Major UK Building Contractor Leaves Multiple Defects In Newly Constructed Houses - Don't Let This Be Your Building Nightmare
Housing giant Persimmon is forced to apologise after TV probe reveals hundreds of problems with its homes including a faulty fire door and unsealed showers
Read the full story in the Daily Mail
Devastating and expensive problems for new home owners. Don't let your new home construction turn into a disaster. Read 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses - Volume 1 Hiring Contractors, Managing Construction and Finishing Your Home'. Valuable tips to ensure your home build project is a success. Learn what to look for to ensure your house is handed to you free of defects.
Ensure your new home is structurally sound
3 apartment buildings in Sydney over a period of 6 months developed major structural cracks resulting in residents being evacuated - read the story
Consider the cost and the inconvenience of having to move out of your home. But also your new home is suddenly worthless. Why it's vital to select your builder and designer carefully.
For tips and advice on selecting contractors and what to look for during construction of your new home read 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses: Volume 1 Hiring Contractors, Managing Construction and Finishing Your Home' which also contains lots more valuable information to save you money and ensure that your home build or renovation project is a success. Click on the image to read a preview on Amazon. The book is available in paper or ebook form from Amazon and other online stores, or ask your local bookstore to order a copy for you. For tips on designing your new house as well as renovation ideas read Volume 2 - Finding Your Ideal Property and Designing Your Dream Home
Selecting the right building contractor
Building contractors are hugely varied and range from the one-man business where the owner does almost everything themselves, through to multinational construction companies that construct building projects valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Some contractors are specialist, only doing electrical, plumbing, carpentry or bricklaying work, while others provide a full construction package. Those that do the complete building may have all the resources and building trades in-house for your home building project, while others employ subcontractors to do many of the specialist construction trades. In fact, some building companies are more like project managers employing subcontractors for all of the construction work, and they merely manage these contractors. Some contractors specialise in particular building projects, for instance some do home renovations, others only build new houses (some contractors specialise in luxury houses, others in typical middle income houses, some construct low cost housing, others use particular materials or methods), or civil structures, apartment buildings or office buildings. Larger companies may have different divisions that specialise in different types of construction. Most contractors work in specific towns, regions or countries, with only the larger construction companies having the ability to work across a wider geographic area and across states.
Many building projects go badly because the wrong contractor is selected, often the contractor that submitted the lowest price.
What to consider when selecting a building contractor
When selecting a contractor it’s important to consider the following:
Ø Does the contractor have the required experience to deliver the services required? Have they worked on similar building projects? There’s a difference between contractors that build low-cost houses to those that build luxury houses. A heritage restoration requires particular skills.
Ø What services they offer? If you want the contractor to design your house or home extension then check that they have good designers who will interpret what you want and deliver a design that works. Do they offer planning services and can they help with the interior design, fixture selection and finishes (such as bathroom, kitchen, tiles, materials and colours)?
Ø Do they have the applicable registrations for the work? Usually there’s a requirement for builders to be registered in the country or state. Check with the registration body that the registration is current, that it’s in the correct trading name of the contractor and that it’s for the trade that you’re looking for. Companies also usually have to be registered for tax purposes.
Ø Can they produce acceptable quality? Have they produced good quality work on their previous building projects? Do they have the required skills available to produce good quality work in your home?
Ø Do they have the resources to carry out the work? This includes; equipment, management and the tradespeople. If they don’t have the resources, can they get the resources and will they be able to manage them?
Ø Do they have the financial means to carry out your project? Are they financially secure? If the contractor is suffering losses on other construction projects this could cause them financial stress which could mean that they can’t pay for people and materials. In extreme cases the contractor could become bankrupt partway through your home build project, leaving you facing delays and additional costs while you find another contractor to finish your house. You’ll probably also lose deposits and advances that you’ve paid them.
Ø What other work are they currently doing? If they’re involved with other large projects they may not have the resources or the finances to successfully undertake your work.
Ø What’s their safety record? A poor safety record is often indicative of poor management. Contractors with a poor safety record shouldn’t be used. Accidents delay building projects and they could get your house construction stopped by the authorities until the contractor rectifies safety breaches.
Ø Do they have a good reputation?
Ø Have they got a previous record of being claims orientated and having legal disputes with owners? You don’t want your budget blown by extra costs!
Ø Are they reliable and complete their building projects on time?
Ø Do they use good subcontractors? Who will their main subcontractors be? Do these subcontractors have a good reputation?
Ø Has there recently been a change in management?
Ø What insurances do they have? (I'll discuss insurances in a later article.)
Past performance however isn’t always indicative of how a contractor will perform on your home construction project and I’ve on occasion had good contractors perform poorly because they were over-committed on other construction projects, which meant they had insufficient and poor quality resources for my project.
Conclusion - selecting the right contractor is essential for a successful construction project
Selecting the wrong building contractor could result in a poor quality home, one that is problem filled with ongoing issues long after building is finished - even resulting in a home which is unsafe for you and your family. Selecting a contractor who is incapable of doing the work, one that doesn't have the experience, skills or equipment will result in additional stress for you and inevitably it will result in delays to the completion of your new home. It's vital to understand your contractor's capabilities and reputation, then ensure that you can work with them. Check that they understand your expectations for your new home and that they can meet your expectations.
Never select a building contractor only on price - because they are the cheapest. Inevitably you'll find that the cheapest contractor doesn't always result in a cheap project when things start going wrong.
Know your contractor - they will be your partner.
This is an extract from my new book 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses: Volume 1 Hiring Contractors, Managing Construction and Finishing Your Home' which also contains lots more valuable information to save you money and ensure that your home build or renovation project is a success. Click on the image to read a preview on Amazon. The book is available in paper or ebook form from Amazon and other online stores, or ask your local bookstore to order a copy for you. For tips on designing your new house as well as renovation ideas read Volume 2 - Finding Your Ideal Property and Designing Your Dream Home
© 2019 This article is not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission from the author.
Ensure you find a building contractor capable of doing the work
A building contractor must be selected that can execute the type of construction work you require doing, that has the capabilities, and who operates in your region. There are often thousands of contractors (bricklayers, builders, electricians, painters, joiners, tilers, roofers, plumbers, etc), but even so it can be hard to find one willing and capable to do your building project.
It's important that you find the right contractor capable of doing the work you require them to carry out. I'll discuss this topic in more detail in future articles.
To find out more read my new book 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses: Volume 1 Hiring Contractors, Managing Construction and Finishing Your Home' which also contains lots of valuable information to save you money and ensure that your home build or renovation project is a success. Click on the image below to read a preview on Amazon. The book is available in paper or ebook form from Amazon and other online stores, or ask your local bookstore to order a copy for you.
Many contractors have display homes which you can visit. The contractor offers to build the same house wherever you want it at an advertised price. Many contractors also offer standard home designs which you can select and have them build at their advertised price. While others offer a kit home, which you can purchase and erect on your property. This all sounds like a great idea, you know what you are getting and the price! But is that the case?
What's included in the price of your new home?
As with any contractor it’s important to understand the contractor’s reputation and their reliability. In many cases owners fall in love with a particular home design which is within their budget. Sometimes it's not even the overall layout that they like but specific features of the house. It seems an easy process then to sign a contract and get your new home construction underway. Little thought has been given as to who the contractor is, and whether you’ll be getting the advertised product, at the price you envisaged and within the time-frame required. It’s important to choose your contractor wisely (see my article later on selecting the contractor and questions to ask your contractor) and not become solely focused on a particular product.
When selecting a display home or standard plan you must consider the following:
Of course selecting a house from a standard plan does have it's advantages. It can save design fees. In some cases the plans are already approved for that area so it could speed up approvals - meaning construction can start sooner. Often builders have optimised the house designs so they are cheaper to build than other designs.
But it's always important to understand what you are getting and that there aren't hidden costs and unpleasant surprises. Importantly, always ensure that you are employing a reputable contractor and that the home design is really what you want.
I'll discuss many of these points in more detail in later articles. But of course they are all in in my new book 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses: Volume 1 Hiring Contractors, Managing Construction and Finishing Your Home' which also contains lots of valuable information to save you money and ensure that your home build or renovation project is a success. Click on the image to read a preview on Amazon. The book is available in paper or ebook form from Amazon and other online stores, or ask your local bookstore to order a copy for you.
Thinking of buying a property and building a house? Does your house need an upgrade?
An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses Volume 2 is packed with advice and tips for a successful project.
Building or renovating a house should be exciting, it will be challenging, but it will end successfully if planned correctly. Building a home is going to be one of the largest investments you make – both emotionally and financially, so it’s important to get it right.
The process of building or renovating a house starts at the beginning where you decide what you want, where you want it, when you need it, how much you can afford and how you’re going to manage and construct the work. This practical book takes you through the what, when and where process. Learn what to look for when choosing your ideal property, know what you should consider when renovating an existing house, understand important design considerations for your dream home, and view simple suggestions that could transform an existing home at a modest cost.
Valuable advice to ensure that you purchase the right property.
Don't buy land that you will later regret. Don't believe your real estate agent. Learn what to look for and the questions you should ask.
Home Design Essentials
Understand design concepts. Learn what questions to ask your architect. Don't accept a house design which you regret later. A design which missed critical essential items. A design which should have been better.
Home Renovation Basics
Don't embark on a costly home renovation project which might not yield the desired results. Don't find that costs on your renovation or remodelling project have skyrocketed. Know what questions you should be asking before starting your renovation project. Learn how to avoid unpleasant surprises and mistakes.
The wrong contractor could turn your home building project into a nightmare
You're ready to start building or renovating your house and you decide to get a building contractor to construct all of the work or parts of the project. Getting the wrong contractor could be disastrous, but equally, not providing the contractor all the information could mean that you receive variation claims during construction for the extras the contractor wasn't aware of, which will make your home build or renovation project more expensive and possibly result in lengthy legal disputes.
But also when you receive prices from building contractors you need to carefully check them (a process which we will look at in more detail in a future article) because not all prices are what they seem.
The steps to finding and appointing a building contractor.
An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses - Volume 1
Do you want to renovate your existing home or build a new house but don’t know where to start? This book has valuable tips and advice to help you. Learn what to check when employing contractors to ensure your builder delivers your new home on time, with minimal fuss and without hidden extra costs that blow your budget. Know what to look for to avoid shoddy work. Understand your rights and obligations. Ensure your building and renovation project is a success.
Building or renovating a house should be exciting. You can make it a success, whether you do everything yourself, outsource some of the work to experts, or leave everything to the experts. But even experts need to be managed – and of course, make sure that they really are experts! How much you do and how much work you leave to experts will depend on your expertise, confidence, means and time.
In this practical book filled with invaluable information learn who the various parties are in a home building project, discover different ways you could manage your building project, appreciate what to consider when renovating your house, understand common construction practices, know what to look for when selecting your contractor, learn how to manage your contractor and complete your building project successfully. Know your rights and obligations, avoid common construction problems, learn about construction contractual and financial issues, and understand the traps and pitfalls you should avoid.
Armed with this knowledge your home construction project will be a success. Good luck.
This book replaces the author’s book ‘Build and Renovating Your Home With Your Eyes Wide Open’
Do you need more space in your home?
A loft conversion is a welcome addition to any family home. Not only does it expand the space of your home, but it also significantly adds value to its sale price and provides an extra layer of insulation, meaning that you’ll cut your energy usage. Lofts tend to be one of the largest areas of unused space in a house, whilst also being the simplest to convert.
Whether your dream loft conversion requires structural work or you’re planning on minor alterations to make the most of the space you already have, there are a few important things to consider in order to create the perfect design that suits your home, as well as your family’s needs.
How much does a loft conversion cost?
You may be wondering- if it’s extra space you’re after, why not just move to a larger house? Well on average, the cost of a loft conversion is one third of the cost of moving to another house with an extra room, meanwhile increasing the value of your home by up to 25%. With such vast financial benefits, it’s clear that choosing to take on a loft conversion is a worthy investment- but how much does it actually cost?
The average loft conversion costs anything from £20,000 to £50,000, but this number, of course, depends on a list of variables. For example, are you adding a bathroom? How big is your existing loft space and how much are you hoping to extend it by? How much structural work is required? The final consideration has a significant impact on the price - if you can get away without having to perform any or only minor structural work, the cost of your loft conversion can drop dramatically.
It’s up to you how you pay for your loft conversion. If you have a stricter budget, it may be worth working with a specialist loft company for an all-inclusive price so that you can stay within your allotted costs. On the other hand, you could find an architect or construction company to draw up the plans and then gather quotes from the relevant contractors. With the latter option, you’ll have to pay the various parties (builders, roofing specialists, door and window experts, etc), however, you’ll benefit from their specialist knowledge on each aspect of your renovation.
Is my house suitable for a loft conversion?
Once you’ve weighed up the costs and you’re happy to go ahead, you next need to work out whether a loft conversion is actually possible in your home. Most importantly, there needs to be at least 2.1m between the floor and the roof in the tallest part of your loft - for a comfortable bedroom or living room, at least half of the space should offer this amount of headroom. Not only will this ensure your conversion complies with building regulations, but it also means that you won’t be uncomfortably crouching or knocking your head.
With their steeply pitched roofs, Victorian, Edwardian, Georgian and other pre-war properties are the perfect fit. You just need to remember to contact a chartered surveyor before the work goes ahead to ensure the building is structurally sound.
After sussing out whether your loft is suitable internally, you’ll secondly need to work out whether you need to apply for planning permission. Most loft conversions fall under the ‘permitted development’ category, meaning that you won’t need planning permission to renovate your loft. However, if you want to add a balcony or terrace, your plans must be approved. Equally, if your house is listed or in a conservation area, getting permission may be more difficult.
How can I make sure my loft design complies with Building Regulations?
Whatever type of property you have, you’ll need Building Regulations approval. Your building contractors should ensure that your loft complies, however, it’s worth understanding the standard building regulations yourself so that you don’t get caught out after spending your hard-earned cash on your building project. Make sure you’re aware of these important rules:
What styles of loft conversions are available? What will suit your house and budget?
When it comes to loft conversions, there are plenty of different options out there. The design you choose is predominantly down to how much space you want to add and your budget, however, it’s also important to consider planning restraints and the aesthetic impact of your chosen style on your house - it should fit the architectural style and not look like an add-on.
There are four main loft styles for standard properties:
Conclusion - adding extra space will add value to your home
So, whether you want to add an extra bedroom to your home, create a second living area or even flip your house upside down with a light and spacious open plan kitchen diner at the top of your home, a loft conversion could be the perfect addition. Just be sure to work with an experienced and accredited specialist loft company or architect and construction firm in order to design and build a loft conversion that looks beautiful and stands the test of time.
The Paul Ennis Group offers building surveying, construction and architectural services to customers across the North West of England. The group has received accreditations for their services across the industry. When you choose to work with Paul Ennis, you can expect a high quality and professional service, every time.
Before starting excavation you must ensure that all underground services are known and have been clearly marked and pointed out to those doing the excavation.
The dangers of damaging utility lines during construction
Striking a utility cable or pipe can:
Locating utility lines before construction
Utility lines can be located by:
protecting utility lines while building and renovating houses
But it’s not just the existing lines that need protecting. Frequently workers dig up newly installed lines placed during construction. New lines must be clearly marked and protected.
Unfortunately, on occasion cables and pipes are damaged, but the damage isn’t reported, or the person doing the excavation isn’t aware they damaged the line. This could lead to an undetected fault which only becomes apparent much later. Electrical cables which have their outer casing damaged could fail months later when water enters the cable. Water pipes could leak for months, making for very expensive water bills, only becoming apparent when the ground becomes saturated. Sewer and stormwater pipes could become filled with sand which enters through holes broken in the pipe, blocking the pipe, or causing areas above the pipe to settle. Unfortunately when the problem eventually becomes apparent it’s often difficult to locate the exact location, and invariably the area has been paved over, or has a concrete slab above it, or is grassed and landscaped. Fixing the problem can be costly, so it’s vital that all existing and new cables and pipes are protected, and that workers exercise extreme care when digging around known lines, immediately reporting any concerns that they might have, or where they may have inadvertently caused damage to the cable or pipe.
But it’s not just underground lines we must be careful with. Overhead power cables can be extremely dangerous. Even equipment coming within a couple of metres (yards) of the line could cause the power to arc, or flash, between the cable and the equipment, damaging the equipment and possibly causing injury or death to the operator and bystanders. Be careful when carrying long ladders and objects under low overhead cables.
Always stay well clear of fallen power lines and notify the utility provider immediately a power pole or overhead cable is damaged.
Cables and pipes installed within the floors, walls and roofs of houses can easily be damaged by workers cutting and drilling. Countless almost completed houses have water pipes and power cables cut when fittings and fixtures are installed. These especially include when installing bathroom mirrors and towel rails. Not only is this dangerous, but it costs money to repair when tiles and walls have to be chopped open to fix the damage. Flooding from damaged water pipes can damage cupboards and floor finishes.
For more valuable tips and advice read: 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses - Volume 1 Hiring Contractors, Managing Construction and Finishing Your Home' and 'Volume 2 Finding Your Ideal Property and Designing Your Dream Home'
This is an extract from: 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses Volume 1' by Paul Netscher. Available in paper or eBook from Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Amazon AU and all online bookstores. To read more
© 2019 This article is not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission from the author.
I’m a construction professional, author of several successful construction management books, and a home owner. I’ve made mistakes in construction management, I’ve seen others make mistakes, but importantly I’ve had multiple successful construction projects and I’ve learned from the mistakes. I want to share these lessons and my knowledge with you.
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and 'An Introduction to Building Houses - Volume 2 Finding Your Ideal Property and Designing Your Dream Home'
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