Hiring - How do you choose?
The best way to find a reliable professional in any field is by references. Ask your friends and family for recommendations. If this proves to be a dead end, then search yellow pages and online search engines, but references should still be available. Don't be afraid to ask for testimonials, references, and to look at their portfolio. This will give you a good idea of how they do business, and whether or not they're a good fit for you and your project. Whether they are referred by friends or family or not, be sure to ask them questions, such as how long they've been in business for, as well as their knowledge on the specific project that you're looking at taking on.
Most designers and stagers will charge for a quote. This is because in order to quote, they need to conceptually develop a plan for your home, and this means revealing their great ideas. Remember that you're paying for their expertise, and not their time, though often the charges are quantified in terms of time or on a per project basis, for easy billing. If the designer or stager offers to provide you with a quote at no charge, be careful as you may get what you paid for, or didn't pay for.
Clarify What You Want
Be sure to e clear with your expectations for timeline, budget, and what you like and don't like. Don't allow any professional to get started without clarifying to you what you are getting, and what you will be paying.
Do not pay for work that has not been performed. For larger projects, a deposit may be required, but be sure not to pay in full until the project has been completed to your satisfaction.
Don't be afraid to speak your mind. Obviously, if you've chosen to hire a professional, then you have done so for their expertise and their opinion, but that does not mean that your opinion doesn't count. The end result still needs to reflect your style and taste. Designers will push you beyond your comfort zone. As a general rule, find your comfort zone, then step at least 1 step past this. If you trust your designer, they may be able to get you further past your comfort zone with a design that you will love.
Renovations are exciting. Whether your staging to sell, or renovating, leave the stress to your designer, and enjoy your home.