OK, so I exaggerated. There's actually no such thing as a hassle FREE renovation because let's be honest, your home is getting shredded and rebuilt, you've likely moved out, there's dust and debris, and quite frankly, there are always surprises (and I don't mean surprises like finding a $20 bill in your pants pocket). But there ARE some things you can do to reduce the chance of problems, and I learned all of these on the job. How? Let's just say I've been doing this long enough to make every mistake possible, and even when I think I've got it down pat I discover that there is yet another thing that I didn't think of.
#1.Communicate. Ninety-Nine percent of problems are caused by breakdowns in communication. Don't overwhelm your contractor with bits of paper and random suggestions. Instead, organize your thoughts, schedule a time, and go over any questions point by point. Then send a line-item list of what was decided upon so there is a clear paper trail.
#2 Be prepared with your design and be flexible with your design. You probably have an idea of what you want already. The more planning you have done, the better, but be open to the idea that sometimes modifications need to be made, especially after walls are opened.
#3 Measure before you make final choices. For example, measure your doors before you order your appliances. Check for any tight turns, measure every opening, and leave room to spare before you get your heart set on that 36" range. Some retailers will do a site survey to double check - not a bad idea if you are not sure.
#4 Order, in order. There are certain things you need to have on-site at the very start of a renovation, and others will just clutter the worksite making it difficult to move around. Speak to your contractor, but for kitchen and bath renovations, flooring and shower body valves (this is the part that goes inside the wall) come first, appliances would come later in the process. Also, be aware that lead times vary a lot. Some cabinets take 6-8 weeks for fabrication after you have signed off on the design. Plan your renovation calendar accordingly and don't leave all the details to last! Check order times for tile, fixtures, hardware, t/p holders and any other items that need to be installed by the contractor.
#5 Changes take money AND time. Be aware that adding new elements to the design will add time and change orders/upcharges to the job. Trust me, your contractor wants to get in and out of the job so he/she can move on. Be understanding that they may not always be able to adjust their schedule to accommodate a large change to the scope of the project.
Keep the end in mind - it's hard to keep your vision when your place is, well, a mess! But keep a picture of the final result in mind and know that it will be worth it. Could you use some guidance throughout this whole process? How can you know when it’s in your best interest to hire someone and when you should go for your redesign on your own? Take a look at my Design Coach Tips Video and I'll share the real-life pros and cons of working with a designer on a project.