Author's Note: This is part of a series of blog posts are aimed at avoiding renovation woes.
After the Cherry Hill Kitchen renovation was complete, I asked my client what she wished homeowners knew before starting the renovation process. I asked because as a professional designer I know what to anticipate during a renovation and sometimes I take that for granted. I believe that the more you know going into a renovation project the more successful it will be because you will have a better idea of what to expect.
"Find a balance between staying out of the way but not unavailable. If you're home they will ask you more questions, but they'll be more likely to make assumptions on small things if they have to wait or make a phone call." Carla, Homeowner, Cherry Hill kitchen renovation
For those of my clients involved with their first time renovation, they usually underestimate how much availability they need in order to keep the project moving. Unless you have given your designer and contractor full reign to make every decision, you are likely going to get some e-mails and phone calls. If you do not have a full-service designer helping you, then you will need more availability. I can tell you from experience with addressing correspondence for my full-service clients, the calls and emails come in waves. You might not get a call for a day or two and then one day you'll get 10 calls and a ton of e-mails. If you have other priorities, that can be disruptive. Also, I'll let you in on a little secret—if you don't hear from your contractor during construction for 10 or more days that could be really bad.
One thing that makes a huge difference is investing in well-detailed drawings of the space—floor plans, interior elevations, custom detailing—the clearer the drawings are, the less the contractor will need to clarify. A lot of clients wonder why interior designers spend so much time on drawings. First, they take a lot longer to draft then you probably think. In most cases, we are thinking in three dimensions even though we are drawing in two dimensions. We also know that if we rush through and miss a detail, it is going to come back to haunt us later. Still, for full-service interior design clients, regular site visits are standard so we can make sure nothing is amiss.
If you are planning on going on vacation at any point during a renovation, make sure to let your contractor and designer know. We want to let you relax while you are away, and part of that involves knowing when you will be generally unavailable ahead of time. We love to work on schedules so if we know you are going to be away, we will try to anticipate what may need your feedback ahead of time. Professionals will try their best to get all the feedback from you for the next few weeks to avoid bugging you while you are away.
In a lot of ways, it comes down to trust. It is important to trust professionals to contact you to make important decisions. You should also trust them enough that you do not feel the need to micromanage and watch everything they do over their shoulder. After all, you did hire them for their expertise! That being said, professionals that check in just the right amount so that if there is something that needs to be addressed it is not reviewed and revised as needed at the last minute. Communicating "just the right amount" varies from client to client, but eventually you will figure out what amount of correspondence with professionals makes you most comfortable.