1. Define your vision:
What is it you are hoping to accomplish by building?
What are your goals? Needs?
Make a list of what the project must accomplish, as well as added features you would like. Getting this straight at the start will save you money.
Keep in mind that a good designer/architect could save you thousands of dollars by using existing space wisely, and through thoughtful design of additions. They will also contribute ideas that will make the end result more pleasant and functional.
2. Set a budget:
Honesty and realism are important. If your builder knows your (approximate) budget, he can advise you early on as to whether your dreams are realistic. Otherwise he or she could waste much time, pricing work which you will never be in a position to approve.
It is common to encounter “surprises” once the work starts, and these often lead to increased costs. It is also common for clients to add to the scope of work once work has started. When budgeting, keep these things in mind and allow yourself a contingency factor so that you will be able to relax more through the process, knowing that you can handle the variations that may occur throughout the project.
3. Secure plans:
If you want accurate pricing and results that match your expectations, proper plans and specs are crucial.
Scale drawings and a clear schedule of finishes will help you start out right.
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 talk about short-cuts, or is he committed to working within building codes?
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), or is he a lone ranger?
5.Sign the Contract:
* Clear, written contracts with specifications you understand
* A concrete way of dealing with changes in scope of work and pricing
* A dispute resolution mechanism
* Tightly worded pricing agreements
Good builders take the time to set things up right at the start.