Although it can apply to any aspect of life of business, the famous quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the father of time management – ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’ – is especially relevant when it comes to a building project. Embarking on a project to build or rejuvenate a property – even if you’re not extending – without a detailed plan is a sure-fire way of encountering delays and overspends.
As Kelly Malcher, who heads up Surrey builders, Refresh Renovations, emphasises, the most successful renovation projects revolve around three keywords: planning, planning and planning. ‘At Refresh we take our time on every aspect of planning, even down to the smallest detail, because we know from experience that it’s vital to include every aspect of the project in the masterplan,’ says Kelley. ‘We’ve heard of many a project falling apart because homeowners and contractors have raced into the build with great enthusiasm only to realise that more time spent in the planning phase would have prevented errors creeping in.
‘Our planning starts at the very beginning as we believe that the brief is critical to the success of the project. Once we’ve nailed the brief we then plan, schedule and budget every stage of the project so we all know where we should be at any moment in time and can be accountable for our actions. The software we use – Buildertrend – enables us to do just that, and it also allows our clients to log in and view progress, consult the schedule, check on the budget spend and view videos and photographs from the site. In addition, if they are living on-site during the project they can get an understanding of which trades will be in their house on which days and for how long.
‘Before we get to that stage, however, we produce a detailed three-dimensional drawing for review, comment and approval, and we encourage the client to make product decisions based on the initial concept. Using Buildertrend also ensures that we have a fully documented record of all changes to the agreed specification, thus avoiding any disputes when the project is completed.’
Invariably, the planning phase can be divided into three specific areas: the design, the budget and the timescale. When it comes to the design, it’s important but often challenging to be able to visualise the finished project right from the start. Developing a concept helps to achieve this, and it’s helpful for the concept to include as much detail as possible, both in terms of the use of space and the décor. CAD drawings are invaluable in this phase as they can provide a walkthrough for the client and make the proposed project feel very real. They also help to decide on colour schemes and overall theming.
The budgeting will naturally focus on the materials and labour, but it’s important not to overlook the huge effect a few millimetres here or there can have on the required spend. Accurately measuring the space may take time, but when taken into consideration alongside elements such as doors, windows and – in the case of a kitchen refurbishment – units and white goods, correct measurements can save a small fortune in remedial work and revisions when the project is in full swing. It’s also prudent with any size of project to include a contingency sum for unforeseens in the event of something unplanned cropping up as the project progresses. Many clients allow as much as 20% of the total budget in their contingency fund.
And when considering the timescales, it’s imperative to be realistic. Clearly it’s to everyone’s advantage to complete the project as efficiently as possible, but it can be damaging to squeeze deadlines to such an extent that corners are cut and standards compromised. Achievable deadlines to which everyone signs up are the best way to ensure a successful outcome in a timely fashion.
As Kelley Malcher concludes, the key message when planning any building project is to stop, pause and think. ‘Overall we feel that it is this level of detailed planning that differentiates Refresh from the rest of the competition. Not only that, it contributes to our outstanding record of carrying out successful renovations for delighted clients as we rarely find ourselves in the position where the client changes their mind during the project, incurring time and budget overruns. We urge clients to take their time and avoid rushing into any aspect of their project as we know that that will deliver the best results in the end.’
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Surrey builders Refresh Renovations offer design and build services. To discuss your new-build, home extension or renovation project, please get in touch today using the enquiry form listed alongside, or if you would like to submit a more comprehensive enquiry, you can do so on the Get In Touch page.
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