Grand Designs Live London 2020 will now take place on 22-31 August

Find out more

A little known truth about why home building projects fail



Article by My Architect Advisor- the online resource for people who are about to undertake significant and expensive building projects.

We wanted to share with you a little known fact about building projects and one that many people are not even aware of.

Many problems in the world of construction are caused by a breakdown in communications between various parties, swiftly followed by a blame mentality. These two together can result in an irretrievable situation. The technical aspects of a project are actually the easy part. It’s the communications between everyone that can cause the most stress and disruption. This is unsurprising when you think about it but this aspect of a building project is often ignored and/or taken for granted. As with most things, you firstly need to be aware that it could pose a potential issue and then take steps to reduce problems, recognising that you have your own part to play.

little known truth article 500x338


Studies have revealed that one of the most critical success factors in any project is effective communication with all stakeholders (that’s just a fancy way of saying all people involved with an interest in the project). Unfortunately, not all projects will succeed. On average two in five projects do not meet the projects original goal or vision and one half of these unsuccessful projects are related to ineffective communication. In fact, even if a project finishes on time and on budget, if communications have have deteriorated over time, there are often lingering negative feelings and a general unhappiness about the process and the project.

Therefore, the best way to approach a building project is for all players to participate as team members and think about the project as one based on collaboration. This can of course be tricky, but in my experience, projects that are successful tend to start with a very good understanding of what each party is responsible for, a good understanding of expectations and a can-do approach by all.

ask a expert 500x338 


In the majority of cases, a building project will involve bringing together a wide group of individuals who have never worked together before and the project will require the coordination and integration of a great deal of fairly complex information. If you don’t establish collaborative practice from the outset, problems can soon become apparent.

Make sure you are not one of these statistics and try to maintain open and transparent conversations with all parties. This includes establishing clear lines of communication with your team and builder, deciding and agreeing on your preferred method of communication, sticking to the facts and avoiding personal opinions, feelings and other strong emotions and being clear and concise in any instructions.


As the founder of My Architect Advisor

Sarah Williams, RIBA, has been helping clients for over 25 years, designing and delivering their projects, which range from small extensions/renovations to multi million pound residential, commercial and institutional buildings. 

You can find Sarah at Grand Designs Live 'Ask and expert' stand.

Book Tickets