Ever wondered why the best-laid plans for refurbishment projects never quite go to plan?
Have you ever taken on a project and thought you can manage the build team yourself?
Even with the very best project managing skills and build team on board, carrying out property refurbishments can very often turn into expensive and stressful scenarios.
My name is Garfield Reece and I have spent the best part of my working life in and around construction and building sites. I’ve been building residential houses by the thousand, to military bases in the Middle East and multi-million-pound corporate projects for companies such as JP Morgan, Microsoft, Natwest etc
I’m now working for myself as a property investor, using all my construction skills to manage our own refurbishment projects.
This has certainly been valuable when we took a run-down hotel and decided to turn it into 2 HMO’s!
I cannot stress enough that the biggest element of any project, large or small, is PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!
So, that’s exactly what I did for approximately 3-4 weeks. I scrutinised every aspect of the approved drawings. I looked into all the room sizes. In doing so, I found the dimensions for a further bedroom from the communal sitting/kitchen area, which was still more than adequate after taking some square meters from it.
The other aspects of the build which needed up-front planning was
- the heating systems,
- venting systems,
- sanitary soil pipes (macerators were never going to be used in this project!!),
- designing a plant room for the huge water heating tanks and boiler, necessary to serve 15 en-suite bedrooms………
We had to plan all meticulously before we removed any brick walls.
In addition to all these aspects, we had asbestos to deal with first and foremost.
I’m sure everyone reading this will know, this is one area that even I won’t venture! We hired a specialist company, at great expense, to set up internal tents and remove all the asbestos in the building.
Once we signed this off with the correct certification, it was finally time to get the building work underway.
We sent off the detailed plans that I’d worked on in various directions to get costs from sub-contractors. Indeed, it’s really critical when getting quotes from trades such as plastering, that you have the ability to compare like for like, using the same cost sheet for each plastering company etc.
Then, just before the entire project becomes a living, busy site, I produce a project management Gantt chart to track and predict the length of time each aspect of the refurbishment will take. This is critical when taking into account lead times for ordering stud walls, insulation, bathroom units, tiles, carpet and furniture…
For this particular project, it generally ran with the following aspects;
- Asbestos Removal
- Demolition & Strip Out
- Building Walls & Ceiling
- Electrical & Plumbing
- Plastering, Carpentry & Decoration
- Carpet & Furniture
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, despite all my planning and knowledge, there are always going to be extra surprises and costs!
That’s why it’s important to have a contingency budget, too.
One of the additional extra’s we found on this project was the rotten lintels in the roof. It is not something you can see when initially surveying the project. Nonetheless, it had to be dealt with and incurred extra cost for us!
However, when the project turns a corner and transforms from the ‘Ugly Duckling’ into a ‘Beautiful Swan’, all the planning, late nights, early mornings become worth it.
The icing on the cake was having very happy tenants that have stunning, en-suite rooms and paying above average room rates.
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