1. Define Your Vision
What is it you are hoping to accomplish by building?
What are your “must haves?”
What are your dreams?
Designers and architects will be more efficient in working for you if you put some effort into defining what you want before you meet with them. A good designer/architect will save you thousands of dollars by designing space wisely, and will also contribute ideas that will make the end result much more pleasant and functional.
2. Set a budget
“Square foot” pricing is, by nature, somewhat vague. But it can be helpful in establishing initial budgets. If your architect and builder know your (approximate) budget, they can advise you early on as to whether your dreams are realistic. Some considerations are site development costs, engineering requirements, and scheduling.
3. Secure plans
Proper plans and job specifications are required to price your project, and your contractor can only “guess” at pricing without them. If you want accurate pricing and results that match your expectations, plans and specs are crucial. You will need professionally done scale drawings and a clear schedule of finishes.
4. Due Diligence
When choosing a builder keep in mind how important your home is to you. When you hire a contractor you are inviting him into a very important area of your life – your home! Pay attention to “the little things”. Do you communicate easily with him? Does he listen to you and show respect for your ideas? Are all your questions answered to your satisfaction? Can he provide references for similar projects? Does he respect his sub-trades and building officials, or is he dismissive of others? Would you be completely comfortable with him being in your home, even when you aren’t there? Is he accountable through professional affiliations (like Better Business Bureau and Canadian Home Builders Association), or is he a lone ranger?
5. Sign the Contract
Contracts (written or verbal) are legally binding. Good written ones help projects to run smoothly, while bad ones lead to confusion and added expense.