STEP 1: The Project Brief
All too often, it's misunderstandings between contractor and client that cause the most serious problems. So, with that in mind, before you talk to anyone, do your project brief.
- First, get all the decision makers and interested parties together. Include everyone - partners, child minders, even children - anyone with an interest in the end product.
- Write down your complete wish list. Think in terms of general priorities first e.g. better natural light, more play room etc. This will make it easier for the contractor to understand what you're trying to achieve overall. Then, get into specifics.
- Make a list of any practicalities that could affect the project. For example, scheduling issues around holidays or work.
- Collect photos from magazines or websites like pickapro.ie. It's the best way to show what you like and dislike.
- Agree your budget now, but remember to allow yourself a little "wiggle room" for the unforeseen.
- Think about whether you should hire a professional to manage your project, e.g. an architect or engineer for building project, or an interior designer if you're refitting kitchens, bathrooms, floors, etc. It may be money well invested in their experience, business contacts and time.
Once the actual project begins, go back to your project brief at regular intervals. It's very easy to go off track and loose sight of your original goals (and budget).
STEP 2: Making Contact
- Next thing is obviously to put together a list of candidates. Ask family, friends and neighbours if they have any recommendations. Don't forget to check pickapro.ie too! Aim to get at least three quotations for larger projects.
- If you're having trouble finding someone to do the work, beware of the temptation to take just anyone. Be patient, keep looking and resist the urge to jump into bed with the wrong person (because breaking up is hard to do!).
A good time to ask about references is while on the phone, making the first appointment. Lots of people find it awkward (though they shouldn't) to bring it up, during a face to face meeting.
STEP 3: The Productive Meeting
- Have your project brief ready.
- Describe exactly what it is you want and don't hold back. If you have pictures or photographs of what you like and dislike bring them as there will be less chance of misunderstandings.
- No matter how good your project brief is, an experienced professional should be picking up the details that you've missed. So, expect to hear detailed questions about your project brief.
- There is nothing worse than hidden surprises, especially the ones that cost you more money. Find out as much as you can in the consultation phase about possible causes of over runs.
- How's the communication? Do you feel they will listen to and respond to your concerns. Will they tell you what's going on and keep you updated? Good communication can go a long way to a smooth project conclusion.
- Don't forget the basics. Ask about professional credentials, recent references and insurance. Check if there is a written contract, quotation and payment schedule.
Have You Found Your Match?
Remember that preparation is key. Most home improvement projects run smoothly and so can yours with a little planning. Good luck!