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Are You Concerned The Construction Stage Of Your Project Won’t Run Smoothly?

Our top tips for realising the project of your dreams.

Construction projects are complex. It’s unusual for a project to run 100% smoothly from start to finish. It therefore pays to plan ahead, do your homework and set your project up for success.
The majority of our clients have never undertaken a major building project before so they don’t know what to expect from their contractor and their team. To help, we’ve compiled a list of key things to consider before work starts.

Be Sure You Have a Written Contract With Your Builder.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a written contract with your builder and any sub-contractors you employ directly.

Put simply, a contract sets out the expectations of both the client and the contractor.

A contract gives you the peace of mind that the contractor will deliver the project within an agreed timeframe, at an agreed cost and to an agreed level of quality. It also outlines payment terms which will help you to manage your cash flow and give your builder confidence they’ll be paid on time. This alone makes a contract an essential part of any successful project.

If things go wrong then having a proper contract is even more valuable. Not only does it give you a legally enforceable method of resolving a dispute but it also sets out what happens and who is responsible if things do go wrong. This will make disputes much less likely in the first place.

There are several forms of contract which can be executed directly between you and your builder if you don’t want to appoint an architect during the construction stage of the project.

But why leave this important element of a project to chance?

If appointed for the construction stages we will execute a tried and tested contract on your behalf to make sure it is completed correctly. We’ll also administer this so that any issues are resolved fairly between you and your builder. You’ll definitely appreciate the reassurance there is a trusted third party to turn to if anything goes wrong.

Know what to expect from your architect.

During the construction stage of a project we’ll typically complete the following tasks:

  • Administering the contract between you and your builder.
  • Regularly visiting site to inspect the quality of the work, assess progress and to discuss any issues with the contractor.
  • Responding to queries from the contractor.
  • Valuing the works and certifying any payments due to the builder are correct.
  • Keeping track of costs.

This will give you the reassurance the contractor is building things correctly and to the agreed standard.  Throughout our visits we’ll also keep an eye out for any potential future issues so we can resolve these with the contractor to keep the project running as smoothly as possible.

It’s also important to remember an architect’s responsibilities during the construction stages are different to a project manager’s. A project manager will be responsible for the project’s programme; planning the sequence of works; and ordering materials to allow the project to be finished to an agreed programme. On the majority of our projects this role is fulfilled by the main contractor.
Although an architect will keep track of progress and highlight any concerns they are not able to directly control the builder’s programme. Nor can they influence the order in which the contractor completes their works. The contractor will have agreed a completion date in the contract and this is the only milestone they must legally meet. If they don’t then there’s no need to worry as the contract will set out how you should be compensated for any delay.

Be prepared

It’s vital to spend plenty of time planning your project before works start on site. It’s far cheaper to make changes on paper than once things have already been constructed.

We’ll advise you on the surveys you may wish to commission to reduce the risk of unexpected delays or complications. Although these might seem like expensive, unnecessary costs they will make you more prepared for the work. This can dramatically reduce risks [and therefore costs] to both you and your contractor.

Carefully review all the information your architect produces right down to the position of sockets and the finishes of  walls. Consider how your furniture will fit into a space and how you will use each room. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand any aspect of the design. We’ll be more than happy to walk you through our proposals to make sure you fully understand what to expect from the finished project.

If you are choosing your own fixtures, fittings and finishes remember it can take months to review your options and make a decision. Don’t leave it all to the last minute as your contractor is likely to need this information much further in advance than you expect. In ideal world you’d select these before the foundations have even been dug. However we know this is unrealistic so we’ll work with you and the contractor to agree dates when key decisions are required.

Avoid Late Changes at All Costs. 

Changes to the project once work has started on site can be extremely costly. They can cause significant delays and aggravate even the best of contractors. That’s why we strongly advise all of our clients to do their homework and avoid making changes late in the day. We can’t stress this enough.

Trust Your Builder

If you’ve chosen the right builder they’re likely to be a highly skilled and experienced professional. As much as it’s important to have a contract in place to protect you if things go wrong, it’s equally important to trust them to get on with the job you’re paying them to do.

A good builder will have carefully planned their work to account for the time of year, the sub-contractors available to them and any lead times on the materials. This may mean  work is completed in a slightly different order to what you are expecting. There may also be delays due to issues outside of your builder’s control such as unexpected ground conditions or changes to the design. We’ll carefully monitor progress and alert you if we have any concerns so you won’t need to worry if you feel progress isn’t as you expected it to be.

If you feel work is taking longer than it should then micro-managing your contractor is the quickest way to fall out with them. An unhappy contractor is less likely to complete the build to their normal high standard.

Be Careful When Appointing Sub-Contractors Directly

Often it’s tempting for clients to appoint sub-contractors for big ticket items, such as kitchens or windows, directly to avoid paying the contractor’s prelims and profits on top of these costs. Whilst this is a sensible strategy it’s vital to remember that your contractor has no responsibility to coordinate or manage these sub-contractors on your behalf. Neither does your architect unless they have also been appointed to project manage your build.

If you decide to appoint sub-contractors directly then you will be taking on the role of the project manager.  Be careful as any delay caused by one sub-contractor will have a knock-on effect on the others which may increase their costs or delay the works – wiping out any saving you might have made by arranging the sub-contractor yourself.
Juggling all of the sub-contractor’s programmes can be challenging. This is why we normally recommend that clients leave this to the main contractor to manage.

We’re here to help.

Being well prepared for the construction phase of the project is critical to its success. We’re here to help guide you through this daunting process.

Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help your dream project to run smoothly.

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