A project schedule might be the last thing from your mind as you fantasise about your dream home, but if you are planning your new build or renovation and you’re in the process of sourcing a builder, a sure-fire way to assess whether a potential candidate is a professional building company is to request a project schedule.
It’s worth knowing before we go any further, that jobs with no schedule of works take 33% longer to complete than those working from an agreed project schedule
If a builder tells you they don’t produce schedules or that it is unnecessary, our advice would be to steer clear.
And don’t be tempted to accept the promise of a project schedule being provided after you have signed the contract. You need to sign your contract on the basis of an agreed schedule and quotation. If not, you leave yourselves exposed to wildly underestimated costs, disappointment in standards of finishes and specifications accounted for, and significant extensions on your build timeline.
Once you have found a builder that does supply a schedule of works, it’s worth checking their ability to stick to agreed schedules and request references from their last three jobs.
A project schedule might seem like a small thing, but this single item really separates the men from the boys.
In fact less than 15% of builders actually prepare job schedules.
So why is it that so many builders decline to provide this critical element of the planning process?
Well, firstly, it takes a significant amount of time to create a comprehensive schedule, detailing the hundreds of tasks in a typical build, and most builders will simply not dedicate the man-hours required. Combined with providing an accurate quotation, this can take between 50 and 100 hours to complete, depending on the scope of your project.
No builder can honestly provide an accurate quote without spending the necessary time creating a full schedule of works, so you are likely to find your quote is unreliable and more close to a ‘best guess’.
Secondly, most builders are simply not trained to do this kind of thing. If they have been in trades all of their working life, they may not have had any experience of project planning and project management. A professional builder will likely have come from a more corporate environment – perhaps a bigger building firm, or commercial building company, where detailing, planning and managing every job is second nature.
A good building company will use project management software, into which they enter every aspect of the job schedule. This will then generate auto notifications to all parties detailing actions that need to be taken by a specific date. This will also include any selections or decisions that you are required to make, keeping decisions on time and avoiding variation charges.
Your selection choices should also be linked to the schedule, so that you know exactly what finishes, fixtures and fittings are included in your quotation. If this is not buttoned down at the outset, you may find your expectations and what your builder actually provides and devastatingly misaligned – again leading to additional costs to upgrade to something you thought was included in your quotation.
What to look for in your project schedule
Ok, it’s one thing to accept your builder needs to supply one, but how do you know if it’s worth the paper it’s written on?
Here are the things your schedule should cover:
Full timeline with hours/days dedicated to each stage of the build and each individual task.
Assessment of contingency time allocated to cover any unexpected difficulties that may arise, or delays due to inclement weather.
Details of how the schedule will be managed and how you will be kept informed of progress and alerted to any actions you are required to take.
In summary, never be afraid to ask for these things up front.
You may find your builder will request a fee to provide your schedule and full quotation, and in fact, this is the best way to ensure a successful build so don’t let that put you off.
Read our blog on this topic, which should be considered in conjunction with job scheduling.
We hope this helps you to achieve a trouble-free and enjoyable building project.