How to avoid your new house or renovation going over budget. Part 2

Posted by on Feb 11, 2013 in Blog, How to/ Tips | No Comments

Working drawing

Following on from last week…

Design changes during construction:
The construction of a new home is a lengthy process: a renovation can take six to twelve months to complete, and a new house a year or more. Within that time clients are a mixture of excitement and concern. With so much money involved, naturally thoughts turn to questioning: will it all turn out as I had hoped? In pondering this, some will continue to look and consider what other products and possibilities are out there. In doing so they begin to question their choices and want to make changes. Changes made during the construction phase, are one of the biggest factors in projects going over budget. Exploring design options should only happen with lines on paper that are easily changed during the design phase, not on site when those lines are now made up of steel and concrete…. I think you can see where I am going with this.

A building is the sum of many connected parts, thousands in fact. Changing one part affects many others, requiring several trades to make additional trips back to a job. They must be paid extra to remove work they have already been paid for, and paid extra again to make the changes asked for. Further still is the cost of the additional materials required. As a result any change requires up to three times the labour that was necessary, labour being the most expensive part of any project, and twice the materials. Making a change during construction, can and will easily cost 2-3 times more than what it should have. With every building element costing many thousands to build, make a few change, things get really ugly.

The key is to trust your architect and their design. Only complete the design phase and move to the construction stage when you are happy with all aspects of the design. There will always be others ways and new building systems coming out. However in working with a great architect, you will be guided to make choices you will feel confident will work best for you. A big part of that is to avoid fads, instead with a design that’s based on styles, forms and materials that have stood the test of time, your home will still look great in ten and twenty years from now. With that approach, what comes out in four months won’t make your project any better, and will keep you from being tempted to make changes.

Construction supervision:
Ever notice the common theme on Grand Designs is the projects always go over time and over budget? Ever notice they sack their architect and project manage themselves “to save money”? A coincidence? No!

Yes it costs money to have your architect supervise, but it will cost you so much more if you don’t. Two things will happen if your architect is not supervising your project from start to finish: costs will go up and quality will go down. An architect making regular site visits will pick up any mistakes early, before they cost big dollars to correct, and keep a close eye on quality and timeframes. It is they who worked out how the house is built, and they who have the training in construction and design to ensure that what was designed is what is being built. Think of an architect as your quality assurance, and cost controller. 

Secondly things go wrong on construction sites, as I’ve said before, buildings are very complicated, and not everything goes to plan. I mentioned this in part 1 of this blog last week: ensure you have a contingency sum in place. An architect however will find a work around to these inevitable problems with the least amount of added costs, if any at all. If they weren’t involved would you know what to do? You don’t tell your mechanic how to fix your car, because you don’t know what’s wrong with it, that’s why you go to a mechanic. Yet building a house is worth ten times the amount of a car. Don’t risk it, mistakes aren’t in the hundreds of dollars, they are in the thousands.

A final word.
The main point to take from all of this: don’t cut corners at any stage. As with everything in life, you get what you pay for. Spend that bit more to do it right, and it will save you so much money and heartache. Don’t let your dream house become a nightmare.


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