Who to manage and run a house renovation? Builder or Architect?

Discussion in 'OT (OFF Topic) Forums' started by rossyl, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. rossyl

    rossyl Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Hi,

    So I am considering purchasing a place in much need of renovation. Given the nature of my job and my partner's we will not be able to run the renovation ourselves, we simply cannot be on the end of a phone when needed or at the house at a specified time to discuss things due to our jobs.

    In short, the renovation will involve a one storey small extension (nothing spectacular), a loft extension, knocking down of 1 or 2 load bearing walls, new bathrooms, new kitchen, re-wire, new heating and rads and plumbing.

    We will need plans/structural drawings for the loft extension, and knocking down of load bearing walls.

    We'd like one person to run and manage it from start to finish, to have a set quote, to keep to a time schedule and generally to be professional. We realise that things may shift, but we don't want the end result costing twice as much and the duration being twice as long. We want someone committed and professional, who will give the job the time it requires.

    We also realise that this will cost more than if we hired all the trades in ourselves and managed the renovation, but as said we just can't do that.

    So who would we be best dealing handing this over to?

    Architect?
    He draws the plans, and gets the structural drawings from an engineer. He hopefully is well experienced in house building, managing the build and the trades, getting quotes from various contractors, knowing quality contractors. Hopefully he'll deliver what we planned with him at the outset. I imagine he'll charge 5-10% of the build cost?

    Builder/Main Contractor
    We get a builder/structural engineer to draw up the plans/drawings and we give them to various builders to price up. The builder can talk to the architect/engineer as required (no doubt we'll need to pay for this). The builder is in charge, he has employees of various trades or knows various subcontractors he has used previously. He can give us a start and end date.


    The above no doubt misses many things and certain other options, and the advantages/disadvantages with going with each - but I guess that is what i am asking for here from people with experience. It tends to be pretty hard to get honest answers on this question. I guess for every 1 competent experienced architect/builder there are 10 who are not.


    I'm not completely green to renovations, my experiences have been bad/good.
    - Good being a builder who has done various small refurb works for me (new bathroom, new kitchen, decorating) to budget and reasonably within time and to a good standard - but that was a small project i was able to manage myself.
    - Bad being my parents large extension. They got plans from an architect and handed them to a builder to build. The builder did 20% of the job and ran off with the funds that he supposedly had spent on roofing materials that never arrived. With the next builder it was a constant fight over fees as he constantly changed his "fixed" price. The trouble is that kicking someone off a half-built project is very difficult - few builders want to complete someone else's work, and it will of course cause great delay.

    Anyway, would appreciate any and all advice.

    Cheers
    R
     
  2. SPX

    SPX MB Club Veteran

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    Research a good builder as though your life depends on it and you won't need an architect.
     
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  3. Charles Morgan

    Charles Morgan MB Club Veteran

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    I have done both, you have to have an architect who will make the commitment and a good builder (I had neither at that time, hence delays, overspends and general malaise), now I am doing a renovation, my architect (Ade B from here) drew up excellent plans, scope of works and spec, and my builder is hard working and sensible. I am effectively project managing the build though - and I would say this, if you aren't able to commit the time to keep on top of it, you will find costs and delays rising whichever route you do.
     
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  4. developer

    developer MB Club Veteran

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    A party separate from the builder (i.e Architect or Project Manager) gives you someone to face off to which can be useful, particularly if they are not directly connected to the builder. You raise the issue with them (and there's usually something arising), they manage the solution.

    You have to decide whether it's a cost worth paying.

    Having re read your opening paragraph, I suspect this is a better route for you.

    However, if you know/trust your builder then away you go.
     
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  5. Darrell

    Darrell Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    rossyl,

    Get in touch with Andy Walsh at AD Developments. Google them and you should find it.

    I worked for them for around 10 years before I moved to Greece and a finer building company will be hard to find. They work with architects and then sometimes they don't, it's usually up to the client and the contract.

    They have a pretty good website and are based in Pinner.

    PS Don't mention my name.
     
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  6. MOCAŠ

    MOCAŠ MB Club Veteran

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    As suggested above, it sounds like what you really need is an experienced project manager to oversee the build from end to end, actually plan the various activities so that they happen as efficiently as possible and to orchestrate each part of the build. They will/may also need to chase suppliers and deal with utility companies and perhaps the local authority.

    It's unlikely you'll find an architect willing to be that hands-on unless you virtually employ him exclusively throughout, and even then, not all architects make good PMs.

    A builder may be better placed to do this, but wouldnt you rather he was... building? Any decent firm of builders will appoint a project manager if the job demands it, or you could seek out a freelancer.
     
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  7. Tinck

    Tinck Active Member

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    Rossyl,

    I was an architectural designer, but now work as a Building Surveyor and Project Manager on hi end resi, commercial, industrial and educational buildings. Managing projects from inception to completion. Your best bet is a Building Surveyor with good Design, PM and contractural knowledge and too be cost aware. He will also be expert as lead consultant running the scheme.

    It sounds a straightforward project. E-mail me your details and I will give you some names in your area.
     
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  8. Darrell

    Darrell Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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  9. MOCAŠ

    MOCAŠ MB Club Veteran

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    ^ Not saying a builder can't project manage the job himself (in fact, I suggested he could). But while he's doing that, he's not concentrating on the build, so it will take longer (or perhaps cause corners to be cut). In my experience, building companies include the cost of a pm in their quote for the job, and he frees the lead builder up to concentrate just on the build-related activities. A lot of customers will choose to do all the other legwork themselves, but if rossyl and his SO are time-poor, then they'll need someone to do it for them.
     
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  10. Darrell

    Darrell Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    One scenario I do remember was at one stage in about 2004 we were getting really busy.

    The firm that we ran started off as 3 guys. Me (a plumber) the boss and another guy (both chippies). We all did our time on the same firm so we had worked together and knew each others good and bad points.

    We didn't have much experience in pricing up jobs, writing letters etc etc. That all came with experience and learning. We didn't come out with the big words that surveyors etc come out with and used to turn up to look at jobs in our Transit wearing our dirty joggy bottoms.

    We got an enquiry for a job in Sheen worth about 1.2 million so the guv thought he would hire a proffesional Q.S to price up the job and do all the complicated bits. The Q.S charged the earth and for the first time ever, we lost a job. As you can imagine the boss was not happy. 'We will never have anyone like that to do anything like that again' he said. 'A waste of space'.

    The prospected client was a Miss Cathy Dennis. Google her.
     
  11. Charles Morgan

    Charles Morgan MB Club Veteran

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    My experience of builders is thus:

    first one disappeared leaving a job unfinished for three months because he found something more profitable. Despite a clear spec, the sod stripped all the original Victorian doors from the flat and they never returned.

    Second one cost twice the budget to meet a deadline that they were still a month late on.

    Builders upstairs connected all the plumbing without first having tested it, wrecking all of my ceilings below. Having encased all the piping in solid marble only my goodwill meant they saved thousands by letting them strip out the piping from below. Six floods and two ceilings later they finally managed to stop the shower leaking into my bathroom. This was the day before I moved out.

    The final set of builders erected scaffolding to paint the house (I was in the garden flat) when I went away. Shame they blocked both my doors so I wasn't able to get out into the garden for two months.

    Spec exactly what you want before you approach a builder, if they are managing plumber and electricians for you find out who they are (one I met thought building regs were a waste of space), ask for detailed costings and check them - one of my plumbers thought he would try to charge me 30% over the odds for a boiler as well as taking all the scrap copper (worth well over £500), and still charge me £100 an hour. If doing windows get quotes - I was given pricing ranges between £8k and £25k - the former was crap, the latter no better than windows costing just under £10k.

    If you want to get a good build at a decent cost, you must invest your time. It is not a big build but you could easily burn a lot more than you need to. It is not rocket science.
     
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  12. Darrell

    Darrell Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Surely, if a builder is managing the job he is concentrating on the build as well. The 2 go hand in hand. And why should corners be cut?.
     
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  13. Dieselman

    Dieselman Banned

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    Possibly better than underpricing and being out of pocket on a large job.
     
  14. MOCAŠ

    MOCAŠ MB Club Veteran

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    Don't want to turn this into a protracted spat, but to give an example, if the builder is having to take delivery of equipment (eg: white goods, sanitary ware, etc), perhaps having to chase suppliers if things don't arrive on time, or are not to the spec ordered; is having to rearrange other trades if someone booked goes sick or otherwise awol; that's all time spent on the phone rather than actually doing the work - and none of it is making use of his building skills, yet you're still paying his day rate.

    If the client has agreed a fixed price for the job (as most people do these days), then the builder is going to have to compensate for any time burned on these secondary tasks, so if he's having a tough time of it he may well take his eye off the ball, or even deliberately start cutting corners to make up time.

    If everything goes like clockwork, a builder can probably control it all, but if the OP doesn't have time to plan everything meticulously himself and just wants someone to take the hassle off his hands, a pm will do this - and a good one will also help maintain momentum and ensure everyone on the job pulls their weight.

    Not saying it's the only way of doing things, but it is a way that has its place.
     
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  15. Merc Owner 2B

    Merc Owner 2B Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Hire a project manager. He will charge between 5 - 10% of the build and have only your interest in mind. A trustworthy builder is extremely hard to find although, as we've already heard on here, are about. But they are in a very small minority.

    Your PM will advise on staged payments and milestone dates which carry financial penalties if trades are behind schedule.

    I'm an industrial PM and always recoup my salary for my employers and deliver every project on-time and within budget.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
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  16. OP
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    rossyl

    rossyl Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Thanks all. Just a thought is a Project Manager likely to be able to get in various builders quotes, or would they only use the builder that you have found?

    Just thinking that a builder is likely to work into his quote the cost of him having to run the build. So a builder who knows that someone else is project managing may be able to reduce his quote, especially if it is the project manager who is approaching him for a quote.

    Or am I wrong?
     
  17. SPX

    SPX MB Club Veteran

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    I think for the size of the work that you're having carried out, the builder and a PM could quite easily become at loggerheads over all sorts of issues on such a small project.

    This, obviously, would lead to you having to get involved which you've stated you're not keen to do.

    Seriously, take my advice from my first post and do some detailed research into prospective builders (eg ask him if he minds you contacting previous customers for a reference) and you can't go far wrong.
     
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  18. Tinck

    Tinck Active Member

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    There are many talking at cross purposes here. If you appoint a Building Surveyor PM or architect, he will review what you require, work with you to develop the brief and ensure it complies with Planning and Building Regulation Requirements.

    They will produce a schedule of works, and plans,working with a structural engineer as required and issue to probably 4 contractors for pricing. They will then review the tenders ensure you obtain best value and recommend a contractor to you. They will supervise the project ensure you are paying what you should be paying and more importantly ensure it is finished on time on budget and to the right quality.

    Finally they will ensure all warranties are in place, which purchasers solicitors are asking for more and more on any domestic alterations. They protect your investment.

    Ordering and managing sub contractors, plumbers, joiners etc and ordering Villeroy and Boch taps and timber joists is down to the contracts manager to manage and co ordinate. He will be working for the contractor.

    What we find on a day to day basis and we get calls all the time from unlucky householders, whose builder has asked for money up front, not finished the job or quality is poor. It's a nightmare for them and when you will be coming home to it every night that extra security of a PM will give you piece of mind.

    The best builder is only as good as his sub contractors in any case, and in the end it comes down to money, cash flow , expectations and relationships. A good PM will be aware of all this.
     
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  19. jonnyboy

    jonnyboy Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I totally agree with Lee (sweetpea). On a minor project it is an unnecessary expense, and if the builder hasn't worked with him before it could get very sour very quickly, builders generally don't like being told what to do when, especially if they don't rate the person telling them.
    You should need a good builder, nothing more, from the sounds of it.
    Rather than paying a project manager, draw up a brief, and when appointing a builder agree a penalty for late finishing and a bonus for on time/ahead with specifically measurable targets and standards of workmanship. Seemples.
    Speaking as someone who has ended up project managing a six figure extension that was 6' out of the ground when I sacked the contractor...........
     
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  20. OP
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    rossyl

    rossyl Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Out of interest, many of the comments that are pro-builder-only are basing that on the size of job/build cost.

    What are people expecting me to pay?

    The process that Tinck has outlined is as I expected it to run. But I do see that coming with costs.
     

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