9. Pick Up the Phone

As problems come up during construction, the homeowner usually hears about it from the contractor, who's on the front lines. When that happens, don't be afraid to ask him if the architect has been consulted. If the answer is no, call the architect yourself. Dealing with issues as they arise can save money in the long run.

Master electrician and TOH contributor Allen Gallant recently worked on a big project that called for 110 recessed lights. Looking over the plans, Allen noticed that the architect specified a 4-inch can that, in the style called for, would have been a custom order. Says Gallant: "I called the architect and pointed out you could get the same style in a 5-inch can that wasn't custom, at $54 less per light. That one phone call saved the homeowner $6,000."

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