During a renovation, speaking your mind, communication and trust is key. Not just with your contractor, but with your partner, family, vendors, neighbors, work--you get the idea.
Speaking Up (one way action) - You need to speak your mind during a renovation. If you have an opinion about something, you need to voice it. It's YOUR home. YOU have to live there. It can be hard to ask certain questions because none of us want to feel like we are asking a stupid question--and when we are asking about something we don't know about, it can be especially intimidating. However, it is extremely important. When I was younger, it was harder for me to stipulate what I wanted--for myself especially. When it concerned my mother's portion of our home, I had no problems stating that she needed "this" or "that". When it was for my kids, or something that my husband needed, I could say "No, this isn't going to work...we need to find a way to fix it". But when it was something that I just WANTED or I really could see would work (and no one seemed to agree) it was harder. But, now that I am older and wiser (and lived with a few things I hated for a while) I found my voice. It took me a bit. First I tried to relay things through my husband...but then, I decided if I wanted something I was going to say it myself and I am so glad I did! Sometimes when I voiced what I wanted, I found out my ideas weren't really going to work, but a lot of times, I was able to watch my ideas come to life and it was such a good feeling! It's hard to ask someone to do something over again...or to point out a mistake, especially if you like the people you are working with...but, like I said before, they will be gone and YOU HAVE TO LIVE THERE. So, be sure to ask those questions and SAY OUT LOUD what you truly want. You will be glad you did.
Communication (two way action) - One the flip side of speaking up, you need to listen to what others say to you as well. Communication isn't just talking back and forth. It's working to understand what is being said to you and to help others understand what you are saying. With the people working in your home, you may not know anything about them or how they think--and by communicating with them, you learn more about them, how they are and (usually) how to understand what they are saying. There were a couple of times I truly didn't understand why certain things weren't going this way or that, and by asking those questions and listening, I learned a lot. If I would have just been irritated and not given them a chance to explain certain things, it could have tainted the rest of the project because I was angry about something that I didn't need to be. Also, communicating with your spouse, family and job is important during a renovation. My husband for the most part didn't have a lot of things he really wanted like I did...at least that is what I thought until we didn't communicate something with each other and I realized he was shut out of picking something that he really wanted--and it was too late at that point. He got over it, but I still feel bad and wish I had done things differently now. Also, other family members (and co-workers), whether they live with you or not, need to be kept in the loop as to what is going on with you and the renovation. Especially if they are used to you being involved in certain things and suddenly you aren't. A renovation can consume your life and unless you are going through it, that can be hard to understand. So, we have to help others understand if we are less thoughtful than normal or distracted a lot.
Trust (firm belief) - Finally, after you have spoken your mind, done your best to listen and understand those around you, the final thing (and sometimes one of the hardest) to do is TRUST. Unless you want to micromanage every little thing someone else is doing and drive them (and yourself) completely crazy, you need to LET GO and just believe they will know what to do and remember to do it the way you want. Trusting someone isn't a bad or stupid thing to do. It's believing in someone and giving them a great gift. When you give someone a true gift, you don't expect anything in return. If they throw away that gift or don't value it, it's NOT YOUR FAULT for giving the gift, it's their lack of respect. You still did the right thing. Trust is the same way. You have to trust those who are working with you, will do what they say they will do and they have to trust that you will do what you have promised to do too. Are there unscrupulous people out there? You betcha! But, if you did your homework when you chose those to work for you and you have had good, sound communication from the beginning and made sure to tell them what you want/need from them, then the likelihood of those people purposefully breaking your trust is next to nil. Also, when you make a point to tell someone you believe in them, or you trust them, it encourages more of the same. When you are going through a reno, you need to not only trust those who are doing the work, but your family and friends to handle things you can't at times, your coworkers who offer to lend a hand while you are so busy and yourself. Trust your instincts.
In the end, you will feel satisfied with the project even if things didn't go perfectly smoothly or some things didn't turn out like you thought. You will know you did your best--and so did they--and sometimes that is all you need!