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I was inspired to write this blog by an article in the magazine published by the professional body of which I am a member. The magazine is Project and the body is the Association for Project Management. The article was written by Kevin Parry and titled Why Trust Matters.

When you make the decision to create your own project, whether it is a refurbishment, home extension or a new build, unless you are actually going to do all of the work yourself, at some point you will have to bring other people into the project. Then you have to trust they will do their work properly, safely and according to your requirements. The need for trust is of course a two way street - in simple terms, you trust they will do their job properly and they trust you will pay them.

Clearly it is in your interest that the contractor works well, does a good job and is efficient, because that will deliver the best outcome. Less obvious though is that it is also in the contractors best interest, as that way he will grow his reputation, thereby gaining more work and the more work he has the more efficient he will need to be.

There is a perception that builders like some muddle and confusion, because they can use that to inflate costs and make more profit. There may indeed be some who work like that, but the vast majority are quite the opposite. They want to get the job done and move on to the next.

So the importance of mutual trust cannot really be overstated and it is certainly not something that should be left to chance. We all have a gut instinct which tells us who is trustworthy and who is not but that instinct is unreliable at best and misleading at worst ( which is how con men get away with it ).

To build mutual trust you need to have a framework which clearly states the way in which things are expected to work, what happens when they do and, importantly, what happens when things go wrong. That framework is the basis of all contracts and should be an integral part of any relationship between builder and client.

A lot of people are somehow shy or afraid of formalizing such arrangements. There is a thought process which can lead to the conclusion that by clearly stating what you want, how it should be done and when, together with payment terms and timings etc you are actually demonstrating mistrust, which will alienate the contractor and lead to him doing a poorer job. That thought process is wrong and will only lead to chaos.

A formal arrangement as outlined above is the ideal platform for building trust. It gives your builder the assurance that you understand the project and what is involved, the timings and disruption it may cause and the possibility of unforeseen circumstances, and that you are prepared and have budgeted for all the costs.

A competent contractor wants clients who are intelligently involved, with whom they can build a relationship from which each party, client and contractor can get the best possible result. As a client you want a contractor who has your best interests at heart and surely the way to achieve that is to work together to create a successful project.

Now I realize that may be a big ask for a client who may have little, if any knowledge of construction and probably none of Project Management. So what can you do?

Well, if you have got this far, it is safe to assume you are planning a project of your own. It is also probably safe to assume you will not be engaging a professional project manager. It could also be said, with some confidence, that you recognize the positive effect that a "hands on" intelligent approach will have on the outcome of the project, and that you are researching how to actually achieve this.

Your research has led you to discover this blog and in the next few weeks, we will introduce a unique interactive site that will enable anyone, without any prior knowledge or experience, to competently manage their construction project.


More to follow,

The Project Master