HOW MUCH YOU'LL SPEND Ski town construction is expensive. Get over it. Costs in Telluride, typical of Colorado resorts, run from $150 per square foot to $450 or more.
FINDING AN ARCHITECT AND CONTRACTOR You are entering into a deep, meaningful relationship; do so carefully. We repeatedly interviewed a half-dozen architects and three contractors. Visit what they have designed and built, and check references.
DEALING WITH CITY HALL You'll be dependent upon your architect and contractor to get you through the paperwork. We selected individuals who had long histories in Telluride.
SEASONAL WORKLOADS There's always a rush for building permits in the spring; apply for yours in autumn. Many homeowners want work finished by Thanksgiving or Christmas; set your deadlines for off-peak times.
STAYING ON BUDGET With a fixed bid, the contractor promises to build your house, as drawn, for a flat fee. With a negotiated contract, the contractor makes an estimate based on the plans, budgeting A for cabinets, B for bathroom fixtures, and so on, and then adds his fee. So when you pick the bathroom lights, you must stay within the figure you're given.
STAYING ON TIME This is a dance. The contractor leads; the homeowner must follow with timely decisions. The critical element is subcontractors. Our contractor paid subs immediately, enticing them to show up on time.
REVIEW CONTRACT WITH LAWYER A common safeguard: Retain a portion of each monthly bill-say, 10 percent-until the next month, to ensure everything gets done.
FIXING PROBLEMS A reputable contractor guarantees work for a reasonable period of time (often a year). When the in-floor heating didn't work, the dining room ceiling was flooded and the windows bulged, it was the contractor's job to fix and pay for problems.
MOVING IN You will get a CO before your house is done. Relax about getting it all finished, but make sure you can hold the final payment until the punch list is completed.