How to Project Manage Your Home’s Construction

Most home owners choose to supervised their home builds in order to have first hand control on the cost and quality of the works. Unfortunately most home owners are unprepared and ill-equipped for the task at hand. Since most self supervision is not expected to change end anytime soon, we believe it is best to equip the soon to be home owner with the tools, mind-set and information (call it training) they would require to be the exception.

So in this article we are going to give you the tools you need to successfully and effortlessly project manage your home construction. Be prepared to be on site at least once a day on most days. Do not assume this role unless you can make it to site often and stay within an hours drive to the site. Have your approved drawings availed on site for the team to reference and local authorities to access. Consult with an experienced friend or consultant for clarification on matters you may not be familiar with. It is a tough undertaking. Be prepare to be tough and stand your ground when it comes to matters of quality and specifications. Be ready to send off none cooperating team members.

If you haven’t read our article on A Guide to Building a House In Stages (phases) I recommend you do in order to get a clear picture of the house construction process.

  1. Choose your house plan. Your duties as project manager will start at choosing a house plan, or working with an architect who will produce a plan, that satisfies your requirements. You can purchase an from our online shop here.
  2. Research and shop around for your preferred design options. Very often you have specific accessories, decorations and furnishings you wish to place in your house but sometimes these accessories will not function as intended. It’s important to take your time to find and confirm that all your intended accessories will fit within your budget, perform as indent and in collaboration with the other accessories.
  3. Interview contractors or builders. Get referrals for honest suppliers, builders and contractors. Usually a referred contractor or builder will endeavour to out perform your expectation in order to get a referral from you. Ask each supplier, contractor or builder to share with you photos (or appropriate documents) of their work in order to access quality and capacity to undertake the project tasks.
  4. Access the project cost and time estimates with your selected construction team in order to identify any challenges, agree on a payment plan and sign the contractual documents. If you did not get your house plans costs, then you can have them produced by a quantity surveyor, building economist, your experienced construction team or have one of our professional quantity surveyors compute it out within a few days.
  5. Get your building permits. It is highly recommended that you get all your necessary documents and permits in order before commencing construction of your house. Always have a copy of the approved documents on site for easy access by the construction team and local authorities.
  6. Enlist professionals with whom you’ll consult. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even the professionals need assistance and clarification from time to time. Pick out a team with whom you will consult details about the build. Your first choice should be the architect & structural engineer who designed your house and quantity surveyor who prepared your Bills of Quantities. If any of these are not available then pick out local alternatives with professional experience in the fields mentioned above. A friend or family member with construction experience can be a great addition to the team since they know your preferences, choices and the technical know how.
  7. Break down your project into manageable phases. Consider your availability of funds, teams, equipment and the weather. For more information please read this article that breaks down the construction into logical steps & stages.
  8. Arm Yourself with checklists and the appropriate specifications. Know your quality check and thoroughly watch your timelines. Gantt chart and quality checklists. When you don’t know what is to be done, get help from Some who does.
  9. Prepare for the build. This involves all the preparation that have to be made before you construction commences;
    • The teams transport and accommodation.
    • Clearance of the team persons with the local authorities.
    • Meals and sanitary services.
    • First aid box and first aid training.
    • Equipment and tools training.
    • Construction site training; Working at heights, material usage and disposal, fire and hazardous environment training.
  10. Research and familiarise yourself with construction activities before they start. A general rule in the industry is; 1 hour of project management is required for every 8 hours (a full day’s work) spent labouring on the construction site. So if you have a team of 5 masons working for a full day, then you need to dedicate 5 hours beforehand to project manage the process, of which 100 minutes (a third if the time) of this should be spent on site.
  11. Be prepared to fire someone. As Project Manager, its your duty to manage the build quality and build time at the best price. This means you have to relive the project of none performers after it has been established they cannot meet the project requirements. If you cannot fire someone, then you won’t be able to manage the team and you should appoint a Project Manager.
  12. Keep a construction journal. A construction journal will capture all the events on the construction site. This should include the arrival and departure of all personal on site (construction team, consultants, local authorities, visitors, etc.), the trainings (safety, injury, fire, first aid, etc.), the equipment and tools on site, the daily achievements and changes to the building and materials, details of tests and the corresponding results, minutes of project meetings and approval of all changes made by the project stakeholders. This will work as a point of reference during and after construction, for example paying the workers and suppliers, stock taking of equipment, tools and supplies, cost management and project analysis.

If you have free time To spare, don’t stand around on site watching the team or talking, get your back into it, help out as a Labour, clear the site or get your workers a cold drink. Your participation will encourage them.

Please add your opinions and ideas in the comments section below. Let us know what has been left out or of any assistance you may require. Share it will all those you know are planning to construct their dream home or a working in the house construction industry.

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