(9.) Four copies of the plans and specifications should be prepared; blue prints of the plans are made from the original tracing paper drawing, and carbon copies of the specifications are made on the typewriter at one writing. The plans and specifications should then be placed in the hands of building contractors of good reputation, for competitive bids, and say five days should be allowed in which to file bids, all to be filed by a certain hour of a certain day, the owner reserving the right to reject any and all bids, it being understood that the successful bidder shall sign the required contract and give satisfactory bond. The contract for the entire work should be let to one responsible contractor, as this places the entire responsibility of executing the work upon one person, and is the only way in which one may know in advance just what the work will cost when completed. Knowing the cost in advance presupposes that the owner has given thorough study to the minutest detail, and has had everything requisite to a complete house embodied in the plans and specifications. All special mill work and interior finish will add to the cost; if "stock" mouldings and "stock" sizes of doors, sash, etc., are used the cost can be kept down.
(10 After the contract has been let, the job should be properly superintended. It is scarcely possible for the owner to realize the value of the plans through his own efforts, as this presupposes that he knows the various qualities and kinds of materials, and the several methods of construction as well as, or better than, the contractor. The architect or contractor who prepared the plans and specifications ought to make the best superintendent, as he is well acquainted with what is required; but where the superintendent does not inspect the work oftener than once in every two or three days or once a week, the workmen can cover up a good deal of inferior work in the meantime. Where the job is of sufficient size to warrant doing so, the superintendent should be on the ground all the time. In any case, the owner should give as much attention as possible to the work; he will thereby gain a knowledge of the construction of a building and the satisfaction of seeing what has actually gone into such construction in the case of his own building. The standards of excellence of contractors vary as does their characters. Some men are naturally thorough and honest in executing work; others are slipshod and indifferent; as their natural tendencies are, so their work will be.
(11 The successful bidder should sign the contract.
Under the California law where the cost of the construction, alteration or repair of any structure exceeds one thousand dollars, the contract or some memorandum thereof must be in writing, and be subscribed by the parties thereto, and contain the names of the parties, a description of the property, a statement of the general character of the work to be done, the total amount to be paid, the amounts of the partial payments, together with the times when such payments shall be due and payable; but at least 25 per cent of the whole contract price must be made payable at least thirty-five days after the final completion of the contract. No part of the price must be made payable or be paid in advance of the commencement of the work. See Form No. 49, as to when installments on the contract price are ordinarily made payable as the work reaches certain stages of completion. The owner and contractor should each sign his name on each page of the plans and specifications by way of identification. As reference must be made in a building contract to the plans and specifications, such a contract, for the purpose of filing, as hereinafter mentioned, consists of the contract and the plans and specifications, and the contract so constituted, before any material is hauled on the ground or the work commenced, should be filed in the office of the County Recorder of the County where the property is situated. The filing should follow, but not precede, the filing of a mortgage on same premises to raise money with which to build. One dollar is the fee for filing. If the provisions of the law are not complied with, the contract is wholly void and no recovery can be had thereon by either party.
(12.) Formerly, the law required that a bond, equal in amount to at least 25 per cent of the contract price, must also be filed as a part of the contract, but the Supreme Court has recently declared the bond to be unnecessary. As such bonds continue to be filed, however, the form thereof is shown in No. 50.
(13.) The object of filing the contract (including the plans and specifications) is to shield the owner from liability to laborers, material men, and sub-contractors beyond the amount of the contract price, and to afford all persons who desire to know information as to whether or not the price, times of payment and terms of the contract will be adequate security for the labor or materials about to be furnished.
(14.) Payments should be distributed over the work as indicated in Form No. 49, and if the architect is supervising the work, should be made on his certificate as in said form indicated. If the owner is superintending the job, he should take the names of all laborers working thereon, and of all parties furnishing materials therefor, and as each installment becomes due the contractor, the owner should ascertain if all such parties have been paid the proportionate part due them up to that time. In some cases, the contractor is required to turn in receipts for certain payments before payments are made to him by the owner. The owner should be very careful not to make any payments to the contractor until the times when they are due under the contract. The owner should obtain from the contractor all inspection certificates for plumbing, wiring, etc.
(15.) Within ten days after the building is completed, the owner must file a notice of completion. (See Form No. 51.) The owner should retain in his possession for thirty-five days after filing the notice of completion, twenty-five per cent of the contract price with which to meet any bills or claims not paid by the contractor.