Good builders are easy to find

Here is a statement you don’t often hear. Good Builders Are Easy To Find

The usual complaint is that good builders are hard to find. True some are better then others and its true that some are bad. But getting a good performance out of any builder will depend on your skills and ability to manage them

A bad workman blames his tools. When you are in charge of a project the builders are your tools. The main complaints are that a builder is either unreliable, incompetent, not punctual, overcharges, produces shoddy work, wont come back to finish the job among other things

My builder is no good

Time and again people say my builder is no good . But all these issues can be dealt with if you manage them properly. It starts with your due diligence on the builder. Have you checked that he has the experience to handle your project and he is in a financial position to finance it until you pay him?

Then you have to have the job ready and prepared for him. Have you given him all the information he needs? Have you made sure the site is ready and clear for him? This is part of you being a competent client

Do you know your numbers as a client?

Don’t complain that he overcharges if you haven’t done enough research on what labour and materials cost. You cant guess at how much work needs to be done and how much it will cost

You must have accurate costings before you start. Don’t just have a set amount you can spend and be paying out as the project goes along, hoping it will end up less then your budget

The work is not up to standard

You cant just hope for a good standard of work. It’s important to schedule regular quality inspections. Before you sign a contract with a builder, you need to ask him what his systems are to ensure quality work. All good building companies will have these

Defective work will not only cost more to rectify, it will also slow a project down. If you don’t know what Quality Assurance is don’t complain about the standard of his work

Having the right contract

Have you chosen the correct contract before work starts? If you don’t have the right contract no wonder he is running rings round you

Have you agreed payment terms with him before he starts? Or are you just giving him money when he asks for it? Payment terms should be stated clearly in the contract

If you have paid him most of the money and there is still work outstanding can you be sure he will return to finish the job? If you have the correct contract it will have retention amounts stated in it specifically to deal with this kind of issue

The tender process

This is the process before a project starts and you are getting prices from builders and interviewing them to see who is best for your project

When you interviewed him did you make it clear you expected him to be on time and to be there for a full day every day? The builder is a member of your workforce and as such needs to be managed properly and told what is expected and acceptable

Did you leave sufficient time to interview several builders? Or was it all a last minute rush and you hired the first one you could find?

When problems first started did you nip them in the bud? Or did you allow them to snowball? If you didn’t deal with them, can you say it’s all the builders fault?

When you have done all your preparation properly and asked the right questions, then the only builders you should have left to choose from are good ones

If you need help with finding good builders, contracts, Quality Assurance or any other issues please contact us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 key stages of a project

 

There are 5 key stages of a project that you should be aware of

If you approach a project with these in mind you will have more chance of a successful outcome. Doing this has several benefits. Firstly you will make sure that you havent missed any options. Secondly, once work begins all the key people involved will understand how the project has evolved from the start

Feasibility study

This is where you present your idea to the people who you have chosen to deliver your project. Typically these would be the Architect/Designer/Consultant you have engaged. However it’s important to have the right team involved when you are discussing this . This is where ideas are discussed and rough sketches are made. Also options can be discussed and changes made to the original design

Outline Design/Planning

Once you have assessed the feasibility of your project, drawings will be submitted with a Planning application,  or notice given to the Council under permitted development rights. Also it will indicate the design, what kind of materials you will be using and the scope/size of the project

Building Control

You are legally obliged to inform Building control of certain activities and if that is the case this is the stage where you will submit detailed drawings for their approval. Planning drawings only show an outline of your intended project. Building control drawings will be more detailed and will have technical details included

Tender Stage

Once you have received approval from Building Control this is the stage where you will be able to send tender documents to contractors for them to give you prices to do the work. These documents should contain as much information as possible. You should include things like the scope of works, the materials you want used , the standard of finish, a specification document and a full set of drawings. This will allow them to accurately price for the job. Once prices have been received and accepted these drawings will become the contract set. These are the drawings that the project will be completed to. These are sometimes called the Construction drawings. Make sure that as the project progresses you are using the right drawings

The Construction Phase

This is where it all comes together. If you have got the preceeding steps right you should be on your way to completing a successful project. As a result you will be glad that you spent time preparing properly

If you need any help planning a project please contact us. We will be happy to talk to you about The 5 key stages of a project. We offer a wide range of services for any project regardless of size

 

 

6 key areas of project management

There are 6 key areas of Project Management that you must be in control of if you are managing the project yourself

We have previously discussed  Why use a Project Manager

But if you have decided to do it yourself there are 6 areas you must concentrate on

  • Scope
  • Schedule
  • Finance
  • Risk
  • Quality
  • Resources
Scope

The scope of the project is everything that is involved from start to finish. It is essential that you understand every single activity that is involved. If you don’t your project could end up costing more and taking longer then you allowed for. If you do not keep within the original scope you run the risk of entering into  Scope creep. This is the last thing any Project Manager wants

Schedule

This is the order in which the work is done. It is where you make or break the project before it even starts. This is sometimes called the Programme. A well prepared schedule will allow you the flexibility to rearrange activities if problems occur. But if your schedule is too tight you are fighting an uphill battle from day one

Finance

For obvious reasons Finance is a key element of any project. The aim is to get maximum value out of every single pound spent on your project. Cost efficiency in material procurement and labour sourcing are essential, as is cashflow planning. A cost loaded programme can be invaluable for this. Also sufficient financial reserve must be allocated to be deployed if needed .This will ensure delays are minimised if you need to accelerate the programme, or supplement planned logistics or increased demand for materials

Risk

Any project has risks. These may be financial in the form of budget overrun, disallowed costs, scope creep or enhanced labour rates. If you are using investor or bridging finance the consequences could be serious. The other risk is time. If you go over the allocated  time on one particular activity that will impact your schedule. It may also cause contractors to leave to go to other jobs leaving you unable to finish the project

Quality

The Quality Assurance process is an essential but frequently overlooked part of a project. On smaller projects where the subcontractors are all on a price and  margins are tight it’s a particular problem. There may be a tendency to prioritise speed of installation over quality. Particularly where work is hidden under floorboards, above ceilings or behind walls. A good project manager will be experienced in all the different trades and know what to look out for. As well as having a good understanding of all the relevant Building Regs and British Standards. An essential part of a good project is to have an Inspection and Test plan (ITP). This  monitors the quality of the project. It is not wise to just take the subcontractors/builders word that everything has been installed correctly

Resources

A good project manager must have sufficient resources organised before the start of a project. These include all subcontractors and Professionals that may be needed as well as Suppliers and alternative supply chain if necessary. Logistics, drawings, technical information and financial resources. Trying to find these in the middle of a project when everything has gone wrong is not a good place to be

 

These are the 6 key areas of Project Management. But there is a lot more to being a successful Project Manager. You need to take a holistic view of the whole project. When it goes wrong everyone will be looking at you. No matter what, you have to get the project over the line. So plan well and keep on top of everything once the project starts

 

If you need help with managing your project contact us. Take a look at our services  page. All our team are members of the Association for Project Management

 

 

 

 

Enviromental damage on a construction project

Enviromental damage on construction projects

As a property developer there are many things you will have to consider

It’s not just finance or construction there is a lot of legislation as well

A significant piece refers to Enviromental damage

There are many things you have to consider when you are planning to set up a site

You must consider if your refurb/ development project poses any harm to the enviroment. Most importantly you have to understand that any spillage of a substance, however small, can cause harm to the environment.

Why are spillages dangerous?

A spillage will either seep directly into the ground and ultimately into a water course or flow directly into a water course via a surface drain. Spillages leaking into the ground contaminate the soil and can lead to harm to flora and fauna. Spillages that enter a water course can unsettle or even permanently damage the ecological balance of a river

One of the main hazards on a site is diesel used for mobile generators. These should always have a spillage kit with them. If diesel is accidentally split, a spillage kit will be able to limit the amount of enviromental damage it causes. Where a spillage does occur then it is important to act immediately to contain it and preventing it leaking into the surface drainage. Make sure you know where spillage kits are stored. Make sure you know how to use the spillage kit. Always dispose of the recovered spillage as hazardous waste correctly

Spillages are caused by:

  • Hoses in poor condition bursting
  • Joints not tightened leaking
  • Overfilling tanks causing spillage
  • Filling up tanks in windy conditions and not using a funnel

Spillages can be avoided by:

  • Planned maintenance
  • Pre-use inspections.
  • Following filling instructions
What other things can cause enviromental damage?

Cement can cause serious damage to the enviroment. Therefore, care must be taken when cleaning out cement mixers, and the contents must never be tipped on the ground. They should be emptied into a wheelbarrow and the contents poured in a skip

Paint should not be poured down drains, excess paint should be put in the skip or disposed of at a recycling centre

If concrete is spilled on the pavement when being moved from a concrete lorry it must not be swept into the drains. It must be shoveled up and thrown in a skip

And as for Asbestos dont even think of disposing of it with general site waste. Asbestos must be removed and disposed of by a licensed contractor

If you get caught polluting the environment the authorities will come down hard on you

If you would like to discuss any of the above please contact us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why a low price from a builder can be as bad as a high price

When accepting tenders from builders a lot of people will get 5 or 6 prices and go with the lowest one

People are always wary of being overcharged

But that doesn’t always mean the others are overpricing and you have picked the best builder

Sometimes it means the opposite

What could a low tender mean?

If a builder puts in a price substantially lower then the others, there could be several reasons for it

One of them is that he has underestimated how much work is involved

He may be inexperienced and be overconfident in his abilities

Or he may not have done this particular job before and doesn’t realise the potential problems that may occur

How can this affect your project?

If there is 8 weeks work there and he says he can do it in 5, you are going to be making other plans for when he has finished

If he doesn’t finish when he said he would that may mean you have to delay bringing other tradesmen in to follow after him

This can throw your project programme right out of sequence

Or after 5 weeks he realises he cant finish in time for that amount of money

When he sees that he has another 3 weeks work there he could be asking for more money that you haven’t budgeted for

If you cant give it to him he may walk off and leave you with a half finished job

Then you will need to find more money and possibly someone else to come in and finish it

Another possibility is that he will realise that he cant finish in the time frame he gave you, so he will rush the remaining work and produce shoddy results

A low price can also mean that he hasn’t read the tender documents properly

When he starts work and realises what he has missed, he will be asking for extra money and you may not have  it

Disputes over money are one of the main reasons why people fall out with their builder

Sometimes there is a more sinister reason

The builder may have spotted that you have missed out some crucial elements from the design

For example, he knows full well that these are expensive works that you will have to get done

He wont say anything and tender 5 grand less knowing that there is another 20 grands worth of work needed

Then when he  gets halfway through the job he will then bring your attention to the missing elements

Once he has made you aware of this he will tell you that he cant finish the project unless you agree to these works

That is one situation you don’t want to find yourself in

There are a few examples of this

He may have spotted that your structural design is wrong

It may be that you have asked for the wrong kind of foundations

Or it could be your project is in a conservation area and you want him to do modifications that he knows are not allowed

This is not to suggest that the majority of builders are like this. Far from it

However its an unfortunate truth that far too many people have found themselves in situations like these

 

We offer many services  to help people no matter how large or small

If you need help with an accurate price for a project contact us