How to Avoid the Top 4 Problems in Construction & Renovation Projects
Residential construction and renovation projects are not something homeowners go into lightly. If things go wrong, they can cause upheaval, expense, and stress. But, managed correctly, that risk can be minimized.
#1: Unqualified/inept construction workers
All of the problems below can be compounded by bad builders – and, even if logistical matters are going smoothly, unqualified renovators can mess up a home. That’s why the number one item on your agenda is to find qualified, reliable workers.
How can you check if a construction firm is any good?
In the UK, your first port of call will be the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). It’s the “Who’s Who” of small- to medium-sized construction firms in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Members are held to a strict code of conduct and pass independent inspections to make sure they pass the Master Builder criteria.
To confirm whether a firm is part of the FMB, you can use their Check a Member tool.
Another way to ensure you’re picking the best is by choosing a firm that will give you testimonials/references to back up their claims of superb work on other projects.
#2: Poor communication/mismatched expectations
Poor communication can happen from either end of a renovation relationship.
It’s maddening to be involved with a construction firm that won’t pick up the phone, answer emails or even turn up to appointments. That’s a sign of bad management, and it’s one more reason to do your due diligence before hiring a construction company.
Equally, it’s frustrating for homeowners and workers if both parties are acting in good faith but are on separate pages.
How can you optimize communication on a construction renovation project?
- Good communication should start before work begins. Everything from project scope to payment plan should be agreed in writing, in a clear and thorough contract.
- Continue a good working relationship by arranging regular face-to-face meetings with your builder or project manager. There is far less scope for miscommunication if you’re catching up over a friendly cup of tea rather than via email or – worse – text!
- Don’t be afraid to communicate changing expectations or circumstances. If you need to make changes, or you’re concerned about the budget, let your contractor know right away.
#3: Project running over budget
This is the problem most feared by homeowners – they end up spending far more than they intended.
The first thing to do is to make sure you have some leeway in your budget. Unexpected expenses (like dealing with a previously undiscovered damp problem) must be accounted for. So, whatever you’re quoted, add at least 15% and make sure you can afford that. If nothing goes wrong, great! But if it does, you won’t be left scrambling to find extra cash.
How can you avoid going over budget on a renovation job?
Aside from unavoidable issues like mold, external factors (e.g. storms), and so on, there’s a lot you can do to minimize budget surprises. This ties in with the previous point: It’s all about communication.
• A good contract should be itemized to include allowable expenses, and any ‘wiggle room’ you’re happy to give your builder when it comes to things like material purchases.
• Any extra expenses (because of a change you want to make, a rise in material cost, an undiscovered property issue, etc.) should be properly amended in the contract and signed off.
#4: Project running over schedule
Delays can be caused by issues in contractor scheduling, changes made by the homeowner, or even something as simple as a run of terrible weather.
How can you avoid delays in construction renovation works?
First, it’s useful to hire a construction firm that has a multi-skilled team – workers that can deal with electrics, plumbing and so on, as well as building work. This avoids the main scheduling issues that can cause projects to drag on forever.
Then, yet again, communication is key.
• Make sure your contract specifies when the project should begin and end. The contract should also specify what will happen in the event of delays caused by either party.
• If you want any changes made to the project or schedule, tell your contractor right away.
• Ask how the work is progressing and help the contractor with anything causing delays (e.g. household items having to be moved each day before work begins).
Construction and renovation works are complicated projects with lots of scope for problems. However, the satisfaction of seeing a well-completed project is fantastic – especially if you’ve cultivated a good relationship with your contractor.
Choose your construction firm carefully, ensure a thorough contract, and keep up communication with the project manager or builder. Risk mitigation is really that simple.