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How To Put Together Your Building Project Team

About to start a home extension or renovation project? Find out how to assemble a project team to get the job done right.

If you want to ensure the grand plans for your home renovation or self-build project become a reality, you need to start with a team you can trust. Here's how to get that dream team together.

Decide if you will hire a project manager or do it yourself

Firstly, you need to consider whether it's better for you to project manage the individual tradespeople yourself, or pay more to have someone co-ordinate the work for you. If this is your first project, it's easy to underestimate the amount of time that this can take.

If you engage a main contractor to take on the project, they will either use their own staff to carry out each of the specialist tasks on the job or sub contract these out to other firms. Ultimately it will be their responsibility to keep the project on time and on budget – provided that you write this into the contract that you sign with them.

When choosing a main contractor, it is always a good idea to gain quotes from at least three different firms, and remember that cheapest isn’t always best. Visiting examples of their work and attaining references from previous clients is also a good idea, and will give you an idea of their typical standard of work.

If you're considering going down the route of project managing the process yourself rather than appointing a main contractor it's possible to make savings, but bear in mind that this will take up a lot of your time, and can be difficult if you don't already have a decent number of contacts in the trade.

Who do I need on my building project team?

To build an extension or create a loft conversion you are likely to need an:

  • Architect
  • Surveyor/structural engineer
  • Builder
  • Carpenter
  • Electrician
  • Plasterer
  • Plumber 

Choosing your contractor

Whether you decide to project manage yourself or engage a main contractor, there are a few points to consider that will help when selecting either the main contractor or individual contractors you will use.

Ask for a quote which separates out labour, material costs, scaffolding and understand what, if any, mark-up they make on materials, savings can potentially be made by sourcing the materials yourself, but you may not be able to attain them for the trade price that your builder can.

If a company or tradespeople are current members of a trusted organisation, for example Federation of Master Builders, Checkatrade, TrustMark, NAPIT, Institute of Carpenters, this is a good sign, but it is still wise to look at references and examples of previous work.

Find out if they have an independent third party complaints procedure if you are unhappy with their work or progress.

Find out who takes responsibility for abiding by local and national extension and loft conversion rules and regulations:

  • Planning permission
  • Structural sign off on plans
  • Securing safety certificates
  • Building Control sign off

View examples of projects in the local area they have undertaken for previous clients with the trades people or company.

Check if the company or tradespeople are known by the local Building Control officer.

Understand the payment terms, beware of companies asking you to pay all money upfront. Typically payment is made in stages as the project progresses, but make sure that this is laid out in the initial contract.

Agree in advance how and who will pay for any costs incurred through changes or requirements to change plans to comply with building regulations

Who and how will you be insured against accidents during works? Check insurance will cover:

  • Accidents on-site eg leaks in your home from an exposed roof
  • Public liability insurance eg someone hurt from falling debris
  • Tools and materials left on-site
  • The business/tradesperson going bust or not being able to carry out the work

Find out when the company can start, good companies can be booked up a year in advance.

Will the company or tradespeople use your facilities or have their own – and which do you prefer?

Ask what their work schedule is likely to be eg do they start at 8am or 9am?

Check the contract they ask you to sign with a legal company – if they don’t have a contract, put one in place

Make sure the contract includes a ‘make good’ clause for any damage caused to your neighbours property.

Make sure you agree to hold back 10% of the cost of the works for the first three months post project completion.

Once you have all these questions answered to your satisfaction, you're ready to get started. Happy building!

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