10. Put Down the Phone — And Schedule Regular Face Time

Once construction is underway, it's a good idea to organize weekly site meetings, with both the architect and the builder, to nip problems in the bud. When Jeremiah Eck stopped by the Carlisle job site one day last fall, Tom Silva grabbed him halfway through the front door. "We're ready to frame those ceilings in the dining room and bedroom," said Tom, referring to some unusual vaulted ceilings Eck had specified, "and we need to work out how they meet up with the dormers." In fact, Tom already had a solution, but he respected that Eck wore the design hat.

Likewise, Eck knew that if an experienced builder like Tom had an idea, it was definitely worth a listen. So while the complex geometry of the ceilings could have been sketched out at the drawing board, Eck instead said, "Show me what you're thinking." Minutes later, tape measures in hand, the pair had figured out a back-of-the-envelope plan. "I agreed completely with Tom's solution," says Eck.

It's that kind of teamwork that makes resolving the big issues a cinch. Now if only choosing bathroom tiles were as easy.

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