Tips from the trade
Step 1: Hire an Architect. There is truly nothing more important than hiring the right Architect for your project. A good set of plans will save you time and money in the long run. Interview three architects. Make sure they have experience with your type of project. Especially if your home is located in the historic district. You want to make sure your architect is familiar with the extra requirements involved by having to go thru the extra step of being reviewed and approved by HARC. If you have a commercial project such as a restaurant it is extremely important your architect & their engineer have done several restaurants. Making sure you have good plans will help keep your project on schedule & greatly reduce change orders.
Step 2: Hire an Interior Designer or Decorator. Hiring a designer can help you avoid costly mistakes. This will not only help you save money but can also increase the value of your home. Their creativity and experience with color, scale, design & function can help you channel your ideas into something aesthetically pleasing. A designer's knowledge and access to finishes will save you hours of time. Let a good designer help you select cabinets, wall tile, flooring, countertops, lighting fixtures & plumbing fixtures.
A landscape architect can take your garden from okay to wow by selecting proper plants that will survive, provide an irrigation plan, landscape lighting plan & select materials such as pavers, decking, fencing & decorative elements.
Update & Modernize!
Engineer prepares structural, electrical, plumbing & mechanical plans
At the end of your project make sure all permits are closed out
Ask for references, copy of State and local licenses, worker's comp and liability insurance, meet the superintendent or project manager for your project and ask how many projects they have completed similar to yours.
Step 3: Hire a general contractor: Hiring the right general contractor is extremely important. Ask yourself the following question. Can I work with this person for the duration of this project? Knowledge and experience will get the project done right but personally and relationship chemistry will determine your happiness throughout the project. Select three contractors to bid your project once your plans are complete. Provide all two to three with a bid due date (2-3 weeks depending on project size). Make sure they each visit the site. Ask them if they see any items that conflict with the plans. Once selected sign a contract that includes a detailed scope of work, payment schedule, clarification that detail by owner items and exclusions and a detailed project schedule.