I experienced it twice this month. A hardworking homeowner wants to do work in his house, and, as the first step, hires a contractor, rather than an architect –please refer to my “10 STEPS TO CONSTRUCTION” article
from March 10. That’s where the problems started.
After being influenced by his charm, the homeowner goes along almost blindly to whatever the contractor suggests. The contractor brings his own architect, and based upon some input from the owner, they come up with a plan, originally approved by the owner. As unexpected issues came up (which is almost always the case) the contractor and the architect decided to take some matters on their own, like re-configuring interior spaces, modifying the placement of windows and the exterior look of the house, lots of improvisation, etc., all work done without consulting with the owner first.
Unfortunately, the homeowner has a full time job, and comes home late to see what was done during the day. When he sees it, starts arguing with the contractor, and the response is “oh, don’t worry, I’ll take care of it”. The result: disaster. The house ended up not looking at all as what the homeowner has envisioned, the renovation went way over budget, and both, the contractor and the architect are being sued.
To avoid having something like this happen to you, homeowners, here are my tips:
A- Hire an architect separate from the contractor. Usually when they come together in a package, they end up covering themselves for each other’s mistakes, without you knowing about them.
B- It’s imperative that you clearly state the scope of work, in that way there will be no surprises later on.
C- Never let your contractor decide for you. Always consult the architect first. Since it is you who’s paying for the job, you have every right to question absolutely everything that you’re not familiar with, and should receive a clear explanation of what’s being done.
D- It’s also extremely important that you familiarize yourself with the architectural plans, and read all the notes in the “Notes Sheet” of the Architectural Set of drawings. One of them clearly states that “should there be any discrepancies in dimensions between those indicated on the plans and the actual conditions, the contractor should let the architect (or the owner) know immediately before performing any work”.
E- You should always be informed before any deviation from the original plans takes place. If any work agreed upon gets changed without your consent, the contractor should, at his expense, revise the situation to what was originally planned.
I hope this helps some homeowners out there. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.