An overview of the project management options available to you when building or renovating.
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When you decide to build a house, one of the first decisions you make will be who will manage the building project. The decision might be made for you. For example, if you choose a package offered by a group housing company, the project management will be part of the deal.
The factors that may influence your decision are:
There are many different ways to manage a house-building project - you have to come to an arrangement that suits you.
Generally the options are:
Whatever option you choose, make sure there is a written contract that clearly sets out the responsibilities of all the parties. It is a good idea to get the advice of a lawyer.
Unless you have some understanding of the process of building a house, and have the time and energy, you are better to use someone who knows the industry and can make sure all the right steps are taken so that the house meets the Building Code requirements.
The manager can also take on the headaches and hassles involved in coordinating the consents, inspections, subcontractors and sorting out problems.
In summary, the advantages of having a professional manage the project are:
When to engage the project manager depends on the type of manager you use. If it is an architect or other type of designer they will be in at the start – for instance, they will want to see the section before they draw up any plans.
In all cases, it is best to involve your project manager as early as possible, possibly even before you buy a section.
A knowledgable project manager can advise you on the section - such as pointing out possible problems, like soft soil – and organise an engineer’s report for you. They can also organise resource consents, for example, if trees have to be removed before you even get to the designing and building stages.
You need to choose someone who is reliable and who you can trust. One of the most effective ways to find someone is by word of mouth – ask around. People will soon let you know if they’ve had a bad experience with someone, or if they found someone who was particularly good.
Whoever you use, whether it’s the designer, builder or someone else, find out about their experience at managing projects. They might be good at building or designing but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the organisational skills, time or commitment to see your project through efficiently.
Make sure you are very clear about who is responsible for what.
When Jason and Joan had a house built, they used a builder who claimed to be working under a labour-only contract, although he was responsible for buying most of the materials and organising the subcontractors. The builder left for a holiday in the middle of the project and a procession of other builders and subcontractors came and went. Then the person left in charge in the builder’s absence quit, leaving no one in charge.
After the house was finished, they noticed nails beginning to pop out of the vinyl in the kitchen area and that the floor was uneven. They contacted the floor layer who told them it was the builder’s fault. They contacted the builder who said it was a labour-only contract and to talk to the architect. The architect said the floor was wet when it was put in and as it dried the nails popped. They talked to the company that supplied the timber who offered to replace the timber at cost.
Finally they got an engineer to inspect and report on the house. He found some disastrous faults caused by poor workmanship – there were piles missing, and the deck was only held on by five bolts. Surprisingly, the house had been granted a code of compliance certificate from the council despite these problems. The owners say in future they would make sure they were dealing with only one builder who was prepared to assume responsibility for the project.
Whether you're planning to build your own home or renovate an existing one, we've got you covered with a wide range of articles covering the whole process.
Renovating and altering houses is a favourite pastime for many New Zealanders. Our articles take a look at what's involved when you undertake a renovation project.
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