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Managing Expectations – What Can be Achieved & Delivered

The dictionary definition of managing expectations states “seek to prevent disappointment by establishing in advance what can realistically be achieved or delivered”

This sounds very simple and yet this is undoubtedly one of the biggest hurdles and points of frustration that inevitably creep into self-build projects, where preparation is paramount.

In the majority of cases this will be the single biggest expenditure any client will make and yet, it is sometimes entered into with a total disregard for cost control. Whilst a definitive budget may be visible for what they want to spend, the process that controls this can be somewhat overlooked

Key issues to consider

Here are the top five key issues that you must consider throughout the process

  1. Get a team on board early in the process and involve this team throughout the design process (so that cost can be discussed at each stage of design)
  2. Have a clear scope of what you want to achieve and ensure that this is replicated in a definitive schedule of works
  3. Be realistic with your design and expectations, and ensure that these are in line with your budget
  4. Ensure that the team have clear roles and responsibilities
  5. Ensure that you have regular discussions with your construction team throughout the process to avoid any surprises, as sometimes not everything will go as planned

The majority of self builds will traditionally involve an architect to develop the initial idea into working drawings, and to guide the client from the initial planning process through to completion. In partnership with your chosen contractor they can provide an emotional blanket and years of experience to support your vision with confidence.

From vision to reality

In choosing your architect you are not only appointing someone who will be designing the house of your dreams, but being fully informed of your financial boundaries they will design what is affordable and within your budget and so avoid any shocks during the project.

Primarily they will listen to what you want to achieve. They will not be shy in questioning exactly what it is you think you want. They will explore with you the best way of achieving what you want. This may not necessarily be what you first imagined but gradually a vision for the project will reveal itself, and you will have a clear understanding of what is possible.

With a vision inevitably comes a cost. The most wonderful proposal still has to be affordable. A good architect will guide you with realistic cost estimates at the very outset to enable you to make budget decisions. Budgets will inevitably impinge on wonderful visions and so they should. A client needs certainty as to the scope of a proposal and there is no stage in a building project where it is acceptable for you to feel financially anxious or uncomfortable. It is worth remembering that home improvement television programmes are primarily entertainment and an element of cost drama is an essential ingredient, so please don’t judge all building experiences by what you see on TV.

So an idea is born and it appears feasible and affordable. How do you go about purchasing it? There are two possible routes to follow.

Team-based approach brings benefits

One method is the production of a full package of drawings and documents from which competitive tenders are sought from a list of builders. The task is then to match the lowest realistic tender received to your original budget without compromising too much on your original vision.

An alternative is to work with an architect and a building contractor from the outset and develop your scheme within a trusted team.  Where is the cost control in that I hear you shout? Open book pricing, as it is known, can provide detailed fixed costs from the outset and you can see exactly where your money is going, making adjustments as necessary. The agreed building costs can be cross checked by an independent cost consultant to ensure value for money.

So, in short, if you are sure you want to do something to your property but are unsure as to exactly what that is, then consider working with an architect and builder to develop your dream. You will have the advantage of fixed cost certainty plus a committed design and production team dedicated to making your building experience a satisfying and enjoyable one.