Everyone has heard the nightmare stories of the remodeling project gone wrong. After eleven years of owning a remodeling company, and then nine years working as a Realtor, I’d like to share 3 simple things you can do to ensure a successful remodeling project:

Tip #1 Use Someone You Trust Interview three contractors with at least 3+ years of experience. Check their references and ask, in particular, if the job was completed to their satisfaction, on schedule, and most importantly if the cost of the job matched the original estimate or proposal. If not, did the job specifications change? If possible, go see completed jobs they’ve done. If you don’t have time for all that, google online reviews (Angie’s List is a good source), ask your friends who they would recommend, or give me a call.Tip #2 Get Agreement in Writing Make sure that you spend enough time in preparation so that the contractor has as complete a description of the job as possible when he gives you the bid. It can be very costly and time consuming to change a project mid-stream, and it will probably void any promises about a completion date. This should include start and finish dates, job details, and breakdown of costs plus any change order costs.

Tip #3 Think Outside of the Box – But Not Funky!The most successful remodeling jobs are those that change a house to better conform with how people actually live in their homes today. For example, remove that kitchen desk no one uses and add more counter and cabinet storage. Or remove the owner’s suite bathtub and install a larger shower with dual shower heads. Opening up walls between rooms for better flow and natural light is another great improvement that will help you enjoy your home and bring better resale value. However, resist adding a spiral staircase or a pirates perch in the vaulted family room just because the kids think it would be cool – keep it sensible!

If you would like feedback on whether your idea would be a good project to pursue in terms of resale, I’ll be happy to stop by and give you my professional opinion. If you do it right, you can enjoy the improvements and get a solid return on the investment.