Remodeling a second home — or remodeling a new home you haven’t moved into yet — can be challenging. How can you keep peace of mind throughout the whole process without physically being there? How should you best prepare, what are some possible surprises to look out for, and how can you be sure you’re working with experts you can trust?

The good news is remote home renovations happen all the time — and the even better news is these 5 proven best practices will give you the assurances you need to proceed and succeed!

Pro Tip 1: Hire a well-vetted long-distance contractor

Your long-distance contractor (LDC) will be your eyes and ears throughout the entire project. Since all the information you receive will come through that contractor (a project manager and/or production manager), it’s absolutely vital that you trust them and are confident your LDC has the experience necessary to get the job done right.

Gaining trust involves getting to know them the best you can. Ideal business partners come through referrals. Either way, thoroughly vet them with a candid interview, thorough checking of references and reviews, scrutiny of their portfolio, and a detailed discussion of the work ahead.

Speaking about the scope of work, are you comfortable with their communication skills? Is your LDC crystal clear in providing direction, helpful recommendations, and the creative vision of your Dream Home? Most importantly, is your LDC completely transparent about budget and timing?

Pro Tip 2: Work with a detailed contract and schedule

Now that you’ve vetted your trusted and experienced LDC, both of you are ready to discuss your home renovation plan with precision. Before you map the development process, make sure your LDC is well-versed on the design elements and can begin with the creative end in mind.

Diving into the development details, your contract should include a timeline of major renovation milestones such as demolition, framing, installation of plumbing and electrical, drywall, etc. Since many moving parts are in play, ensure you have an equally detailed project schedule.

Ensure you connect the dots between each project milestone and a communication touchpoint with your LDC. Payment expectations and due dates should similarly be assigned to specific needs and events, such as signing date, installation starts, deliveries, and final sign off.

Pro Tip 3: Be on the look out for an easy and accessible communication system

Clear and frequent communication between you and your LDC is essential for the success of your remote home renovation project. Since each touchpoint should be tied to an important milestone you should have an assigned schedule. But you’ll need to make the most of each session.

Thanks to today’s amazing digital technology, your LDC isn’t any further than your pocket: Take full advantage of smartphone photos, texting, emails, and phone calls. Video conferencing is even more direct and revealing, so make sure your contractor can arrange Skype, FaceTime, or other easy-to-use video conferencing services.

Ask your LDC if his company uses any project management software such as BuilderTrend or Co-Construct. These and similar platforms are ideal for not only continuously tracking progress and keeping in touch with your LDC, but the entire project management and production team.

Pro Tip 4: Schedule site visits

Don’t be shy! So far you’ve vetted a trust and proven LDC, put a tight plan in place, and have an effective communications system. But even the best set up and infrastructure are no substitute for you actually physically being at the renovation site and seeing things with your own eyes.

Make sure to embed at least three and ideally four on-site visits into your timeline. The first should be prior to the project starting: get to know your LDC in person. The second visit might occur after demolition and framing, but before drywall to ensure your foundation is correct.

The third personal visit should happen after installation of floors, cabinetry, and other major fixtures — but before counters, backsplashes, hardware, and other core elements are added. Your final visit should occur near the 90% completion point to ensure your overall satisfaction.

Pro Tip 5: Inform the neighbors

First step is to get your neighbors into the loop about when your project is starting, who your LDC is (introduce them, if possible), and what to be on the look-out for if they’re willing.

A reputable LDC will embrace these ideas and proactively offer to keep your neighbors informed throughout the project. Since renovations can sometimes be noisy, involve multiple and major deliveries, and be somewhat disruptive, keeping the neighbors posted works both ways.

Bonus Pro Tip: Partner with Progressive Design Build to become your Long-Distance Contractor

Progressive Design Build has been remodeling homes in Lee and Collier counties for the last 30 years, and have achieved rave reviews for stunning home remodeling projects—usually while the homeowners have been away. We also offer a 3-year warranty on all work and will not rest until our clients are thrilled with their homes.

Yes, you can go on an extended vacation and come back to a beautifully remodeled home here in Southwest Florida! If you want to remodel your home, but don’t want to live through the process, please schedule a consultation with Progressive Design Build and ask for references so you can see for yourself how we’ve earned those great reviews.