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This Project Planner will help to set priorities; however, it serves best as a general guide, not an inflexible set of rules. Read the Project Planner in its entirety, and then start from the beginning of the sequence.


The Project Planner is a living, working document, and presented in a time-based format. Let the following agenda be a basis for planning and action, allowing yourself the flexibility to adapt the information to fit your situation.













Realizing it’s become a cliché to emphasize the need for team-building spirit during planning, organizing, and controlling a home building or remodeling project, we’re very hesitant to pounce on this idea without first bringing to your attention how this spirit has been put to use during the most extreme circumstances. Before you do any project planning, please “think outside the box” by getting a copy of Caroline Alexander’s Endurance and Margot Morrell’s Shackleton’s Way then return to your endeavor with renewed hope, vigor, and team-building spirit.




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1. Consider your capabilities and define your anticipated level of involvement in the project. Begin to appreciate the difference between “Office” and “Field” management because the information base for “head” knowledge and “hand” knowledge are both necessary to your project’s success. Consider what professional services may be required for your project. Utilize the community of Design-Build professionals through a team-building effort so decisions can be made collaboratively. Pay close attention to the ideas presented by Koberg and Bagnall in The All New Universal Traveler.

2. Begin an initial study of ALL project costs as an exercise in project feasibility. Contact a "friendly" construction lender to discuss financing of your project, inquiring whether you may act as an Owner-Builder vs. working with a General Contractor. Create a written statement of your overall budgetary objective. This statement will describe the purpose of your endeavor by defining your values and concerns, and balance your ideas with fiscal responsibility. Identify your cost range: economy, modest, custom, or luxury. Don’t forget to pre-qualify for a loan, which should be a free service with the lender. Spend some time with Householder’s Estimating for Home Builders.

3. Create a reasonable project timeline for all Design-Build events so you begin to distinguish when your project will actually be completed from when you'd like it to be completed including ample time for the entire Design-Build process from inception of the first schema to the final punch list. Refer to Petrucci's Residential Contracting. This is a means to be realistic about your current commitments before embarking on your home building or remodeling project!

4. Before you purchase a lot, be certain it's buildable to your satisfaction. This means a lot where development is economically feasible. Contact a "friendly" real estate agent to discuss city or county requirements for issuance of a building permit. If you own a lot that's buildable, collect existing site documentation so you don't repeat what's been previously accomplished and officially recorded by others with public agencies governing your site’s location. Get an official copy of your site map with tax parcel number and legal description. Take a look at Johnson’s Residential Land Development Practices.

5. Define how you intend to live and characterize the best place in which to do it. Before you do any final Drawings of your site or floor plans, render a graphic, rough sketch depicting three basic questions: How will I approach the house? How will I arrange the living spaces? How will interior/exterior relate to one another? Consider whether your project will require the services of an Architect, Designer, or Stock Plan Service. Take a serious look at Connell's Homing Instinct. Interview “friendly” Architects or designers who are familiar with doing a project similar to yours, asking how best you might work together.

6. Decide how you intend to record information related to project management.  Either "paper & pencil" technique or use of computer software will be effective. If you want to use software, purchase a professional software tool like "EZHOMEBUILD" from Home Construction Consulting, which will provide an electronic means to organize and manage information for your project. However, it must be emphasized that homes have been constructed and remodeled for centuries prior to the advent of the computer, so traditional paper and pencil techniques are reliable, just not as efficient.  Either way, concentrate on the primary goal of project management: to create a home style that meets the needs of your family's lifestyle.  Checkout Case's Design/Build for Remodelers, Custom Builders, and Architects.  To augment doing your mathematical calculations, purchase a hand-held calculator like the "Construction Master IV" from Calculated Industries.

7. Create a “Cardboard Box File” by purchasing a cardboard “banker’s box” approximately 12”x16”. Place 50, letter-size, hanging files into the banker’s box. Insert 50, 1/3-cut file folders inside the hanging files. Label the tabs according to each phase of the building process-there’ll be extra files and you’ll definitely use them! Become accustom to filing information as you develop your project. Review Hrin’s Daily Field Guide: A Logbook for Home Builders.

8. Create a "Storyboard" on a wall in a designated area of your home office to act as a Design-Build collage. Dedicate one half for exterior ideas and the other half for interior ideas. Hang pictures, colors, samples, sketches, et cetera on the wall so you begin to visualize the entire ensemble of patterns and textures for your homestyle. Read Susanka’s Creating the Not So Big House and Tolpin’s The New Family Home.

Sarah Susanka

"Home By Design" with Guest Sarah Susanka
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Tom interviews Sarah Susanka, author of Home By Design: Transforming Your House Into a Home. This is the book that Ms. Susanka has always wanted to write. A guide to what underlies style, and an exploration of the principles that transform an ordinary house into home. Susanka's philosophy is simple: good architectural design is as important as good nutrition, and a savvy understanding of your surroundings lets you craft a better place to live.

 Visit Down Home Radio for the entire audio archive

9. Research publications and sources that will assist in your efforts to follow a "Building/Living Green" philosophy. Contact your State Department of Ecology and your County Solid Waste Disposal agencies to discover if ademonstration home exists incorporating materials and methods that are energy efficient and environmentally effective. Checkout Woods’ Designing Your Natural House.

10. Contact the local Building Department having jurisdiction over your site to determine what permits are required for residential construction projects. Identify which "standard" building code has been adopted for your State, and obtain copies of applicable local regulations and ordinances that govern your site. Don’t forget to get a copy of the “Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions” for you lot if these rules by your homeowner’s association govern your site’s development.

11. Obtain copies of standard contracts used by the American Institute of Architects, the Associated General Contractors, the National Association of Home Builders, or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Familiarize yourself with the important Conditions that govern the Design-Build process. Refer to Cushman's Construction Management Formbook.

12. To the best of you ability, assess your particular situation making the decision whether to hire the services of an Architect, Construction Manager or General Contractor or act as an Owner-Builder. As a beginning point, determine the level of difficulty required by your site location and homestyle requirements based on you life style. Review Olin’s Construction Principles, Materials, and Methods.

13. Understand general construction standards and practices by referring to trade, professional, and consumer associations. Spend some time at your local library browsing the Encyclopedia of Associations, which offers more complete details on the services of these associations. Use the web sites of these associations to read “frequently asked questions”. Contact any local architectural, contractor or supplier associations in your region, inquiring how you can best work with their members.

14. Contact your State agency responsible for safety standards governing construction work to request a free copy of their construction safety guidelines for your review. Call a "friendly" insurance agent to discuss liability insurance coverage during course of construction, including personal injury and property loss as well as a rider for theft and vandalism.

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1. Establish the principal players of the project team. Based on business, aesthetic, and technical requirements of your project, you may choose to collaborate with a General Contractor, Construction Manager, Architect, Engineer, Lawyer, or Accountant to create the best results possible for the decisions to be made. Initially, contract for professional services on an hourly basis in order to maintain better control over performance. Review McNulty's Management of Small Construction Projects.

2. Develop a strategy for achieving your overall budgetary objective. Accept that there may be multiple ways to achieve your goal and ample time should be given considering options. Do a rough "percentage" budget estimate of hard and soft costs as an exercise in project feasibility. Ask construction lender for an application packet, but wait before making and paying for a loan application. This will provide you with a list of what’s officially required by the lender when it comes time to apply for the construction loan. See Thomas’ Estimating Tables for Home Building.

3. Create an "Activity Flow Chart" to identify major events and support activities. Since this flowchart will be organized chronologically, consider this an informal, rough draft of a project schedule. Most important, this is an opportunity to better understand how activities relate to one another, and begin to get a sense of interdependencies. Write key questions on the flow chart as a reminder of issues of importance! Rely on members of your project team to assist you in the development of your flow chart. Familiarize yourself with Rogers’ Basic Construction Management: The Superintendent’s Job.

4. Produce a “draft” site plan for your lot following guidelines provided by the local building department having jurisdiction over your site. A site plan usually combines a legal survey, existing natural features, topography, utility locations and house footprint into a single graphic representation. Don't forget to indicate adjacent streets, access to site, tax parcel number and legal description. Make multiple copies so the original never leaves your hands! Review NAHB’s Site Engineering for Developers and Builders.

5.Sketch a floor plan based on your characterization of how you intend to live in the new or remodeled home. Let this sketch mature through several revisions without getting bogged down in precise details. By preparing several "Schemas", the Architect, Designer, or Stock Plan Service has a basis for understanding your needs. Refer to Myrvang's Home Design Handbook. This process is an artistic endeavor. Engage the services of a design professional on an hourly basis, and don’t be afraid to scrutinize their performance. If computer-aided design is of interest to you, utilize “3D Home Architect”.

6.Start to think and act like a project manager by creating a "Job Diary" in your home office. A business card index, weekly appointment book, incoming/outgoing phone message register, and pad of memo forms will be the fundamental elements of your “Job Diary”. Place these items adjacent to your phone, and utilize them religiously. Study what others are doing by referring to Schliefer’s Construction Contractors' Survival Guide.

7. Elaborate the "Cardboard Box Files" with contractor and product information. By filing trade and product literature in respective categories, you begin to gather an array of possibilities for future use. Be sure to note a contact person and phone number or email address from the businesses with whom you come into contact. One decent contact leads to another contact, and becomes a network of individuals and organizations! Page through Ching's Building Construction Illustrated.

8. Expand the "Storyboard" with exterior and interior colors, patterns, and textures. Start grouping combinations that seem to go together so you can compare and contrast one grouping to the other. Ask your friends and family members for their opinions. Enjoy being an artist! Take a peek at Clodagh’s Total Design.

"Down Home with Tom Landis" Streaming Audio

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Betsy Pettit

"Building Science" with Guest Betsy Pettit
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Tom interviews Betsy Pettit, architect and the president of Building Science Corporaton. Ms Pettit is currently the project manager for Building Science Consortium's Building America project, involving system design for over 2,000 high performance, energy efficient houses nationwide. Pettit has been responsible for the design of numerous communities, developments, and houses, which have standards for resource efficient housing around the country. Join her as she shares her knowledge on Down Home Radio.

 Visit Down Home Radio for the entire audio archive

9. Contact local businesses that specialize in salvaged windows, doors, and electrical or plumbing fixtures. Read the "Classified" section of your newspaper for bargain deals on recycled or reused construction materials. Visit a garage sale, especially if it's at the home of a local trade contractor, looking for surplus materials. As you develop your Conditions document for your project, don't forget to assign responsibility to each trade contractor for site cleanup, disposing of their debris, and recycling debris. Become familiar with Chappell’s Alternative Building Sourcebook.

10. Call your Building Department to request a "Permit Submittal Packet" for residential new construction or remodeling. Gain a full understanding of all documentation required for permit application. Avoid multiple trips to public agencies by utilizing phone, mail, and fax communications! Ask about the possibility of a “pre-application meeting” at the local permit-granting agency. Inquire whether any special conditions exist for your building site such as wetlands, shoreline, or flood plain review!

11. Utilize standard contracts used by professionals to better understand what Conditions areimportant to you. If necessary, enlarge the standard contract forms on a duplication machine so it's easier to read the fine print in order to create a rough draft of Conditions to fit your situation. Contact a "friendly" Attorney familiar with construction contract law to review your rough draft. Review Collier's Managing Construction: The Contractual Viewpoint.

12. Use your “best guess” to analyze skill requirements for your project. Determine the complexity of skill required for Design-Build events so you can assess the level of competence anticipated to perform the required tasks. Separate complex tasks from routine tasks; in other words, distinguish high paying jobs from low paying jobs. Read Jahn's Cost-Saving Techniques for Housing Construction.

13. Research your local telephone directory to discover what suppliers and manufacturers are available locally. If local suppliers and manufacturers exist in your region, inquire whether they sell direct to the general public. Determine supplier and manufacturer locations to get a sense of material logistics and delivery requirements. Ask suppliers for a list of “preferred contractors” whom they would recommend to install their products. Become familiar with McConville’s Managing Construction Purchasing.

14. Add a "Safety File" to your "Cardboard Box Files". Think about the special circumstances of your project so you begin to anticipate hazards and dangerous situations. As you develop your Conditions document, don't forget to assign responsibility to the General Contractor or each Specialty Contractor for jobsite safety! See Civitello’s Construction Safety and Loss Control Program Manual.

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1. Involve construction professionals of your project team in the "Decision Making Process". Each professional provides specialized information established by years of education and experience. Don't expect free advice! By utilizing the complex information base of the construction industry, you're more able to anticipate management, aesthetic, structural, legal, and fiscal problems before they occur. There’s a great overview of this process in Lewis’ Fundamentals of Project Management.

2. Select a fiscal plan of action based on a review of hard and soft costs. Combine all hard and soft costs related to the Design/Build process into a complete "Cost Analysis". As you extend your budget estimate into an itemized cost analysis keep in mind that this remains a “living document” subject to change. At this point, there should be a clear idea of your cost range in order to accurately consider construction-financing options. Use Jackson's Estimating Home Building Costs.

3. Discuss project requirements with "friendly" designers, contractors, and suppliers. As you continue to update the "Activity Flow Chart" there will be supplemental information that augments major events and support activities. Refine your understanding of workflow by noting activity interdependence. Get a sense of how professional managers handle these concerns by paging through Cleland's Project Management Handbook.

4. In addition to the official site plan required for permit application, make a site master plan that goes beyond what's usually required by the Building Department for permit application. Your Architect will put the finishing touches to the official version for permit application but you can go one step beyond. Take into consideration your region's geological, biological, and meteorological conditions as you enhance the basic site plan. Envision how you intend to use the outdoor space once the home is completed so your home is oriented to the sun, off-site features, native plants, lay of the land, and neighboring community. Be creative! See Roberts’ The Building Site: Planning and Practice.

5. Formalize the floor plan by consulting with a design professional. Whether you choose to work with an Architect, Designer, or engage a Stock Plan Service, you'll need to take your ideas and sketches into "Design Development" so your floor plan can evolve into a complete set of Drawings. There are many variables that contribute to how the Drawings are created, and it's usually in your best interest to rely on professional design services to determine foundation details, framing plans, elevations, roof system, code compliance, and layout for heating, plumbing, and electrical services. Read DiDonno's How to Design and Build Your Own House.

6. Concentrate on using the "Job Diary" daily. Collect business cards as you visit suppliers or consult with trade contractors making notes on the reverse side of each card. Be prompt for appointments, and take notes on your memo pads for future reference. As you write notes in your appointment book, use black ink to make personal entries and red ink to make appointment entries. Keep the message register next to the phone so you log all calls relating to the Design-Build process. Get in the habit of running an efficient and reliable construction office.

7. Continue to use the "Cardboard Box Files" as a means to organize trade and product technical literature. More than likely you'll be creating additional hanging files to expand the growing information base. Get comfortable with the process of progressive approximation so you feel relaxed about a gradual refinement of product and material choices. Now is the time to collaborate with the professionals of your project team as well as potential trade contractors and suppliers, discussing the range of choices available to you. Don’t become the customer-from-hell! Read Edwards’ Dangerous Clients: How to Protect Yourself.

8. Turn a critical eye to the combinations depicted on the "Storyboard”. Eliminate colors, patterns, and textures that obviously won't be considered for your project. Don't throw anything away but select several combinations of exterior and interior treatments that satisfy you the most. Be sure samples are marked with manufacturer product information, including distributor and contact person. Get a few tips from Benzel’s The Room in Context.

"Down Home with Tom Landis" Streaming Audio

Katherine Salant

"Brand-New House" with Guest Katherine Salant
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Tom interviews Katherine Salant, author of The Brand-New House Book. Harvard-trained in architecture, new-house expert Katherine Salant began her career as a Fulbright scholar, studying village houses in Nepal. Katherine began writing her "Housewatch" column for the Washington Post in 1994. In her lively, accessible style, Katherine helps consumers learn to make good decisions, step by step, on every aspect of house design and construction, as they build a home that makes sense for them.

 Visit Down Home Radio for the entire audio archive

9. Incorporate "Building/Living Green" features that utilize standard sizes, recycled, and sustainable materials. Without compromising cost or quality, seek alternative methods and materials for your project by asking local suppliers and manufacturers what's currently available from them. Refer to Pearson's Natural House Book.

10. Collect all documentation required for building permit application. Since some of this documentation is required for "Design Development" you'll need to make duplicate copies so information can be shared with professionals of your project team while you keep the originals. In addition to the building permit, additional permits may be required for septic, electrical, plumbing, gas, and HVAC inspections. Be sure trade contractors take responsibility for securing necessary permits governing their work. Use the "Index" in Hageman's Contactor's Guide to the Building Code.

11.Prepare your Conditions document for prior to first meeting with General or Specialty Contractors. This is where a word processor really comes in handy! Based on the rough drafts created by the "cut & paste" method, you'll be able to develop a single, generic document then adapt it to each trade contractor. Should you decide to deal exclusively with a General Contractor, you'll only need one Conditions document; however, by assuming the responsibilities of a General Contractor, acting as an Owner-Builder, you'll need separate Conditions documents for each trade contractor. Refer to Acret’s Simplified Guide to Construction Law.

12. Interview prospective General and/or Specialty contractors. Qualifying contractors requires you get information about their previous work experience and how they are organized to operate. What you hope to accomplish is to match the right person to the right job. A good start would be to create a “Project Profile” for your home building or remodeling project, including a site plan and technical information describing scope of work. At this meeting you may also show a preliminary draft of your Drawings so they can offer suggestions that may improve "Design Development" as they offer their opinion regarding how the work might best be accomplished. Review Cook’s Bidding for the General Contractor.

13. Select products and materials to be used in your home. Choosing building and remodeling products and materials is a difficult process due to the consequences of style, finish, cost, installation, and maintenance. Go online to manufacturers’ web sites to examine the entire array of product and material choices currently available in the market. Once a decision is made on what product/material is right for your project, you'll request details on different models, color choices, pricing, installation instructions, guarantees, and warranties from the manufacturer. All of this information together will become the substance of your written "Specifications". Take a peek at Jaffe’s Warranties and Disclaimers for Remodelers.

14. Create a Safety Plan for your project. Request contractor support of safety mentioning your State's requirements and be certain contractor’s maintain their insurance coverage during course of construction. These details will be incorporated into the Conditions document. From manufacturers you'll obtain a "Material Safety Data Sheet" for products and materials that are hazardous, and this information will be placed in the "Safety File" for future reference. Make certain your insurance coverage will be in effect during course of construction.

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1. Hold construction professionals of your project team accountable for their decisions. Don't be easily influenced by the stereotype that these licensed and certified professionals "know best" by virtue of their training and status. The good professional is one who is willing to share information, to learn from and respect their customers, and to act as a consultant, with a willingness to share decision making with you. You are the boss! Consider the wisdom gleaned from Diller’s How to Succeed with Your Own Construction Business.

2. Ensure all products and services required by your project are line items on your "Cost Analysis". This itemized list represents expenditures defined by your Drawings and Specifications. Your construction lender will be of great assistance in analyzing the construction cost breakdown for completeness and adequacy. As you receive "Proposals" from either a General Contractor or Specialty Contractors, evaluate costs by referring to a construction cost data base like Means’ Residential Cost Data Guide so you are able to evaluate proposals wisely. Apply for your construction loan with a “friendly” lender that offers good terms and a cooperative relationship.

3. Establish a project schedule using a Bar Chart. The chart will indicate major construction activities plotted on a weekly time scale; however, your project may require less or more time depending on scope of work to be performed, and you'll probably customize the chart as you move forward. If you've done your homework with the "Activity Flow Chart", you'll have a basic understanding of event sequence and duration for each phase of construction of your project. Most important, remain in sequence and communicate honestly and frequently with trade contractors and suppliers so they understand your time requirements. Refer to Love’s Bar Chart Scheduling for Residential Construction.

4. Make a copy of your site master plan to create a “working” site layout. You can sketch your layout ideas directly on this copy not the original. A site layout is a visual presentation of the arrangement of the physical facilities for the construction of the project. You'll be required to install temporary electrical and water service, locate a portable toilet and (if necessary) job shack, store materials, allow for parking by trade contractors, and establish work areas. The condition of the site, the problems of access, the space limitations, and the movement of equipment have a significant bearing on the total cost of the project. Determining a “working” site layout is absolutely essential in planning construction operations!

5. Reproduce 8 copies of your complete set of Drawings. Usually two sets accompany your permit application while the other six sets are circulated among contractors and suppliers for their proposals. If changes to the Drawings are made by the Building Department you'll need to note these changes on all copies so contractors and suppliers base their proposals on any new changes, but this is nearly impossible to determine until the “approved” Drawings are returned to you. Ask the Building Department how long until the Drawings will be returned to you so you can anticipate when to begin site development. Review McHugh's Working Drawing Handbook.

6. Produce a “Communication Sheet” for your project. Architects, contractors, and suppliers are notorious for making excuses for their forgetfulness. By providing them with a communication sheet, you'll eliminate future misunderstandings! Your communication sheet will consist of a vicinity map, directions to the site, your job shack or home office phone number, how to contact key construction professionals of your project team, and any special reminders which seem pertinent like your email address or times when you can’t be reached. Also, keep this information posted in your home office so it's a convenient referral.

7. Increase what you know about products and materials required for your project by adding to the "Cardboard Box Files". This will be a storehouse for manufacturer specifications, installation instructions, material safety data sheets, guarantees, and warranties for each respective phase of work. Add extra categories to your filing system rather than accumulate thick files chock-full of details. Checkout Rosen's Construction Specification Writing or Stitt’s Construction Specs.

8. Select a combination of colors, patterns, and textures for exterior and interior treatment. Your "Storyboard" should appear purposeful and artful! Each manufacturer will attach a specific name and/or number to a color, pattern, or texture for their product. It's very important that you indicate this name/number when your purchase products and materials from a supplier or through a trade contractor.

"Down Home with Tom Landis" Streaming Audio

David Lupberger

"Managing the Emotional Homeowner" with Guest David Lupberger
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Tom interviews David Lupberger, author of Managing the Emotional Homeowner. Mr. Lupberger draws on more than two decades of experience in the residential remodeling field. Lupberger believes fervently that the best customer service only comes when a contractor can deliver consistent results. His experience in managing customer expectations led him to write a book called, Managing the Emotional Homeowner, which has become one of the bibles of the remodeling industry.

 Visit Down Home Radio for the entire audio archive

9. Look for businesses willing to cooperate in a "Building Green" program. Shop around for experienced recycling services that offer to coordinate regular pickups at your site. Include job site recycling as a condition in your Conditions document with trade contractors and suppliers. As an incentive to reduce, reuse, or recycle before your debris becomes landfill refuse, contact a commercial hauler of construction debris to check prices for renting a container and disposing of your waste in a traditional manner. This may be your wakeup call! Review Hermannsson’s Green Building Resource Guide.

10. Submit a complete Building Permit application. Likely, you'll pay an initial plan examination fee on application with the remainder of your fee due when you pickup your permit. Expect your Drawings to be closely scrutinized, and be prepared for corrections or a request for additional information. This is when the assistance of construction professionals may be extremely helpful because Building Department officials respect the expertise of licensed professionals. Be sure to periodically check on your application's progress through the Building Department, and always show a willingness to cooperate.

11. Don’t impulsively show your Conditions document to contractors until you’ve had a chance to first review their standard, boilerplate form. The difference between what’s important to you and what’s important to them will become obvious. Once you've chosen a General or Specialty contractor with whom you expect to be doing business, arrange a second meeting to make available a copy of your Conditions document for their review and commentary. Ask them to offer opinions at this time so you both have ample opportunity to weigh and consider your differences and make changes if necessary. Written "Conditions" should be required for all construction jobs; however, if you're comfortable with a person's reputation sometimes a handshake will suffice, but this is not advisable if the contract price exceeds $1,000. Whether verbal or written, the point of a contract is to clearly communicate what both parties expect of one another and be able to enforce the terms of your agreement. Discover insights from Jones’ Handbook of Construction Contracting.

12. Continue to negotiate with individuals and businesses that seem to satisfy your requirements. Watch how quickly an individual responds to you. This may be an indication of her/his level of interest in your project. More than likely, you'll interview several contractors to locate the right person for your job. Since Drawings and Specifications will be substantially complete, you'll be able to accurately reference these documents during the interview and contractors will be able to take a copy of each back to their office to workup a firm "Proposal". See Fredley’s Contracts with the Trades.

13. Choose suppliers based on product "Specifications" that most fit your life style, and the home style you want to create. Negotiations with suppliers will proceed in the same similarly to negotiations with contractors except your terms will appear on "Purchase Orders" rather than "Conditions" statements. Since suppliers' proposals will be based on Drawings, copies of these documents may also be made available to them. When possible, go online to shop your job to suppliers rather than drive around town. Ask suppliers for a copy of their “Terms of Sale” so you understand terms of purchase before you buy.

14. Amplify the Safety Plan by involving contractors and suppliers. During negotiations with contractors, ask if the field supervisor is first-aid certified. As part of negotiation require each crew to provide a first-aid kit on site. Ask each contractor to provide proof of insurance coverage when they offer their proposal. Suppliers making delivery to your site experience less risk on site, but make sure their employees are covered by their insurance. If you're lacking "Material Safety Data Sheets" ask suppliers to provide documentation for the "Safety File".

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1. Engage services of construction professionals only on those matters that continue to demand their attention. You should handle routine decisions and actions! Only exceptions, deviations, and emergencies are reported to high-paid professionals for their expertise. You'll need to avoid casual phone calls and conferences with professionals because the minute they pickup the phone, the meter is running. Review Birnberg's Project Management for Small Design Firms.

2. Gain financial accountability by utilizing a "Check Register and Job Cost Journal" to record expenditures such as the product produced by “New England Business Service”. Dedicate this register/journal exclusively for construction expenses so there's an easy audit trail for your project. In addition, create a "Construction Cost Breakdown" to review your budget at a glance! If there’s any doubt about how to setup your register/journal, consult with an Accountant familiar with construction cost accounting. Establish monthly inspections by your lender’s representative to determine what work has been performed so progress payments can be issued through you to the contractor. Do not “assign funds” directly to contractor or supplier. Become familiar with Thomsett’s Builder’s Guide to Accounting.

3. Anticipate construction activities and key events by referring to your "Bar Chart" and "Activity Flow Chart". These sources of information will prompt you to think weeks ahead when ordering products and materials from suppliers, as well as scheduling a Specialty Contractor's arrival on site, or better understanding what’s being accomplished by the General Contractor. Factors that typically affect coordination and control are site logistics, weather conditions, trade contractor availability, and material delivery. Be known as a great communicator! Review Haasl’s Production Checklist for Builders and Superintendents.

4. Set-up site layout. Install temporary electrical and water service. Locate a portable toilet and, if necessary, a job shack on site. Determine where to store materials and designate a work area. Establish building dimensions and elevations for excavation. Protect shrubs or trees that you intend to use later as part of the landscape. DON’T DISTURB ANY AREA WHERE A SEPTIC TANK/FIELD WILL BE INSTALLED. Foresee coming events by placing materials and arranging activities in locations where nothing will be handled twice or later get in the way of productivity. Refer to Gerstel's Builder's Guide to Running a Successful Construction Company.

5.Retain the official "approved" set of Drawings from the Building Department at your home office. The other "approved" set of Drawings remains at the Building Department for their files. Note corrections or changes to the Drawings that may affect proposals by contractors and suppliers. The other six sets that have been in circulation for proposals are for field use during construction, but be absolutely certain to note any changes on them so there’s no confusion as to the work that needs to be performed. Any work done on your project, which is not represented in the Drawings, will need to be illustrated and kept for future reference. These are your "As-Built Drawings" and, when your project is completed, they will be a reminder of what was accomplished in the field and not recorded in the "approved" set of Drawings. Spend a weekend with Leger’s Complete Building Construction.

6. Maintain an accurate diary of construction-related activities. A “Communication Sheet” will continue to help designers, contractors, and suppliers cure any bad cases of amnesia, and the appointment book will keep you organized. Log all telephone conversations using the message register to put into writing what's been agreed to on the phone. Set weekly deadlines for incomplete tasks or repair damaged products. Be persistent with designers, contractors and suppliers who need to correct deficiencies in their work, and be prepared to withhold payment for incomplete or deficient work to expedite completeness or corrections. Use a word processor to complete repetitive tasks and produce standard forms. Utilize Trellis’ Documents, Contracts, and Worksheets for Home Builders.

7. Perform "Quality Control" inspections daily and weekly. Check work performed against Drawings and Specifications, as well as your agreed on Conditions with contractors and suppliers. Use the "Cardboard Box Files" to confirm your understanding of manufacturer guidelines for product installation. Installation instructions are a starting point for field inspections but they are not a substitute for good observation and critical thinking! Use a video recorder and still-camera to improve reliable documentation. Heed the sage tips in Thomas’ Contractor’s Field Guide.

8. Confirm product/material choices from the "Storyboard". Double-check specific names and numbers to be certain the correct color, pattern, or texture has been ordered. Inspect product and materials before installation to verify product correctness. To the greatest extent possible, make quality control the responsibility of the manufacturer and distributor. Glance through Bliss’ Troubleshooting Guide to Residential Construction.

9. Place bins on site for refuse, recycle, and reuse. Keep the refuse bin separate from other areas because this debris will definitely contaminate other recycle/reuse items. Keep the reuse bin near work areas so materials are easily accessible. Any salvaged windows, doors, tiles, or fixtures should be available on site when needed. Each trade contractor and supplier should be responsible for recycle efforts but, if necessary, coordinate pickups at your site with a recycling service. A good rule for each phase of work: the person who makes the mess should be responsible for cleanup and removal of waste!

10. Check with the Building Department to ascertain mandatory inspections. The agency having jurisdiction over your locality may have standard procedures for arranging inspections and what critical events require inspection. Be ready to follow their protocols! Other permits requested by trade contractors will require additional inspections, but the person requesting the permit will do coordination of this effort. Just be certain each trade contractor calls for inspection in a timely fashion, and you keep possession of any correction notices as well as the final, signed permit. Utilize Kardon's Code Check.

11. Be certain all requirements of an enforceable contract are included in the "Conditions" document. Your approved Drawings and written Specifications should be referenced in the Agreement, and Conditions governing performance must be clearly referenced as well. The General Contractor and each Specialty Contractor must come to terms with your requirements before work begins! Prior to your meeting with a contractor where you both sign an Agreement be ready with a final draft of Conditions documents accompanied by Drawings and Specifications. Become familiar with O’Brien’s Construction Change Orders.

12. Sign “Agreement” with General Contractor or Specialty Contractors depending on whether you intend to act as an Owner-Builder or not. After reviewing project’s requirements, qualifying contractors, and negotiating conditions, you'll be ready to enter into “Agreement” on terms of your relationship. Politely reiterate your concern to maintain schedule, budget, and quality of work. Don't forget it's your responsibility to keep contractors informed of your expectations. Read Cole's Construction Superintending.

13. After specifying what products and materials are required for your project and negotiating terms with a supplier, you'll be ready to issue an order for purchase of goods. You may generate “Purchase Orders” or use order forms available at the supplier. Just be sure to reference Drawings and Specifications, and don't duplicate material purchases by contractors. If you’re working with a General Contractor, coordinate all purchases with him/her; otherwise, coordinate directly with the Specialty Contractor. Schedule delivery when required, and be on site to conduct quality control inspections. Make payment only after completely satisfied with products/materials!

14. Integrate the Safety Plan from the standpoint of methods, materials, and machines. Accidents occur because workplace conditions are unsafe or workplace actions are unsafe. Your "Safety File" will alert you to hazardous materials but this information needs to be communicated to workers. Direct your attention to the most common site hazards, but your daily observations are the most reliable means to protect people and property. Read Kennedy’s Construction Foreman's Safety Handbook.

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1. Send "Thank You" notes to construction professionals of your project team. Request a copy of any document that you may need from their files regarding your job. Get their advice for any items that may be necessary to include on your Punch List.

2. Use the "Construction Cost Breakdown" to control expenditures up to the final day of construction. By comparing budget estimate and bid proposals to actual payments and extra costs, you force yourself to justify any change from your original fiscal plan of action. Your "Check Register/Job Cost Journal" that you've used to write checks and categorize expenses will be a ready reference if there's a need to refer back to construction expenses. Your construction lender will keep you focused on your payment schedule.

3. Prior to project completion, contact a moving service to schedule transportation of your existing furniture and furnishings to your new home. Any newly purchased items should be stored at the distributor's warehouse so arrange delivery of these items at the same time.

4. Install landscape features and horticulture. As you eliminate the need for temporary services on site, the area surrounding the building will cease to be a construction site and begin its transformation into your yard. Your site master plan provides purpose and direction for landscape activities so base your installation on this design. Create “As-Built Drawings” for your site, depicting actual layout of site conditions, should there be any changes from the original site plan.

5.Collect all copies of Drawings from contractors and suppliers. Often, contractors will write notes and sketch on the margins of these field copies, and by retaining field copies there's a source for future reference to their notes and sketches. Also, the "As-Built Drawings” provide supplemental information for those details not represented in the Drawings.

6. Organize a "Punch List" and remain constantly vigilant toward trade contractors and suppliers completing those details that are incomplete or deficient. Identify what's required to finalize work on your project, contact the responsible person for work to be accomplished, and set deadlines for the work to be completed. Become familiar with Traister’s Home Inspection Handbook.

7.Regard your "Cardboard Box Files" as worth its weight in gold! No doubt, these files have proven to be a ready reference for "Quality Control" activities, but as a repository for all project information, the "Box" becomes a valuable resource for yourself or the next homeowner. Needless to say, your "Cardboard Box Files" are impossible to replace!

8. Take a picture of your Design-Build collage in its final form. Clear the wall of the "Storyboard". Color, pattern, or texture samples should be labeled with manufacturer name and identification number for future reference. Double-check product installation to verify correct models/colors have been utilized. Refer to Hoffman’s How to Inspect a House.

9. Engage the services of a professional cleaning crew to put the polish to your new home. While you're at it, relocate your reuse, recycle, and refuse bins in the house to a location that suits your lifestyle. Take the "Building Green" philosophy and translate it into a "Living Green" program. Incorporate vegetable, flower, and herb gardens into your landscape design, and reduce kitchen waste by using a compost bin in your garden area. Remember to xeriscape!

10. Call for a final inspection by the Building Department. If you've remained calm and avoided conflict thus far in your project, now isn't the time to lose your temper! Resolve any last minute problems in a diplomatic, rational manner. Be sure that the trade contractor responsible for the error or omission is the one who makes the necessary correction. Take an interest in Fredriksson’s The Complete House Inspection Book.

11. Consolidate "Contract Documents". With your project at completion, dedicate one file for all legal paperwork. In this way your "Cardboard Box Files" contain primarily trade contractor, supplier, and manufacturer information. A single legal file exclusively holds all contract documentation.

12. Send "Thank You" notes to Contractors. Request a copy of any document that you may need from their files regarding your project. If you withheld any money from the contract price for "callbacks" write a check for work completed and include it with the "Thank You" note.

13.Send "Thank You" notes to suppliers. Be sure you have a copy of all manufacturers' parts lists and record customer service phone numbers. Operate all products as soon as possible to verify that the product works properly.

14.Dispose of hazardous waste through your County reclamation service. Contact your insurance agent requesting course of construction coverage be terminated and commence homeowner's coverage!

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1.Be sure all documents are stored in the "Cardboard Box Files". Write a memoir of your project experience, reflecting on the Design-Build endeavor. Whether prose or poetry, your memoir should combine aesthetic and technical musings. See Ehrenhaft’s The Builder’s Secret.

2.Close bank account dedicated to your project. Store "Construction Cost Breakdown" and "Check Register/Job Cost Journal" in the "Cardboard Box Files".

3.Create a maintenance schedule for products in your new home requiring future service. Store "Activity Flow Chart" and "Bar Chart" in the "Cardboard Box Files".

4.Store "Official Site Plan, Site Master Plan, Site Landscape, and As-Built Drawings" in the "Cardboard Box Files".

5.If possible, make certain all field notes are collected from contractors and suppliers for future reference. Store "Approved Drawings, Field Drawings, and As-Built Drawings” in the "Cardboard Box Files".

6.Be certain the business card index, weekly appointment book, incoming/outgoing message register are consolidated and complete. Store all items comprising the "Job Diary" in the "Cardboard Box Files".

7.Share your information base for your project with a friend or neighbor doing a home building or remodeling project. Don’t give-away original documents, but make copies for others.

8.Store "Design/Build Collage" in the "Cardboard Box Files" in its respective file folder. Utilize the “Storyboard” technique on other projects.

9.Place your “Building/Living Green” notes and contacts into a separate file to be stored in your “Cardboard Box Files”. Join a neighborhood organization dedicated to these principles, and attend the annual Earth Day celebration in your community.

10.Keep signed copies of all permits in a single file in your “Cardboard Box Files”. If a newsletter is produced or continuing education classes offered by your local Building Department, attend them to keep abreast of current regulations governing your site.

11.Be certain that the time period imposed by your State for “Warranty of Habitability” remains in full force. Don’t limit your consumer rights by ever agreeing to a lesser period of warranty. Contact your State’s Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Affairs, inquiring about your warranty rights.

12.Store all contractor documents and notes in the "Cardboard Box Files". Let Contractors know of your willingness to be a reference for them, and don’t hesitate to share your referral list with friends.

13.Complete and mail registration cards that accompany products and appliances to the manufacturer. Keep all literature inside shipping containers and all warranties in your "Cardboard Box Files”.

14.Keep your "Safety File" in the "Cardboard Box Files". Be sure your “Material Safety Data Sheets” are placed in the same file for future reference.

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Our hope is that the Project Planner has prompted you to think critically about your project.

Remember: The owner is the linking pin for the entire organization. You’ll make the connection between people and events, building relationships.

You’ll approach this endeavor like a painter. You just won’t start at the corner of the canvas and work your way down. You’ll put on one layer; add another layer; step back…and, then put on a final layer.

How you resolve conflict and contend with difficulties will test your character and ingenuity. You must remain a creative problem solver. Don’t forget the lessons to be learned by following Shackleton’s way.

Project Management demands you coordinate both Design and Build professionals. Let your project team unite to be the creative force behind your home building or remodeling project.

Due to the unique circumstances of each construction project, you’ll want to collaborate with professionals early in the Design-Build process. The Project Planner should be seen as a guide, not a panacea.

To be successful, you need to communicate your vision to your community and professionals of the project team but the experience really goes beyond this.

The building process creates a new community of companion roles working to achieve your ideas-a community that will live on long after the last nail is driven.

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Acret, James. Simplified Guide to Construction Law.
Los Angeles: Building News, 1997.

Alexander, Caroline. Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition.
New York: Knopf, 1998.

Benzel, Katherine. The Room in Context.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997.

Bliss, Steven. Troubleshooting Guide to Residential Construction.
Richmond: Builderburg, 1997.

Birnberg, Howard. Project Management for Small Design Firms.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992.

Case, Linda. Design/Build for Remodelers, Custom Builders, and Architects.
D.C.: Home Builder Press, 1992.

Chappell, Steve. Alternative Building Sourcebook.
Brownfield: Fox Maple Press, 1998.

Ching, Francis. Building Construction Illustrated.
New York: Van Nostrand, 1991.

Civitello, Andrew. Construction Safety and Loss Control Program Manual.
Armonk: Sharpe, 1997.

Cleland, David. Project Management Handbook.
New York: Van Nostrand, 1988.

Clodagh Total Design
New York: Clarkson Potter, 2001.

Cole, Leslie. Construction Superintending.
Carlsbad: Craftsman, 1987.

Collier, Keith. Managing Construction: The Contractual Viewpoint
Albany: Delmar, 1994.

Connell, John. Homing Instinct.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999.

Cook, Paul. Bidding for the General Contractor.
Kingston: Means, 1985.

Cushman, Robert. Construction Management Formbook.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983.

DiDonno How to Design and Build Your Own House.
New York: Knopf, 1987. 

Diller, Stephen. How to Succeed with Your Own Construction Business.
Carlsbad: Craftsman, 1991.

Edwards, Susan. Dangerous Clients: How to Protect Yourself.
San Francisco: Miller Freeman, 1998.

Ehrenhaft The Builder’s Secret
New York: Prima, 1999.

Fredley, John. Contracts with the Trades.
D.C.: Home Builder Press, 1998.

Fredriksson, Don. The Complete House Inspection Book.
New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1988.

Gerstel, David. Builder's Guide to Running a Successful Construction Company.
Newtown: Tauton, 1991.

Haasl, John. Production Checklist for Builders and Superintendents.
D.C.: Home Builder Press, 1997.

Hageman, Jack. Contactor's Guide to the Building Code.
Carlsbad: Craftsman, 1993.  

Hermannsson, John. Green Building Resource Guide. 
Newtown:  Tauton Press, 1997.

Hoffman, George. How to Inspect a House.
New York: Addison-Wesley, 1992.

Householder, Jerry. Estimating for Home Builders.
D.C.: Home Builder Press, 1992.

Hrin, Tom. Daily Field Guide: A Logbook for Home Builders.
D.C.: Home Builder Press, 1997.

Jackson, W.P. Estimating Home Building Costs.
Carlsbad: Craftsman, 1981.

Jaffe, David. Warranties and Disclaimers for Remodelers.
D.C.: Home Builders Press, 1998.

Jahn, Bart. Cost-Saving Techniques for Housing Construction.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995.

Johnson, David. Residential Land Development Practices.
D.C.: American Society of Engineers, 1996.

Jones, Jack. Handbook of Construction Contracting.
Carlsbad: Craftsman, 1987.

Kardon, Redwood. Code Check.
Newtown: Tauton, 1995.

Kennedy, George. Construction Foreman's Safety Handbook.
Albany: Delmar, 1996.

Koberg, Don. The All New Universal Traveler
Menlo Park: Crisp, 1991.

Leger, Eugene. Complete Building Construction.
New York: Macmillan, 1993.

Lewis, James. Fundamentals of Project Management.
New York: American Management Association, 1995.

Love, Tom. Bar Chart Scheduling for Residential Construction.
D.C.: Home Builder Press, 1997.

McConville, John. Managing Construction Purchasing.
Kingston: Means, 1993.

McHugh, Robert. Working Drawing Handbook.
New York: Van Nostrand, 1982.

McNulty, Alfred. Management of Small Construction Projects.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982.

Morrell, Margot. Shackleton’s Way.
New York: Viking, 2001

Myrvang, June. Home Design Handbook.
New York: Holt, 1992.

NAHB. Site Engineering for Developers and Builders.
D.C.: Home Builder Press, 1988.

O’Brien, James. Construction Change Orders.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Olin, H. Leslie. Construction Principles, Materials, and Methods.
New York: Wiley & Sons, 1997.

Pearson, David. Natural House Book.
New York: Fireside, 1989.

Petrucci, Luigina. Residential Contracting.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995.

Roberts, John. The Building Site: Planning and Practice.
New York: Wiley, 1983.

Rogers, Leon. Basic Construction Management: The Superintendent’s Job.
D.C.: Home Builder Press, 1999.

Rosen, Harold. Construction Specification Writing.
New York: Wiley, 1974.

Schliefer, Thomas. Construction Contractors' Survival Guide.
New York: Wiley & Sons, 1990.

Stitt, Fred. Construction Specs.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999.

Susanka, Sarah. Creating the Not So Big House.
Newtown: Tauton, 1998.

Thomas, Paul. Contractor’s Field Guide.
Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1995.

Thomas, Paul. Estimating Tables for Home Building.
Carlsbad: Craftsman, 1989.

Thomsett, Michael. Builder’s Guide to Accounting.
Carlsbad: Craftsman, 1996.

Tolpin, Jim. The New Family Home.
Newtown: Tauton, 2000.

Traister, John. Home Inspection Handbook.
Carlsbad: Craftsman, 1997.

Trellis, Al. Documents, Contracts, and Worksheets for Home Builders.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Woods, Charles. Designing Your Natural House.
New York: Van Nostrand, 1992.

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