Managing your builder is key to home construction


MANAGE YOUR PROJECT: Take frequent photographs of the development

Continuing his series on building projects, Nick Snelling looks at keeping on top of your builders

DISPUTES about costs occur with troubling regularity, when it comes to building projects.

So, be sure to agree clear payment terms early on and have these written into the contract with your builder.  Furthermore, appoint a professional to confirm when key stages of the work (that result in agreed stage payments) have been completed to the required quality. 

Equally, make sure that you pay on time and that you honour any commitment to your builder.  Not doing this is unfair and can quickly result in your builder not trusting you and immediately create unnecessary tension.  This can quickly initiate a spiral of mistrust that can derail a project.

During a project, do not micro manage the work of your builders.  That can be unnerving for any builder, intensely irritating and is something that few non-building industry professionals are capable of doing properly, in any event.

That said, take frequent photographs of the work as it is being done and date and label these images, so that they make up a history of your project.   At the same time, communicate any concerns you have to your builder, as soon as anything appears awry.  This is only fair and you must (by law) always give your builder the opportunity to correct any mistakes.

If, after discussing a problem, you are still unhappy then immediately call in a professional building surveyor or architect to check that everything is alright or to assess the problem that you have discovered.  Time is always of the essence in a building contract and the sooner a problem is resolved the better, not least because rectifying something later on can involve considerable disruption to completed work.

Generally, most builders are actually quite respectful of an independent professional opinion, especially when they realise that the professional involved is technically competent, with a wealth of experience in solving similar issues.

Likewise, an experienced professional architect or building surveyor is used to dealing with builders and helping them to see the benefits of getting things right in the first instance. Remember building surveyors are particularly apt at avoiding and resolving issues, such as structural instability and damp proofing, as well as general detailing, all of which serve to reduce property maintenance and future problems.

It is a guiding principle of good builders that they maintain a steady momentum on a building project.  So, be wary when your builder starts to reduce and expand his team erratically or when he does not turn up at all for several days at a time.

This is normally a bad sign and one that you should not allow to continue.  Enthusiasm by the other builders in the team will be lost, concentration will wane and you will, inevitably, see a reduction in quality.


Nick Snelling is the author of five books including ‘How to Buy Spanish property and Move to Spain – Safely!’ and runs the information site Culture Spain

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