There’s an old adage that says: “failing to plan is planning to fail” and it’s so often proved to be true, whether the project being planned is in house building, filmmaking, computing or anything else.
A renovation project is likely to require a number of tradesmen to come in and do their own particular job, and when they come in, they will need everything set up to do their job, otherwise they are wasting their time, which is your money.
Even simple things, like getting materials delivered, need planning. Is the road wide enough for the lorry to turn? If it can’t get into your driveway, will you need to demolish a wall, or is the distance from the road short enough for materials to be transferred by hand or on a trolley?
Initial Stages of Planning
The basic stages of planning are similar, regardless of what is being planned. The first stage is to map out what the project is, then break done the work into stages. Then drill down into each stage, writing down each individual task.
Then some thought needs to be applied to this list, to work out which tasks depend on each other. A simple example is that the roof frame needs to be in place before the roof can be tiled. OK, that’s pretty obvious, but once you get down to a lower level of detail, it might not be so simple.
Two things will come out of this process, lists of tasks that depend on each other, and other lists of jobs that might be related, but can be done at any time without affecting other jobs. Armed with this list you have a picture of the project that will be of great use for you.
If the jobs you are working on come to a halt for reasons that you can’t control, perhaps because of the weather, or late delivery of some materials, you can pick out jobs that can be done from an independent list, so that work will carry on and you don’t have idle workers.
You might be stumped on a delivery of bricks, for example, which means your bricklayers can’t work on your house, but at least you can put them to work rebuilding the wall that you had to knock down to let in that big lorry last week!
Consider Employing an Expert
If the process really needs expert knowledge, then novices might be wise to employ a professional project manager for a complex renovation.
For example, plumbers and electricians work almost completely independently when doing first fix work, but two things are crucial to a trouble free project:
- Firstly, they both need to know the plans for each other’s work, because it will all need to work at the end, when the electrics are coupled to the plumbing.
- Second is that, because they both have to lay materials through walls, roof spaces, ceilings and floors, then they often need to be working in the same space at the same time, so they need to be juggled so that they’re not in each other’s way.
Additionally, joiners need to know about the work of the plumber and the electrician so that they leave gaps for wires, pipes and so on, and plasterers need to know the plans so that they know when they can come in to finish walls.
Often these craftsmen will work independently and need to have their time arranged well in advance, so it’s easy to see where things can start to unravel.
Factor in Time and Cost
Once the task lists are arranged in dependency order, you then need to collect three bits of information about each task, or groups of tasks.
The first is a name, who’s going to do it? The second is the time, how long they think it will take. And the last, of course, is the price. Once you’ve got all that together, and got over the shock, you will know how long it’s going to take and how much money you’ll need.
Again, expert advice is useful here so that the estimates can be as accurate as possible.
Finally a word about contingency. This is the extra time or money that you put into a project to make sure that your plan is flexible enough to absorb the problems that inevitably arise.
Contingency is often set at around 10 to 20%, depending on the size of the task. So if a plumber says it will take two weeks to install the boiler and lay the pipe work for the radiators, you might put twelve working days on your plan, rather than ten.
Coping With Change
Winston Churchill once said: “plans are of little importance, but planning is essential”. It is vital to understand this; the process of planning will make you understand the complexity of your renovation and what will need to be done.
The plans will change as you go along, either because of factors outside your control, or you change your mind about what you want, but it is important to then re-plan to get your new direction set out and communicated to your team. If this is done, your project will be a success.