The number one thing you can do to get the best value for your remodeling dollar is simple: make sure your contractor knows exactly what you want. This sounds simple enough but is frequently ignored.
For remodeling projects the most common way to make your desires known is by working with an architect to develop a set of blueprints and specifications that detail exactly what you want to build (for smaller projects it can be as simple as a detailed list of work including materials to be used). The more specific you can be the better. A qualified contractor can then review the drawings and specifications and give you a price to do the work exactly as planned.
Sounds like the way to go, but we see two things commonly happen. Either the homeowner gets tired of the design process and picks a low price contractor who gave them a price on an incomplete set of drawings or, after all that thought goes into the design process, the homeowner allows a contractor to substitute or ignore the drawings and specifications.
Do yourself a favor on your next project: get details in writing and have qualified contractors give you a bid for the work as detailed. A low price for something you didn’t want isn’t a good value. A fair price for exactly what you want is.