Key to the success of your self build is finding the right professionals, who’ll be as passionate about your home as you are.
Image: Mark Bolton
However hands-on you intend to be with your construction process, a good crew of contractors, consultants and tradespeople that you trust is essential for a successful, low-stress build. Local recommendations from friends, family and neighbours are a good place to start your search, but do make thorough background checks before hiring anyone.
Find a brilliant builder
Choosing a builder is one of the most important decisions you will make. Try to find an experienced tradesperson with a good track record of delivering projects that are similar to yours. Speak to previous clients; visit a completed house and one that’s in progress as proof of their credentials. Don’t make your choice solely based on the prices that have been quoted – remember that the best builder will often not be the cheapest.
Hiring the experts
Look for consultants, contractors and tradespeople who are interested in your project, who ask questions and suggest ideas. Someone who is engaged and keen to do the work is going to be far easier to deal with than someone who is unenthusiastic or uncommunicative.
Provide toilet facilities and a good supply of tea, coffee and biscuits – make your site a nice place to work and people will want to be there.
Image: Darren Chung
Prepare the paperwork
It’s vital to have a construction contract in place before any work gets underway; avoid hiring a builder or contractor who is reluctant to use one. Make sure it contains everything you would like done. This might include the supply of materials and the removal and disposal of waste.
The document sets out the key roles and responsibilities of client and contractor to help avoid disputes arising from a lack of clear guidelines. It also details how any disputes that do crop up should be managed. Try the RIBA Domestic Building Contract, which costs from £30.
Choose the best manager
There are many options available when it comes to the project management of your build. You may wish to take on this role yourself, particularly if you have experience and the work is fairly simple. If you have hired an architect, they could take on all or part of the role.
The construction contract helps avoid disputes arising due to a lack of clear guidelines hire a specialist; project managers typically charge 10-15 per cent of your build cost.
For a standard new-build house or extension, the job is unlikely to be complex, so a good general builder could be all you need for project management.
Read more: How to project manage your own self build
Check the quality
Ensure that regular inspections are made at key stages. ‘Attend the site to confirm that the setting out and construction of all the elements is true to the design and specification requirements,’ says Rhona Waugh, director at Found Associates. ‘The omission or substitution of any part can have a detrimental effect on the overall quality of the build, as can the misalignment of structural elements or masonry.’
To the untrained eye, structural errors are not as easy to spot as finishes such as bad tiling, so your architect or project manager will need to be on site for these stages.
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