How to build quickly

Most of us have only a few opportunities in life to build or make structural changes to our homes. Spending the time getting the design right, sourcing the ideal materials and getting the best builder on the job is time well spent. However sometimes getting the project built quickly is a priority – a baby is on the way, clients are living in temporary accommodation while the building is uninhabitable or revenue depends on it. When getting the building built quickly is a priority here’s how:

1. Be decisive

It might sound obvious but responding to correspondence promptly, making necessary appointments quickly and making timely decisions is one of the best things you can do to help your project move quickly. Once a decision is made stick with the choice. Even seemingly small changes can have knock on consequences resulting in redundant and redone work. Ask your architect for a programme highlighting when critical decisions and appointments by you need to be made so you can ensure you don’t inadvertently hold things up. Your architect will prioritise your project if they know this is critical to you and be ready to work quickly following your instructions to enable a quick build.

2. Be prepared to accept cost uncertainty

The traditional method of selecting a contractor involves your architect sending a complete set of detailed drawings and specifications to a few builders who then give a price for the works. The benefit of this is you have a competitive price agreed before construction starts. However it is slow as you have to wait for all the details to be considered and the contractor to price.  A quicker method of building is 2 stage tendering or negotiating with one or two contractors. The contractor can have your project scheduled into his workflow and be  starting to mobilise before all the details are resolved. However you won’t have lots of prices to compare and you might be committing to a builder before the price is agreed. Your architect will help you to balance your priorities and advise on the best procurement option for you.

You can view some of the many different types of contract at the RIBA bookshop, but it is best to take advice from a construction professional.

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3. Be open to different types of construction

Some types of construction are inherently slower than others. Traditional cavity walls in brick or rubble stone takes time for the mason to build. Further a spell of freezing weather or soaring temperatures can derail a programme as mortars freeze and dry too quickly causing cracking. Timber frame construction and timber cladding can be built more quickly and are less dependent on fair weather. Factory constructed systems such a SIPs are quick on site but still need time in the factory. Your architect will help you weigh up the pros and cons of different construction types balancing lead in times, time on site and susceptibility to site delays versus cost, performance and sustainability..

4. Allow your contractor to get on with his work

Lots of residential clients want to stay in their homes while work goes on – renting elsewhere is expensive and staying in situ allows you to keep in touch with what is going on day to day. However if the builder has to stagger his work around the house or has to leave a bathroom or kitchen functional throughout the build or curtail his working hours, it is preventing him from working as efficiently as he could. Your architect can advise you on the implications of staying in your house during construction.

5. Choice of products

Setting your heart on a stunning stone floor which needs to be imported from the far east or a beautiful light fitting which is out of stock is going to cause delays. Some items are always made bespoke, such as windows and doors, and often take a long time for the suppliers to manufacture after the order is placed. Ask suppliers what their lead in times are and if items are in stock and select accordingly. If necessary orders can be placed before the contractor is chosen – at risk to you if things don’t proceed or there’s a problem with the order. Ask your architect and builder if you are after a product which isn’t in stock – they may be able to suggest a similar product from a different supplier.

If you have a pressing project, whether it is extra space in your house or workplace or urgent renovation to a listed building, we can advise you on a realistic programme and work with you to achieve this. Call us on 01225 851 860 to talk through your project.

Need more advice about how to realise your project? Read our blog Why you should keep you Architect on during Construction

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