After a fairly poor experience employing a ‘friend of a friend’s builder’ soemwhat out of urgency and necessity a few years ago when we were stuck between owned (in need of renovation) and rental properties I am only now coming to realise how badly we were ripped off. I viewed the rental as a medium term affordable proposition but had miscalculated as the owner sold their larger house in order to downsize and we rapidly needed to employ someone to sort our property out before the rental lease ended. Nothing went well, and this was compounded by elderly failing parents requiring my attention more than being able to keep an eye on the renovation or make timely decisions for the builder who got frustrated.
So, witrh several aspects unfinished or not finished to my satisfaction a good friend suggested I simply got a Project Manager in to sort it out - so how do you find a good one?
Start with the rics and ask there.
If you know what needs to be done, even better would be to start with something like ms project and map out the steps you think will be needed. You can then talk to experts and suppliers and put in time scales, dependencies and estimated costs. If it all comes together you then employ the relevant people and give them time scales to complete the various parts of the project. It isn’t difficult but is time consuming at the beginning and an enjoyable learning curve with a sense of some control if you take it on.
Thanks bruss. I honestly wanted to sell our property and let someone else have the headache of modernising it.
The rental was a fantastic property and I’d have happily stayed there for a few years given other external stressors requiring my attention - the fact I’d not appreciated the new owners were downsizing and intended to move in scuppered that.
I/we made the wrong decision employing this particular builder. It seemed a good plan at the time as Mrs AC did not want to look at a differnt rental. Unfortunately we had not at that stage planned what we wanted to do and everything was rushed or forced coupled with other commitments with elderly parents much of the week.
The builder got frustrated with us, we got frustrated with him - certain things were done well but as time went on I perceived corners were cut and the relationship soured. I had originally wanted a Project Manager but the builder suggested he could do that with other professional contacts but it simply didn’t work out.
That of course is a euphemism for ‘we feel shafted’.
Once is a mistake you learn from. Second time is you were shafted.
I did buy a house with a good friend, for renting. I hated all the aspect of finding suitable people and then manage the mess that they left it in. We were mostly dealing with DSS people, but they still needed to top up the rent by a small amount. Collecting the rent off these struggling people was difficult for me morally. We did it for about 3 years, then sold it. We broke even, but was so glad to just drop all the worry. Using an agent might have been a good idea, but it was great to loose all that responsibility. So I’d sell and get rid.
A close friend in real estate for 25 years once told me “there are so many conmen out to get you in real estate and construction, that it’s not even possible for a real estate agent to not be shafted by another real estate agent or builder.”
I’ve had bad experiences too. In the past. And recently. The only thing I can say is there are no bargains. Or maybe it’s like hifi and the real bargain is in knowing quality service is going to cost you.
I recently found that if we manage our own build we can afford far higher quality construction materials. But the builders blow every deadline over and over. Don’t answer calls and quite frankly piss me off so much I’m risk of a stroke. A large corporotion specialising in renovation and new builds provides far lower quality materials at almost twice the price. They pick up the phone. Respond to email. Meet their deadlines. I’ve come to realise those things might be more important. They might even use the same builder behind the scenes but having them in between cracking the whip definitely takes my blood pressure down a notch.
After 43 years in the construction industry the conclusion I have come to is that people are only as good as their last job.
The main thing is managing expectations and asperations.
IMHO it is about being clear from the start what it is that you actually want and how you intend to achieve it.
This all starts with a detailed brief from you to the person, from the RICS or RIBA, for them to write a detailed specification of the required works, and drawings if required.
Then,IMHO, you need to be clear on how you want them to project manage the project. Such as number of site visits per week, how long you want them on site when they visit etc.
Do you want them to authorise the stage payments when the contractor puts a claim for payment in?
Whom do you want to do the snagging?
In my experiance, good communication and being open, honest and transparent at all times helps the project run smoothley.
That’s excellent advice Roger, thank you.
The sour relationship between ourselves and the builder at the end was multifactorial, and I have to accept that some issues were from our side due to issues beyond our control which made timely decision making difficult. I think the reality is we had a willing builder who wanted to start too soon for his own fiancial reasons but we hadn’t planned the work as the need to do so arose somehwat unexpectedly. If I had that time again everything would have been done differently, I guess you live and learn, but the one thing I would not do again is allow the contractor to effectively double as project manager.
I think a good project manager manages the client as well as the building project. The builder can almost never do that.
In our case things moved to quickly, friend’s builder was free within days after renovating his house (possibly the next job fell through?). We were in a position whereby unexpectedly we would have to leave a rented property within 6 months and jumped at the chance to avail ourselves of the builder to do some work on our property, but we’d planned nothing at this stage. In hindsight I think a project manager would have told us we were not in a position to start using the builder’s services immediately as we had little idea what we wanted to do. We assumed we could make decisions/choices as we went along but were always scuppered by problems with my parents’ health - whenever we had a task choosing something on the weekend/free days we’d inevitably get a call from carers etc to go down as there were literally health issues/falls/hospitalisations and so forth almost every week. It was simply not a good time to try and do work at our property due to these frequent commitments as well as having a young family, and the whole reason I opted to rent somewhere in the first place - my plan was to rent a decent property for 18-24 months and put ours on the market for someone else to sort out.
This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.