8. Make Sure Everyone Knows His or Her Job

One general contractor with over 30 years in the business remembers a project where the architect hadn't thought out his design, forcing the GC to make countless on-the-fly revisions. With each new change, the architect promptly redrew his plans to match the contractor's ideas— then billed the homeowner for "design changes." Eventually the homeowner fired the architect, which only delayed the job further.

Another architect who has designed dozens of houses in the past 17 years recalls the contractor he hired to build his own house. The architect says the contractor dutifully pored over his extremely detailed and organized drawings and listened attentively during walk-throughs — then proceeded to build the house his own way, ignoring the plans. Of course, the architect demanded the contractor fix his mistakes, adding months to the project.

Boston architect Jeremiah Eck, who is designing TOH TV's current project in Carlisle, Massachusetts, says breakdowns like these happen when people don't respect job descriptions. "The architect has a responsibility to produce the best set of drawings possible that reflect the owner's interest," says Eck. "The contractor has a responsibility to build what's on the plans, for the agreed-upon amount. Where it can all go sour is when somebody doesn't follow through on those obligations." When changes do happen, make sure the architect and the contractor are in agreement, then don't be afraid to ask who will be billing you — and for exactly what.

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