Think you've got what it takes to manage your own build or renovation? Here's what you should consider before you embark on a big project.

micah t jones arhcitects self build - grand designs

Image: Architect Micah T Jones managed every aspect of the design and construction his family home, which featured on Grand Designs in 2017. 

If you're planning your own build, one tempting way to try and save on budget is to forego a project manager, roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. 

However, if you've ever watched an episode of Grand Designs, you'll know it's a risky decision. While you can expect a project manager to cost 10-15% of the overall budget, the expertise provided could make back their fee easily in avoiding mistakes that waste time and money, while keeping your build on track and negotiating favourable deals from suppliers. 

Before you make your mind up, get informed on what it really means to manage this kind of project. Here's what you need to know to start your project management journey. 

Hone your project management skills 

If you have previous experience, and the work is relatively simple, you may already have the insight required to project manage your build. However, it may still be worth your time engaging a professional project manager as a consultant at the start of the build to advise on the process. 

If you're coming to the project with fresh eyes, it's crucial that you learn how to run a construction site before you commence. The National Self Build & Renovation Centre has courses that will teach you essential skills including organising budgets, site control and scheduling work. 

Above all, be realstic about your capabilities and the amount of time and energy you're able to devote to project managing. 


Image: In spite of no previous experience, Mima Da Costa project managed the construction of her minimalist family home, which featured on Grand Designs back in 2009. 

Get your paperwork in order 

A construction contract is essential to have in place, outlining the responsibilities of the client and the contractor, including supply of material and disposal of waste. This document helps to clearly define the roles of each party, and can help to resolve any disputes which arise, so be wary of employing a contractor who is reluctant to use one. For example contracts and further guidance, consult The Joint Contracts Tribunal and Self-Build Zone

Insurance is also crucially important. A site insurance policy will protect you against environmental issues, such as storms or flooding, and fire. It will also protect what you ar constructing, as well as temporary buildings on site. Your cover should also include theft and public liability. The National House Building Council is one such body that offers warranty and insurance for self-builders. 

Create a timeline 

Creating a detailed schedule including costs as part of your construction contract will ensure that your team don't face any unanticipated tasks down the line, keeping the process transparent from the get-go. It can help to form an idea of the valuation of the build early on, as well as ensuring materials don't arrive on site too early or late, and help you assess how much to pay your builder at each completed stage. 

Gettng ahead of the project is key to running to schedule. Take as muc time as possible in the planning stages so that decisions don't need to be rushed under pressure later down the line. 


Consider project managing a build yourself ? Let us know by tweeting us @granddesigns or posting a comment on our Facebook page. 



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