A remodeled bathroom

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Mistake #4: Calling In a Contractor Too Quickly
Even the most intrepid and experienced do-it-yourselfers come up against a project that’s beyond their skills—for example, kitchen updates or electrical work—and so they turn to a professional. The trouble is, many homeowners think that’s the first step in a midsize project. There’s actually a lot you need to do before you make that call. Take a bathroom rehab: You will need to know the cabinetry, tile, fixtures and finishes you want, as well as their placement. If you haven’t made these decisions before you start calling contractors, you’re in for a pricing process based on what they think you want rather than what you actually expect.

Set yourself up for a smoother, more satisfying experience by coming up with your own specs: a list of your ideas and product choices for each. If you give this sheet to each of the contractors you interview, you’ll then be able to do an apples-to-apples bid comparison. By investing some thought and preparation at the beginning, you’ll get the best prices on home improvements in the end.