Step One – Plan, Plan and Plan!
It is important to understand what you are getting yourself in for when it comes to any construction work relating to house extensions or renovations. Doing research from the beginning can really go a long way in this process. As a first step, you should check to see if the works you want to carry out would be plausible on the property. It is also a good idea to check the existing structure and get advice from a specialist or surveyor if there are any cracks, damp or issues with the floorboards.
Step Two – Compile some ideas
This could be through a Pinterest board, images seen on social media or ideas from talking to neighbours and friends who have carried out similar works. While nothing at this point is set in stone, having an idea of the aesthetic you want to achieve from the beginning is always handy. If you are looking to hire an architect, this will help us to form a brief based on what your top priorities are for the project.
Step Three – Budget and Finance
It probably goes without saying but having a clear idea of your budget will help you create a realistic brief for your potential project. From the outset, you should decide how much you have to spend on construction while also factoring in other costs. These could include rent for a temporary home while works are being carried out. Also, think about professional fees that need to be included if you are using an architect, structural engineer or other specialists. Throughout the project, you must stay on top of your spend and make adjustments whenever necessary to side-step any nasty surprises.
Step Four – Hire your professional (it will help – trust us!)
While many clients have ventured out alone to carry out building works, we cannot recommend enough for you to hire a professional to give you some help along the way. An architect can really assist in creating your dream home, helping you firm up some ideas while offering their design and technical expertise. At CDD, we always offer our clients potential options for a project, seeing what is feasible both spatially and financially before helping you to decide which scheme to take forward to the next stage. Aside from an architect, other professionals you may need/want to get on board could include:
- Structural engineer
- Interior Designer
- AV specialist
- Heating specialist
Step Five – Check if you need Planning Approval
Your Council will be able to tell you if your scheme requires a planning application, building regulations approval or listed building consent. If you are working with an architect, they will also advise you on this and prepare any necessary architectural drawings and documentation that will be needed to gain approval. Once you have decided on a scheme, you will need to submit an application, which can take eight weeks for a decision to be reached.
Step Six – Choose the best builder for the job
We cannot stress this enough but finding the best builder for the job is one of the most important decisions you will make in this process. We recommend getting quotes for the job from at least three different builders that have a track record in delivering similar projects to what you are trying to achieve. If you are using an architect, they will often have builders that they can recommend but also doing your own research and asking friends, family or neighbours is a great way to narrow down your search. You could also speak to previous clients or ask to go and see a project that the builder has recently completed to see their standard of work. Also, one final note is that we always suggest that you do not make your decision based on who is the cheapest.
Step Seven – Don’t skip the boring part: Prepare the paperwork
Making sure that you have a construction contract in place before any work is carried out on site is imperative. Your contract should detail everything that the project will entail and highlight the key responsibilities of the client and the contractor. Everyone involved should be clear on what is included in the contract to avoid any disputes later down the line and if they do occur, the contract can help sort them out.
Step Eight – Create and stick to a schedule
Creating a document that details both costs for your project and a timeline in which you would like to carry out works can really have its advantages. We can help to create a schedule of works, which makes sure that everyone who is involved in the project knows what is included in the contract sum and can be used as a key part of your construction contract. The schedule also ensures that materials are ordered and delivered when they are needed. It also comes in handy when scheduling payments for the builder. Each section of the schedule contains cost details, which can be used to calculate the value of the works carried out on site. This will make sure that you only pay the builder for what has been completed at each stage.
Step Nine – Choose who is going to be project managing
Building works can be a full-time job and project management is key to ensuring that everything is running smoothly on site. You, therefore, need to choose who is going to project manage from as early on as possible and there are many options when it comes down to this. If you have experience managing similar scale projects, you may want to take this role on yourself especially if the works are fairly straightforward. However, we always recommend that you are realistic with both how experienced you are and also how much time you can allocate to this task. If you are using an architect, they offer project management as part of their services for an additional fee. You may also consider using a professional project manager particularly if the job is slightly more complex but be prepared that this will add on some additional costs.
Step Ten – Regular site visits and quality-checking
Keep up-to-date with site inspections, especially at crucial stages in the project. You will want to make sure that construction is being carried out as to what has been designed and specified but also that a high-quality standard is being reached. At key structural stages, it is important that your architect, project manager or specialist is present to make sure that any potential errors are avoided as to the untrained eye these can be hard to spot.
If you have any further questions about the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team Surrey-based architects at Christopher David Designs using the form below – we’d be happy to help!