We went to the NAHB National Green Building Conference in Raleigh, NC and the plane ride gave me the opportunity to catch up on some reading. The Summer 2010 issue of Fine Homebuilding Houses had a great article for homeowners getting ready to bid a project. The gist of it was: before you meet with a prospective contractor, do your homework and have as much information, details and specifications determined. If you aren’t specific about the details, three contractors will make their own assumptions and bid out your project three different ways. Everything from insulation to countertops to plumbing fixtures has different price structures. If you show up to your first meeting with a prospective contractor with catalogs, lists and pictures of your ideas he’ll be able to take those back to his office and build a tight estimate and not just an allowance. You may learn that the specifications you want make the cost to build your home a bit out of your budget. But, if you have accurate numbers you can make educated comprimises. Make sure the contractors are bidding out the home YOU want, not the home they assume you want.