How to project manage your extension build yourself

With lockdown work has slowed down so money is precious these days. Building an extension to your London home is a great idea. In a city where space is at such a premium, it can often be better to work with what you already have that trying to move somewhere new. Extensions could add much-needed living space and could also add value to your house overall. However, you need to decide whether you will project manage the build yourself, or whether you will get a professional in to help you out. Here are some top tips to help you project manage an extension build yourself.

Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay 

Plan Everything

It can be difficult to avoid immediately planning the cosmetic details of the build once it has been complete. For example, if you are extending your kitchen, you might be inclined to start thinking about the finer details like the counters or the cooker you want. However, you are at far too early a stage in the project to do so. Instead, you need to focus on actually getting the build up in the first place.

Even if you want to project manage the build yourself, you should bring a professional architect on board to help create the plans. They will be able to create a stunning extension which suits the style of your existing house and the houses in your local area. Finally, they will also be able to advise you on any applications to your local council; especially those applications you need to make for planning permission and other things that would require a lot of money.

Image by Makin Residential from Pixabay 

Find the Right Builder

If you have never project-managed before, it can be intimidating to contact builders and ask them for their help with your home. Nevertheless, you will hopefully be able to find a building firm that is good at what they do and incredibly sympathetic to your worries. Ideally, you want to find a builder who is going to work with you so you can create your dream project as a team, instead of as two individuals working on the same project.

It is incredibly important that you find a reputable builder at this stage. It can be devastating to end up with a cowboy builder at the best of times, but it can be especially difficult at the moment. As an amateur project manager, you may not even notice the damage the cowboy builder is doing until it is too late to cost-effectively fix it. Interview builders and get quotes from the ones you like, then check their reputations and testimonials against accredited and regulated sites to ensure that you are working with a genuine professional.

Order the Right Materials

As project manager, one of your jobs will be ordering materials in the right order and amounts to ensure that they are onsite for the builders to use as they need them. For example, one of the largest volumes of material your builders are likely to use is concrete. A calculator like this one is worth using to ensure that you are ordering the right amount of concrete no matter what.

A concrete calculator is easy to use as you should be able to input the precise measurements of the planned extension for the estimate. Many other building tools also use calculators to help you find the right volumes to order. Therefore, whether you are using a screed calculator to work out dimensions for the subfloors or a paint calculator so you know how much paint to order, there is always a tool you can use.

Decide on Fittings and Placements Early

As soon as you get your initial sketches back from the architect, you need to start deciding where fixtures and fittings will be. This does not mean that you have to pick them right now, but you do need to decide where they will go and what they will have in terms of connections.

This is because your contractors will need to know where to lay the connections down so they can install them as soon as possible. Choosing to change the layout at the last-minute means things will need to get rerouted. This will add time and cost to the build that could have otherwise been avoided. For example, if you need to have gas routed through to your extension for a hob, you need to decide where this will be. Choosing for it to be on the west wall only to decide to move it to the east once the pipes are already laid is going to make you no friends with the builders, and will cost you significantly more.

Speak to Your Children About the Build

Your family home is going to be disrupted for a fair few months while the build takes place and this can be incredibly unnerving for your children. They may not like the number of strangers that come in and out of the house throughout the day, or they may feel restricted by not being allowed into the back garden or to another part of the house.

You need to make sure that the build process goes as smoothly as you can to make life easier for everyone. If your children are actively curious about the build, you could ask your builder to show them around the site one day when it is quiet. They could even help out with minor tasks with the right supervision, such as painting the walls when decorating comes. If they are a little shy, talk to them about the new extension and ask for their input. For example, there might be an area that you have already designated to be their play area. Talking to them about it would give you the chance to learn more about what they want from this area, and you could even incorporate some of their designs into it.

Spend Some Time Away from the Build

This is not always possible when you are project manager, but you should look for ways that you can take a step back and leave the build behind; especially at the end of the day. There are so many little details that you need to choose even if you are not the project manager, and it can be difficult to not remove yourself from this situation and focus on your build every moment that you are awake.

It helps to treat the build as a whole like a job. Just as you would not keep working late into the night, you need to make sure that you have a clear time when you stop focusing on the build for the day. A really easy time to use would be when your builders stop work each day, but it should be easy to come up with a time that best suits you.

Throw Yourself In

Taking on the project management of an extension will be unlike anything you have undertaken before! Enjoy the process, and make sure you give it all your attention, to the best of your abilities. From using tools like a concrete mix calculator to ensuring that you are working with the best builder, there are lots of ways to successfully manage a project of this magnitude. Throw yourself in, and you will have the perfect extension before you can blink!

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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