What is the difference between fixed price and day rate when hiring a tradesman

When you hire a tradesman to do some work there are 2 different ways they will price the work

These are fixed price or day rate

The easiest way to differentiate these is by the risk involved

On a fixed price the tradesman assumes the risk

On a day rate you assume the risk


Let’s use the example of £200 per day

Imagine you had some plastering to be done

The plasterer may think he can do it in 5 days so gives you a fixed price of £1000

Once he starts he may find the walls are not in as good a condition as he thought and he has to repair them before he can plaster them

He might have a delay in plaster being delivered

His van might break down and he loses half a day

The job might end up taking him 8 days

But he took it on a price so can’t ask you for more money

On the other hand he might have flown through it and finished in 3 days. In this case you still have to give him £1000

And you cant complain that he finished it too quickly and you want to give him less money for it


Now suppose he took it on a day rate

Instead of finishing it in 5 days he takes 8

You now have to give him £1600

There is nothing you can do about it as you assumed the risk

You cant say he should have finished it in 5 days

But if he finishes in 4 days it only costs you £800


That’s why 2 builders will give different quotes for the same piece of work

Its important before starting a project to decide if you will be asking for tenders based on a fixed price or a day rate

You should first do some research into the rates tradesmen charge

You may prefer price work even though it may seem more expensive,  at least you will know your total costs before you start

If you choose to hire people on a day rate  then it’s up to you to push the work along quickly without making mistakes or compromising on quality

There is nothing wrong with either method but its important to understand the differences between hiring a tradesman on a fixed price or day rate

If you would like any help with the above subjects please contact us

Falling out with builders

I have fallen out with my builder!!!

Congratulations! Welcome to the club. Don’t worry about it it’s a big club.

If you are involved in any form of property development or refurbishment for any length of time its inevitable that at some point you will fall out with your builder even ones you have known a long time and worked with before

Disputes with builders can usually be traced back to 2 main issues

The first main issue is money

It is vital that before work begins every single thing has been priced for and agreed

You also must make sure that in the event of any additional work you have made it clear to your builder that they must not proceed before agreeing it with you first

And it is absolutely essential that you agree payment terms before work begins. A lot of people are unsure if they should give their builder money up front

The issue of payments falls under the contract administration of the project. It may be an idea to use a Contract administrator for dealing with the payment side of the project. This will have several benefits. Firstly it means that an experienced professional will be involved to support you. Secondly it will take the personal element out of any disputes with your builder

The issue of money can produce very heated situations. As a result it can quite easily end up with your builder pulling off site and leaving you with a half finished project

The second main issue is miscommunication

You must be crystal clear that your builder knows exactly what he is supposed to be doing

It is your responsibility to make sure he has every single piece of information before he starts

This will include specification documents, drawings, quality standards, timelines and all technical details

If you haven’t given him all this its no good complaining that he is no good or has done things wrong

You will be investing considerable sums of money into your project. However, even if its your first project you must approach it in as professional a manner as possible

That’s why it’s a good idea to sign a contract with a builder. So if there is a dispute you can refer back to the contract

You should document all communications with your builder by email at the very least

It is no good agreeing everything like you are 2 friends with a handshake

You may find yourself in a situation where you have a half finished project and you are desperately scrambling around trying to find a replacement workforce with a looming deadline bearing down on you

Even worse you may have paid them more then you should have done for the work they have so far completed. And now you don’t have enough money to finish the job


If you need help with the contract administration side of your project please contact us and we will be happy to help. We have people who are experienced in contract management and dispute resolution










I want a cheap builder


I want a cheap builder. Thats something that a lot of people doing refurbishments say.

And our answer to that is always the same. Why?

Why do you want a cheap builder? Surely you should want a good builder?

Its understandable if you don’t have much money and something urgent needs doing in your home

But if you are reading this blog you are probably involved in property development.

Therefore it’s only natural to assume that you want to complete the best development not the cheapest

With the recent rise in build costs some developers have been tempted to try and cut corners on their refurb project to keep profit levels up

Now obviously you don’t want to waste money but if you want a certain level of quality there is a certain cost

So why should the builder be cheap?

What do you do for a living?

How about you go to work tomorrow and ask your Boss to drop your wages so he is getting you on the cheap?

What sort of developer are you trying to be? 

We would assume that no matter your budget you are trying to complete the best result possible, but maybe we are mistaken

Are you happy to churn out mediocre developments done on the cheap as long as someone buys it? If you are renting it out does it matter what standard it’s done to as long as someone rents it? Are you trying to match the standards of the professionals? Or couldn’t you care less as long as you make some money?

What exactly is a builder?

A builder is a skilled experienced person who is going to add value to your project

The fact that you need a builder means that you don’t know how to do the work yourself

So why should he use his years of experience to do your job on the cheap?

If you need a cheap builder because that’s the only way your project can work then maybe you should have a think about what you are doing and your best move may be to abandon the project

Is it realistic to think he is going to be happy and perform well if he feels cheated?

Do you think you are going to get any input from him when problems arise that you don’t know how to resolve?

Do you think good builders have cheap rates?

Make sure you don’t get overcharged but pay people what they are worth that way you will get the results you want

If you get a cheap builder the next thing you will be saying is my builder is no good

What are the risks with having a cheap builder?

Numerous studies in the construction industry show that when developers are trying to cut costs several things are sacrificed

The first things to go are safety and quality

One of the main causes of delays and extra expense on projects is poor workmanship leading to reworks

A cheap builder is very unlikely to have robust Quality Assurance procedures. Quality Assurance 

has a key role to play in any project no matter how small

Safety must ALWAYS play a central role in any project regardless of size or budget. Every developer must understand and implement the CDM Regs 2015 in their project. This is mandatory and non negotiable. There is a risk that a cheap builder will not adhere to these

Skilled labour isnt cheap and cheap labour isnt skilled

Always remember this. You get what you pay for. As long as you have a viable deal and you have done your preparation properly you will be able to successfully complete a profitable project to a good standard.

We are unanimous in our opinion that using cheap labour is a false economy on a refurbishment project

Instead of trying to cut costs with the labour, concentrate on improving your skills as a developer. That approach will always pay dividends


If you need help with accurate project costing or subcontractor sourcing please contact us. we have extensive experience with projects of all sizes and offer many services











Quality Assurance in a refurbishment project

Many people are not aware of the role of Quality Assurance in a refurbishment project

Quality Assurance is an integral part of all work at the higher levels of the Construction and Engineering Industry

Is it used on smaller refurb projects?

When you come down to the residential sector its different. On projects such as refurbs and HMO’s it is not given the same importance and this can become a problem

Most people at this level of the construction industry have never heard of an inspection and test plan

Most people are not familiar with manufacturers recommendations, British Standards or Building Regulations

Will the builder take care of Quality Assurance?

When they pay a general builder or tradesman to do a job they just assume that it has been done correctly and all conditions have been adhered to. But that is quite often not the case. Some people want a cheap builder so cant complain when they get poor workmanship.

Just because everything looks nice and works as it is supposed to doesn’t mean that it has been installed correctly. If you cant see it , you wont know if a builder has cut corners

If you have had your house rewired do you know if the electrician maintained the correct spacings when he was drilling through the floor joists? Or when he gives you a test certificate do you know if his test meter has a valid Calibration Certificate with it? Similarly If you have had a copper pipe central heating system installed do you know if the plumber has installed Armaflex on all the pipes or glued the corners? Once the floorboards are down you will never be able to tell. The specification document might say that 2 inch ten screws should be used. Do you know if they have used inch and a half eight screws instead?

When is quality an issue?

Quality can become an issue at any stage of a project. A particular thing to look out for is work done on a pricework basis. Quality Assurance goes out the window in these situations. Sometimes people make mistakes or do something wrong and they try to cover it up. Or inexperienced people take on tasks they are not capable of doing properly. When a project is behind and there is a rush to complete on time and then quality can become an issue

What are the impacts of quality issues on a project?

The main cause of delays on a project are quality issues caused by defective workmanship. These can cause additional expense. They can also hold up following work and throw the whole project programme into turmoil. Other work may have to be removed to get to the particular defective item. Contractors may be unwilling to return to site to fix work they have already been paid for. It can delay completion certificates being issued which means the property can’t be sold. In extreme cases it may mean the project has to be demolished.  That’s why its important that you should employ somebody with Quality Assurance knowledge to oversee your projects


We have several experienced Quality Assurance Engineers in our team. We can prepare an Inspection and Test plan for you to oversee the Quality Assurance process. Please contact us for further details. This is one of the many  services we offer









scaffolding on building project


What scaffold do you need on your project? On a refurb or development project its a critical decision. Scaffolding can be one of the biggest single costs on a project so you need to get it right

Its important to understand what kind of scaffold you need , where on the project and for how long as this will all dictate the cost.

Anyone who is in charge of a construction project regardless of the size has legal responsibilities under the CDM Regs 2015

Safety must ALWAYS come before profit. Anyone wanting to make money out of property developing must know how to run a safe construction site

Why is scaffolding so expensive?

Scaffolding is a labour intensive activity. When you first have scaffold built on a job you will agree with the scaffold company how long it will stay on your project for. The actual hire of the scaffold is not that expensive, the expense is in erecting the scaffold and striking it (taking it down). If the scaffold needs to be modified (mods) this will incur additional expense

What mistakes do people make when ordering scaffold?

People quite often make the mistake of underestimating what they will need. For example they will ask for a scaffold on the front of a building only. Later on they will realise that they need it on the rear as well. Now they have to pay for mods to be carried out and this is where the price shoots up. The scaffold company will only erect the scaffold you ask for so if you forget to ask for something that is not down to them

Does scaffolding need to be checked regularly?

Scaffolding needs to be checked and signed off every week. This is to ensure that no one has altered it and it is still safe to work on. This needs to be discussed before the scaffold is put up to make sure this doesn’t have an additional charge every week. It must also be checked after any bad weather and after any alterations have been made to it. Once a project has finished , details of all scaffold inspections must be kept for at least 3 months

What legislation covers scaffold?

Scaffolding is covered under the work at height regulations 2005

The “Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WHR) states: –

Strength and stability calculations for scaffolding shall be carried out unless—

(a)  a note of the calculations, covering the structural arrangements contemplated, is available; or

(b)  it is assembled in conformity with a generally recognised standard configuration.

How do you know if scaffolding is correctly designed?

There is an industry standard called TG20. This is not a statutory instrument but is usually required on a contract. It has been used in court to demonstrate compliance and good practice. TG20 is well-respected within the Construction Industry and is considered by responsible contractors to be a crucial element of the verification of the scaffolding design process. Any responsible scaffolding company should have no problem producing a TG20 design for a small project. Once it has been erected you should be given a TG20 compliance sheet that shows the scaffold has been built in accordance with the design

What qualifications do scaffolders need?

Scaffolders should hold a card issued by the Construction industry scaffold record scheme. These are known as CISRS cards. There are various grades that can be seen here

Are all scaffold companies TG20 compliant?

The answer to this is no. There are still plenty of independent small companies in operation. If you hire one of these there is no guarantee that the people putting up scaffold on your job will be sufficiently experienced and qualified. In the event of somebody falling from the scaffold or the scaffold collapsing and someone getting hurt it is very likely that there will be an investigation by HSE. If this goes to court questions will be asked as to why a firm like this were hired

How can you be sure a scaffold company is reputable?

It is a good idea to check that any contractor you are thinking of hiring are a member of National access and scaffolding confederation (NASC). Check how much public liability insurance they have, ideally it should be at least £10 million. Ask them to send over copies of the qualifications their men have

The author of this article is an experienced scaffold designer who has worked on major engineering projects all over the world. He has a degree in Civil Engineering and over 30 years experience

If you need help with deciding which scaffold is suitable for your project or we can help you in any other way please contact us 

We offer a wide range of services which you can see here





deaths and injuries in the UK construction industry

Deaths and injuries in the UK construction industry are unfortunately a common occurrence

Last year there were 111 fatalities and over 2000 life changing injuries. The number of minor injuries are too high to count

Anyone who is involved in refurb /development projects, HMO’s or new builds are part of the construction industry.

If you are carrying out these projects on a building that is not your own home then you are classed as being involved in commercial activity

As a commercial client you now have an obligation for health and safety on your projects under the CDM Regulations 2015

What does CDM stand for?

It stands for construction, design, management. This means that when a project is being planned, thought must be given to the impact of every activity on the health and safety of everyone involved  at every stage of the project as well as people not directly involved but who could also be affected by it

Does it only affect large construction projects

The answer is no. Regardless of the size somebody must take legal responsibility for health and safety no matter how small the project

Why does it affect small refurbs and not only large construction projects?

Many people think large construction projects are more dangerous then smaller ones. However it is a fact that quite often they are a lot safer. Although there is a larger workforce and more activities going on, these projects are run by experienced professionals. Everyone involved will have had safety training before being allowed on the site. There will be a percentage of the project cost set aside specifically for health and safety. There will be highly qualified safety professionals actively monitoring health and safety on site. The workers involved will be used to operating in a safety first culture

What makes small refurbs dangerous?

Quite often they are run by inexperienced people. Many people involved in refurb projects have no construction industry background. They will not know how to run a safe construction site.They have no understanding of the potential dangers involved. Health and safety will not have been included in their budget. They will not be able to recognise unsafe behaviour. A lot of them have no experience working with builders and may not feel confident in challenging unsafe behaviour. They will just assume the builders will work safely

Surely the builders will work safely?

Unfortunately that is not always the case. Many studies have been done on the subject of why do people work unsafely ? There are numerous reasons for this. If someone has been working unsafely for years and been lucky enough not to have an accident , then it is very hard to get them to change their ways. Many builders have spent their life working on small projects and peoples houses. As a result they will not have  been exposed to the safety culture of big sites. Other factors can be:

  • Fatigue
  • Tight budgets
  • Pricework
  • Lack of supervision
  • No fear of consequences from Management

What can an inexperienced developer do?

The first thing is to visit the HSE website and read up about CDM here .There are many companies who specialise in CDM for the construction industry. They will prepare a site safety plan for your project and will make periodic site visits to monitor if people are working safely. Always remember that a well organised tidy site is a safe site. Make it clear to your builder before work starts that you expect health and safety to be a priority


If you would like any advice about health and safety or CDM please contact us here . We have decades of experience on the biggest construction projects in the UK and abroad. This is one of the many services we offer

My builder is no good

My builder is no good

We have heard that one before, many many times. But lets have a look at that statement. Why exactly do you say he is no good? A builder is only as good as the information you give him. We are sure that among the many skills he lists on his website he has not included mind reading

How did this situation occur?

Ask yourself a few questions. Are you sure you made it clear to him what you wanted? Was he given  all the right drawings and specification documents? Did you walk through the job with him and go through everything? Or did you meet him prior to starting and sit down and discuss everything?

How did you find your builder?

How did you go about finding your builder ? Many people say its hard to find good builders. But if you do it right good builders are easy to find . But if you say he is no good you have to ask yourself why did you choose him? Did you just take the cheapest quote? Was he the nicest builder who came to quote? Were you looking for a cheap builder? Are you using your friend’s daughter’s boyfriend’s uncle’s mate from down the pub who does a bit of painting in his spare time but also said he was handy at a bit of tiling?

Did you communicate clearly what you wanted?

Be crystal clear on everything

If you want a tiled splashback behind the cooker make it clear that you want it 4 courses of tiles high. If not don’t complain when he tiles right up to the ceiling

When you want the ceiling in the bathroom painted make sure you tell him you want moisture resistant paint otherwise don’t complain when there are big streaks running down the wall after you have had a bath

If you are having a wall knocked out in the kitchen to install French doors make sure you give him a drawing showing the exact location and dimensions. If you just wave a hand and point in the general direction of where you want it he cant be blamed for getting it wrong

And if you change your mind on anything make sure to put it in writing and meet him on site to talk it through rather than just leaving him a voicemail

Are you sure its not your fault?

No one likes to admit they are wrong, but look back at your part in this

Did you under estimate your budget and were forced to try and cut costs by using cheap labour?

Could it be that you have taken on a project that’s too much for you and have got everything wrong and its nothing to do with the builder?


We offer a wide range of services to anyone involved in a project

If you need help with planning, costing, or finding labour for a project please contact us









How to workwith builders on a refurbishment project

How to work with builders on a refurbishment project

When you undertake a refurbishment project one of the most important things is knowing how to work with the builder

There are enough things that can go wrong without falling out with your builder

What do you need to do before work starts?

There are a lot of steps that have to be undertaken before work starts

First of all you have to find a builder

Time needs to be taken with this process

You cant just pick a builder on first impressions

And you should be looking for the best builder not a cheap builder

A cheap quote is not necessarily a good one

When you meet builders they are sizing you up to see if you are a competent client

They are trying to gauge if you will be easy to work with or will be a constant headache

Everyone says good builders are hard to find, is that true?

A common complaint is that people can’t find good builders

But good builders are easy to find if you prepare properly

It all starts at the tender stage

When you invite builders to tender for a job, give them as much information as possible

At the very least give them a detailed specification document, a programme of works and an idea of your budget

It always pays to be honest with the builder about your budget

And you have to understand that the builder needs to make a profit on any job

So when they return with a quote remember he is quoting for the whole job

Don’t try to pick and mix from his quote

And don’t try and barter him down on the price

This isn’t the marketplace where he goes high, you go low and you meet in the middle

The builder is a professional and a businessman so treat him like one

What do you do after you have found a builder you want to work with?

Once you have decided on your builder the next step is to decide on what contract you will use

Remember contracts shouldn’t be one sided they should be fair to both parties

Whatever your obligations are make sure you stick to them

Agree clear payment terms before the work starts

And make sure you pay on time. There is nothing that will cause bad feeling more than late payments

Have everything ready for the builder when you say you will

You need to be giving him all drawings, technical details and designs before the job starts

You might decide the job is too much for you and you are going to hire a project manager

In that case you will have to decide how to work with a project manager

But if its just you and the builder then you are in it together until the end of the job

He is not going to appreciate it if you are checking up on him all the time

Agree times when you will make site visits and stick to them

Don’t just turn up unannounced

And try to schedule site visits when it wont interrupt the work

If you have agreed to supply certain items make sure you stay on top of deliveries

Be ready to take his advice

What if you change your mind once work has started?

If you decide to change your mind halfway through be prepared for the chaos this can cause

It can add delays and costs to the project and lead to margin creep

If it adds more cost to the project don’t expect your builder to absorb this

Make sure before you start that you have an agreed mechanism in place to deal with variation orders or extra’s

If its your decisions that have caused delays you cant say my builder is no good

Make sure you have given your builder the right set of drawings

He will have the ones you sent him at the tender stage. But if there are any revisions it’s your responsibility to pass them on to him

Above all try and work with him not against him

And remember he is not a mind reader. If you see something that you don’t like then say something. Don’t automatically expect him to know what you want

If you need any advice with planning or running a project please contact us

We offer a wide range of services  to help people complete a successful project


Using cheap labour is a false economy on a refurbishment project

Many people think they can complete a refurbishment project on the cheap

They think using skilled tradesmen is too expensive

They think they can do a quality project with semi skilled labour

Why do they think like this?

There are many reasons

They include inexperience and a lack of professionalism

Skilled labour isn’t cheap and cheap labour isn’t skilled

Ask any experienced and reputable contractor and they will say the same

Using cheap labour is a false economy on a refurbishment project

There is a reason skilled tradesmen are able to command high rates

Its because they know what they are doing. They are professionals.

If it was so easy to produce quality work, everyone could do it.

No one would bother doing an apprenticeship or spend years at college

Not knowing how to correctly estimate costs

If the only way your deal can work is by using cheap labour, then the deal isn’t that good

You either don’t have a realistic idea of what tradesmen charge

Or you have underestimated the extent of work needed

Some people thing using a professional is expensive

Well just wait until you have tried using amateurs

One of the main reasons any project is delayed and goes over budget is down to poor workmanship

When work has to be redone, sometimes more then once it can wreck a project

It can cause endless headache for a Project Manager

Is a Project Manager an uneccessary cost?

A lot of people think using a Project Manager is expensive

They cant see the benefits of using a Project Manager and try and do it themselves

Then you have the disastrous situation of an amateur project manager using cheap labour

When people complain my builder is no good there is usually more to it then the builder being no good

You will usually find that before that they were saying I want a cheap builder

The moral issue

Using cheap labour is not only extremely unprofessional it is morally wrong

It exploits those in the most deperate circumstances

It undercuts skilled tradesmen who pay tax

The benefits of paying for skilled labour

When you employ professional tradesmen you are not only getting a good standard of work.

You are also getting the benefit of all their experience.

When they encounter a problem they will find a way around it.

Cheap labour wont know what to do and will wait for you to tell them.

Or they will just continue and make the problem worse

Skilled tradesmen will reduce the cost of a project. Firstly they will save you money by being efficient and doing the job right first time. Secondly they will take a lot of the stress and worry of a project away from you

If you have a project coming up that you need help with contact us. We can show you how to plan it efficiently without having to cut costs on labour

This is one of the many services  we offer



What is a project plan

What is a Project Plan

A project plan defines project goals and objectives, specifies tasks and how goals will be achieved. It identifies what resources will be needed and associated budgets and timelines for project completion.

It defines all work in a project and identifies who will do it.

A typical project plan consists of:

  • A statement of work
  • A resource list
  • Work breakdown structure
  • A project schedule
  • A risk plan.


Having a well-developed project plan is one of the critical success factors for projects.

A project plan is the Project Manager’s communications and control tool for use throughout the lifecycle of the project.

Project plans are living documents, which provide the project’s direction. As a result they contain all of the planning documents that are part of the entire process. Components of the plan include:

  • Baselines
  • Baseline management plans
  • Risk management
  • Quality
  • Procurement
  • Resourcing
  • Communications


The project plan identifies the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders.

The project manager gets clarity and agreement on:

  • What will be done
  • By whom
  • As well as which decisions each stakeholder will make.

The scope of work statement is one of the most important documents in the project plan. The scope includes:

  • The business need
  • Business problem
  • The project objectives
  • Deliverables
  • Key milestones


Project baselines are established in the project plan.

These baselines include:

  • Scope baseline
  • Schedule baseline
  • Cost baseline

The scope baseline will include all of the deliverables produced on the project. The deliverables can be developed into a work breakdown structure. Schedule and cost baselines will include estimates of the time to complete each task and the cost of each task. Task dependency is identified in order to develop the critical path.


The project plan will also include:

  • A scope change plan
  • A process for issue escalation
  • A risk management plan
  • And most importantly a communications plan

Project managers spend a lot of time developing clear project plans. Most importantly a well thought out project plan leads to smooth execution and successful completion.


This article was written by an experienced project planner with many years experience of working on major infrastructure projects


Project planning is one of the many services we offer. Contact us for a no obligation 30 minute consultation to see how we can help you with your project