A nice young couple with a lovely home called us to give a price to build a full dormer on the back of their house. They said they might want to do some of the work themselves.
They had been given a proposal by another contractor but it wasn’t descriptive enough for them to truly tell what was included and what was not included. They had a preliminary sketch but they only had one copy and the other contractor kept it.
We told them that saving money by doing some of the work themselves was a good plan. We told them that we would contact the architect to get a copy of the sketch, come out, look at the job, give them a detailed contract and a price for the work we felt should be done professionally, and then let them finish up themselves.
When we arrived though, it was obvious that they were getting impatient with the process. They had contacted several contractors and had given each of them a slightly different scope of work. They didn’t think there was a significant difference between what they had told the various contractors but, in reality, there was. The variations would affect the price and the aesthetics.
The new bids would be as useless as the first one because every contractor was pricing something a little different. We recommended that they go back to the architect who had done the preliminary sketch and work with him to finalize the plans and draw up a set of construction drawings.
We pointed out to them that no matter who they decided to hire, they would be well served to have the construction drawings to refer to in case of a dispute.
A picture is worth a thousand words. A good contractor can build almost anything from a drawing on the back of a napkin, but you are relying heavily on the relationship you have with your contractor and their technical ability.
If you have a budget and a desire to get the most you can from your hard earned dollars, spend the money on a detailed set of plans and choose a reputable contractor.