Double check everything; it's a simple rule and easy to forget. And it only takes one little slip to cost a contractor a chunk of cash. Fred Bueler (Big50 1994) found that out a week into what should have been a simple bathroom addition. Bueler Inc.'s crew had already demo'd the space and were ready for rough-in when his lead carpenter noticed an important red-lined item. Everyone else had missed the note because they had been working from the original plans instead of those reviewed by the code enforcer.

It seems the regulator who had reviewed the plans, in issuing a permit for the project, stipulated that Bueler expand the water service entry into the house. A simple enough task, but one that added about $5,400 in costs that hadn't been accounted for.

“The project shouldn't have been started without us telling the homeowner that the city wouldn't sign off unless we expanded the water service,” Bueler says. “But once it was demo'd, we were kind of committed. It would have cost us $5,000 to put the bathroom back the way it was.”

Did his crew get an earful about the importance of double checking everything? Bueler just laughs. “It's really the office, though,” he says. “This shouldn't have even gotten to the field under those circumstances. The first thing you should do when you get a set of plans back is double check them for any special requests from the code enforcer.”

Bueler, appealing to the sympathies of his client, asked for a voluntary contribution. He got 20%.