Designing and building your own home is an exciting time. The anticipation of creating something exactly to your specifications may also make you want to manage the process yourself. There’s no denying it’s a big task to take on. But if you’re prepared to put it in the hard graft, project management can be a rewarding experience that will give you strong skills for future endeavors too.
To manage your home build, you’ll need drive, motivation and perseverance. You’ll also need strong organization skills and a long list of contacts. Oh, and a willingness to be bossy but also have the capability to listen to others. We didn’t say it would be easy! If you have the time to devote project management, and you’re keen to do it, here are some top tips to help you along the way.
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You will only be able to manage your self-build if you have the time and energy to devote to such a mammoth task. You should expect to be on site every day, and if you can, you should live on site or at the very least, close by. You will need time to work out exactly whom you need to employ for each process and the time-scale devoted to each job. You will also need to be aware what each job entails and organize contractors in the correct order. This is a time for diaries, organizers, black pens and highlighters. In-depth preparation at this point is crucial. You will be in charge of your own time, other people’s time, budget, wages and quality assessment. You will also need to consider if you wish to save money by doing some of the physical jobs yourself or if you will sub-contract completely.
Planning and Running the Site
A good rule of thumb is to devote as much time to the planning as you will to the building. At this stage, you will need to choose your sub-contractors and work out what days you need each of them to come in on. Take into consideration seasonal changes, and what weather they can work in. If you can, construct a mini office on the site-build. Laminate the plan and make sure everyone is aware of updates, date changes and any potential problems. Write down what everyone is doing, and what you will be doing yourself, minimising the risk of confusion. Communication on all levels is key. Schedule weekly meetings to monitor progress, quality and safety. As the project manager, all these things are your responsibility.
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Sub-contractors, plant hire and waste disposal
As the project manager, you will have to source and hire sub-contractors. You will have to hire a crane or two, take control of waste disposal and liaise with building inspectors. You will also have to sign off the work, write the checks and liaise on a daily basis with your architect. It’s your responsibility to ensure all materials are on site and up to standard, and you will have to deal with all problems as they arise. Project managing a self-build is a full-time job.
Leadership and delegation
While you are solely in charge of the plans and management of your self-build there will be times when you are not there. You need to be able to delegate with ease and ensure there is someone on site that you trust to take over in your absence. Communication is crucial to a self-build. It pays to both instruct and listen to the professionals. Targets need to be met, but be aware that there will be differences of opinion and try and look for solutions rather than arguments.
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Internal Works and Landscaping
You will also need to think about internal works and landscaping. You will want to hire a kitchen designer and a landscape designer when your self-build is nearly complete. You will also have to hire plumbers, decorators and electricians. These are the finishing touches that add the pizzazz. This is probably seen as the most fun part of the job but still requires you to stay on budget and time. Do not leave the internal design as an afterthought. Because you may then wish you had added a skylight, staircase or an extra window when it’s now too late. This is why the Planning stage is critical.
Are you ready to take on project managing your own self-build? If so, we’d love to hear your experiences.