10 Tips Before You Start that Home Improvements Project

10 Tips Before You Start that Home Improvements Project

Construction can be messy, and sometimes there’s just no planning for the unexpected. But with a little preparation, you can make your construction project run more smoothly. Here are ten things to do before you start:

  1. Know this: There will be obstacles.

Let’s just get this one clear. No matter how much planning you do, there is a pretty good chance that something unexpected will happen.

Knowing – and embracing – the bit of unknown that comes with every big construction project will help you stay calm and collected when it comes to figuring out how to adjust your plan and continue on with your head up.

  1. Invest in a contractor you can trust.

If you think your construction project is complex enough to hire a contractor, chances are it probably is. Choosing a contractor is like choosing the choreographer for a dance: they’ll play a pretty large role in making or breaking the end result and everything that comes before that. So take the time to select a contractor you believe in.

Use referrals, read reviews and inquire about their experience to determine if a contractor is right for you. And don’t underestimate the power of intuition: You’ll be spending quite some time together, so listen to your gut!

  1. Know your budget.

Investing in a good contractor is just one of the things you don’t want to sacrifice for a few quid. Think about how much money you really have to spend before committing to a big project. The last thing you want to do is bite off more construction than you can chew, then have to cut corners to make it work.

  1. Do the research.

Leaving everything up to your contractor is an option if you have an unlimited budget and a whole lot of trust. But chances are, you might be a bit more conservative about one or both of these.

Help yourself by doing the research so that you have an informed idea of what you’re aiming for in your construction project and any associated legislation, does your project require building regs or not? Do you need carry works on a party wall?. Explore designs, and learn the lingo related to costs so you feel more confident in making decisions.

  1. Decide how you’ll pay your workers.

There are two common methods of pricing for construction work: (1) fixed bids and (2) time and materials.

A fixed price means that your contractor will create an estimate for the job, start-to-finish, and you’ll pay that amount. Period. This method is straight-forward and holds little to no room for budget surprises, although the cost breakdown can be a little unclear.

Also consider that decisions about quality and how to confront obstacles are more limited by the pre-determined budget.

In the other method, however, you maintain more control of the construction project, as you pay for materials upfront, and then for labor on an hourly basis.

The good news is, many contractors offer a blend of these two methods for different parts of a project.

  1. Dot your i’s and cross your t’

Yes, before you start that project, make sure you’ve addressed the nitty gritty. Consult your local governing bodies to make sure there are no laws preventing you from moving forward with your plan, and that you’re able to follow the design and management regulations that apply to your project.

  1. Know your role.

Whether you plan to hire a contractor or not, you will undoubtedly hold some power and responsibility throughout your construction project. Make it clear with whoever you’re involving in your project what your roles are, what their roles are, and how you will communicate to work together effectively and efficiently.

  1. Check your resources.

Make a list of everything you have, or have access to, that might help you with your project. Checking your resources and utilising some of them can cut costs, save time, and minimise your waste and carbon footprint.

  1. Read the contract, then read it again.

Know what you are liable for throughout the scope of the project.

What incidents are covered by your contractor’s insurance?

What is your plan for the pieces of the project that you aren’t hiring a contractor for?

Read your contract, and plan for everything that’s not in it.

  1. Consider your timeline.

When you’re knee-deep in a construction project, it’s easy to forget that you have a life outside of it. Think about the timeline for your project before it starts, and give yourself some wiggle room, so that you can make the arrangements needed to complete your project with grace.

Ronnie Campbell BSc MRICS has been a qualified building surveyor for over 11 years and is the founder of London Building Surveyors based in Walthamstow, East London.
Ronnie has spent much of his career carrying out building surveys and advising on residential and commercial property matters including party wall regulations and dilapidations reports. You can connect with Ronnie on Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn or call London Building Surveyors on 020 8257 5766.

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