Why use a project manager

 

You may be asking yourself why use a Project Manager on a refurb project?

Everyone has watched Homes Under The Hammer. There are numerous episodes where budding property developers with no experience buy a property to refurbish and decide to Project Manage it themselves

9 times out of 10 they will make a disaster of it. They will only be saved by the builders taking charge and rising house prices

This does them no favours as now they think they are successful Project Managers. They then eagerly rush off to make a mess of the next project

Project Management is a highly skilled profession

If you are investing several hundred thousand pounds into a project and have no experience why would you take the chance of trying to manage it yourself?

Project Managers aren’t cheap but whatever it costs you to employ one they should save you at least that much in total project costs. They can do this by making your project more efficient and reducing waste in time and materials. Not to mention the headache they will save you

An experienced project Manager will understand the  6 Key Areas Of Project Management

Your PM will ensure that all resources are ready and a comprehensive work plan is in place before a project starts

He will be able to manage the logistics and will be able to forsee problems in advance. A good PM will take steps to mitigate these issues by replanning and rescheduling different tasks when needed

He will be experienced in a diverse range of projects. And will have a good understanding of Quality Assurance and construction materials.

He will be able to monitor the progress of works and monitor cashflow. Also he will have connections in the industry that he can call on for advice. And he will be able to call up extra resources if the project gets in trouble. An experienced PM will be used to dealing with builders. And he will know all the little tricks they use to cut corners and hide things.

Its not so much that he will know how to manage the project. It’s the fact that he will have seen projects go wrong in the past and will know how to overcome problems when they arise. This knowledge can be essential in rescuing a project that has run into trouble

But most importantly he will be protecting your investment

He is there to make sure your project comes in on time and on budget. Regardless of how many problems he has to overcome. Property investment can be a risking business. It makes sense to hire a professional and take some of the risk out of it. It also gives your investors extra assurance. They will be more comfortable knowing their investment is in the hands of a professional

We have previously dealt with the subject of  How to work with a Project Manager . Communication between the client and the PM is essential. You both need to know what theother expects of you. Agree on some guidelines before you start

Our Project Managers are all experienced and are members of the Association for Project Management. If you need help with managing your project please get in touch here. Once you have worked with us you wont be asking “Why Use A Project Manager on a refurb project?”

 

 

 

5 most common planning mistakes

 

These are the 5 most common planning mistakes that we see

There are a lot of horror stories around planning permission so if you are going to need it its essential that you get it right. Get it wrong and it could cause serious delayings to your project and prove extremely expensive

If you are getting an Architect to design your project it is always a wise move to ask them if they have experience in dealing with the local council. If they have ask them to take charge of your planning application

Also you should be aware that once you submit a planning application you have no control over how long it takes

It depends on the complexity of your application and how busy the planning department are

You should expect a delay of 6 weeks at the minimum. But you may be waiting 6 months or sometimes several years

For this reason it is essential that you work with someone who has dealt with your local planning office before

Not using the pre APP with the local council.

People don’t want to use this as they feel it is extra cost. This gives a chance for the council to consider your proposal and give an indication of if it will be accepted and if not why. This could mean months of appeals during which you will not be able to change the design. The pre APP decreases risk. It allows you to change your design to one that will be accepted on a full application

Misuse of permitted development rights.

PD is not always the best route to take. It means you have to limit your design to the constraints of PD. Sometimes builders will push people not to go for full planning. They either don’t understand the process or don’t want to wait. Make sure you get independant advice from a Professional

Using PD and not getting a certificate of lawful development.

This is a certificate that says your development has been constructed with all the correct permissions and documents from the planning office and building control. This will cause serious problems when you go to sell or refinance the property if you dont have it.

Not knowing local constraints.

These could be conservation areas, article 4 areas, listed buildings, protected viewing corridors. Each area in the country is different. Work that was carried out without any objection in one part of the country may encounter serious objections from the council in another area

Poor design.

When making a planning application you are putting forward a reasoned argument for why your application should be approved. So a good design should be included. Some firms say they specialise in this and have local planning knowledge, and they may well have a successful track record of getting planning applications approved. Planning knowledge is essential but without good design it is useless. Again this is an area where working with an Architect who has experience in dealing with the local planning department is very useful

These are only the 5 most common planning mistakes people make. However there are many more

At Evbi Projects we have experience in dealing with planning applications so please contact us with any queries you may have here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

measure twice cut once

Measure twice cut once what does this means?

It is a phrase that anyone in the construction industry who has done an apprenticeship will be familiar with. It means it is a lot easier to measure something and just check the measurement again before you cut it. That’s better then measuring it once then spending 20 minutes cutting it by hand and finding out it is too short and having to cut again

The cost of mistakes

Measuring mistakes can be very costly and cause significant delay to a project. If you measure the window openings half an inch too wide and get windows specially made and find they are too big that’s going to seriously hurt your budget. You will either have to pay for new windows or pay to have the window openings enlarged. And if you have ordered your concrete in cubic Metres instead of cubic Yards well then you are in trouble. Thats going to be a very costly error

The cost of wasting materials

Building materials are expensive. There is always a certain percentage of waste in any project. You don’t want to add to it by taking poor measurements. To the uninitiated it can sometimes seem as if tradesmen are talking in a foreign language. If the Carpenter tells you he needs a bundle of 2 be 1 batten and you don’t understand what he means be sure to clarify it with him. For clarification this means 2 inches by one inch batten. Don’t go getting him a piece of timber 2 Feet by 1 Foot wide. He wont be impressed and you will be quite a few pounds out of pocket

The impact of waste

Your aim should be to cut waste to the minimum. Wasted materials wont just impact your project financially. It can cause serious problems with the project programme. These are 2 things that you can do without. Both of them will cause you unneeded problems. They will also introduce unneccessary risk into your project

What is Margin Creep ?

You will have an idea how much your project will cost before you start. And you want to keep as close to that as posible. Your builder is obviously going to put a mark up on the cost of labour and materials. This is how he makes his profit. Lets say it costs him £100K and he charges you £120K. This means his margin is 20%. margin creep  means that cost of your your project is constantly rising. It will happen if you are constantly having to buy more materials to replace wasted ones. This could lead to you running out of money and being unable to finish the project. At best it will cause you problems with your cashflow

The impact on the project

Wasted materials can cause hold up’s while you wait for extra materials to arrive. This can end up causing delays in the programme. You may need to rearrange the sequence of activities. This can ultimately mean your project goes past the planned finishing date. All these problems are things you don’t need.

 

We offer a wide range of  services to help people with their projects no matter the size. Please contact us  to see how we can help you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

planning a refurbishment

Before you get started remember that nothing should be arbitrary when planning a refurbishment

When we say this we mean nothing should be left to chance or guesswork. Project Management needs a lot of thought put into it. Otherwise you are just throwing the dice and hoping that the right numbers come up

If you are serious about completing a project successfully then you shouldn’t be plucking numbers out of thin air and hoping that they will be enough. Nor should you be ordering quantities of materials without doing adequate assessments of what you need

Guesstimates

Basing things on “Guesstimates” is a sure road to disaster , wasted time and money and a whole load of headache. A project needs to be planned with defined timescales and accurate cost projections. If you don’t approach it like that then you are just hoping for the best

One of the 6 key areas of successful Project Management is the programme and another one is financial

Programme

You cannot hope to have a successful outcome if the bricklayer tells you that the walls  “should take about 3 weeks but hopefully he can do it a bit quicker”. How on earth can you plan things around that?

You need to break down every single piece of a project into an individual activity. Once you have done that you need to work out a duration for each activity. Activities have to flow in a sequence so there is no lost time. You have to see if any activities can be carried out at the same time without interfering with each other. If you can do that it will shorten the project duration. You also need to leave a bit of spare capacity in the programme in case some activities overrun. This is called  “float”

Finance

You cannot employ a tradesman who says that a piece of work will cost ”about 2 thousand pounds or maybe a bit more but not more then 2 thousand five hundred. You need to have accurate numbers for each activity. If you don’t have this you wont be able to track your spending. Costs could spiral out of control and leave you unable to finish the project.

You could end up having to borrow more money to get the project finished. The additional finance costs could wipe out most or all of the profits.

Cashflow

There will never be accurate cashflow planning if you allow “around 13 thousand for the kitchen”. Cashflow is vital to any project. Its the lifeblood of any project. If it dries up then work will dry up. Numerous projects in the past have been brought to a grinding halt because of this

Summary

Get your numbers and your timescales right. If you are just using arbitrary figures how are you going to measure the efficiency of your project? Remember that a property development project is a business project. You should be looking to maximise efficiency in all areas at all times. Always leave yourself some float in the programme. Also make sure you have a financial contingency

 

At Evbi Projects we have many years of project planning. It’s one of the many  services we offer to our clients. Please  contact us to see how we can help you with your project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do I Use A Builder Or Individual Tradesmen?

Do I use a Builder or individual tradesmen? This is a very common question people ask themselves when planning a refurb project. The answer is going to depend on your level of experience and confidence. As with every decision related to any project there are positive and negative factors with either option

Hiring a builder the positive factors

When you hire a builder for your project he will take responsibility for everything. He will take care of planning the work and hiring the neccessary tradesmen. If there are hold ups he will rearrange things accordingly. He will take care of paying everyone so you will only be dealing with one person regarding money. He will also take care of ordering all the materials and the logistics of delivery.

The builder is going to have a lot more experience then you. Anything you are unsure of you will be able to ask his advice. Also he is going to have a lot of contacts in the industry. It will usually be quicker for him to find additional labour or specialists.

He will take care of all Health and Safety issues on site and will assume liability for CDM 2015

Hiring a builder the negative factors

The builder is not going to organise everything for free. He is going to put a mark up on all labour and material costs. You should factor in a 20% mark up. If you don’t feel confident running a project yourself you might feel this is a price worth paying. In the event you fall out with him and he pulls off the project you could find that everyone goes with him. If the builder doesn’t turn up or is unreliable you won’t be able to contact the tradesmen directly. If you dont’like the performance of an individual you won’t be able to replace them without the agreement of the builder

Hiring individual tradesmen the positive factors

If you hire individual tradesmen you will not be paying a mark up on labour rates. You still might have to pay a mark up on any materials they supply. But you can always agree that you will supply the materials yourself. If you are not happy with the work of an individual you can replace them without upsetting other tradesmen. You will be able to organise the sequence of work as you think best

Hiring individual tradesmen the negative factors

You are going to be responsible for organising everything. If you get the programme wrong this can cause delays to the project. That could end up costing you extra to make up time.

You are also going to be responsible for ordering materials and organising deliveries. If you get this wrong you could find yourself having to pay for people to stand around not working. People can’t be expected to lose money because you can’t organise things properly. The individual tradesmen might not be willing to give you input on the materials that are needed. So you could end up getting the wrong things or not ordering enough

You will be responsible for Health and Safety on site. As a result, you will have to understand your obligations under CDM 2015

You will have to pay everyone individually. This means you will have to verify everyones individual CIS status and pass any deductions on directly to HMRC. You cannot check peoples status yourself, it has to be done by an Accountant. So that’s going to be an additional cost to the project.

If you are not confident of organising everything yourself, there are advantages to hiring a Project Manager. However this is an additional expense. Any savings you make on labour could be wiped out by this

Summary

There are many things that can go wrong on a project. It is easy to lose money if you don’t know what you are doing. If you have confidence and experience you can save a lot of money by organising the labour and buying materials yourself.

However a few simple mistakes can wipe out all the profit from a project. Therefore if you are not confident it might be worth paying a builder the mark up to be free from the worry and hassle of doing it yourself. There have been sharp increases in build costs  this year. If you are not following trends in the industry this could come back and bite you

 

We have extensive experience in project planning. It is one of the many services  we offer. If you would like to know how we can help you please contact us

 

 

 

 

 

Common mistakes refurbishing property

Here are the 6 most common mistakes people make when refurbishing property

If we wanted to write an article about all the mistakes people make it would be several thousand words long

You name it and someone has made that mistake

Mistakes are made for all different reasons

They don’t have to be the end of the world but some can be disastrous

There are many do’s and don’ts when refurbishing property

There are many common mistakes but here is our top 6

 

Underestimating your budget

It is crucial to know how much your project is going to cost before you start and to have an additional cash reserve as a contingency fund to deal with unexpected problems

If you get this wrong you can run out of money before the project is finished or have to change the design or spec thereby ending up with something you don’t like or didn’t want

Another 50 quid here, another 100 there , another £1000 on repainting the outside of the house all adds up and before you know it you are in serious trouble

You cant guess how much you will need. You need precise figures. Nothing should be arbitrary

 

Cutting corners

Many people think they can use cheap labour to get their project finished. This is ALWAYS a false economy

Skilled tradesmen charge a certain rate because they are experienced and know what they are doing

People say I want a cheap builder. But they dont need one. What they need is a good builder

You cannot expect to get the same results by using unskilled/semi skilled labour

The same goes for using inferior building materials or trying to hide defects by just ignoring them and hoping they will be ok

Approach a project in this way and you are guaranteed to get a substandard finished product that looks exactly like what it is

 

No clear idea of end product

You must be clear on why you are undertaking your project

If you are building HMO’s who are the target tenants?

When its LHA tenants it’s a waste of money finishing it to a top spec with all ensuite rooms

If it’s a refurb to sell who are you hoping buys it?

When its for a young family then it’s a waste of time and money building a rear extension and a loft conversion

If its first time buyers there no point doing it to a top spec

You cant just think you will make it really nice and someone will buy it. Eventually someone will buy it but probably far below the price you hoped for

 

Changing your mind

If you want guaranteed headache then wait until your project is in full flow and then change your mind

This has sunk more projects then most things

Doing this will not only drive your builder mad but will almost always cause delays and additional costs

Be clear on what you want before you start and then stick to your plan

Changing your mind will lead to scope creep and margin creep

And these are 2 things you definetly dont want on your project

 

Making it personal

A refurbishment is a business decision and personal preferences should be kept out of it

Your weird and wacky personal tastes are great for your house but may not be shared by prospective tenants or buyers

You might be really interested in solar panels or water recycling systems but if they are not going to make you extra profit then leave them out

If your budget calls for plain white tiles in the bathroom that cost £1 each then don’t replace them with beautiful Italian marble ones that cost £10 each just because you like them

If it doesn’t add to the bottom line then it doesn’t need to be there

 

Insufficient planning

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

You cannot hope to complete a successful project with insufficient planning and just hope for the best and that you will hopefully be able to overcome any problem you encounter

Every single delay, missing piece of information and problem you haven’t thought how to mitigate will cost you

Everything needs to be in place. Finances, drawings, technical information, labour, alternative labour sources, material suppliers, delivery dates, logistics, plant suppliers, programme of works

Think, think and think again of absolutely everything you need

Think of everything that can go wrong and have a plan to deal with it. Have a back up plan in case that doesn’t work

And once you have done that think again because if it can go wrong it already has to someone else in the past and there is no reason it can’t happen to you

These are the 6 Most common mistakes people make when refurbishing property. However there are many, many more

Good luck!!!

Evbi projects offer a wide range of services . Please contact us if you need any help on your next project