Should I have a budget before I call a contractor and should I tell him what investment I am comfortable with?
Well, the answer to this one is not altogether simple. First, you always have some idea of what you want to spend, and almost always you know the upper limit of what you can spend. Second, you are usually not well equipped to guess how much your renovation should cost. Our advice is to first concentrate on finding a contractor who meets your criteria and with whom you are comfortable. Then it is appropriate and helpful to at least share some investment parameters, if not exact figures, so that design work can be accurate and reasonable. So many times nothing is said about "the budget" until the 15 pages of plans are complete and the estimate is twice what the silent budget is. This is avoidable.