garage of colonial revival home
Photo: Tria Giovan
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Communicate Well & Choose Wisely

2. Talk it out. "Have an intelligent conversation about the bid. Ask how it was arrived at. Sometimes the highest bid is actually the best.”

3. Get into the details. "Spell out your expectations so you won't have disagreements halfway through. Ask the guy who's hanging the cabinets how he's going to do it and which materials he plans to use. You'd be surprised how many people use drywall screws for everything.”

4. Choose your DIY projects wisely. "I know my limits—I can't do plumbing or install granite countertops. But I knew I could work alongside our subcontractors, whether it was demolition, yard work, or refurbishing storms and screens. I've learned to choose small DIY projects that make a big difference, like painting and adding crown molding. The wainscoting in the downstairs bath—that was a Saturday morning.”

Shown: He and son Drew climbed the garage roof to cut a notch and install the cupola; pros hung the custom doors.
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