Should you project manage your own home building project?
Whether you project manage your own home building project will depend on several things. The size and scale of the project – particularly the level of major structural work or additions – and your budget.
Building an extension or a major renovation requires a lot of work, and it would be prudent, for those who can afford it, to invest in a professional project manager to oversee the entire process. You can hire either an architect or an interior designer (or both depending on budget) for your project. They are likely to offer an ongoing project management service. This option will add additional costs to your project. But you will be paying for a reduced stress experience.
If your project is straight forward you could still employ an architectural technician or surveyor who can provide a project management role. Another option is to employ a constructor well-qualified with design and build to design your space, draw up and help submit your plans.
Alternatively, once you have your design and plans you could employ a site foreman, someone who has a lot of experience in the trade to oversee the project. Whatever choice you make, it is good practice to leave the details of the electrical plans, bath, and kitchen to experts in their respective fields. All these options will require that you have some involvement in the management of the project.
We would not recommend that you take on full project management yourself unless you have some good relevant experience. It is difficult to emotionally distance yourself from the project and can be very stressful.
If, however, you are a good communicator, organized and someone who pays great attention to detail then – provided you can carve out the necessary time during the project duration – you could save yourself a lot of money and take some control of your home building project. We have created a free to download personalised and fully automated home project management spreadsheet for you to use.
Here are some key considerations to address if you decide to involve yourself in the project management of your home building project.
Running a good to-do list is key to every successful project: write down all tasks and update it frequently. In addition, clear communications are vital to keeping your suppliers and subcontractors in the loop by letting them know about the schedule and any changes. Set up your own home project building schedule. We have created a FREE to download personalized and fully automated home project management sheet to help you. Sign up here.
Agree who will find and appoint the key contractors. Your builder may want to bring in specific contractors they have worked with before. Or you may have tradespeople you want to employ. During the planning phase 1, arrange to see proposals, including costs, and check their work in person, so you can make the right choice. Obviously, you may need to book them well in advance.
A detailed project plan will help to ensure that the project is completed on time and budget. Check that the project plan drawn up by your contractor sets out all the following:
- contractors who perform the tasks,
- deliverables (these are tangible outputs from the venture, like the project agreement) and
- resources that will be incorporated into the project.
This plan will inform you and all others who are working on the project, know what is happening when, and who by.
Agree with your contractor who is buying what materials. Your contractor will have access to trade discounts and will have detailed knowledge of quantities to order for things related to the actual build eg: bricks, timber, steel, etc. If you are going to buy other things such as furnishings, doors, kitchen, bathroom, etc you may wish to set up a credit facility with local merchants. Also, check everything carefully with your builder before you buy. This way they can ensure the specifications will match with their own work. Getting a set of French doors 5mm too wide will leave a few red faces. Keep all warranties.
Balance the Budget
Decide early on what finish you are going for as this will significantly impact the costs. Include a contingency of at least 15% of your overall budget – often this is spent at phase 1 because this is an area where unpredictable extras are commonplace. After this stage, the contingency is more manageable and, in general, the better managed the project is, the less likely the contingency sum is going to get used up on unexpected costs.
Make a detailed financial spreadsheet and keep all paperwork and original receipts to make a DIY reclaim. You can claim back VAT if it’s a new build or a conversion that qualifies for reduced or zero-rated VAT.
Manage the Neighbours
Think about the neighbours; involve them if you can during the initial stages of design. Also, consider how your project will blend in with the other properties on the street. This consultation may save a lot of time and money later down the line if neighbours have any objections or concerns. Check if any Party Wall Agreement is necessary.
You’re the Boss
Finally, remember that you’re the boss! Throughout the project, you may have to deal with a large number of trades. Remember that you are in charge and it is your money. Don’t be afraid to ask what someone is doing and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. If you want to make changes once a project has started, make them with your project manager or the building contractor (if you have one), not the team carrying out the work. Specialist tradespeople will be able to offer you quality advice, but the decision is ultimately yours. You should not feel pressured into doing something you don’t want or can’t afford to do.
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