We recently had to deal with a design disaster – a client come to us last week in despair. He had a budget of £400k for a new eco house, £100k of which had already been spent in design fees and now, at the end of the tender process, he finds the lowest bid to build his dream property is £450k. He wanted to know if we could help.
This is not the first time this has happened and it’s certainly not a unique story. The client has invested a lot of time and money to get something he can’t afford to build. His experience is soured before he has even started.
What could be done differently?
Apart from using project management services before he got this far.
1. Be clear about your budget to the architect from the outset.
2. When you get your sketch proposals from the architect ask him if it is going to be in budget – ask him that before you look at the plans and fall in love!
3. Check if his figure includes: fees, VAT, a kitchen and other major fit out items.
4. Get a cost check done by a Quantity Surveyor.
Don’t get me wrong it is not necessarily the architect’s fault. We have met many a client who can’t see the value in paying for a QS to do a cost check. That’s fine but running straight to tender means:
1. More time wasted if it does go wrong.
2. The client is in danger of having to negotiate with a builder to achieve a solution and therefore not get the best price, (if you are going to negotiate, it could be argued that there was little point in tendering)
3. Asking your Architect or advisor to conduct a negotiation with a builder – is this in their skillset and are they able to rationally reduce the extent of his the design?
What did we do for the client in question? We have:
1. Value engineered the design to see if it can be built in a cheaper way
2. Discussed phasing the work so parts complete later
3. Looked at down specing – ie buying cheaper stuff
4. Looked to see if moving to a trade-by-trade approach as opposed to a main contractor could save money
The problem with all these options is that they are a compromise and we are forced to play the role of doctor prescribing unpalatable medicine, great once the medicine is effective, but not so great when you’re in the consulting room!
Do you need help with your home building, renovation or extension? Let us know, we would love to help you!