Building your own home is demanding and you need to be able to juggle really well.
Juggling priorities, suppliers, materials and costs as well as the family is a large part of self builds and many people who do end up building a house to live in only find that out half way through the project!
Doing it yourself
Deciding to do it yourself is brave and you’ll need to factor in how it will all affect your family and work commitments before you start. The cost is one thing but it’s those hidden costs that are often forgotten in the planning stages.
It isn’t as easy as just having a day off each week to manage things or securing a decent mortgage from the bank. Your job that currently provides your income to secure the family and the mortgage has to come first. If you’re not earning the money because your time is used up managing and worrying over the building of your new home, it will be a false economy.
Project managing the building of a home means you will probably be on site most days and will have to be available for suppliers and workers to contact all the time.
You will need to be accurate about accounts and ordering, ensure the cash flow is on time to enable delivery of materials and pay builders. You’ll also need to be a good people manager to deal with the suppliers and builders and ensure that they’re always working so your time on the job isn’t wasted. When you build, time is money.
How will you compare supplier prices and quotes? Do you know what should be in the quotes? Can you account for price fluctuations on the final product delivered? Do you understand enough about planning permission – even for extensions – not to jeopardise your own build?
Handling the details
Planning is a vital part of project management on a newly built house. Problem solving is essential on a daily basis and it doesn’t solve anything to let an issue remain unsolved.
If you are determined to project manage your own construction project then here are a few tips that might help:
1. Keep to the plan
Don’t let suppliers set you back. Be firm about deadlines and delivery of work and materials upfront. Compare costs upfront and don’t be shy to haggle a little on prices.
2. Build in stages
Your funding will come through in stages so it’s wise to plan to build in stages too. Draw up your stages on a board so you can monitor them. Name them. There are groundworks, brickwork/blockwork, frame completion, second fix work. Go through each stage and name it and add it to the list and assign completion dates to each to work towards. Make everyone aware of your deadlines.
3. Maintain a tidy site
A tidy site is a tidy build. If you look organised your builders and suppliers will believe you know what you’re doing. If you’re going to manage the build you need to have their respect from the start. Aside from that, you need a safe site and clear space for deliveries and work to be carried out.
4. Put it in black and white
Keep records of everything! No handshakes on delivery dates or orders. Get promised supply notes, quotes, final invoices, material specs, and ensure that all verbal agreements are followed up in writing by letter or email with a disclaimer that states that they are deemed agreed to if not responded to otherwise within 24 hours. Your filing has to be impeccable or you may find yourself not able to defend an order.
5. Be pedantic at the beginning to save money later
One of the most time and money consuming parts of a new build is when the owner wants to alter something. Straying from the original design costs money so, it’s worth spending a few extra hours or days on the design stage to save you huge amounts of cash later. Even small amendments like changing the position of a door is more expensive than you allow for!
If you feel, at any stage of building your new home, that you’re not coping or just finding it all too stressful, call a professional project manager.
Experience is the key in construction and a strong project management company with recommendations you can check on are worth their weight in gold – well, time and money actually!