Everyone has their own idea of what a big job is. If capital monies are being expended that’s one definition. Another is a job that does not get done more often than every five years. Another is just a dollar amount. Either way a board would be unwise not to call in an expert at some juncture of the process. Using an n architect to design and bid out and then supervise the work is obviously both effective and costly. Hiring a consultant to draw up bids specifications, review the proposals and perhaps a final walk through may be cheaper.
Using the specifications of a trusted vendor to seek alternative bids is a tad unfair but very much the practice in this industry. We used to have an architect on staff but did not have enough major work to keep him busy. The single most important arena is the bid specifications. Proper specifications save a bundle in change orders, and ensure apples to apples bids. If they are prepared professionally with all the workmanship and cleanup, warranty and payment options included leaves less chance of miscommunication. Many a proposal asks for instance, for more than 10% of the initial contract price up front. This is illegal but many associations are paying in advance of work done. We came across a roofing contract where there were 3 buildings. All the material was neatly stacked on one roof and no work was done before a bill was presented for preparation. We were not the managers at the time but were on site to make a proposal for management when we pointed out that the materials were visible from the street. The bill was promptly denied and we became the managers. The filing of liens is something to be careful about also. When it comes to paint projects hiring a paint manufacturer to draw up the specifications can be invaluable, as that company will examine the work in progress to validate the manufacturers warranty. Checking the work in progress is essential especially if the contract seeks partial payment at the end of certain stages of the contract. It has been my experience that a general contractor, site coordinator or licensed professional not involved in the project but hired to supervise it to whatever degree the associations chooses is worth their weight in gold coin.