Now that you’ve found your designer and builder, and signed your contract (or at least looked it over and started negotiations), I guess you can just disappear like those HGTV families and come back when it’s all done! (Cue the OMGs!)
No. That’s not how this is going to play out.
I’ve heard where people handed the keys to their decorator or builder and walked away (or stayed in a completely different city) while they worked their magic, but these people are either 1) very easy to please, or b) insane.
You have some obligations to the builder and to yourself to be around during the build. And more.
1.) Be easy to reach. Whether it’s asbestos in the heating, collapsing plumbing, knob and tube wiring, or a host of other surprises that won’t pop up until the walls come down, your builder will need to get hold of you. Make sure you are accessible by cell phone or email so problems can be solved in a timely manner. What if you really are in another town? Skype, email or phone. And be prepared for a sizeable long distance bill.
2.) Make up your mind. Don’t take weeks to pore over samples until you’ve made every decision. Pick out the cupboards, plumbing features, flooring, lighting fixtures, moulding, door handles — and all the thousands of little decisions that you’ll have to make — early in the game. These choices have to be made quite early on to make sure there are no hang-ups during the build.
3.) Be flexible. It doesn’t matter how well you plot and plan, some things just won’t work out. In our case it was bedside lamps we had to switch out partway through the build. But it could be almost anything, countertop material that’s no longer available. Flooring in exactly the right colour. Then your builder will need to get hold of you quickly (see 1.) above) and get an alternate. But
4. Don’t change your mind. Some things can be returned to the store. But not walls. Once you’ve signed off on the plans everything flows from that, the schedule, the budget, the workers themselves. Changing your mind during the build can cause terrible delays; yes, it’s just a day or two of work, but that could mean the sub-trades are already on their next job and can only get back in their spare hours. Those decisions should be made during the design stage.
4.) Get out of their way. You may not have to actually leave the building — although for big renos that’s a darn good idea — but you should pack up your stuff and make sure all your shelves are cleared and your pictures and mirrors removed from the walls. Demo and rebuild can be rather seismic, you don’t want stuff crashing to the floor. Your builder will put up plastic sheets where he/she can, to keep the mess contained, but it’s also a good idea to cover your furniture with dust sheets.
5.) Pay your bills on time. You knew that.
6.) Leave a contingency fund. There will be surprises — and not all of them good. That contingency fund will come in very handy — and if you don’t spend it (although you will) you can take a nice vacation when all the hurly burly is done.