When working in the building industry, whether you are taking on your first project or even if you are a ‘dab hand’ professional with years of experience, you soon come up against various different scenarios. Some of which you may feel are set to break you but do not fear, you are not alone. Once you have your home, the one you chose, the one that you helped design, these ‘issues’ will fast become old memories. Remember this should be an enjoyable experience. Having said that it is probably best to note down some of the things that you may need to consider…
Everyone will need a budget when undertaking a project. You will perhaps need to save for quite a substantial period of time, which can cause stress on your family and affect other commitments you may have. You will also find that you need a contingency budget; this is vital. However you may also find that you still go over that budget too. You will need to stay on top of your finances. This is your home but you still need to live while it is being completed. Research costs properly before even starting the build. You want to do things right and sometimes that may mean you need to save more money. Do not get into anymore debt and do not use inferior products or materials as this will only cost more in the long run. The last thing you want is to live in a house which is financially running you into the ground and on the flip side you don’t want to live in a house where you have had to cut corners to fit within a budget. There are compromises yes, but this is a passion project so be realistic from the beginning and only start when you have the funds.
This is something that you should not underestimate. The amount of time that you will need to put into any type of build will soon mount up to that of a full time job. Don’t let this put you off but just be aware and mindful of the timescale. Plan properly and know what you want. You will need to ensure the smooth running of the project, liaise with builders and architects and make sure that everyone is doing exactly what is expected of them. You will need to pick out materials, products and items for your home. Make sure that the architect and everyone else involved shares your vision and is working from the same page. Use pictures etc and don’t be afraid of showing these to your workforce. You want everyone to see the images you have in your head. The design of a build starts from the initial meeting so it is essential to keep on top of what is happening on site throughout. This is your home after all.
Over the coming months you will need to put a lot of trust and faith into people you may not have worked with before or indeed you may not have even met before. Make sure that you have a team that you connect with. You will be spending a lot of time in each others company and you will want to be able to feel comfortable leaving them in charge of one of your most valuable possessions. The end result is largely determined by how well you all work together. Make sure you do your research, meet any potential workers, get a feel for them and check out their credentials. Remember to also check out their customer feedback. What may look good on paper isn’t always good in practice. Don’t just meet with one professional, meet with a few and make decisions from there. You need comparisons, check out their previous builds, speak to the owners and ask them about their experiences. Remember questions are good; don’t regret what you didn’t ask.
Things don’t happen by chance so you need to make sure that you can communicate everything you want. Show pictures if you need to, have a ‘vision board’ do what needs to be done for everyone to be on the same page. Don’t just assume people can see what is pictured in your head as this is where mistakes happen. A lot of the theory behind a build happens way before you’ve actually started the project. This can help finalise other points such as your finances, what designer you work with, how long things are going to take and even down to what builders you employ.
From the design stage it is best if you think about where things are going to go. This may sound ludicrous but if things need altering it will be far too late once the build has started. Regardless of what type of build you’re taking on, these points relate to each and every single project. If you need to have the same amount of cupboards in each bedroom, you will need to be able to ensure there is space to do so. If you desperately want that hand crafted oak four poster bed, then you will need to ensure there is room. The last thing you want is to complete your build and not be 100% happy. This is your project and it may be the only time you get to experience having the freedom to design a space or home around your needs and desires. You don’t want to have regrets. Talk to people who have already had building work done, on whatever scale and ask them for advice. They will be able to tell you of any mistakes they made and how to avoid them. They will also be able to give you tips on what can work well in a particular space. Take each room on as a separate space and design it for its own needs. There are always people willing to help so don’t be afraid to ask and remember if you have a designer then go prepared with all your questions. Don’t waste time; time is money.
Whether you’re undertaking a whole new build or extending what you have already got, the design creates a home. Don’t underestimate what big changes the little touches can make. During any build there will be so much going on that you may not always understand what is being said and you may even think that everyone is talking in riddles. A designer can help smooth over the surface, join the gaps and basically ‘translate’ information. There is a massive difference between knowing how you ‘want’ something to look and actually achieving it. Someone with design experience will be able to show you how things work, perhaps even how to enhance a space and they may also be able to save you money and time down the line.
For sure you’re excited and you have probably been thinking about this build for years, but have you actually planned what it is you want? Do you know the tiles, flooring, light fittings for example? you will need to make decisions on EVERYTHING even down to what sockets you want. Every last detail will need to be ‘designed’ (refer to the previous points). If you haven’t a clue then you need to research. Before starting the build make sure you have a solid idea of what you want each room to look like as your builder will soon be asking you to order the flooring for the kitchen and if you don’t know what you want then it is an expensive task to halt the build.
You will make a lot of mistakes but don’t panic and don’t let these dictate your build. You might even find that some of these mistakes actually work out for the better. They could provide your build with something that you never even considered. Look at things with positivity and don’t beat yourself up over them. With an experienced team behind you these should be few and far between but ‘don’t sweat the small stuff.
Have trust in your decisions, in your workforce and in your vision. Things may not look like they do in your head straight away but just give it time. There is more than just a structure to a home. If you have taken these points in hand then you will have planned every last detail. Trust in your designer and your ideas. These ideas will not shine through until the end. You will see many an image where you may question yourself but things will always look worse before they look better. When on site realise that there are many stages to the build so try and have an open mind. This is not the finished product. Don’t get distracted from this, stick with the vision you have in your head and trust that your workforce are on your side.
Treat everyone you work with, with respect. If you wouldn’t appreciate being spoken to in a certain way, then don’t speak to others like that. These are the people who are constructing your build. They are helping to create your dream, the one that you’ve been thinking of for maybe years. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness. The kinder you are to them the more willing they will be to help and answer any questions that you may have. Remember it may be your house but it is their job and reputation and everyone has a vested interest in making it the best it can possibly be. You will thrive from a shared experience and that should be a happy and enjoyable one. These people could be lifelong friends and you never know when you might need them for another job. It is always good to have people on hand that you can have rapport with and trust implicitly.
Always trust your gut instinct. You know you can get advice from the professionals but you must remember that this is your project. Take the advice that is given and think about it but ensure that the final decision is yours. You won’t always have the same opinions and that’s ok. As long as you’re equipped with the facts then you can make an executive decision based on what suits your needs. These needs may be for aesthetic reasons or they may be practical; either way the final decision is yours. Don’t let your dreams be influenced by something that may be someone else’s vision. Trust your gut; you’ve come this far.
Most importantly, you may only be able to do this once, or you may be one of the lucky ones and get another shot. Whatever your situation enjoy it. There will be long days, money struggles and a lot of planning. You may have to stay up until the early hours thinking about bathroom tiles or splash backs but it will be worth it when you see it all come together. Research everything and everyone, trust your instincts and not only will you come out with an amazing build but you could make some good friends along the way.