Thinking about a self-build project? If you’re handy, have the right tools, enough time, and the knowledge necessary to achieve your goals, it can be quite rewarding. It can save you money, but also give you a greater sense of ownership over your home, as well as a sense of pride in your accomplishments. However, you’ll find that managing the project can be quite daunting, particularly if it is on the larger side. Here are a few crucial tips to help you manage things.
Vet Your Help Thoroughly
Unless you are doing all the work yourself, you’ll be working with the main contractor or several subcontractors. Make sure that you vet your help thoroughly. Think of it like hiring an employee for your business – you want to make the best choice possible, which may not be the cheapest option. Unsure how to choose the right contractor for your build? Let’s explore what to look for in such a professional.
Choosing Your Contractor
Choosing a contractor is not rocket science, but it is not a process in which you can take chances. This is particularly true for a self-build, as you will usually play the role of general contractor and be responsible for managing subcontractors working for you. Choosing the right subcontractors is essential not just for your own peace of mind and sense of security, but for the very build quality of your home. Here’s a simple checklist to help ensure that you choose the right contractor.
Get Recommendations – Never choose a builder based on slick website design, or because of a sales flyer shoved under your front door. Instead, ask family and friends, even co-workers, for their recommendations. If you had an architect draw up the plans for your build, he or she can also give you recommendations.
Proof of Competency – Once you have selected a handful of potential contractors, get proof of competency from each. This really comes down to seeing examples of past work and their qualification. However, make sure that the contractor has experience with similar projects (both type and scope). Hiring a contractor who lacks experience could mean you are in for a rough time if they lack the resources and knowledge necessary.
Insurance – Any contractor that you choose should have their own insurance. This is particularly important in a self-build project. Hiring an uninsured contractor could mean that you are on the hook in the case of an accident or injury on the worksite (your home). However, you will also need to insure the site yourself. Individual trades should have their own insurance, but that will only cover their portion of the project.
We advise to search the CIRI Register for a suitable contractor. We only grant the registered title to professionals who meet stringent requirements and have been thoroughly reviewed.
Feel Confident in Direct Management
As a self-builder, you control the flow of work on the project. This offers immense control and flexibility, and you should feel comfortable in accelerating or slowing down the pace of the project to meet factors like increasing/decreasing cash flow, seasonal changes, material availability and the like.
However, before you leap headlong into the project, it is important to check with your lender. In some cases, mortgage lenders will not allow you to manage your own project. Remember that the lender has their own money tied up in your financing. Thus, they must watch out for their own best interests and limit the amount of risk to which they are exposed.
Control Communication with Everyone Involved
You will need to communicate with many different people during the project, from suppliers to subcontractors. Make sure that you are committed to accurate, ongoing communication to keep everyone on the same page and the project progressing as smoothly as possible. Make sure to communicate changes in scope, materials, deadline, inspection dates and the like to everyone who needs to know this information.
Because you are going the self-build route, you will need to commit yourself to being the communication hub, in a sense. Often, subcontractors and suppliers will need to communicate with one another, but they may not be on the build site at the same time. You will need to be able to accurately rely information from one to the other, and back again, without errors or miscommunication that might cause mistakes or problems with the build.
Accurate, ongoing communication will require that you are familiar with the jargon used in each trade, as well as industry-wide terminology, rules, requirements, regulations, and best practices.
A self-build project can be pulled off successfully if you take the right steps in terms of management. Remember – even if you’re doing the work yourself, you still need to manage materials suppliers and others involved.
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