Planning a building project requires careful groundwork. Budgets, builders and building regulations are just some of the things to consider. To help you ‘dot the i’s and cross the t’s’, part one of this two part series unpacks the process of building work…
#1 – Begin with a budget
The process of building work begins with a realistic budget. To avoid your project becoming a money pit, always have a contingency fund in place. At least 10% on top of your overall budget is recommended. You should only dip into this fund when unexpected costs occur. These could include additional foundation requirements or unavoidable delays.
Should your contingency fund remain intact by the end of the build, only then should you consider upgrading any interior finishes or landscaping projects. Take a sensible approach to budgeting, set firm and realistic figures that you can afford. What can be achieved will ultimately be determined by your builder.
#2 – Hire an architect
#3 – Contact your local planning authority
You might have a budget and architect’s plans drawn up, but if you’re project isn’t viable, you’re scuppered and it’s back to the drawing board. It’s a good idea to get in touch with your local planning authority early to find out what they will allow. Some will even offer ‘pre-application advice’, although you might be charged for this service.
This will give you a good indication of what building control will and won’t accept in terms of the general style, size and materials of your build. Pre-application advice gives you a better chance of securing planning permission prior to submitting your application.
For more information on making a planning application for a building project, read our handy ‘How to Apply for Planning Permission’ blog, which is packed with useful information.
#4 – Choosing a builder
Choose a builder local to your area, the ideal would be to hire a builder who comes recommended by a friend or family member. If this is not possible, here are five key criteria a builder should meet to help you gauge whether they’re worth hiring:
- They can prove how long they have been in business
- They operate from a fixed address
- They provide written estimates and quotations
- They can provide references for their work
- They offer public liability insurance cover and a guarantee of work
For more information on hiring a builder, read 5 Key Questions You Should Be Asking Your Builder.
Also, use the ‘3 quotes philosophy’. Many homeowners get sucked into opting for the cheapest quote, thinking it’s the right price. We understand why people do this, because the lower quote usually fits the budget.
A word of caution… If you get three quotes, two of which are pretty similar and one that’s way below the other two costs, then alarm bells should be ringing if one quote undercuts the others. You will often find that the lower cost has not been calculated correctly and you will end up paying additional fees.
Choosing the right type of builder is key to your project. You might be thinking ‘a builder’s a builder, right?’ Wrong… Builders with an all-round skillset are a rarity. Typically, builders will have a particular specialism and a number of secondary skills. If you’re planning a loft extension, you should be talking to builders with experience of completing loft conversions.
Watch this space for part 2…