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Keeping On Top Of The Project When Renovating A House

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 21 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Property Renovation Renovate Homes

In another article we talked about the importance of planning (and patience) in making your renovation project a success. We finished by noting that the planning itself was the important part not so much the plan, and as the project progresses this will become more evident.

Coping With Slippage

This is not to say that the plan is not important, but it is important to realise it will have to change and that the plan must be updated. Some tasks might be finished a shorter time than expected and others, probably many more, will take longer than anticipated.

When that happens, updating the plan will make you aware of what other things might have to be shifted, and sometimes show you a way to get the time back by re-arranging other tasks.

Again, once you’ve done that, it won’t be enough. The plan is at the core of the project but it’s not the project. If the plan is being re-jigged, perhaps because the window supplier is going to deliver three weeks later than anticipated, then anyone in charge of another task that relied on the windows being there will have to be told and re-scheduled.

So maybe the plasterers will have to be called off until the windows are there, unless there are enough other jobs that need to be done before the plasterers come in, like fitting central heating pipes and laying electrical wires through the walls, for the three week delay not to be significant. Updating the plan will show you whether you need to postpone the plasterers or not.

Arrange Weekly Meetings

If you can’t be on site while the work is being done, it makes sense to try and get there at least once a week, or have a phone call with your team on site, to check progress against the plan. If there is going to be slippage, the faster you know about it the easier it is to make contingency plans to deal with it. And if you get answers saying that everything’s ok but you suspect it isn’t, try asking a couple of open questions, such as “if any one task was likely to slip and cause a delay, which one would it be?”

It’s important to trap slippage as quickly as possible. In our windows example, if you phone the plasterers three weeks before they are coming to rearrange, they’ll be annoyed, but much more amenable than if you phone them the day beforehand! Once you have arranged a new date with them, that can be plugged into the plan and you can determine whether or not there is a further knock on effect.

Keep Tabs On Suppliers

With suppliers, phone them on a regular basis to check that your delivery will be on time. If there is going to be a delay, they are unlikely to phone you to give you bad news, and they are always hoping that they will make the date. Too often the first time you hear that they aren’t going to deliver is a day or so beforehand, which is too close to work out any contingency plan.

To try and keep on top of all the intertwined dependencies of the different tasks, and the different tradesmen who are taking care of them, needs constant vigilance but is well worth it. If one person can’t come in and do his job because someone else hasn’t finished, that’s not his fault and you will be expected to pay for his time.

If you are in charge of obtaining materials for all the jobs then that is down to you too, if someone turns up and he hasn’t got the wherewithal to do the job, then you’ll pay again.

Consider Expert Help

The other point of keeping plans and records as you go along is to keep tabs on time and money for the people you are paying to do the work. Even if you’ve negotiated fixed price contracts, or contracts with penalty clauses for going over time, the plans and notes that you’ve kept will be a valuable tool to prove your point if things go wrong and you do not think you should be paying for certain items.

If this sounds like it’s a little too much and needs expert knowledge of the building and renovation process in order to stay on top of it, then you are probably right. In that case you should consider taking on an experienced project manager to control the job for you. On a complex and long-winded project, if they are good at their job they will easily save you the money that they cost to employ.

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