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8 Things You Must Do Before Renovating Your House—or Else

Renovating your house is an adventure, one that can easily go off the rails. There are a mind-boggling number of wrong turns homeowners can take, from going over budget, to hiring a shady contractor, to just realizing that the quartz counters or paint color they picked are so wrong—after the work is done. You might even want to consider enlisting design help in addition to a contractor, suggests Mount. “A designer can go a long way in easing the pain of design decisions and decorating drama,” she says. “Color and pattern change with the light throughout the day, so walk by the room several times and get a feel for what you really want,” she says. She suggests clients paint a sample on a board or piece of sturdy cardboard and move it around the rooms throughout the day and into night. Insist on an airtight contract Starting a project is the “honeymoon” phase, but you want to be prepared for the days that are less dreamy. That’s why your contract with an outside professional needs to be specific and include the following: Payment schedule (make sure you never complete final payment until you are 100% satisfied) Timeline Potential penalties for missed milestones Details on all the work, down to how many cabinets are being installed and how many square feet of which tile will be laid Not only will the document protect you, it will also show your contractor you mean business, says Jody Costello, founder of ContractorsFromHell.com. Time your renovation right Renovation projects are notorious for running over schedule, often through no one’s fault. It’s wise to just expect there will be delays, so plan the renovation with ample time if you have a “due date,” such as house guests coming or a special trip that will take you out of town.