Yesterday, I met with James Latham, Capital City Construction to discuss new developments in general contracting and how they serve homeowners. We found that a repeated theme was how much up front work, such as planning, estimating and design concepts, are expected to be free. Free because, the homeowner can only commit to the next step of process once it has been 'figured out.' A new concept is the Agreement for Preliminary Work which sets out the preliminary services the contractor will supply with a fee for these services. We agree this is a great way to go because the owner gets valuable information from an expert to make decisions on how to proceed and the contractor gets paid for his assistance which goes a long way to his/her truly looking out for the owner's best interests.