One of the biggest areas of neglect that we see consistently is exterior paint maintenance. Usually by the time there is visible cracking and chipping in the surface of your paint there is already moisture and damage beneath the paint. Even when using the most durable products a paint job will only offer effective protection for approximately 6-7 years. We recommend having a house painted every 5 years to ensure constant protection from the elements. It is much cheaper and wiser to maintain the paint than it is to repair the damage that will be done otherwise!
We discovered this board underneath a new fascia board on a job we recently finished. Someone had covered this rotting wood with a new face board without replacing the damaged board. It is always a good idea to be involved and to check up on anyone that you hire to work on your house. Don't be afraid to ask questions about the work being done or the products being used. It never hurts to do your own research and be informed about the products and processes of home improvement and maintenance.
It is always a good idea to have a plan set on paper. When a project requires a permit you will have to submit a drawing to the permitting department to show the work that is being planned. Usually that plan set can be compiled by a draftsman or designer and an architect is typically not a necessity.
Yes. There is really no room for compromise in this area. Hiring a contractor without liability insurance and worker's compensation insurance will leave you open to the possibility of legal liability should there be any substantial damage or injury while working on your property.