6. Don't Leave Your Architect at the Altar

Typically an architect is hired to oversee the entire building process as the construction administrator ("the CA," in trade lingo). This generally adds about 20 percent to the overall design fee, either in a flat rate or in extra hourly charges.

However, many homeowners try to save that fee by sending the architect packing once construction starts. That can be a false economy, though, especially if you need to call him back for changes. If the architect hasn't been present throughout construction, trying to schedule his time can stop work on a renovation while everyone waits for his calendar to clear. And for the architect, stepping in and picking up the reins is more difficult — and sometimes more time-consuming (i.e., costly) — than if he had been overseeing the project all along.

Architect Eric Beckstrom's role as CA paid off on one recent renovation in Portland, Maine, where code requirements limited stair access to a dramatic widow's walk that the homeowner cherished. Because he was on site regularly, he was able to quickly huddle with the construction supervisor and the homeowner to come up with a crafty system of traps and hinged banisters that satisfied code and still provided access. Meanwhile, work on the project continued without a hiccup.

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