Top Tips 1-5

George’s top ten architecture and renovation tips

1. Find a great builder :

The first tip is finding a brilliant, established builder that you trust and the best way to do that is through recommendation. Don’t go through a phone directory EVER.
It needs to be someone recommended by family, friends, neighbours. Check out their work. If they’re good builders and they believe in their reputation, they’ll be more than happy for you to go and see two or three examples of their work.
The most important thing is to talk to the people they did the work for – were there any problems? If there were problems – maybe he was a little slow – but they did a great job and was affordable, you can be happy with that.

2. Managing your project is hugely important:

Set it up properly in terms of contract, price schedule and project programme. Fix the price for the job. Don’t do it on an hourly rate or a daily rate.
If you have something that’s on a fixed price, you can say I want that amount of work done for that amount of money in that amount of time. Then it’s straightforward, you know what the boundaries are.

3. Keep Control of your money:

You also need to manage your money throughout the build. It’s not just about having a budget and spending it, it’s about spending it in the right way. You have a responsibility to do that.
We give our clients The Architects’ Guide which is published by RIBA and it talks them through what’s expected of them, and tells them that they need to manage their funds.
They need to brief their builder properly about what they want. Otherwise the builder will just say, ‘you know what? I’ll just make it up as I go along’, and then you’ll just be disappointed.

4. Always have a Financial Back-up:

Have contingency of a minimum of 10 per cent. So if the builder tells you £x, it needs to be £x plus 10 per cent every time in your head.

5. Make all your decisions quickly:

Try and make all the design decisions before the contractors start on site. It sounds really obvious but people just don’t do it.
That means at the planning stage, you have got these decisions out the way as soon as possible. If your builder tells you he doesn’t need something – say the toilet and sink – for a few weeks, get it anyway because what you’ve chosen may have knock-on effects with the size of pipes, etc.
Your design time is cheap – those evenings before the build starts when you sit down and work out how the build is going to work and what materials you are going to use.
If you make those decisions before the builder starts, then it’s clear what everyone’s doing on site.
If you start making these decisions further down the line, and then worse than that, start changing your mind, it costs you time, and it costs you more money, it gives your builder the excuse to put his prices up – making decisions early saves money down the line.

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