What is project management?
Project Management is the process of coordinating all the various stages of a build. From sourcing materials to dealing with contractors. A project manager runs the project, making sure the house is completed within budget and timescale.
You can hire a skilled professional to manage your build, although it is entirely possible to be your own project manager. If you’ve organised events or family activities, you already have some of the skills needed to successfully coordinate your own build. Others you can learn through research and by asking for advice.
It might seem daunting at first but the principals of good project management are simple - it’s about being aware of the timeline and making sure people are ready to start when they’re supposed to. It’s about putting the work in to find the things you need for a price that fits with your budget. It’s keeping an eye on your designs to make sure the project is staying true to your vision and built safely to the correct level of quality.
When you build with Potton, you can do as much or as little as you want. As a Potton customer, you usually have three routes to choose from when completing your build:
- Self-manage, using a team of subcontractors
- Employ a project manager, to find and manage the sub-contractors on your behalf
- Employ a builder, to complete the build for you
Should I self-manage my project?
For many of our customers, there is the satisfaction and pleasure of being able to say 'we built this'. Which is why they choose to manage the build themselves.
We have developed our services to support and empower you, if you choose this approach. We do this with an extended network of ‘customer recommended’ subcontractors and suppliers. We also have a series of seminars and workshops, to provide you with the skills to manage your own build. The workshops cover the self-build process from start to finish, where you can learn from the Potton team and independent project managers, all with many years’ experience within the construction industry.
Should I hire a professional project manager?
Whilst managing a build isn’t necessarily complicated, it is time consuming. Making it difficult to fit in with busy lives. Which is why some people employ an independent project manager to control the build for them. With this approach, you still have a high degree of control over the project. You can set the agenda and agree certain parameters. For example:
- How is the budget managed and spent
- Which subcontractors are employed
- How quickly the build will progress
- What level of quality is acceptable
You just won’t have to do the legwork of putting those decisions into practice.
The project manager is engaged directly by the customer, usually on a fixed fee basis. The key to working successfully with any professional project manager is to clearly set out the following:
- Project objectives and expectations, including build cost, build time and build quality
- The scope of the service required and extent of their responsibility
- How the service will be delivered, for example, when will the project manager carry out inspections and what are the preferred communication arrangements
- The process of decision making and dealing with problems, such as who has authority and to what extent
- The managing of health and safety and what resources will be made available for working safely
In addition, your role as the customer should also be agreed in a similar way. There is little point in employing a project manager if you don’t feel able to step back and allow them to do their job. However, the opposite can be equally damaging too. You will still need to be available to make decisions or to address any financial questions. Even the best project manager will struggle to keep the build on track, if they cannot easily communicate with you.
Should I employ a builder?
Many customers find a local builder who can deliver a full turnkey build, meaning they will handle the entire project from start to finish and present you with a home that’s ready to move into. Depending on the location, Potton can often suggest builders who’ve worked with our customers in the past.
The advantage of using a turnkey builder or main contractor is that they relieve pressure on you, as the self-builder, and reduce the number of decisions you have to make. The downside is that the extra services generally lead to an increase in build cost.
What makes good project management?
Effective project management consists of three key features.
- A well thought-through budget, with a sensible contingency allowance
- A realistic timeline
- A constantly updated to-do list
If you get these in place from the outset and keep on top of them, you shouldn’t be hit by any unforeseen costs or delays.