The Pre construction checklist

Many of us start our property journey with the simple redecoration of a property or the installation of Kitchen and bathroom fittings. For those not put off by their early endeavours, most move on to more ambitious projects and those which require employing one or more contractors.

Such a move obviously requires additional organisational skills and financial backing however it also requires a far more structured approach to comply with legislation and to ensure project success.

The first thing to ensure is that you must have adequately detailed drawings for what you are hoping to achieve. This is important for two main reasons. Firstly it will allow potential contractors to more accurately provide a quotation to you for the works and secondly, once a contractor is appointed,it will allow them to make informed decisions on site. Historically you may have been on site, helping out and therefore been available to answer any questions. This will not be the case for a larger project and so without adequate drawings they will either guess what you want or wait to contact you potentially causing delays, frustration and increased cost.

Prior to the contractors starting on site you will need to ensure that you have complied with the CDM (Construction Design & Management) Regulations 2015. As a minimum this will require the Contractor to provide a construction phase plan and a health and safety file. Furthermore there will need to be adequate site security, management and the provision of welfare facilities on site. Risk Assessments will also need to be undertaken which will be specific to the project and reflect various risks such as asbestos, working at height, excavation for foundations, hot works, neighbouring occupiers, removal of waste and the like. You should understand the risk assessments and consider how risks can be eliminated or reduced.

As part of your CDM obligations you will have to consider who is to be regarded as principal designer and principal contractor.

If your project is likely to take longer than 30 days and involve more than 20 personnel or alternatively if the project is likely to exceed 500 person days then you will additionally have to notify the Health and Safety Executive of your plans. This is generally done via their online form F10.

If you are creating new build units then you are obliged to produce a Predictive Energy Assessment at the outset to provide to Building Control. These will be upgraded to full SAP EPCS once the project is completed. It would be helpful to get an Energy Assessor to review your plans prior to construction to ensure that you will reach the required EPC score. If you are constructing apartments I would also have the proposed design checked by a sound engineer to ensure that you will pass a sound test. Post construction alterations are inconvenient and unnecessarily expensive.

For these more substantial projects you are likely to have additional contractors involved such as structural engineers, fire assessors, heating designers, energy assessors, architects, building control and the like and you need to ensure that each are appointed at the appropriate time in order to get your building ready for the construction team as soon as is possible.

Once these matters are agreed and a Contractor has been selected it is important to understand the contractual relationship between you and the builders. Many people opt for a JCT Contract whilst others use a Prime Cost Contract however others are available. You should undertake some research and understand which is most suited to you and your project. Most of the standard contracts offer the ability to add penalty clauses for late completion and make provisions for how interim payments to the contractor will be made as well as how the progress of the works will be assessed.

It is incredibly important to have a contract which both parties understand as it is the bedrock of the agreement between you.

Your final pre construction consideration should be to select who is going to manage the project. Whilst you could undertake this function yourself I would imagine, if you are inexperienced,  it will be a difficult task. Liaising with contractors and architects, dealing with applications for payment, meeting with building control and trying to accurately assess whether the works are being undertaken to the required standards and  in an appropriate timescale. In my view it would be far better to appoint a project manager and monitor what they do in order to augment your knowledge for perhaps a greater role in your next project.

So perhaps when you are looking at development opportunities you will add a couple of months onto the project timescale now you are aware of some of the pre construction considerations that need to take place.