Routes to Success
Based on guidelines supplied by the Build Cost Information Service www.bcis.co.uk a variety of the Self-Build magazines prepare a regularly updated build cost guide. They detail three to four build routes and we go into further detail about the costs and implications in the Costs & Cases section. Whilst not hard and fast rules to be followed, these are the basic explanations of those routes.
This would describe the route taken if you were to take control of the design of the building and project-manage the build process yourself. You will also be involved with a significant amount of the works, maybe up to 75%. Although people do have a go from scratch, as it were, this route is a major undertaking and is often only advisable if you have some experience of building or at least one area of the necessary trades.
1 Pros The benefits are clear. It will be significantly less expensive and you will get exactly what you want.
2 Cons If you are unsure of what you are undertaking at any stage, and have not completed the appropriate research or sought the best advice, you could make errors that will not just affect the project, but your cost management. It will also be very hard work featuring long hours and skills you may be acquiring as you progress. There are also some areas which require certification that you will have to get professionals in for such as heating and electrical work.
With an overview of the project, you will take care of the design process before selecting contractors to take care of the works. You may have a builder oversee part of the project; perhaps the erection of the shell for example, and they will appoint all of the necessary tradesmen to that point, but you will be in charge of appointing tradesmen for a large proportion of the work – perhaps from the stage the roof is on and the building is protected from the elements - Although again, you will be involved with some aspects of the on-site project.
1 Pros You will be able to work with the designers and planning department to get a building that you want. If there are areas that you are not happy with you will at least be involved sufficiently to know why. You will also be in control of your budgets; how much tradesmen are costing, materials, and decisions relating to major costs such as kitchens and bathrooms. If you build a straight forward off the shelf design there are also many ways in which the project can become every bit as cost effective as any first build route.
2 Cons You will need to keep track of costs at all times. We have all seen the TV shows where a slight error costs a lot of money. Time is also a challenge – you will need to pin down your tradesmen and ensure contracts are fixed. Otherwise costs can easily escalate and if your plumber is delayed for example, you could miss your plasterer’s slot.
With this route, a main builder will take on all of the project management and employ all of the tradesmen: Package companies and an oft-used phrase ‘Flat Pack Homes’ companies will also fit into this category. Your involvement could be as little as working through the early design stages and then collecting the keys at the end.
1 Pros You will have your hand held throughout the process to a major degree. Even if you proceed along the contractor route you are likely to use a company to erect your timber frame for part of your construction. During the design period of the project your budget will, to some extent, dictate what you can and cannot have. You will be helped through the planning process, which will be a tremendous benefit as most of these companies have significant experience in these sorts of dealings. Costs are fixed, so you won’t run over budget. There is some flexibility that will allow you to be involved as much as you want. Trades are vetted and invariably greatly experienced in these sorts of projects. It is quite possibly the quickest route to end product.
2 Cons If you are working to set designs there may be limited flexibility regarding alterations and changes to those plans. Although the right design can be as financially beneficial as it would if you followed one of the other routes. If you are not doing anything / much yourself, it is perhaps understandable that this will be a more expensive route to take.