Over the past few years here at The IAD Company we have worked on hundreds of domestic projects, and although no two of them were ever identical, many of the jobs we have worked on have had a lot in common. We thought it would be useful to put some of those common factors down in writing as a helpful guide for anybody who is doing, or is planning to do building works within their home.
Predicting the project timeline for a project that we have no knowledge of will never be a perfect science, but the graphic above should give you some idea of how much time the pre-construction phases of your project will take. Of course, the complexity of your proposed works, the speed at which your hired consultants deliver their packages and about seven hundred other factors can impact on your timeline – but this gives you somewhere to start!
During the pre-construction phases of your project you will probably feel like everything is moving very slowly and may even get frustrated, wanting to just get on with it. One of the things you can (and should!) be doing during this time is preparing. Once you have all of the permissions in place and have the builders arriving at your home each morning, you are going to be faced with important questions on a daily basis. Questions that will require decisive and speedy responses to avoid holding things up and costing you money. At the outset this can be quite exciting, and we hope that it remains that way for you for the entire time that you are having work done. For many though, it does not take long for ‘decision fatigue’ to set in. Once you are at that stage decisions will be made on a path of least resistance basis and answers that are going to have long term impacts may be given without putting the appropriate amount of consideration or research in to them first. One of the best things you can possibly do to help your project run smoothly is prepare in advance. Make sure you don’t just have an idea of how you want things done, but that you know exactly what you want. Research what products and materials are on the market, who supplies them, how much they cost, whether there is a lead time from order to delivery, whether it is a product that is kept in stock or whether it needs to be ordered in, get samples (the more the better) delivered to you, and find out whether you can get a quote ahead of time and how long it will remain valid for and then get yourself a backup option as well in case the one you picked first is no longer available. All of these things will ensure you end up getting exactly what you want and will save you money in the process by letting your builders be as efficient as possible with their time.
Over and over again we have found Pinterest to be a really helpful tool for our clients. Looking through images, compiling the ones that you like in to boards and then going through your boards and picking out specifically what you like from each of the images really helps to home in on what you would like to achieve. Setting up a Pinterest account is free and easy, and it is hard to over state how powerful a tool it can be for your project with just a little bit of time investment from you.
Another important part of your pre-construction preparation is taking the time to manage your expectations. The uncomfortable truth is that your building project is probably going to cost more than you want it to and take longer than you expect it to. It is generally considered good practice to allow at least 10% contingency on top of your budget when working on a domestic project. The contingency is there for a reason, things do go wrong - and having a pot of money available to overcome those problems will be worth the extra time that you have to spend saving up before getting started. Good builders give timescales in good faith, but they also want to win the work. Being aware from the start that what you are agreeing to is a best case scenario timeline will help you keep your cool and stay in control if for whatever reason there are bumps in the road once works are underway. Speaking of good builders we can not stress enough that when it comes to construction, if a quote seems too good to be true it almost definitely is. Always get multiple quotes for comparison, and always ask to see a builder's previous work, see any other current jobs and speak to their other clients (past and present) before appointing them. Remember that whomever you choose to go ahead with is going to be coming in to your home and playing a big role in your life for the foreseeable future, so finding somebody that you get along with should factor in to your considerations.
The more detailed your preparation, the better.
Understand your budget.
Allow for a contingency.
Don’t use your contingency fund to upgrade your scheme.
Expect the work to take longer than you are told it will.
Have back-ups chosen and costed so that if changes need to be made you are ready for them.
You may have never heard of PPD, but it is a serious albeit temporary condition that ravages households up and down the country year after year. Post Plastering Depression is a common ailment that see’s sufferers lose all motivation to continue their home improvement projects. Reported symptoms include a sense of entrapment, anxiety, frustration and anger – with many sufferers quoted as saying “I wish we had never started this bloody project in the first place”.
Seriously though, for one reason or another around the time that your plastering work comes to an end it is very common to feel frustrated with your project. There are many different reasons why this may be, including:
During the early stages of a project the progress is much more noticeable day to day. A lot of the early work includes ripping down walls or building new ones up. Now that your project is coming closer to completion the work is all about details, and therefore progress can seem much slower. It may feel like not a lot is going on at this point, but it is.
You have been living in a messy house for the better part of eternity. This is not a small factor, the incremental increase in stress from never having a clean home to come back to is a major issue. Plastering is one of the messiest jobs at this stage of the project and that can really impact on people’s stress levels.
You have had people in your house almost every day since what feels like the beginning of time. As above, the stress of having people constantly in your home may at times feel insignificant, but this can build and build to the point where you want nothing more than to shut yourself away from the outside world and descend in to deep hibernation.
It doesn’t feel like the end is in sight. The money’s running out, you’re fed up with your builders, you don’t remember what it is like to come home to a tidy drive way, you have gone from having a relatively private home life to basically house sharing with a crew of middle aged blokes and it feels like it is never going to come to an end.
If some or even all of those points sound familiar to you then please take comfort in knowing that almost every other person who has chosen to have work done on their home has felt exactly the same way at this stage of their project. But as I wrote at the start of this article, although no two projects are ever identical there are many factors that seem to stay true for domestic jobs. One thing that always remains the same is that no matter how bad a client’s case of PPD is, it is temporary. Six months after a project has been completed the client barely remembers what it was like to be gripped by PPD. When we catch up and see how people are finding living in their new homes, no matter the scale of the issues they faced during the works, problems that seemed so all-consuming while the project was live are now nothing more than a distant memory.
So to all of you who are planning to do work to your home and to those who have already started, know this:
It is going to be difficult. It is probably going to take longer than you think it should. It will be dirty. It will be stressful. You are going to regret starting in the first place. Probably more than once.
You will forget about how difficult it was. You wont remember how long it took, how dirty it was or how stressful it got. You will probably forget that you ever regretted starting the works and will laugh when you are reminded of it. Before you know it you will reach the finish line and you will be living in the house that you dreamt of.
Most important of all - it will be worth it.
"Now that the dust has settled our new home is changing the way we live our lives every single day. Thank you so much for your help and support, we couldn't have done it without you." - Mr & Mrs Woods, CF23.