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From a builders perspective

I decided to write this blog, so builders would realise I know the issues they face, but also so prospective clients could understand how their actions and involvement can impact on the project and the costs.

I have been a builder for many years, so I can speak from personal knowledge. I have also been a client ( and have been guilty of some of the common faults ) and, as a project manager for both clients and contractors, have learned how to achieve the best possible results for all parties.

We should start from the premise that both client and builder actually want the same thing - a successful project. There is always a vociferous section of the press and population, who make noise about " cowboy builders " and " rogue traders" but I am not having that. By far, the vast majority of people in the construction trade are just as honest and concientious as the vast majority of clients.

One of the most common problems is like for like quoting. Particularly where no formal spec exists it is often the case that the client will ask three or four builders for quotes. When the first builder arrives he will be shown the job and the client will describe what is wanted, but by the time the second and subsequent builders get to visit, the client will have been thinking about the job and perhaps realise what he omitted to tell builder A, or maybe come up with a few changes here and there, with the inevitable result that each builder is actually quoting for a different job.

Then of course it is a lottery as to who gets it and a second lottery as to what the client thinks he remembers telling the builder. So when the job starts the two could be working on quite different agendas, with the builder thinking he remembered what the client said and the client thinking that what he wanted is what he told the builder. And if you think that is confusing..................

During the job, there will come a day when the client says - " Ah! John. I have been thinking - the wall in the dining room - could you just move it a little so the kitchen is a bit larger - we only need another foot or so but it will make all the difference". The fact that the wall is already framed out does not even enter his head as an issue. What he thinks he "has asked for is " just " move it " a little ", so in his mind it is a very small thing.

So, you take the instruction believing that your client must realise he has just asked for a big change. You know he has seen the wall built and the first fix electrics are in, and the tackers are there to plasterboard the wall, so you naturally assume the client realises the impact of the instruction. And of course, time is money so you want to get on. You get the sparky back to pull out the cables, the carpenter takes down the studwork, carfully of course but still you lose all the noggins, and rebuilds it in the new position, so the electricial can rewire it. And because you want to be open and honest with your costings, you carefully note it all down and calculate the cost.

Of course when valuation day comes around both of you are shocked. The client is shocked because the " just a small " change he ordered has come in at several hundred pounds ( N.B Clients please note - any change will cost. A change after the work has been done will cost a lot more that you think. Why? Well the builder has priced it to do once, so when it is done again the costs look like this 1. Do it once - 300. 2. Call the trades back to remove it - 300. 3. Redo the job and supply extra materials - 400. So " just a little change can more than triple the cost).

As a builder you are shocked that the client did not expect such a large bill. And that is where the problems start. Client then thinks he has been ripped off - builder thinks he is being conned into doing work which he will not get paid for.

Solution? Get the client involved from the start. Take the time to ensure he knows exactly what you will be doing and for how much. Use your experience and knowledge to forsee where these issues might be, and do get everything in writing. Of course, if you have to do everything yourself, it will increase your workload and the contract period. So look for a preemptive solution. Theprojectmaster.com is that solution as it engages the client right from the start, preparing the specification, getting accurate like for like quotes, involving all parties in understanding Preliminaries, PC sums, costs of welfare provision and storage, responsibilities for things like security and weatherproofing. Theprojectmaster.com ensures the client understands the importance of clear and concise instructions accurately conveyed, the maintenance of a works schedule and of course, payments.

Using theprojectmaster.com as the management tool for the project will free you up to concentrate on doing what you do best, with the reassurance that client understands the processes involved and the consequenses of any changes. You also have the reassurance of knowing there is an agreed payment plan in place.

It is fact that the better any project is planned and managed, the better the outcome. Theprojectmaster.com provides that strong interface between client and contractor to the benefit of both.

More later,

The Project Master