Make your Wish List
Before any nail is pounded in, before any light fixture is wired together, you should spend time determining what you want. Research product features, design, and color. Check your CCR's for prohibitions. Simple improvements, such as new paint or light fixtures, will have a relatively short start-to-finish timeline. For projects requiring a building permit or dirt moving, it may take a couple of months just to get through the procedural hurdles.
Call a designer or architect
Let's use a reverse timeline example of a garage addition to be done by the 4th of July. Following an average schedule, the foundation should be poured around May 15th. The plans should be turned in to the building department by early April. The Engineer should receive the Architect's drawings with topographic survey by early March. This sequence assumes two key facts – your survey was done before snow obscured the property and you have already met with a designer or architect who has turned your vision into plans. If your project does not require dirt moving, for instance, a plumbing and electrical change in the bathroom, then your timeline is reduced. You may still need a building permit and possibly a set of "as-built" (current) plans.
Select a builder or subcontractor
A contractor's bid may seem high compared to the work performed. What are you paying for? Knowing when and how to apply for a permit, purchasing materials, foreseeing problems and scheduling sub-contractors are all things your contractor will do. Remember too that building in the Truckee/North Tahoe area is more highly regulated and challenging than other parts of the country. Local builders know the codes and environment.
Prepare for Construction
Think about recycling your construction waste. Have a backup plan if you will lose use of your kitchen or bathroom during construction. Keep in touch with your contractor and create a paper trail of changes and decisions.
Save time and money, and enjoy your building process. Fill out the "Request Construction Bid" form or select a designer or building professional from the CATT Directory to get the wheels turning. Protect your assets - hire knowledgeable local professionals.