How to unlock the true potential of your builder.
Everyone starts a major building project with great results in mind. So why often so difficult to meet expectations of delivery on time and on budget.
I had just completed a high profile, major structural fitout in Sydney when it hit me – many of my clients were not taking full advantage my knowledge, project management skills and expertise. Instead they were leaving too much to chance by providing limited terms of reference, taking unnecessary risks and costing themselves thousands of dollars in modifications and avoidable mistakes.
This realisation became my catalyst for change.
I wanted to work on building projects where adequate documentation was provided and realistic expectations were agreed, so the best outcomes can be achieved.
I have since, put much of my time and energy into creating systems that improve communications with clients, architects, contractors and suppliers while providing a vehicle to monitor and report outcomes every step of the way.
I want to ensure everything is in place to guarantee that client goals and expectations are exceeded, every time.
I have managed thousands of construction projects, I admit that I had started to lose faith in my capacity to influence outcomes. As a qualified and experienced builder, I can (and should) positively influence every aspect of the construction process and play a key role in facilitating communication between all parties.
If you want your builder to deliver an exceptional project, you need to take time to really understand your requirements and make sure they are clearly documented from the outset. You need to give your builder something tangible to work with.
Take responsibility for the information you provide to your architect or designer, to ensure that your desired design outcomes are documented.
Your job is to make sure are clear on the deliverables before the builder starts work!
It is often the oversights during the design and planning phase that end up costing you during the building phase.
Inevitably, a poorly planned project creates negative financial consequences for everyone.
Remember that just like you, builders do not enjoy managing variations. It often distracts them from the intended outcome. I am not talking about variations that turn into exciting design enhancements that may emerge as the project is underway, but the ‘avoidable’ variations associated with a poor design, missed component in structural engineering or impulsive changes to the scope of work just as building commences.
Keep in mind that tif your builder is pressure to complete extra works within the original timeframe, this may put unnecessary pressure on the delivery team, compromise the construction program and result in a poor quality outcome.
Every project has its own set of complexities, but an experienced builder knows how to manage these while remaining focussed on the end goal.
A quality builder ultimately strives to produce amazing quality outcomes, on time and in budget. Managing distractions and unrealistic expectations will ultimately distract them from achieving that goal.
Make sure you engage a team that is committed to attention to detail, communication and transparency. This is the first step to minimising risk and achieving project success.
STEP 1: Involve your builder in early planning planning and design phase with the architect.
There are many reasons to engage a builder in the planning and design phase, even before going to tender.
Be clear with the builder upfront. You cannot guarantee them the work, but you would like their input to set realistic expectations with the architect.
There might be a professional fee attached for this service but a truly worthwhile investment.
Here are a few reasons to engage a builder from the outset:
- Provides insight into the builders philosophy, values and approach.
- Determine ‘build ability’ issues, including realistic site restrictions.
- Develop ‘water-tight’ tender package with all scopes of work clearly defined.
- Highlight potential design risks and minimise client-initiated changes and costly variations.
- Understand realistic construction program to support internal planning process.
- Improve building methods and processes.
- Assist builder to develop realistic construction tender
- Enable builder to identify innovative methods, processes and cost-efficient strategies
- Allow builder time to plan project complexities and identify key contractors and suppliers
- Be informed during tender development process and empowered to select the best builder for the job
- Provide additional layer of risk management and enhance internal reporting.
STEP 2: Develop a clear set of contextual goals for the project.
Documenting all of your desired outcomes and goals is key to the success of your project.
Think about everything you want to achieve – not just finishing in time, on budget or to a certain standard.
The goals must have real consequences attached to them. You can determine the most important outcomes by evaluating the consequences.
Go into as much detail as possible. This document should provide your builder with an insight into your company and required deliverables.
Here are a couple of examples to consider:
- We require a high level of finish because our specialist medical practitioners demand to work in medical suites that are of superior quality to our competitors. If we don’t achieve this outcome we will have a difficult time retaining our specialist medical practitioners and that will heavily impact our business.
- We need the project to be completed on time because our existing home is being sold to fund our new home. We will be renting during the build phase and cannot afford to exceed out rental terms. Therefore, we will need the home completed four weeks before the end of our rental agreement.
Provide your builder with tangible information about your requirements so they can develop a construction program that reflects your needs.
By setting contextual goals, you’re inviting your builder to collaborate with you to achieve specific and extraordinary results.
STEP 3: Be realistic with your timeframe.
Now that you’ve confidently documented your project requirements, sought advice from your architect and a builder and set your contextual goals, it’s time to identify a realistic timeframe for project delivery.
Because you’ve engaged a builder in the planning process, they will be able to identify key tasks, project stages and should be able to offer excellent advice regarding an appropriate construction program. Their advice is imperative to the success of your project and should be considered.
It is critical that you know your project will be completed within the scheduled timeframe. If it has not been assessed by a qualified builder, you are taking unnecessary risks and potentially setting unrealistic expectations.
Unrealistic expectations can lead to project failure.
Remember, there are some elements of a construction project that can’t be compromised, including site restrictions and complex procurement processes. If you must set a pre-determined completion date, be aware that some construction tasks may need to happen out of hours which will incur additional costs.
Spend time working through different scenarios to ensure your targeted outcomes can be achieved.
Thank you for taking the time to read this insight.
Not one point is more important than the other. They are all of equal importance to achieve ultimate project success. If you’ve found this insight valuable please share it with someone you know who can also benefit.
Enjoyable building to you!
Peter Buruma | Vebo Group, Founder