Excavation contractor Tom Gebhardt says remodelers just need to remember a few key steps to make his work more efficient. The owner of Gebcon, in Germantown, Md., says, first, they should provide accurate foundation plans. "If dimensions are not on the page I'm working from, it eats up my time trying to locate them," he says. He worked on one job where the foundation plan had no dimensions and he had to transfer the numbers from the second and third level plans. In another instance, he had to wait a few hours for the project manager to contact the architect before he could set the footings.

Gebhardt also notes that it would be helpful for crews to use layout dimension lines that can be quickly re-established. When he is excavating, he lays out the lines three times -- first, to see where the addition will be; second, when he digs or excavates; and last, when he's setting the footings. He suggests installing a 2x4 nailed horizontally to stakes that are marked with nails. This way, he can pull a string from board to board to set the perimeter of the addition. "Bricklayers and carpenters can also use them," he says. "This way, everyone is laying out from the same dimensions."

Some smaller details remodelers should remember are to inform neighbors when noisy excavation work is scheduled and to keep the site clean and free of scaffolding and materials.