What Your Contractor Can't Tell You: The Essential Guide to Building and Renovating

Overview


This book equips owners with the information and strategies needed to turn their vision into a home or renovation project that can be executed on time and within budget. Chapters give detailed coverage of critical topics: design options, selecting and supervising the architect and contractor, cost estimates, budgets, plan specifications, contracts, dealing with town officials and keeping track of everything along the way. For each stage of the project there is detailed information on common pitfalls and how to ...
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Overview


This book equips owners with the information and strategies needed to turn their vision into a home or renovation project that can be executed on time and within budget. Chapters give detailed coverage of critical topics: design options, selecting and supervising the architect and contractor, cost estimates, budgets, plan specifications, contracts, dealing with town officials and keeping track of everything along the way. For each stage of the project there is detailed information on common pitfalls and how to avoid them, as well as insiders' tips which reveal what most contractors can't tell you. This book was previously published by Warner Books (2004) and titled What the "Experts" May Not Tell You About Building or Renovating Your Home.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780979983801
  • Publisher: Shube Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 243,964
  • Product dimensions: 13.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Amy Johnston is a Construction Manager and Owner's Representative. She grew up renovating homes with her family and went on to build and renovate several of her own. Johnston has spent the last twenty years managing the design and construction or renovation of residential homes, affordable housing projects, historic downtown restorations and commercial spaces on behalf of owners. As liaison between the parties on so many projects, she enjoys a unique perspective on the dynamics of successful design and construction.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Building from Smart to Finish     xiii
Ready, Set, Think: How the Savvy Owner Starts a Project     1
The Mind-Set: How to Approach a Project     1
The Players List: The People Who Will Be on Your Team     4
A Gleam in Your Eye: Can You Build?     8
Don't Bank On It: Is Your Loan Officer Your Ally?     9
The Scary Money: Down Payments     13
The Plan Is the Thing: Making a Successful Project     14
Task-Oriented: Your To-Do List     14
Getting What You Need: How to Approach Your Design     15
Sneaking Up On Your Design: Do's and Don'ts to Get You Started     18
What's It Worth to You? Money and Design     20
Beyond Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo: A Formula for Balanced Choices     21
A House United: Working Together as a Couple     22
Design as a Noun: Refining and Conveying Your Vision     24
Decisions, Decisions: Your Design     24
Conveying Your Decisions: Construction Documents     24
Building In Flexibility: Allowances, Unit Pricing and Alternate Pricing     28
Help with Your Vision: When and How to Employ an Architect     30
Do You Need a Professional? Considering an Architect     30
The Yin to Your Yang: The Right Architect forYou     36
Everyone Pick Up Your #2 Pencils: Working with an Architect     42
Bang for the Buck and the Sixteen Divisions: What Can You Have and What Should You Worry About?     45
Divide and Conquer: The Sweet Sixteen Divisions     45
The Devil's in the Details: Where to Focus Your Attention and Money     46
And Another Thing: Considerations When Determining Materials and Scope of Work     68
And the Grand Total Is...: Cost Estimating and the Budget     72
Follow the Money: How It Works on a Construction Project     72
Where'd You Get That Number? Four Methods of Cost Estimating     73
Crunching Their Numbers: Assessing a Cost Estimate     76
It's Alive! Your Budget as a Living Document     78
Setting Up Your Deal: Contract Structures     83
Who Knew You Had a Choice? Options for Contract Structures     83
The Second Oldest Profession: Selecting and Working with a Contractor     90
He Was Such a Nice Guy: Choosing More Wisely     90
Welcome to His World: Working with a Contractor     96
To Protect and Serve: Protecting Your Project and Serving Your Contractor     98
How Low Can They Go? Bidding the Project     104
You Talkin' to Me? Should You Bid Your Project?      104
Package Deal: Getting Your Bid Package Together-the Four Elements     105
Going Out: What You and They Need to Do-the Four Stages     108
Cover Your Assets: Contracts, Insurance, Liens, and Other Commitments     116
If You Only Knew: Where Laypeople Go Wrong     116
Whose to Use? Construction Contracts     117
Don't Build Home Without It: Must-Haves     120
It Couldn't Hurt: Optional Additional Protection     129
Believe It! Time Really Is Money: Schedules     132
Tick Tock: How Time = Money on a Construction Project     132
More Than One Way to Tell Time: Types of Schedules     134
What Was That Other Thing? Additional Things to Track     138
Mother, May I? Getting Through the Permit Process     139
Nothing to Fear: Knowing the Process and Its Players     139
People Pleasing: The Steps for Permit Approval     142
Good to Go: Once You've Got the Permit     147
Step Lightly: Making Changes to the Neighborhood     148
Ready to Build?...Not So Fast: Pulling It All Together     150
Just Like Santa: Make a List and Check It Twice     150
Long Time No See: The Preconstruction Meeting     151
Ensurance: Make Sure These Things Are Done     153
When Are They Leaving?! Renovation Tips     154
Let the Games Begin: Managing the Construction-Phase     158
Who's on First: Establishing the Roles and Rules for All     158
Watching the Store: Monitoring the Project     164
For Richer or Poorer: Budget Management     170
The Homestretch: Project Closeout     181
Conclusion     185
Talk the Talk: A Glossary of Terms     187
Inspirations: Other Resources     197
Index     200
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2008

    A Great How-to Book for the Lay Person

    The title perfectly describes the book. Not only is this book logically organized, but is written for the novice renovator in its easy to understand language with definitions of terms used by professionals. The author's 'tips' & humor sprinkled throughout the book make it enjoyable. Being a visual person, I especially appreciated the format: using bullet points, bold titles, gray boxes & examples of charts & forms. I checked this book out of the library, but decided I needed to own it & mark in it. So, I bought the book & have happily underlined & made notes in the margins 'ask Bob', 'tell Tom'. I was told by my contractor that he never had more questions or a client who's done as much research as I have. But I know he liked the fact that (because of this book) I understand & appreciate his goals. Thanks.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2008

    An Excellent, Informative Book

    Amy Johnson¿s book covers the broad swath of information that prospective home builders/owners should know. Salient points are highlighted in dialogue boxes throughout the book and real-world examples clarify things even further. The book provides thoughtful advice and practical information. It enables you to work more effectively with prospective builders and architects. This is just an excellent resource and reference for anyone thinking of building a home or doing a renovation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2008

    Excellent Resource

    As a building professional (licensed general contractor since 1991), I think that this book by Amy Johnston is an excellent resource in preparing a person to undertake a building project. The book is chock full of practical, insightful information that gives consumers a 'peek behind the curtain' of building contractors, as well as the building process in general. Over the years, I have heard of many construction horror stories and am dismayed to see builders with great marketing but little integrity continue to do project after project. If more consumers would take the time and effort to educate themselves about the building process, there would be far less 'money pit' experiences on building projects. This book makes it easy to be an informed consumer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2010

    great book for new homeowners

    This book is extremely informative. The author goes into details on how a contractor performs his job and why he does the things he does. This prepares you very well on how to work with a contractor.

    The book is more geared for major work on a home, such as new construction, so some of the areas it covers may not apply to you (such as the foundation and hiring an architect). If you are doing smaller jobs, such as renovating a room, this book is still useful, but some parts of the book may be overkill. I'm working on renovating a bathroom and working with a full service interior designer (who has her own contractor) and I tried negotiating some of the things recommended in the book (a deposit less than 50%, getting lien waivers, etc.) and was not as successful negotiating (probably because the job was smaller or interior designers do not operate like contractors?).

    After watching certain TV shows about how contractors can rip you off, I definitely recommend anyone who is thinking about hiring a contractor to read this book. The interesting and funny thing about the author, who is a construction manager, is she works with contractors all the time and thinks them as great people, but still doesn't trust them when it comes to many things. Contractors, by the nature of how they are hired, want to do things as cheaply as possible and reduce their risk as much as possible. Having read this book goes a long way to preparing a new homeowner on what to expect!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2008

    A MUST READ, A HOMEOWNERS ADVENTURE

    Over 45 years of customer relations i find this 'bible' to be the guide for a fun free adventure to pursue building a new home or renovation.. Read at a vacation retreat away from every day living distractions and it will prove to be the best investment of your time and understanding of the adventure ahead

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2008

    This book empowered me on how you to renovate with confidence!

    Amy gets it. I now feel educated. This book is well written, easy to read and packed with information. I am now looking forward to having a successful project (as opposed to being another horror / renovation victim). Thank you Amy!

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