Make sure you finish on schedule and stay in control

Nicky Bryden, Business Development Director at project management consultancy CLPM, has seen all manner of building problems. In her latest blog, Nicky offers some sage advice for those who are about to embark on a new building project.


“As a client, one of the most important roles you have is deciding how the project is going to run. Get it right and the whole experience can be a real pleasure. Get it wrong and it can wreck lives, marriages, financial security and every dream you’ve had for the place,” Kevin McCloud Grand Designs Handbook.

Wise words indeed. Ignore them at your peril.

Many people approach small-scale building projects such as bathroom refits or new kitchens installations confidently. The works are often fairly straightforward and require no significant plans or disruption. Generally a single tradesperson can carry out all the jobs that need to be done. The money invested is fairly significant, but going a little over budget or having the job take a little longer than expected is not too critical. The levels of stress put on the family are minimal. Any disruption is transient.

Not so with large projects. Large extensions, remodels, renovations and new build projects are a completely different matter! Here the money spent is likely to be in the tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. Often people are spending their life-savings, getting large loans or extending their mortgages to invest in their biggest asset – their much-loved home. Going over budget can be seriously problematic when this means an overspend of just 10% relates to an additional £50,000 having to be found from somewhere! Similarly having to live in a building site for a home or move out to live in rented accommodation for months can cause a lot of stress and inconvenience.

The key thing to remember is that large projects need to be planned and controlled in a very organised way. When our previous clients compare the approach required to that of a military campaign, we think they are probably about right!

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So, what needs to be considered when planning a large-scale building project? What is certain is that you need a person to manage the project and be the central, focal point for decision-making, monitoring and control. Without that central role, projects are liable to be plagued by costly issues and errors, budget overspend and ultimately overrun and disappointment.

This is borne out by an independent survey we commissioned a few years ago. In the survey, the vast majority - 86% - of those surveyed had managed the project themselves. Sadly 80% of respondents had overspent. Half of those had overspent by at least 10%, and the other half had overspent by over 20%. That’s a lot of money and stress.

So what choices do people have? Most people only carry out one major building project in their life and so are not aware of the choices they have to consider.

Essentially you’ve four options: self managed, architect managed, builder managed or management using an independent project manager. Each option has pro’s and con’s and the choice you make will depend on the experience you have, the time that you can potentially commit to the project and the money available to you (i.e. can you afford to make mistakes?).

Making the right choice for your project is all about asking the right questions before you make a start.

We opened with Mr McCloud and we’ll finish with him:
“The truth is that the less professional help you get, the more likely the project is going to be compromised one way or another. Without good management, it’s going to be delayed; or over budget; or the quality’s going to suffer; or the design will be compromised; or detail decisions won’t get the kind of attention from you that they deserve; or you’ll find yourself highly stressed and deeply unhappy doing a job you don’t quite understand”

If you are in need of advice for your project. You can book a free consultation with James Bryden, founder of ClearPlan at Ask an Expert sponsored by Express bi-folding doors. Click here to book

clearplan-logo copyclearplan logo copy                                                                         Nicky col crop


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