Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Columbus, OH
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Keep in mind, I don't practice what I preach...
The most expensive thing that I "farmed out" around the house was a fence. I got recommendations, spoke with the guy, we agreed upon key "design" parameters, walked it, then shook hands. It was a positive experience.
One of my many job functions is writing scopes of work and executing contracts. I primarily deal with software and electrical contracts.
The best advise that I can give you is this write it down, be specific, then talk with multiple contractors.
Think about exactly what you want and write it down. Include details about stud spacing and materials, siding materials, roof, etc. If you want them to erect a pre-fab building, then state the exact model that you want them to erect. Be as specific as you can. If you know that you want something, write it down. Don't forget to put something in about following all building codes and zoning. If you don't want the guy to do something then state it as an exclusion.
Once you have what you want on paper then start talking to contractors. When you decide upon a contractor make sure that you put a contract together and reference the document which you generated.
There is nothing wrong with having a contractor walk through with you and updating your document or even helping you write it. In the end, if you have a piece of paper that you and the contractor accept and agree upon, then you have a legal basis to keep the contractor honest.
I obsess over my contracts at work. It is not uncommon for me to walk the job multiple times and just think about what I would do, what questions I would have, and how the contractor could short cut. Then I incorporate it into my scope. I think this is why I don't spend any more time on them at home...
Hope this helps.