Preparing for your remodeling project starts with determining what you want to accomplish.

This means you should have a clear idea as to what you want done for your project. Whether your project is a small project like a bathroom remodel or a large project such as a room addition, the thought process should be the same.

Look at websites and magazines for photos that demonstrate your likes in style, materials and products. Start a file and collect these photos – then start eliminating them until you have the ones that best resemble what you want.

As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Any visual aid that can get your point across to your remodeler will start you off on the right foot and can save you headaches down the line.

You might consider using a pencil and pad to sketch out diagrams, especially if your project involves moving walls, doors, windows or any plumbing fixtures.

Your simple sketch serves two purposes; it allows you to focus on what you want and it serves as a visual aid for your contractor.

Start with a general description of your project. This should include the physical size of the project. For example, if you are planning a bathroom remodel, you will need to determine if your bathroom is going to remain the same size or if you expand it.

If you are planning a room addition, get an idea of how much will be added on.

Also list the type of floors and any special features you are interested in.

Once you have done your initial homework involving the project itself, it is time to search for a contractor. Following is a checklist to help you get started:

Contact your local Builders Association, such as the GHBA.

Check the BBB for ratings and complaints.

Ask your personal network – your family, friends and co-workers.

Once you have a short list of potential remodelers, it is time for your interview. Following is information that you want to get to ensure that you choose the right contractor for you.

Find out how long the remodeler has been in business. It usually takes three to five years to establish a financially sound business. You want to make sure your contractor will be around after the project is complete for any warranty or repair work.

Make sure they have sufficient insurance.

References – Can the contractor provide you with names of previous clients? If not, watch out. If yes, then call them and ask if they would hire the contractor again.

Ask if you can see some of the contractor’s work, check for quality of work and material.

Find out how long the sub-contractors or employees have worked for the contractor.

Ask about warranties.

If your home was built before 1978, verify that your remodeler is an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Renovator.

Be cautious of low bids – if the remodeler can’t pay for labor and material as the project proceeds, this may present a problem down the line. Less expensive does not necessarily mean better.