Whether you need a new kitchen, are planning an extension, or want your garden redesigned, hiring the right professional can mean the difference between a job well done and one that falls short of expectations … and frustrates you no end along the way.
Find the one
Word of mouth can be a great way to find a capable and reliable architect, builder, designer or landscaper.
But if no one you know has had a project similar to yours completed, it can pay to look around your suburb for recently completed or under-construction projects – ask the owners if they’d recommend the home pros they hired and whether any issues arose during the job.
Budget blowouts, surly or difficult communications and shoddy work are all red flags.
Doing further research is essential, with or without a word-of-mouth recommendation.
Read reviews, ask the professional whether you can contact the reviewer for more information, and look at their recent work.
Project photos and reviews can be found on Houzz, an online resource that allows you to find relevant home professionals working in your area.
It’s also essential to view licences and insurance documents before any contracts are signed.
Before the first meeting
Just because a home pro looks perfect on paper doesn’t mean you’re going to have the same outlook, or even get along.
The first meeting is crucial to test out whether you’re in sync, and it’s wise to go in with a clear vision of what you want.
It can be tricky to describe your vision for a project, and designers are often visual people.
Gather photos in a folder you take along or create an ideabook on Houzz to share your vision – the look, mood, finishes and materials you have in mind.
Decide on your budget ahead of time, and write down a list of queries to ask in the meeting – it’s all too easy to say your goodbyes only to remember some vital questions you didn’t ask.
The first meeting gives you the chance to talk about sensitive issues, such as financial arrangements, and obligations that can be awkward to bring up later.
Confirm the timeframe for the job and discuss how disruptive it will be to the household if construction or demolition is involved.
Be sure to narrow down what will be included in a quote.
If you’re hiring a builder, for example, provide them with an inclusions schedule as well as detailed drawings.
An inclusions schedule details items that may not be clear on the drawings – such things as tapware brands and window standards, built-in wardrobe fitouts and tile quality.
The inclusions schedule ensures the forthcoming quote will be thorough and accurate by clarifying and identifying items that are often left out of quotes, only to become additional costs or ‘variations’ later.
Comparing quotes also becomes a lot easier when you can compare apples with apples, confident in the cost estimate provided.
Houzz is the biggest residential renovating and design community online – it’s the 21st-century way to design your home.
Visit Houzz to see the portfolios and reviews of local architects, designers and tradespeople to help you find the best pro for your project.