Looking for Building Project Management in Surrey? If so, you’re not alone! Surrey is an extremely popular county, and our building project managers are kept very busy with the many projects they oversee.

A recent report claimed that Surrey took 4 out of the 10 top places to live by London commuters. Dorking, Weybridge, Woking and Redhill were all named as offering the perfect combination of a speedy commute, beautiful housing stock with excellent local facilities and a good choice of schools. The property market is buoyant, but prices are still good value compared to comparable areas in London itself. No wonder that so many of our clients are choosing to move to, or within, Surrey and then invest in their properties for the long-term.  Over the years we’ve project managed dozens of self-builds and renovations as well as major extensions and remodels in Surrey.

However, carrying out a major building project is a significant undertaking. Even projects that are relatively small – such as a extension or renovation of your home need to be closely managed. But the question is by whom? Should you risk having a go yourselves, get your architect or builder to do it, or choose an independent building project manager? In this blog we explain why we believe that instructing an Independent Building Project Manager is the best choice.

Option 1: Doing it Yourself

When deciding if you can project manage yourself, you need to carefully evaluate your unique circumstances. How confident do you feel to find, choose and appoint a builder yourself? Do you know how to set up a building contract? Do you understand the strict legal regulations required to carry out the role of Contract Administrator? Do you have sufficient knowledge of construction to understand your plans, and answer your builder’s queries. How much time you can devote to the project? Will you be able to be contacted quickly during office hours and attend site on a regular basis to assess the works, and check the accuracy of the invoices for payment? How patient, or sensitive to stress are you and your family members?

Option 2: Using Your Architect

When considering using your architect to project manage your build it’s important to consider your relationship with him or her, and their own personal qualities. Some of the most talented architects are hugely creative and brilliant at design, but less skilled or interested in managing the more mundane tasks such as processes, people and time. Equally not all architects are experts in the practicalities of everyday construction. Most would also admit that they are not 100% in touch with the latest material or labour rates. Your dealings with them throughout the design stage should give you a feel for their strengths and weaknesses in these areas.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that many architects like to work with their own roster of builders. While this can seem reassuring, the reasons they do this are not always to your advantage. Some architects for example take an introductory fee from the builders they work with. This can risk artificially increasing the value you’ll see from these builders’ tender returns. It can also create a major issue with impartiality if the architect then goes on to manage the building contract. When deciding on whether to appoint your architect to carry out the role of Contract Administrator it therefore makes sense to ask about the nature of their relationship with their contractors.

Option 3: Using the Builder

Many builders will tell you that they ‘do the project management themselves’ and that you do not need a building contract or a project manager. This can be true for very simple, small jobs such as kitchen extensions or loft conversions. However for anything over £50,000 we would strongly recommend you carry out a competitive tender process and draw up a JCT minor works contract. If you proceed without a robust specification, a comprehensive quotation and a formal building contract you are extremely likely to have major problems in terms of build quality, project overspending and the relationship with your build team.This is true however well-respected your builder is, as the initial quotation you receive is unlikely to match the final value of the bill for building works. If you do not have an impartial third party in place to check any cost changes mid-project your builder will be free to quote you whatever figure he likes for them. In our experience 90% of the clients who build without a project manager overspend their build budget by over 20% – which can be a large sum and a major source of stress and anxiety for the you when you least need it.

Option 4: Using an Independent Building Project Manager

Independent building project managers don’t actually design or build homes themselves, but they know a lot about both disciplines. This independence is their strength, and is what we believe makes them the best choice for most projects. It means they can review the plans with impartiality – checking for errors or omissions, and that the designs are sufficiently detailed to enable the builder to use them onsite. It also means that they can point out any elements that may be difficult, or expensive to build, to ensure that you as client are aware of any potential cost savings. A truly independent building project manager will also be fully transparent about builder selection. This means that there will be no favouritism or introductory fees – meaning you will pay less, and can be assured that any decisions both on contractor selection and valuations onsite will be 100% impartial.

Independent building project managers are by their nature experts in construction, but who are also accomplished organisers and facilitators. They should be highly experienced and qualified, and possess excellent communications skills. They should have a sound understanding of modern methods of construction and the latest materials. They should also be very knowledgeable on legislation such as the latest building regulations and the legal requirements of the role of Contract Administrator. They should be fully insured and have a backup support team to cover for any periods of holiday or illness. When choosing an independent building project manager to appoint it’s important that you check this is the case and consider all of these qualities in your final selection.

But if you don’t want to take our word for it, then consider the wise words of Grand Designs expert, Kevin McCloud.

The Project Manager is the most important role after the architect: one individual who takes the responsibility for seeing the whole project through from start to finish. The best team arrangement is, in my view to employ an architect, an independent project manager and a builder or set of sub-contractors.”
from Kevin McCloud Grand Designs Handbook

We hope we’ve given food for thought.

Are you planning a major building project in Surrey? If you’re interested in finding out more about what CLPM could do for you then get in touch. Call 01923 896550, email info@cl-pm.com or complete contact form today.

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CLPM Project Managers cover London, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and West Sussex. Energy Consultancy and Cost Advice services available across the UK.
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