Managing house extensions

We're about to get some building work done involving the usual mix of groundwork, brickwork, roofing, windows, plastering, plumbing, decorating and electrics. I know that if I just get a builder to "do it" I'll be paying OTT for the various trades but am unsure about whether to manage it myself and bring in the trades as needed. Has anyone any experience of doing this or any advice?
Dave S
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Can you please explain why you will be "paying over the top"? In what way will this happen?
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brought in and found that there was a difference in the rate I was being charged and the rate that they would have charged if they were working direct. In particular, the guy who did the windows apparently had to give a sizeable "bung" (his word) to the builder. I know of people who say they saved up to half the builder quote by managing their own builds. It would be good to hear some first hand experiences.
Dave S
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You *may* save some money - if you can cope with the higher stress levels involved.
Don't forget, though, that it's all down to you. If the windows supplied by the window man don't fit the hole left by the builder, it's *your* problem. If you have the pay the plasterer to wait around because the electrician hasn't finished on time, it's *your* problem. Etc.
If you employ a builder to manage the lot, all this becomes *his* problem.
When I had an extension built last year, I did the design and got it through planning on my own, and then drew the detailed construction drawings (with help from various books plus a very obliging BCO) - but employed a builder to do all the work (except the electrics, which i did myself). In addition to what he did himself, the builder was responsible for scaffolding, roofing, plastering, carpentry etc. (there was no plumbing involved).
This arrangement worked very well, and we are very pleased with the result.
Roger
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Off you go then and arrange all the trades at exactly the correct time. It is really easy to do this and save your self some money but please give a qualified report when the job is finished on exactly how much you saved and how easy it was to get all the different trades to combine and work together.
I find as a building contractor that yes I do put a percentage on other peoples work but what people dont realise is who pays for the general skips to clear the general rubbish, say the packing from the boiler unit, the off cuts from the plasterboard, the odds and ends of mortar over. Oh you are going to provide that OK. What about the phone calls liasing and programming the works and trades. The extra cost to the electrician because the carpenter had not finished a stud wall, The VAT collection and payment. The Brickie walking off because you forgot to get the cement etc.
A quality contractor does not recieve a "BUNG" as you put it he just adds whatever percentage he wants on the sub-contractor. It is down to you to obtain several quotations on a drawing and specification from several quality contractors. Off Course go to Old Hopalong Cassidy down the road and get a really cheap price and then wait to put the work right yourself later.
Let us all know how you get on please
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A half decent builder will have the key personnel - like chippy, brickie, labourer etc on his books already, and will pay them some sort of retainer if not full wages when there's no work on for whatever reason. So like any employer he is going to charge you more than he pays them - or do you really think your garage mechanic gets 110 quid an hour? ;-)

I know of people who've tried and made a mess of it. IMHO, you need a deal of experience to co-ordinate this sort of thing, and if you had it you wouldn't be asking.

If money above all else is the prime consideration and you have plenty of time on your hands and an even temperament, it might be worth a try.
--
*Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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wrote:

I'd agree with Dave. When we had our first extension built, I did all the PM worked, aranging for skips, plant hire, builders, materials. I guess I saved maybe 10%, possibly 15% tops. On a 15k project, that was about 1k - 1.2k. Some of the savings were eroded as I was not getting the sort of discounts the builder would get. As a good long term customer, he might have got 15% discount, whereas I was only managing to get say 5%. And you need to factor in how much your time is worth, because you are going to spend a lot of time and effort chasing around.
And then there's unforseen expenses. For example, when digging the footing, the compressor for the pneumatic drill gave up the ghost. Unfortunately the hire firm didn't have a spare, so I had to chase around and hire another, whilst paying the workmen and waiting for the refund from the first hire shop.
At the end of the day, when we had the second storey built a couple of years later, I used the same builder but left all the PM work to him. It really wasn't worth the hassle for the savings.
If you do want to save a bob or two, try doing some of the work yourself. For example, in both cases I did all the plumbing and wiring. One unforseen saving was that having agreed the timescale for completion of wiring and plumbing, the builder disappeared completely until the agreed date. As a result, there was no charge at all during the week in question.
hth Clive
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Unless you're experienced at co-ordinating this sort of project, you're likely to get taken to the cleaners by the workmen if you try to organize it yourself.
Of course, you might get taken to the cleaners by the builder too, but that's only one person to fight with.
It's really the job for a Clerk of Works - or in most domestic applications an architect - if you know of a good one.
--
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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I would suggest that if you need to ask the question, then you are not experienced enough to manage the work.
You can only save money if you are able to assemble the correct people at the correct time, and even then, how do you know that the work quality and the prices are as they should be?
If you are in the building trade, then you could do it, but if you don't have that building knowledge, then it is a risk.
Don't assume that the builder is charging you OTT prices, the % profit is not that big on the average extension job.
dg

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That's a little hard isn't it? This is a do it yourself newsgroup after all. Being experienced means you started somewhere. Why not start at the top? He knows he needs to hire professionals. That's a good start.

Once he has had a series of quotes he only needs to ensure the cheapest is good at his job and will arrive sooner or later. Timing is only important for the purpose of having the ground clear for the next trade.

On the other hand don't assume that because a builder might be getting greater discounts for materials etc, he is going to pass that on. It's all a matter of comparing quotes and whatever.
How do you sack a man the builder has hired? If the original poster is willing to live with half a house and prepared to give it a go I would encourage him. The steep learning curve will stand him in good stead for his next job. If it doesn't kill him it might make him repentant.
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If you're intending employing a trade for wages only, they'll expect to be supervised and won't really think for themselves. Any snags and they'll just sit around waiting for them to be sorted. That's the part the builder or foreman in charge will traditionally do.
You might be lucky and find a working chippie who is willing to take on this task as well as his own work, but IMHO this won't be easy - or cheap.
*All* good tradesmen are in short supply these days, so you'd have to ask yourself *why* they would want to work for you direct unless there's something in it for them.
Could be they are all sitting around begging for work in your area, but somehow I doubt it.
--
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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I didn't mean to be harsh, but I just meant to illustrate that it's not just a case of cutting out the builder and then reaping his profits. There are lots of potential pitfalls in managing multiple tradespeople, and if you are not totally clued up then you could very easily not only loose the savings you hoped for, but also pay more into the bargain.
Asking on this group for advice on how deep a foundation should be is one thing, asking how to deal with a groundworker who has to divert drains and wants extra money, which will then hold up the concrete pour and the bricklayer, who then can't fit you in for another 3 weeks, so you ask the ground worker to set the walls out and then find that they are out of square and out of level etc etc, is another.
You need to know how to deal with the things you don't know about, because that's where your money goes.
dg

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As you need the ground work done first, before anything else can go on top, do you understand the requirements of ground drainage and sewerage/waste water removal needs for your house ? Are you working from predefined plans that have already been laid down and passed by an architect or local authority planning dept' ?
There is a lot more to do than you may think, so be very careful where you start, as it is the most important part of the job. You don't get a good building on bad foundations, so do you understand the why's and wherefore's of even beginning the build ?
Once the skin is up and weather tight, then do you understand what comes next ? Do you do the plumbing and electrics, or do you have the ceiling lined and lagged ? Is the drainage in place ?
If you frown at any of these questions, then I'd advise you to get someone else to manage the work. If you are laughing at my questions and saying to yourself "Of course I know all these things" then go ahead and do the management.
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I have gone both routes
IMHO there are three things that make / break it
1) The people Is the guy managing the build any good ? Do you have all the contacts to get all the trades in, without getting cowboys or excuse merchants.
2) Speed If you want to avaoid people sat arround wating for the previous guy who has overeun you need to leave gaps in the schedule, which means it takes longer. If you have done any form or project management this is part of the skill.
3) How much you want to do Your general guy will probabably do all the bits the other guys skip out, so if the plaster leaves a mess on the follr someone has to clean it. Someone has to provide the bacon butties.
On my current project, its in a rural area, I interviewed a number of roofers, foend one that I could work with, and then work on his recomendations as to who he knows does a good job of other trades. I now have two really good people I trust (roofer, digger driver), and wish to add one more - brickie. I will then fill in the gaps between these three guys untill I have the building up. Most of the interanl trades I can DIY.
Architect is still an issue, I just sacked the last guy cause I could not work with him. You need to be able to have a good working relationship with the acitect.
"just do X why you are here" = HUGE COST HIKE. Get quotes for the work, and stick to it. "just do X" works if you pay per hour, and supply materials then you are controling the cost.
Rick

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wrote:

Complex Project Management is what I spend some of my working days doing so that doesn't worry me, nor do the electrics and plumbing, but I don't working in the building industry and finding good brickies and plasterers who will turn-up when they say they will is a bit of a concern. I'm not sure which way to swing at the moment but once we've got Building Regs approval I'll get some quotes and decide. If I self-manage I'll report back.
Dave S
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