Jon Bentley-Leek

How to control costs on your building project

by 14th Apr, 2014

A home extensionA home extension

You’ve decided to embark on a building project because you may need extra space or may want to live your life differently. Once you’ve made this decision, the most important thing to know is how much it will cost.

Understanding your vision, your timescale and your budget

From the very first meeting with you there are three things we like to understand.

  • your vision of space
  • your vision of timescale
  • your vision of budget.

These are all vital to the success of your project. Each of them affects the others and everyone involved needs to understand them and buy into them.

Establishing your budget

When we understand your vision of space, timescale and budget, we can relate these to other projects of a similar scale and give you an idea of likely cost.

If there is a mismatch between your vision and your budget, we can work with you to look at your requirements in a different way. It may be that internal restructuring could give you what you need at a considerably lower cost.

Keeping your budget under control

There are several ways to control (and even reduce) costs throughout the lifetime of your project. Understanding these is very useful, especially when your budget is tight.

Here are some tips.

  • Don’t build what you don’t need.
    Develop a plan where everything in the building has a fundamental need. Having a rigour about this process helps to control costs further into the project, because a great deal of thought has gone into what’s required.
  • Look at what you’ve got and ask how you can make your existing space work better.
    As a general rule, reconfiguring existing space costs half the price of building new space.
  • Think about materials and what’s valuable to you.
    We often suggest having one focal feature that you love, whether that’s a sliding door, an oak floor or a woodburner. Spend your money on this key feature and use less expensive materials elsewhere.
  • Consider the costs involved in bringing the project to completion.
    Careful planning and drawings save expensive experiments on-site. To adapt a common maxim, plan twice, build once.
  • Create a shopping list for the project and put it out to tender.
    We typically find that tenders can differ by up to 25% and 40% of the project cost, so it pays to ask multiple contractors to quote to ensure you’re getting the best price. The price tendered forms the basis of the contract with your builder and makes it much easier to manage costs once you’re at the build stage.
  • Manage costs during the build stage.
    When we are managing a project we keep a close eye on the costs on site and often find that we can continue to make savings throughout the life of the build. We also benefit from the tender process, which has affixed a cost to every item involved in the build and makes it easier to see additional costs as they arise.

When it comes to telling you how much a project will cost, many people will tell you “how long is a piece of string”. But following this process helps you to set and stick to your budget – and to create a solution that gives you everything you want.