbors, family, or workmen. No one has the information you do about what you want, what was planned, and what value you place on the various aspects of your home. Have faith. You spent many hours deciding what you wanted. Don't spend even more time worrying about persons who have not invested at all in the project.
9. Resist bothering the workmen. Specifically, do not tell them to do something. They take their orders from the contractor. Solution: Since your input may be valid and helpful, keep it in the proper channel--contact the contractor.
10. Don't assume the project is going to be a nightmare. Occasionally, a homeowner takes the attitude that a bad experience is in prospect. Such an assumption doesn't help any of the participants. Solution: If you are leery about the contractor, the financial burden, the plans, or the whole process, don't proceed until you can find a higher comfort level. This may mean waiting some time before you undertake building. Live with the plans for a while. Consider building a model. You may even want to change contractors, though this may be a drastic and disruptive step if the process is in advanced stages.