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Consumer News and Advice Archive


What questions should be asked of an architect?

Ask questions that will give you a sense of the architect's style, approach to design, and methods of work. For example: What is your design philosophy? What important issues or challenges do you see in my project? How will you approach my project? What will you show me along the ...


What guidelines are useful for finding an architect?

Start by finding out who designed the projects that you like in your community. Get referrals from people you know, or the local American Institute of Architects (AIA). Interview three to five firms to get a range of possibilities for your project. But only select firms that specialize in residential ...


There seem to be no shortage of contractors; how do you identify one who is less than reputable?

They often give themselves away. The telltale signs: ...


Are there specific questions I should ask a contractor?

According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, sometimes it's not the responses you get that are important, but what you don't get. So you should trust your instincts and pay attention to the information that is obviously missing. Nevertheless, here are some questions NARI suggest you ask before ...


What guidelines should I follow to find a contractor?

Always exercise caution and be comfortable and confident about your final decision. This means selecting a competent and reliable contractor with a track record who can complete the job without hassles or negative consequences. What you can do: ...


Should the architect and contractor have a “vested” interest in one another?

It does not hurt to have a situation where the architect and contractor already have an existing working relationship. In fact, such an association could benefit a project by ensuring the smooth integration between the design and implementation. In a residential project, there is sometimes a triangle of tension between ...


What are the specific responsibilities of the contractor vs. the architect?

Beyond having the architect create the design and the contractor implement it, both professionals have additional responsibilities. The contractor is responsible for pricing the project and ensuring that it is completed in a timely fashion. The architect is responsible for getting the construction drawing completed with proper specifications and architectural ...


Who should be called to the project first, the contractor or the architect?

Opinions vary about which professional to call first. Some say the architect comes first because "you have to design it before you can build it." The architect, who is trained to resolve problems creatively, can help define the project in ways that provide meaningful guidance for the design. The architect ...


Who are the professionals that do home improvements?

They vary depending on the size and scope of your job. General contractors are companies or individuals who contract with you to manage all aspects of the project, including hiring and supervising subcontractors, obtaining building permits, and supplying materials and labor equipment needed to do the project. Specialty contractors, on ...


Should I hire a professional or do the job myself?

It depends on the complexity of the project and your ability to do the job well yourself. Really consider whether you have the time, skills, tools, help, and legal knowledge of local regulations to get the job done. While you could save up to an estimated 20% of the project ...


What factors should determine whether I decide to move or remodel?

Your personal needs, preferences and finances are all factors. If you've lived in your home awhile and prefer to stay in your school district or neighborhood, improving your existing space may work best for you. If a second bathroom is what you desire, it may also be cheaper to convert ...


How long do bankruptcies and foreclosure stay on a credit report?

They can remain on your credit record for seven to 10 years. ...


Will I be able to buy again after losing a home to foreclosure?

It can happen. But a lot will depend on your circumstances and the mortgage interest rate you are willing to pay. Generally, most lenders will consider your request for a home loan two to four years after your foreclosure. Predatory lenders will issue a home mortgage in less time. But ...


Can a home be sold for less than its mortgage?

Sometimes. But it is a complicated process and a lot will depend on the lender. ...


If faced with foreclosure, what are my options?

Talk with your lender immediately. The lender may be able to arrange a repayment plan or the temporary reduction or suspension of your payment, particularly if your income has dropped substantially or expenses have shot up beyond your control. You also may be able to refinance the debt or extend ...