Avoiding Cowboy Builders and Construction Project Disaster
We successfully manage a wide variety of building projects for clients and a significant proportion of these are ‘Rescue Projects’ where we are called in because work has stopped, disputes have arisen or the work on site is not what the client had anticipated receiving.
I visited some friends at the weekend who have just ‘self-managed’ their own ‘refurb’ and extension. Although successful, they now appreciate the many pitfalls that people can fall into and we had an interesting chat over a glass of wine. The list of reasons for people falling into building disaster was something like this:
- Lack of construction experience resulting in underestimating the size and complexity of task and where the risks lie
- Failure to get and take advice on how their project can be successfully managed
- Insufficient permission and agreements such as Planning, Lawful Development, Building Regulations and Party Wall, build over agreements, service and utility connections etc.
- Insufficient detailed information relating to engineering, dimensions and levels, construction techniques, services and products
- Lack of a budget and clear understanding of the costs
- Insufficient contract documentation to describe clearly what is required, what would be delivered, by when and how much it would cost
- Wanting to believe that the project can be delivered cheaply and electing to go with a builder offering a cheap price – who very often does not have enough knowledge and experience to know his / her own limitations
- Indecision or requesting changes that are not then fully followed through to revisions in the project information ahead of building work taking place
- Lack of time at the right time – You need to have time during the working day when others are working
It was suggested to me that there is surprisingly little regulation of the industry but my personal view is that there is plenty of regulation and no shortage of professionals who are able to provide advice. What I believe more clients need to do is take on a lead consultant who can help them navigate this system and co-ordinate and manage the various consultants and tradesmen and of course the clients themselves.
Almost without exception, the ‘Project Rescues’ that I deal with have one thing in common – and this is number 1 listed above – clients do not have sufficient construction experience resulting in them underestimating the size and complexity of task and where the risks lie. If clients don’t then avoid number 2 on the list they will very often fall foul of the problems associated with all or many of the others listed above (3 – 9).
In some cases, clients will become aware and face up to the issues early on, in many cases naivety or pride can lead them to push on, and on, and on…….
We have had to deal with the issues of buildings being built without permission, being built in the wrong place or being built with no thought as to how they may be connected to sewerage and other utilities as well as all manner of financial issues and contractual disputes relating to clients expectations that they were paying for a complete building rather than just part of it or simply paying too much too early and leaving themselves open to a being left without a builder and without the finances to complete.
If in doubt please ask, get advice from a trusted professional and take it. If you haven’t already then my advice would be to do so sooner rather than later. Whilst we are very often able to help clients rescue a project, we rarely undo all of the damage that has been done and in some cases clients can be left bearing significant and avoidable extra costs or at the very least a few extra grey hairs!
We’re available to chat to you about your building mishaps and offer advice. Find us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook or just connect by phone!