What Exactly is ‘Self Build’?
Similar to widely used phrases such as ‘project management’, there are many interpretations of the term ‘self build’ but essentially it is where a home owner chooses not to have a main contractor carry out their building project for a fixed price. Instead, labour and materials are purchased directly.
At Pettorino Design, our projects take on all shapes and sizes, from the micro to the macro and for an equally diverse client base. Increasingly, we were finding it difficult to get builders to price for smaller projects and when we did, the prices seemed disproportionate. So quite out of the box, we looked at putting ‘labour and materials’ budgets together ourselves and helping our clients procure both on an open book basis. Essentially what a builder does, but the process is transparent.
Over time we have built up good relationships with trade suppliers and quality multi-skilled builders, and have refined an alternative way of getting projects built which could be anything from a simple hole in a wall to large extensions and new houses.
In some cases our clients are very ‘hands on’ when it comes to finding and purchasing materials, but when our clients are abroad or simply do not have the time we handle all purchasing and the management of on-site personnel on their behalf.
And the risks? Well, you are working to a budget, and not a fixed price so this is where making decisions in advance is everything.
Design changes during construction, as most people learn the hard way, increase the price and often cause delays. Our approach as a practice is to spend the time on the detail early to avoid variations after work has commenced. Better defined work means a less theoretical budget.
The reward comes from having control and understanding of how the money is spent.
We prepare detailed cost plans and log all payments so any movement in the budget can be tracked as it happens. Shopping around for the best value for money for fixtures and fittings can actually be fun if you like that sort of thing, and any savings against the budget can be retained for something else.
Direct labour is mostly without VAT, so there are further savings to be had here, as labour can be around half of the cost of the project.
As designers, the process puts us in much closer touch with the construction supply industry. Professionally, this is very rewarding, particularly when you discover that manufacturer or supplier who offers superb value for money.
Many of our projects are of course built using traditional lump sum contracts by established local builders. Self build or ‘design and manage’ as we prefer to call it has added a further service for our clients.
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