Self-management will always be the cheapest option but unless you physically have the time to manage the trades and ensure all are working harmoniously, it may not be an option you would want to consider and arguably any self-managed project can be challenging especially if you have never managed a project before and aren’t sure where to start.
Independent Project Management or (IPM’s for short) is a relatively new concept within the building industry and has been commonly associated with TV programmes such Ch4’s “Property Ladder” and “Grand Designs”, but an IPM not only manages large projects like a new house build or a major renovation such as a barn conversion, they can be just as cost effective on a small project such as say a kitchen replacement or a minor alteration like the removal of a structural wall.
Conventionally, a building company will already have a manager or supervisor employed to oversee a project from start to finish and will deal with the day to day progress; liaise with the client, the building inspectors, suppliers, architects, structural engineers as well as the sub-contractors. Traditionally, the cost of this management service would (amongst other things) be included in the estimate provided by the builder as a ‘hidden’ uplift within your quotation. This uplift is known as O&P or ‘overheads and profit’ and can range from between 25% to 50% depending on the company. In other words, for every £1.00 it costs the company, up to £0.50p is added just to cover their overheads and profit.
This uplift is added to virtually everything including materials, sub-contractors and plant hire and is used to pay towards the company’s outgoings and expenditure such new vans, rent, business rates, lighting, phone, staff wages, corporation tax etc. It’s not uncommon for the building company to then request even greater savings from its supplier after they have been awarded the project and this reduction will make them even more profit as these savings will never be passed on to the customer.
A fundamental part of the Project Manager or Supervisors role is to closely monitor the financial elements of the job to ensure that the project stays within budget. However, this part can in our experience prove to be the most contentious as often it’s not made clear what extras have been added until the very end of the job and disputes can often arise as a result.
At Halo, all of our experienced, reliable tradesmen have worked for us for many years so we know the quality of their work is of the highest standard. Also our team has managed projects for some of the well-respected & established building & construction companies in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire & Northamptonshire for many years.
So acting directly for you the client, we will guide you through the maze of regulations & offer the advice you’ll need to help you make an informed decision. We will prepare a work specification and an estimation template to obtain accurate like for like estimates on your behalf, source the trades and materials monitor each stage of the build no matter how big or small the project is. We will ensure that the project runs as quickly & as smoothly as possible & to the budget you have set.
To avoid any horrible financial surprises, all alterations or amendments to the project will be accurately priced and approved by you before work commences. One of the many benefits of using an IPM is that once we have been assigned the project, we can seek estimates from various contractors’ part way through the build and those savings will be passed on to you. This alone can save you a substantial amount of money if any unforeseen problem comes to light once work has started.
At the end of the job we will provide you with an operating and maintenance pack which will include details of the materials used (this can be very useful when you need to get replacement parts at a future date after the guarantee period has expired), all the necessary certification provided by our NICEIC and GAS SAFE qualified engineers and final certification provided by building control which will be required when you eventually come sell your home.
We are happy to offer FREE advice on design & planning issues without any obligation & we have access to every trade needed all of whom have been in the industry for many years & will turn your dream into a reality. For any building projects in the Peterborough or Cambridgeshire areas where you feel our project management services would come in useful, please get in touch!
Having decided to get the builders in for that long awaited extension or loft conversion, no doubt there’ll be a few questions you’ll need to ask like “where do I find a good builder”. And “How much will he charge”? In the majority of cases, providing you use a reputable builder who has quoted the work correctly in the first place, the project should run smoothly, but disputes can still arise, so ensuring the stall has been set up correctly from the outset is essential to avoid unnecessary expense and stress especially if you fall out with your builder.
As Building Contractors and Project Managers, we know only too well what can happen when that relationship goes sour. Often it’s simply a clash of personalities and a lack of understanding between a customer’s expectations and the builders need to complete the project as efficiently as possible but at the same time, providing good customer satisfaction.
Where do I find a good builder?
If you have never used a builder before, it can be a daunting process so a personal recommendation is a good start. However, it’s not advisable to rely solely on say your friend’s recommendation without checking that builder out for yourself. Doing your own due diligence such as asking around, checking accreditations, insurances or even a Google search will help you make an informed decision. If you have an architect, they can often recommend builders but it’s important that never base your decision on price alone as it could work out more expensive in the long run.
Quotations & Estimates – is there a difference?
For many small building projects like replacing a door, quotes can be prepared very easily, for example, “To supply and fit a new 6 panel raised grain internal door with hinges, latch and handle – cost e.g. £130.00 plus VAT”, The price is fixed and will include the materials, the time it will take for the carpenter to collect the materials, drive to your home, replace the door, tidy up afterward and get to the next job. They are simple to price and the variance in cost between different tradesmen will be marginal as the rates in your area will all be comparable within a few pounds either way assuming of course your quote has been provided by a legitimate source.
With larger projects, the costs are far harder to predict because of the unforeseen work which can only be determined after the builder has started. The cost of foundations and drainage for example are notoriously difficult to predict. So the work will either be priced on an estimated basis with lots of caveats attached to it which means the costs could go up, or, the quote may appear high, because the builder has more than likely factored that into his quotation which a less reputable builder hasn’t, in the knowledge that once he’s got the job, he’ll be able to add it in later on.
Surprisingly many people seem to think a quote and an estimate is the same thing but it’s important to understand the difference when you receive a price from the builder. Many builders tend to prepare a very brief overview of what work they have allowed for and if they aren’t challenged early enough you could very well come unstuck with additional costs being added on after the build has started.
Even if you have clearly specified a quote, it’s imperative that you check the quotes in detail and do an accurate comparison to ensure every builder has quoted for the same items. Challenge your builder if it’s not clear and most importantly, ALWAYS get everything in writing and NEVER rely on verbal pricing. The less detailed the quote, the more chance there is of you being stung for extras and many builders have mastered the art of wording quotations to make it appear you’re getting a much better deal than you actually are.
Another thing to be aware of is “mistake”, where a builder has unintentionally missed off some important items in error. The point to consider here is that builders are pricing up jobs all the time so it’s inevitable that mistakes can happen, but be warned, if your project has been under-priced and this hasn’t been picked up until the build is in process, don’t be surprised if your job gets put on the back burner to be fitted in and around other more lucrative projects. Why is this? Very simply, no builder wants to lose money so he is more likely to focus his attention on the more lucrative projects and fit yours in as and when. The other possibility with a less reputable builder of course is cost and corner cutting in the hope he can still scrape a profit from it.
Terms and Conditions
A good reputable builder should provide you with terms and conditions before he starts work. A signed contact isn’t essential but terms and conditions will at least spell out some of the most important obligations imposed on both parties and it’s important to read and understand them. Don’t be afraid to seek clarification on any term you don’t understand and remember that in many cases, you as the customer could be handing over thousands of pounds for work so it’s important to understand what you’re paying for or not as the case may be.
Accreditations – nothing is guaranteed but accreditations such as the Federation of Master Builders and Trademark will give you some assurance that your builders work has been checked before. All members need to provide professional references and recommendations and must have public liability / professional indemnity insurance in place which is advisable to request a copy of before you instruct your builder to carry out any work on your home. Any reputable builder will be only too happy to provide a copy.
Qualifications for Gas and Electrical contractors– many builders will use Subcontract Electricians, Plumbers and Heating engineers. Reason being that it’s more costs effective to use them on a job by job basis rather than employing these trades directly so it’s not uncommon for your builder who might have quoted to change a boiler, but not be gas safe registered themselves, however, you do have every right to see a copy of the qualifications of the subcontractor being used to undertake your installation and any again reputable builder will have no problem sending you a copy of the relevant credentials. With us, every subcontractor we use must provide a copy of their public liability insurance and relevant qualifications before we let them anywhere near a customer’s home.
Should I be paying up front? – This is always a tricky one and whilst many of the larger companies (and potentially more expensive) will invoice you periodically on a stage by stage basis, many smaller builders simply don’t have the financial resources to be able to wait potentially 2 months from the start of a project before receiving their first payment and despite there being a lot of publicity about “rogue traders/cowboy builders” who will quite happily run off with your hard earned cash, there are equally many less advertised “rogue” customers who will simply refuse to pay (without good reason) leaving the builder high and dry with only the aggravation of a court case to contend with to try and recover his losses. Therefore it isn’t uncommon for a builder to request stage payments upfront to cover the cost of materials and labour. Having said that though, the money you pay him must be quantifiable, if for example the build cost is £40,000, the project can be paid for in realistic stage payments and your builder should be able to advice what percentage of the project are for the foundations, how much is the main structure, roof etc., etc. You would be quite right to question a builder who has requested say 50% upfront for an extension project unless, there are expensive materials with a long lead time that will need to be paid for before they are manufactured but again, this is something you should ask your builder.
Unforeseen extras are very common with any building project, this is what we call the “could you just” scenario, i.e., “whilst you’re doing that, could you just do this”? These can add up significantly. As the customer sees it, they may seem like 5 minute jobs without charge but from a builder’s perspective they can all add up to quite a large sum at the end of the job. If it’s a small item which won’t take the builder long and doesn’t require materials, he may just do it as a gesture without charge? The problem is not knowing how much could if any, be added on at the end. It’s therefore essential to get agreements all the way through the process and get clarity as to what will be charged for and what won’t as, a common phrase you may here from a builder is. “Sure we can do that, no problem” might be easily interpreted as, “Sure we can do that at no cost to you” only to get a shock at the end of the project when he hands you the bill for extra work.
Planning to invest in a major home construction or renovation project? Then seek help of a building project manager who handles your construction job effectively from start to finish. The project manager will plan, direct and help budget a project correctly as well as handle any issues that arise during the job.
Within the scope of a major building project, a project manager is trained to coordinate the different processes and timetables necessary to complete a project. These individuals and teams mediate between owners, designers, suppliers and building contractors in Peterborough. In essence, they oversee the entire process, from inception and design to execution.
The Role of a Building Project Manager
Firstly, a building project manager focuses on coordinating the different needs of a project on a large scale and maintains a relationship with all parties including the client and the subcontractors to ensure the smooth and timely completion of the project. Beyond coordinating the internal workings of a project, the manager develops plans to handle external concerns. These include handling equipment and material suppliers, developing on-site safety procedures and risk management plans.
The Project Manager’s Skills and Knowledge
A project manager has a defined purpose, a workable approach and a grasp of all aspects of a project. Halo Project Management Services Ltd (Halo PMS Ltd) based in Peterborough have a theoretical knowledge of all the tasks being executed and have a workable knowledge of how the tasks will be completed. Halo PMS are thorough in every detail including information about the building process, cost analysis, project sequence and time to obtain the right trades and materials to implement the build. This means, without exception, the project manager has many areas of expertise including some field exposure. Their level of professionalism isattributedto the years of experience they have within the building and construction industry. A project manager has the authority, ability and experience to hire, fire and purchase and is an effective communicator both verbally and in writing.
The schedule of work created by Halo PMS at the very start of the project provides an extremely detailed assessment of the work required to undertake the project and the likely costs including any obvious cost savings that can be made in terms of both labour and materials. Their aim is to work with you to provide a completed project that hopefully exceeds your expectations yet within budgetary constraints available but overall, a project manager works with you to achieve his mission by managing time and progress, cost and cash flow, quality and performance & organisation behaviour through planning, scheduling, directing, controlling and monitoring resources within quality, time, cost and environment constraints.
The Cost of Project Manager in Peterborough
The cost of hiring the project manager depends on the size of the project and its complexity but the project manager’s ability and experience to negotiate labour and material costs could literally save you thousands via trusted contacts in the trade, making the building project management option a credible and cost effective alternative to the conventional main contractor approach.
If you have the time & the experience, self-management & DIY is always the most cost effective way to get a project out of the ground & built but if you’re like most people who have a full time job & other commitments to contend with, the only other option traditionally would be to get a builder in to take on the entire build for you but a project management service might be an option you’d like to consider.
Project management is a relatively new term within the building industry & has been commonly associated with TV programs such Ch4’s “Property Ladder” & “Grand Designs”.
Conventionally, a building contractor will already have a manager or supervisor employed to oversee a project from start to finish & will deal with the day to day progress; liaise with the client, the building inspectors, suppliers, architects, structural engineers as well as the sub-contractors & deal with the financial aspects. Traditionally, the cost of this supervision would (amongst other things) be included within the quote provided by the contractor as a ‘hidden’ cost or uplift. This uplift is known as O&P or ‘overheads & profit’ & can range from between 20% to 50% depending on the company. In other words, for every £1.00 it costs the company, up to £0.50p is added just to cover their overheads & profit. This uplift is added to virtually everything including materials, sub-contractors and plant hire. It’s used to pay towards the company’s outgoings and expenditure such new vans, rent, business rates, lighting, phone, staff wages, corporation tax etc. A major part of the appointed project managers role is to closely monitor the financial elements of the build throughout to make sure it stays on track as this can in our experience prove to be the most contentious part of the project when costs start to escalate but unlike a conventional quotation method, we would with our service pass those savings onto our clients. In other words, we work to actively save you money rather than take it by operating on a fixed fee basis with everything else at cost. With the VAT savings alone, we can save our clients many 000’s of pounds.
So acting directly with our clients, we guide them & offer the advice they’ll need to help them make informed decisions. We will prepare a detailed works specification & works program to give our clients a realistic estimation of time scale when the project will start & finish. We will not only source the trades but also the majority of the materials as well which monitor each stage of the build no matter how big or small the project is. We will endeavor to ensure that the project runs as quickly & as smoothly as possible to within the budget you have available.
As a part of the project management service, we provide all our clients with an operating & maintenance manual at the end which will include details of the materials used including all purchase receipts (this can be very useful when you need to get replacement parts at a future date after the guarantee period has expired), a full set of project accounts & all the necessary certification provided by our NICEIC & GAS SAFE qualified engineers & final certification provided by building control which will be required when you eventually come sell your home.
We are happy to offer FREE advice on design & planning issues without any obligation & we have access to every trade needed all of whom have been in the industry for many years & will turn your dream into a reality.
If you feel our service would benefit you, please get in touch. Contact us