When you embark on a building project, you’re faced with a number of options around managing the project. Do you get a dedicated project manager on board to keep everything on track? Do you trust that job to your builder? Or do you manage if yourself?

Whoever the project manager is, they will need to arrange sub-contractors to be there on the right days and check they know what they’re doing, organise materials, coordinate with the architect and building inspectors and keep the site safe and secure. They might also have to sack someone if things aren’t going to plan.

The right option for you will depend on several variables including the scale of the project, the experience of your builder, your knowledge of the building process, the time you have on your hands and your budget.

Managing the project yourself can be draining, both in terms of your time and, sometimes, your emotions! But if you do it well, it can save you a bit of cash. And it can leave you with that smug satisfaction that comes knowing that you did it.

If you do decide to manage a building project, we’d like to share some tips to help things run smoothly.

1)    Be realistic – can you REALLY do this? As a rough guide, it takes around one hour of project management for every seven hours worked on site. Don’t even think about managing your building project unless you can be on site at least once a day most days, and live within an hour of the site.

2)    Get in touch with local tradesmen during the planning process. The best people could have quite a waiting list, so get them lined up early so they can be ready to start when you need them.

3)    Do your research. Don’t sit there twiddling your thumbs whilst waiting for the planning application to go through. Use the time wisely to research materials and ideas thoroughly.

4)    Be decisive. Don’t get drawn into making snap decisions on-site that you might later regret. Instead, listen to advice from the experts, but be prepared to make a decision early on in the process and stick to it.

5)    Budget carefully. And then allow another 20% at least for contingency! If you’re able to reclaim VAT for your project, build that in to your cash-flow plans but remember that you’ll still need to find the cash amount, including VAT, up front.

6)    Create a site office. Dedicate a space to keep copies of plans, contracts, quotations and other documents. If possible, make it a place with phone reception where you can have any meetings and shelter from the worst of the weather!

7)    Draw up a detailed project schedule. This will help you organise when labour and materials are needed on site.

8)    Get organised. Keep a diary and schedule each day’s events as best you can. Keep meticulous records of quotations, certificates, plans, receipts and contacts.

9)    Plan your deliveries. You should try to organise delivery of materials such that you don’t have piles of expensive stuff lying around – building sites can become a target for unscrupulous thieves.

10) Keep the site tidy. Make sure the site is tidied each day. It will help keep things on track and help prevent accidents.

11) Think ahead. You need to plan and be constantly looking ahead rather than getting too tied up in the minutiae of each day’s progress.