Q&A / 

When it comes to building and remodeling, both homeowners and remodelers/builders have a wealth of information from which to choose. There are countless magazines, books, periodicals, technical journals and trade association literature to stay informed. All it takes is a little initiative on the part of an individual who wants to learn.

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Probably the most frequent question I am asked is "How do I spot a professional builder or remodeler?" When selecting a contractor, ask questions. A professional will not dodge a question. He or she will answer each and every one. The anxiety that you are feeling should diminish with each answer. If not, something is wrong. The answers that a professional will offer should help to make you feel more comfortable.

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Jobsites are different with each contractor. Some are neat and very safe while others are not. New home builders need to walk through their job site often. Read my tips on what to look for about how your home is being built. If you don't like something, talk to your contractor right away.

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New home builders won't scare you off if you consider adding the right provisions in your contract. Specifications will keep your contractor from bullying you into accepting his poor workmanship. Contract law attorneys can help with the contract and save you from stress.

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Quality construction seems to be, in some cases, what the customer is willing to accept. Not all contractors do quality work. Some are not as skillful as others. And some building materials will not withstand poor workmanship. New home construction customers should work hard to find a contractor that will perform quality work.

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Construction bids can be confusing if you are comparing one to another. Sometimes one contractor is listing different things than the other. Sometimes you have trouble getting construction bids from a contractor at all. And, why is the price so high? Is it all profit?

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Planning your material shipment will require working with your contractor to determine how long each job takes. Schedules are the only way to keep work delays to a minimum. Having a good set of drawings will help. Talk to each supplier to find out how long each item takes to deliver. Then check up on the orders. Charting your project is the only way to keep sane.

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Advance payment to your contractor only when the work is completed. Make a schedule with a detailed cost breakdown that your builder will help you with at the beginning of the job.

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Up front planning and job scheduling will help you, your contractor and subcontractors keep your building project running smoothly. Special orders will be spelled out and the delivery time determined up front. Each job listed should specify when it will be done.

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Contractors seem to abound in the yellow pages. Plumbers, painters, roofers...who do you pick? What are their skill levels? Get all of your questions answered by going to supply houses where these contractors purchase material. Get references and information about the quality of their work.

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