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  1. #1
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    Default How to hire a contractor/Architect?

    OK newbie question, but since most of my home projects have been DIY, Im not sure what the process is for a big renovation. Do you get an architect first then a contractor? If you hire one, does he/she bring in the other? Any suggestions highly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Rich
    Your music is one-of-a-kind. Now your guitar can be, too... build your own guitar with our fantastic Guitar Kits. Hidden Content Hidden Content

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How to hire a contractor/Architect?

    There are many architects and general contractors who know each other around, who have been working together on previous projects. It's not a requirement that they know each other though.

    I've had projects where I took the architect's advice recommending a particular subcontractor for a specific specialty job, and it worked out OK.

    First, you find an architect to go over the things you want done. A local architect will be familiar with local codes, and will be able to tell you what you can do or can't do, what to expect, about the building process, the paper trail, the building department, inspector, etc.

    The architect will draw up plans, go through plan check with you, make corrections if those will be requested by the plan checker to secure a building permit.

    With a permit and a stamped set of plans in hand, you can start interviewing general contractors. If you want to act as a general contractor on your own home, you will be able to do so in most, if not all, jurisdictions.

    How do you find these professionals? The best sources are word of mouth and recommendations. You will have to ask family, friends, associates, co-workers, neighbors and so on. Still, ask for refernces and check thme thoroughly. I almost never pick somebody from the classified, flyers, yellow books, BBB and craigslist, because they don't come with recommendations from folks I know.

    You will have to do your homework, as there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Even when you find someone trustworthy, you still have to supervise and check. You don't have to breath down his neck, just check. Also, be careful with payments: only pay off completed jobs, retain 10% until approved by the inspector and get subcontractors' lien releases from their suppliers. Keep insurance, bond information and copies of licenses in your file.
    Get all bids in writing, no verbal promises to do this and that.

    Follow these steps and you'll have a smooth journey. Then pray for good weather.
    Last edited by dj1; 03-19-2012 at 11:49 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Default Re: How to hire a contractor/Architect?

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    There are many architects and general contractors who know each other around, who have been working together on previous projects. It's not a requirement that they know each other though.

    I've had projects where I took the architect's advice recommending a particular subcontractor for a specific specialty job, and it worked out OK.

    First, you find an architect to go over the things you want done. A local architect will be familiar with local codes, and will be able to tell you what you can do or can't do, what to expect, about the building process, the paper trail, the building department, inspector, etc.

    The architect will draw up plans, go through plan check with you, make corrections if those will be requested by the plan checker to secure a building permit.

    With a permit and a stamped set of plans in hand, you can start interviewing general contractors. If you want to act as a general contractor on your own home, you will be able to do so in most, if not all, jurisdictions.

    How do you find these professionals? The best sources are word of mouth and recommendations. You will have to ask family, friends, associates, co-workers, neighbors and so on. Still, ask for refernces and check thme thoroughly. I almost never pick somebody from the classified, flyers, yellow books, BBB and craigslist, because they don't come with recommendations from folks I know.

    You will have to do your homework, as there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Even when you find someone trustworthy, you still have to supervise and check. You don't have to breath down his neck, just check. Also, be careful with payments: only pay off completed jobs, retain 10% until approved by the inspector and get subcontractors' lien releases from their suppliers. Keep insurance, bond information and copies of licenses in your file.
    Get all bids in writing, no verbal promises to do this and that.

    Follow these steps and you'll have a smooth journey. Then pray for good weather.
    Well put, but you can also start with your preferred contractor who should be able to help you select the right architect. It may be that you don't even need an architect at all according to what you've got in mind and where you're located. No architect is going to willingly tell you that but a good contractor will. A good contractor can tell you what all your options are and talk you through the process, just the same as an architect can, so there's more money for the project but you'll be relying more in the contractor so that choice will become more crucial.

    Unless you're absolutely sure of your contractor and of your own knowledge of how things should be done, it might be better to have both these people on board. An extra set of eyes never hurts

    Phil

  4. #4
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    Thumbs up Re: How to hire a contractor/Architect?

    Phil & dj1,

    Thanks for the posts. I will start with a contractor (based on neighbor recommendations)and go from there.

    Regards,
    Rich
    Your music is one-of-a-kind. Now your guitar can be, too... build your own guitar with our fantastic Guitar Kits. Hidden Content Hidden Content

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Default Re: How to hire a contractor/Architect?

    Oh? I thought that you should first hire the architect to layout the design, before hiring a contractor. How will the contractor know if the design is doable if there is no architect? And the architect should first survey the area right?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How to hire a contractor/Architect?

    Quote Originally Posted by mark.jayson View Post
    Oh? I thought that you should first hire the architect to layout the design, before hiring a contractor. How will the contractor know if the design is doable if there is no architect? And the architect should first survey the area right?
    You are correct for most projects, BUT...

    If the project is relatively small,
    If the general contractor is experienced, knows the code well and is very good in drawing plans...

    Then you can skip the architect.

    The point here is that some plan checkers will reject unclear plans. Many corrections mean lost time.

    It's like hiring a lawyer or representing yourself. Judges don't tolerate those who don't know the judicial language and prefer working with lawyers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    2

    Default Re: How to hire a contractor/Architect?

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    You are correct for most projects, BUT...

    If the project is relatively small,
    If the general contractor is experienced, knows the code well and is very good in drawing plans...

    Then you can skip the architect.

    The point here is that some plan checkers will reject unclear plans. Many corrections mean lost time.

    It's like hiring a lawyer or representing yourself. Judges don't tolerate those who don't know the judicial language and prefer working with lawyers.
    Hmm. you are right with the lawyer analogy. That is if the project is small. You can save a lot of money if you will just hire a contractor. And I believe that these people also know how to draw and design. Well, thanks for your idea.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2008
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    Default Re: How to hire a contractor/Architect?

    A good contractor will know as much as an architect or more when it comes to what is needed for most jobs- they have learned it through experience and familiarity with similar jobs. The architect only knows what the books taught them and have little or no experience with the needs of various trades and of working their way through conflicting needs. I have built many homes with nothing more than my knowledge and a span chart.

    Where architects shine is in creating unusual designs, or in designing for unusual loads or materials. Some locales require an Architect's drawing for certain remodels or builds to pass inspection. The local contractors will know if this is required and advise you accordingly. There is no magic or mystery in building, only common sense and observation.

    Only the Contractor has that hands-on experience that comes from making poor designs work anyway, and of repairing the Architect's mistakes. I can't recount the numbers of sagging floors I have fixed that were 'built to code' just as the Architect designed them to be. I can't count the beams I've seen cut or drilled that wouldn't have been had the floor system been laid out properly. I can point to numerous places where things the Architect said would work didn't and they had no idea of how to fix them.

    I've seen just as much failure from bad contractors and poorly done work, but very little from good contractors. The contractor is the key- if they aren't good you'll have problems no matter the Architect so that is where your focus should be. This is just my opinion based on 3 decades of being in every aspect of home, commercial, and industrial building.

    You pays your money and you takes your choice.

    Phil

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Re: How to hire a contractor/Architect?


  10. #10
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    Apr 2012
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    Default Re: How to hire a contractor/Architect?

    If you can get an architect who is also a contractor then that would be great. No need for you to get a separate architect who will do the designing and a contractor to build it. Usually, they are already the general contractor and they no longer get a sub contractor.

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