1. Be involved in selecting sub-trades. Although our project manager had preferred sub-trades, we took it upon ourselves to meet with 2-3 different companies, including their recomendations, to get their input on our project. It was so insightful and we received loads of additional advice. Most of the time, we ended up going with a different company than recommended (ironically our project manager now regularly uses our choices on their other jobs). While this process took a bit of time, in the end, the sub-trades that we hand selected gave us the best levels of service, without question. The others were certainly more challenging.
2. Seriously consider employing trades that l-o-v-e their job. It was really easy to feel those individuals who loved what they did, from those who were doing their job. (One guy told us that he was keeping his landscaping company until his hot sauce business took off...um, ok?) Not surprisingly, we got the best suggestions and most creative ideas from those with a bit of passion. And when it came to getting the job done, they delivered. Their pride for their work was palpable, and obviously we benefited from that. Plus they were the most fun to work with.
3. Stairs are challenging...don't give up on them. Mr. Big is really tall and we specifically asked for a wide stair tread. When the original plans seemed to have narrow stairs, we were told that they would be fine. When they were constructed, there were a further challenges, and in the end, the stairs are even too narrow for me, let alone Mr. Big. I later learned that stairs are actually one of the most difficult aspects of a house to get right. In retrospect, we both wish that we had listened to our instinct. Narrow stairs are a drag...(and they're killing the tips of my favorite heels!)
4. Consider cabinet pull out drawers everywhere. No joke, everywhere. Our cabinetry designer put under-counter pull out drawers in the kitchen. The problem is that I'm now completely addicted. We don't loose things to the depths of the cabinets any longer. Organization is just so easy! Once we're off this silly budget, these puppies be going in all of our bathrooms as well. If I could go back in time, I would put these sanity-savers everywhere.
Simple Human option from Bed Bath and Beyond
Okay, well there's a start, but there's more to come (I just need to get to work...boring).