Period renovations

Like Swans, Our Legs Are Paddling Fast Below The Surface!

We love new build projects. The act of creating something amazing from scratch and watching our clients as their ideas take shape is a genuine pleasure. A major advantage of new builds is that with the correct preparation, the actual build will go faultlessly… wont it?

Ideally, where this is our client perception, then we are doing our job well. A more realistic view is that changes happen and with our considerable experience we have learned how to anticipate these potential changes and how to plan them into the build to limit the disruption to timescales and budget. The client sees our graceful swan impression whilst our team are beavering away in the engine room pre-empting or removing the inevitable obstacle that will occasionally crop up.

The first assumption that many people might make is to consider Houghton Construction as the building firm that you bring in when you are ready to lay the foundations. However a key element of our services actually starts with the initial land appraisal stage

For example, our client, Mr Douglas, inherited a plot of land in a pretty village in the Cotswolds. Soon after, our quantity surveyor met with him to advise on what financially would be the best building to put on that space. We start by exploring the best financial outcome with the best resale value for the future building and land. However, in the majority of cases, the needs of the individual client and how they want to use the land will always precedent. For example, where the client wants to build a house in which to live, the potential resale value in thirty years’ time is unlikely to be the driving factor behind the choices when designing the new family home.

So our land appraisals are all about considering the needs of the individual and working out the best solution that meets the homebuyer’s needs and delivers the most cost-effective and financially profitable outcome should the property be sold in the future.

At this stage, our quantity surveyor can deliver a qualified opinion on the likely costs of build and also the potential resale value of the proposed work. This stage is often completed in partnership with local architects who will draw up the plans and liaise with our client to create plans needed for planning permissions etc.

The land appraisal can also help in raising a new build mortgage. Once planning is granted and our detailed building specifications and programme of works is approved by the client, it’s all plain sailing and full steam ahead from this point onwards… or is it?!

As hinted at before, a number of things can change between the specification and sign off stages and here are just a few of the items that an experienced builder will have allowed for.

For example, with Mr Douglas’s project, one of the issues we had to overcome was that the connectable services were actually in the road rather than at the edge of the property. We had to dig extra trenches and re-plan part of the ground works in order to make this work. Fortunately, we already had already built a contingency in the original ground work spec for exactly this type of event. In fact, as far as our client was concerned, this didn’t have any impact on the financial cost of the project or the timings and the services (water, electricity, and gas) were successfully collected.

Another area for contingency is that the UK weather during October is unlikely to be rain free and therefore we had already scheduled a number of possible void days caused by bad weather in order to make sure the project would still be completed before Christmas.

Additionally, the specific range of brickwork chosen had been discontinued so our team searched long and hard until we sourced an almost identical replacement. With our extensive supplier network, we were able to source these quickly without causing any delay to the build. We also approached the planners regarding these amendments and obtained their agreement that such a minor change didn’t need to seek any formal amendment.

We then discovered that the heat exchange pump chosen by our client didn’t turn out to be quite as eco-friendly as a more recent model and so we suggested a more energy efficient alternative to the client. Although this change was a more expensive option up front, we were easily able to demonstrate that, over time, this new heat pump would deliver significant cost savings which in fact would make the overall build and living cost less expensive in only a couple of years.

We also literally walked Mr Douglas through the downstairs layout and showed how a downstairs cloakroom between the kitchen and entrance hall would add convenience without really losing any significant space from either room. As with all of our change control processes, we documented any increase in cost and the potential benefits so our client could either follow our suggestions or stick with his original ideas. Complete clarity and transparency at all stages are absolutely key in a successful build process.

So whilst they were a few changes and a couple of challenges for us, this was not a stressful experience for our client and we were delighted to discover just how happy he was with his final finished property as delivered two weeks before the Christmas deadline.

We never forget that this is your dream, your significant investment, and your home that we want you to enjoy for many years to come.

If you are considering building your own property, give us a call