When you ask for builder estimates, give as many specifics about the work as you can, or the bids could be inaccurate. If there are substantial differences between bids, ask why. The lowest bid is not necessarily the cheapest in the long run. It might be low because the worker plans on using poor-quality materials that would soon have to be replaced, which means you will be paying twice for the same job in just a few years.
Retain the Right to Refuse
When composing a contract for outside help, request for a right-of-refusal clause. This guarantees your right to reject a subcontractor whose qualifications do not meet your standards.
If you will be hiring an architect to help you design a house or addition, try some of these ideas (architects will perform most of these services for an hourly fee)
– Do all the work yourself and pay to have the architect review your work at various stages. Or contract with the architect to help you run through the initial conceptual explorations, and then take it from there.
– Work through a design program, and ask the architect to make a conceptual sketch. You can prepare construction drawings from that sketch.
– Utilize an architectural drafting service to draw up the construction papers from the design drawings.
– Contact a nearby college or university with an architectural program and look for the best student there. Fix a deal with him or her to do the design work.
Of all the jobs you do on your home, electrical work is the one most likely to involve a professional. Many people are wary of working with electricity—and rightfully so. You can be killed by less electricity than it takes to light a 10-watt light bulb. By the same token, amateurish electrical work can be dangerous in another way: Fires can result if wiring is done badly or incorrectly. So be sure to hire a professional. Follow these suggestions:
– Hire somebody affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). This trade union has one of the longest apprenticeships in any of the trades.
– Hire a licensed electrician if licenses are mandatory in your area. Try to check if licensing requirements include real proof of expertise or if they’re granted to almost anyone paying a fee.
– Make sure that the person you hire abides by all electrical codes. Contracts must stipulate that all materials are listed with Underwriter’s Laboratories, the Chicago-based testing lab that sets product standards in the electrical industry.