FAIL TO PREPARE……..PREPARE TO FAIL!
Renovation projects are notoriously challenging to manage, especially Deep Retrofit. There are so many component parts to arrange and each needs to be dove tailed neatly into the next for a successful outcome. Unless you have a Knowledge of Construction and Experience in Construction you’ll struggle to succeed!
Regrettably however, construction continues to be the one industry in which a lot of people presume that they can ‘give it a go themselves’. How is anybody without any experience in the (mine) field of construction expected to know how to schedule works and tradesmen for example? Oversights and delays will occur and they will always cost you money – extra money for numerous simple things that you wouldn’t even consider at first. What about that Portaloo that ends up on site for a longer time than you initially intended, for instance? What about the tradesman who is left standing around with nothing to do for a day or two? He’ll still have to be paid for those unproductive days. The truth is, if you don’t have experience in Deep Retrofit, design and construction, you’ll most likely fail to successfully manage a renovation project. Not only will the quality of the finished product not be good, but you’ll probably suffer budget over-runs too.
So, please do not attempt to build by ‘direct labour’!! Renovation works and especially Deep Retrofit require close co-ordination and co-operation between tradesmen and suppliers. There are a host of jobs and tasks that are not the responsibility of any particular trade. These are known as ‘builders’ works’ and will become your concern if you decide to give ‘direct labour’ a shot. Buildings built by direct labour usually (shoddily) reflect the fact that there is no experienced project manager in charge with a genuine interest in the finished project. Bear in mind that builders and tradesmen operate under the instruction of the project manager. They are not designers or managers, they just do what is asked of them. A project manager will consider all the component parts of your Deep Retrofit renovation, using experience, expertise and joined-up thinking to stitch them all together. The project manager will care about your project and the quality of your completed Deep Retrofit.
In addition to this, it’s actually illegal now not to appoint a competent person to plan and oversee your project. It is essential therefore to ensure that the company you engage is competent and fully insured with Public Liability, Employers Liability and All Risks insurance cover. If the contractor you engage is not fully insured and an accident happens on site, then it is you, the householder who may be liable to pay out!
It is also a legal requirement that you notify the Health & Safety Authority that you are ‘Carrying out Work on a Private Domestic Dwelling’ before works commence. Under the regulations it is you, the client, who must appoint a ‘Competent Person’ to carry out the construction works and appoint a ‘Project Supervisor for the Design Process and for the Construction Stage’. You are also obliged to keep a Safety File. It is actually an offence now not to fulfil these legal requirements.
Similarly, in order to qualify for grants and tax incentives so that you can claim some money back after your Deep Retrofit, ensure that the company you’re working with is a registered contractor and that they have a current tax clearance certificate. Check too that all subcontractors used by this company for component works such as insulation, heating controls and so on are similarly registered.
Another task will be to find out about the suppliers, products and tradesmen that your preferred contractor will be using. By doing this you will ensure that you are getting only good quality materials and products. Ensure too that the sub-contractors that are being utilised are reputable. One option is to ‘nominate’ a particular tradesman or supplier to guarantee that you get the best quality.
Carrying out a survey to establish the condition of your existing building is also of utmost importance. By doing this you will minimise the likelihood of ‘nasty surprises’ during the course of the job. By getting a survey done you will also avoid wasting time considering unworkable solutions such as, for example, underfloor heating, which may not function in your building due to its original condition.
Be very clear about what you want to achieve in your Deep Retrofit renovation project and why you want to achieve these things. What is your primary motivation for doing the project? It may be that you are uncomfortable or cold in your home or that your fuel bills are too high. Perhaps your house is draughty or suffers with condensation? Or your main priority may be to transform a badly laid out, old-fashioned and dated house that doesn’t function well for you and your family. Make a definitive list of all the elements of your home that don’t work well for you and make sure that your final specification solves as many of these issues as possible. Don’t loose sight of these priorities during the design process.
Knowing what you want to achieve also means that design decisions can be finalised well in advance of the project commencing. By being well-organised beforehand you will avoid the stress of making important decisions under pressure while the works are ongoing on site. This will also greatly speed up the whole building process and you’ll be able to occupy your home sooner and avoid any extra costs.
Of course, your finances should also be arranged well in advance. Establish your budget and stick to it. The budget is an essential component of any plan because
it dictates the scope of works that can be carried out and informs you design decisions. Seek professional advice on how to achieve your goals within your budget. Your bank must also be informed of the start and finish dates of your project and the dates on which you are contracted to make payments. By doing this you will avoid a possible scenario in which your builder has to cease all works whilst waiting for a payment.
It is also wise to get advice on establishing the overall time-frame for the renovation. The time-frame for your Deep Retrofit must be inclusive of the whole process from design stage through to the final handover. It needs to be realistic and achievable, and backed up by a bar chart illustrating the works programme.
Also important is to inform your neighbours about your Deep Retrofit renovation project and the possible impact upon them. You will (hopefully) avert any future confrontation by doing this. You can introduce them to your contractor too if necessary.
So, as you can see, there is an awful lot involved in planning a Deep Retrofit renovation, and that’s all before the renovation even begins…..
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