I’m in the planning stage of an architecturally designed whole-house remodel. It’s a big job for us — about $400K — but I’m seeing a few caution flags. The architect has never done a project this large before, and the drawings he’s provided are a little rough. I’m concerned about coming up with a solid cost estimate, and although I’ll be approaching it as a cost-plus job with a ceiling, I wonder about the potential for being dragged back and forth between the architect and the client. How do I manage expectations while staying on good terms with everyone?

A.Paul Eldrenkamp, owner of Byggmeister, a design-build remodeling company in Newton, Mass., responds: First, don’t ease off on your marketing and sales efforts, because that $400K job could disappear in a flash. Given the architect’s limited experience, the finished design could easily exceed the client’s budget once everything is factored in....

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