Blog Education Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring a Contractor. Part 2

Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring a Contractor. Part 2

By Julia Robertson, December 13, 2019

Decision making on design: 101. Learning from my personal success and failures working with contractors.

Decisions decisions. Being well prepared with plans, a plan B, and your vision for a project will keep the flow going. Often your contractor will bring up questions during a project that only you can decide and you’ll need to be quick on your feet to respond. For example:

Do you want flat or semi-gloss on your walls, trim, and ceilings?

What size and style trim do you want around your window?

What shape do you want on your handrail?

Do you want silicon or grout around the base of your free standing tub?

Where do you want your light switches?

Often a question will catch you off guard and you’ll make a decision that you wish you could take back! Having a plan keeps you on track. Here’s what happened to me for example- the light switch to the closet. There wasn’t a light switch on our plans. The electrician suggested it go on the right side. But after we were all settled in, we realized this light switch should have been inside the closet or on the left side of door. Its an eyesore(for me) having a white light switch on the black accent wall! At the time the electrical was roughed in, I didn’t even think about it. Now, every time I open the door I feel for a light switch on the left- but its not there.

It’s hard to imagine knowing everything in advance. We do our best! Living in the space makes it so much easier to visualize how you want everything to be. Here are some tips on preparing your decision making:

  1. Do have a plan. Either blueprints or hand draw a room layout.
  2. Do have a Pinterest board. Pin all your ideas, including color, furniture, light fixtures, and finishes. This may take a while, but when you have all your ideas in one place you can slowly edit your favorites and it will help you stick to your “vision” for the space.
  3. Sometimes you have to say no. You have a lot of ideas on your vision board. You don’t have to do all of them. When it comes to a budget, you may have to say no to the more expensive windows and the skylight.
  4. If you’re making decisions with a partner and disagree- get a third or fourth tie-breaker. Then you can at least blame it on someone else when it doesn’t work out. Ha! No, actually it’s great to have another opinion. They may see something you haven’t considered. Do get a third or fourth opinion.
  5. Not all contractors have “an eye” for design. I always ask my contractors opinion, but refer back to my design inspo on my Pinterest board to remind me of the direction. Do show your contractor your design inspiration. Several of the ideas we had for our master bedroom, the contractor had not done before. He conceptualized it well, but it was because we stuck to our guns about the style we were going for. Both our GC and the flooring guy didn’t like the idea of transitioning the wood floor to hexagon tile. We literally cut out pieces of hexagon on paper and played with them like a puzzle until we found a good pattern. It was a group effort. It turned out great in the end! Sometimes you can’t compromise with style 🙂

When it comes to design, it’s hard making decisions. Especially when its for your own space. I really think experience is key! If the decision making gets overwhelming, hire a design consultant. When you’re in a pinch call them and they’ll help you figure out a situation. It may seem simple, but if I had called our designer about the light switch, I bet she would’ve said “put it on the left!”

I’ve said this before, but its worth saying again– Don’t make a final payment to a contractor until you are completely satisfied. I’ve made this mistake twice! Trust me, they’ll never come back to fix those final things if you’ve already paid them.

If you have real estate questions, call me! 

Julia Robertson | Broker Licensed in Oregon & Washington

Living Room Realty

541-505-1111 |

Julia Robertson

Earth Advantage Broker Licensed in OR & WA

Julia Robertson is first and foremost a passionate Oregonian. She moved to Oregon eleven years ago and genuinely loves showing the city to clients who are considering whether to relocate. Julia constantly explores the city so that she can accurately match clients with a part of Portland Metro or Vancouver that is perfect them. She believes that everyone deserves the chance to own a home in an area or neighborhood that they love. Since a real estate purchase is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, Julia works tirelessly with her clients to build a trusting relationship and help them find not just a house, but a home. She has experience working with a broad range of clients to fulfill their diverse and unique needs. Are you selling your home? Purchasing your first condo downtown? Searching for property outside of the city? Looking to buy an investment property? Julia can help you come up with a plan that meets your timeline, your budget  and your needs.  If you’d like to meet for coffee or lunch to discuss potential real estate opportunities, Julia would love to hear from you. When Julia represents a client in the sale or purchase of a home, Julia treats the agency they have like a friendship, going above and beyond to serve her clients. She considers the client’s budget, bottom line, area preferences, and future plans. While Julia doesn’t consider herself a “sales person,” she does have over twenty years of experience in the field of sales and knows how to conduct herself in negotiations and details. Your business is Julia’s top priority, and she always makes herself available. From an early age, Julia loved everything related to homemaking.  Her childhood spent moving from town to town and always having to be “the new kid” gave her the personal confidence to meet new people and boldly operate in the high stakes world of real estate. Julia is a licensed Realtor in Oregon and Washington as a Seller Representative Specialist(SRS) and Earth Advantage-certified broker. She currently serves on the Living Room Realty broker advisory board and attends the Portland B corporation meetings.
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