How to navigate your project construction stage.

Many start construction unprepared, just hoping for the best. Understanding construction stage and all the work that needs to be done before you remove a single brick is essential. Nobody can guarantee your project success but the result will vastly depend on how well are you prepared and how competent are people around you. Recruit a power team on which you can rely on.

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Construction Stage has two important phases:

  • pre-construction phase 
  • construction phase


This phase is based upon your approved design. This is the time when you finalise your design details and prepare your tender pack. Tender pack consists of your technical design drawings and detailed schedule of works. They both describe the works that need to be completed and that you would like your chosen contractor to price and deliver.

Once you have selected a contractor and agreed price, he will provide you with payment schedule and programme of works, outlining start and finish date and list important milestones along the way such as site preparation, demolition and clearance, foundations, building of structures, installation of structural steel support, plumbing and electrical works, internal works, decorating, bathrooms installations, tiling, flooring etc. This programme will help you to make sure that all required items that you are supplying are on site on time. It will also help you to track progress and value work before any payments are issued as it will be closely linked to payment schedules. Documentation from this stage will be added to your building contract. 

Building contract such as JCT contract between yourself as Owner and chosen Contractor will be the basis of the contract between you and your contractor and or subcontractors.

You may think you are ready to go but it is worth making sure you….

….don’t start construction if you are not clear on what you want and need. 

Changing your mind can be expensive. Locking yourself into a building contract without properly considering building design is like putting a cart in front of a horse. You will create unnecessary obstacles and problems and those in construction phase equate to extra costs and delays. 

….don’t start construction without having all relevant approvals and permissions from local authority.

Make sure you have planning permission in place or prior approval if you are working under permitted development scheme. 

….don’t start construction without going through the tender process, checking the builder’s credentials, seeing his work and speaking to people – clients and professionals – he/she worked with. 

How much is your project going to cost? Would you give this money to anyone without proper recruitment? I guess, answer is “no”. 

Make sure the team you are hiring is competent. You need to understand what are their strengths and weaknesses. They need to have your best interest in mind all the time. The more experienced they are the more capable they will be in solving problems. 

….don’t start construction without knowing what is an overall cost of your project, including items that your contractor is not supplying. 

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Your project budget needs to pay not only for building work of which cost will be specified in building contract but also many products and services that may not be included in your contractor’s scope, such as cabinetry, hard wood flooring, glazing, floor tiles, wall tiles, ironmongery, furniture, fittings, fixtures, sanitary ware, carpets, curtains, electronics, lighting etc. Having a spreadsheet with cost of these early on in the project, helps you plan and allocate funds. It will also save you time when making purchases. You can group certain items to save time or/and money. 

….don’t start construction without hiring professional to oversee your build and enforce your building contract. 

Your contract is not worth the paper it’s written on, if you don’t know how to enforce it.

Will you be able to tell if your contractor swaps specified materials? 

Who will be there to check on your behalf if he is following best working practices? 

Additionally, if progress on site is not assessed and checked, you may end up overpaying on scheduled payments.

It is assumed that the building contract such as JCT contract between yourself as Owner and chosen Contractor will be the basis of the contract between you and your contractor and or subcontractors. In that respect, your architect or architectural designer is competent to aid you in the administration of that contract. 

He/she would most likely do following: 

  • Visit the site to see that the work is proceeding generally in accordance with Building Contract,  
  • Issue instructions/variations to overcome discrepancies and/or changes in scope of works
  • Issue notices in respect of remedying discrepancies between contract documents         
  • Certify payments for work carried out or completed and issue payment certificates as appropriate   
  • Assess delays and issue extensions of time which are considered fair and reasonable                                                                
  • Advise on final cost

….don’t start construction without notifying and having an OK from your neighbour.

Your renovation or build may require agreement between you and your neighbour. This has to be in writing. Negotiating Party Wall Agreements with neighbours can add several weeks to your project.

Make sure you have these before you start work on site. You don’t want to jeopardise your project progress and time frame. Your contractor will not like the delays on site. Additionally, it is very difficult to obtain approvals from your neighbour, once they are aggravated and unhappy. Neighbours can often have anxieties around building work, offer reassurance from the start. How you conduct yourself and how your contractor behaves will have a lasting affect on your neighbourly relationships.

….don’t start construction without having structural designs and calculations.

If you are building new structure or removing existing structure, it is highly likely you will need input from structural engineer. Structural engineer’s design drawings and calculations should be available for tender stage. Allowing the cost of structural support be determined as early as possible. Sometimes, there are logistical problems around steel or concrete delivery and installation. Being aware of what is required early, means you can be better prepared and eliminate potential cost increases and delays at construction phase. Discuss the logistics around scaffolding, site waste disposal, deliveries and installations with your contractor. See what solutions he/she offers.

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….don’t start construction without notifying building control.

Prior to work starting on site, you will need to submit building notice. This can be done via privately appointed building control officer or via local authority. Do not leave this task in the hands of your builder. Hiring private building control officer is often beneficial as they are fulfilling a role of your appointed inspector on site. They will check the building progress at all crucial stages. They will check building compliance with all relevant regulations. 

Remember, building according to minimal building control standards means building on a border line illegal. Make sure your home is built well above building standards. Not just compliant with government regulations minimums required.

….don’t start construction without checking your contractor’s insurance and your home insurance. 

All professionals you are hiring to carry out the work must have relevant insurance certificates. Make sure you ask and inspect their insurance policy.

Depending on how large is the scope of works you are doing, you may need to inform your home insurance provider and potentially your mortgage provider as well.


Once the work on site begins, you can make an agreement with your architect or architectural designer how many times will they visit the site. It will be at intervals appropriate to the stage of the construction. They will report to you on the progress and status of the work. Weekly site visits last no more than two hours. But will also require additional administration time. 

Architect will endeavour to guard you against defects and deficiencies in the work and determine in general if the work is being performed in a manner consistent with the construction documents. However, do not expect them to make exhaustive or continuous on-site inspections. Neither will they have continuous representation on-site during construction. That would be a role of a project manager. Your architect will not have control over or be in charge of, nor be responsible for, the construction means, methods, techniques, sequences or procedures, or safety precautions in connection with the work.  These are the responsibilities of the Contractor. 

Renovations and refurbishment projects are extremely expensive endeavours. It is probably the biggest chunk of money you will spend beside actually buying a house. So if not for any other reason than cost, you should take it seriously. 

If you need advise in relation to your project construction stage, get in touch.

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