You worked hard for the opportunity to get you own project started, you want to get the best you can for your money. What if something went wrong? How would you cope in a crisis?
A new home, or an extension that will transform our existing home into a beautiful, bright family space, is a dream that has keeps many of us going. It gives us a goal to work towards and a reward for all the hard work that we have put in through the years.
Projects are exciting, something we don’t get to do very often. You will be inspired by beautiful, seductive images of kitchens and gardens. You are going to be spending a significant amount of money £50,000, maybe £250,000, maybe even more.
Project risk is not fun. It is the dark cloud on the horizon that threatens the party atmosphere. Few people understand it and nobody wants to talk about it. Everybody is busy trying to encourage you to spend your money.
Whether you find it exhilarating or upsetting, dealing with a crisis is a challenge for most people. It is time consuming and it is often something that we are unable to deal with ourselves, expert knowledge is required and a crisis will always leave a serious dent in your funds.
The good news is, a risk can be managed and you can significantly reduce the potential for a crisis, but you have to be prepared to talk about it.
Here are 3 things you need to know about risk.
Risk cannot be eliminated, it must be managed. The expectation that all matters relating to a construction project can be anticipated in advance, is a common misconception.
Whenever you open up a wall, or start excavating in the ground, you can have a reasonable idea of what you might expect to find, but never absolute certainty. The geology and ground conditions may change unexpectedly, someone may have buried some asbestos underground, or a plumber has done serious structural damage, cutting joists to fit a new bathroom many years ago. Perhaps all the components that have arrived on site, from different suppliers, don’t fit together as expected.
The cost of the investigation/preparation required to eliminate all risks in advance is prohibitive and counter-productive. A balance has to be struck between the cost and the benefit that the various types of survey work and investigation can offer.
Striking the right balance requires a lot of experience.
You need to speak to an expert. That person needs to be independent and someone who is not trying to sell you a particular product or service.
That person needs to have a detailed knowledge and experience of the whole of the building process, from beginning to end. From initial idea, through regulatory process, to mixing the concrete and finally applying the last coat of paint. This is harder than it sounds, there are so many different people involved in construction dealing with one aspect or another.
The only person that has a complete overview of the entire process is an architect.
A note of caution, the title architect is protected by law. The services of an architect and their conduct is controlled by regulation to protect consumers. Only someone with the correct skills, experience and qualifications are permitted to use the title. Someone offering "architectural" services may not be a registered architect. It is easy to check if someone a registered architect, follow this link to the Architects Register.
In construction, everything can be fixed. Well almost.
In traditional construction, the materials and methods of construction are robust and adaptable, meaning anything that goes wrong can be put right. In general, the same applies to modern construction, although as the industry moves towards higher technology and factory-made components, they are becoming more difficult to adapt. Any alterations carried out may invalidate certificates of compliance or warranties.
So, it is not a disaster if something goes wrong, but there will be a cost for putting it right.
Skimping on the cost of investigation and preparation to save money and hoping that nothing goes wrong, in the knowledge that if something does go wrong it can be fixed, is not the same as managing the risk. It is gambling. It is the highest risk strategy, you have no idea where the potential risks are, no idea of the consequences should the risk manifest itself and no plan in place for dealing with it when it does.
To end up with a project that is a delight and a joy...
Don’t get over excited or ambitious, listen to your architect, take appropriate precautions and you will reduce your stress levels considerably. If you have a fair wind and none of the anticipated risks materialise, you may also get a nice bonus at the end to spend on yourselves or your property.
Although MAAC Studio is focused on restoration of older properties, if you are looking for a new build home, we are happy to discuss your requirements and point you in the direction of good architects that will deliver great results for you.
MAAC studio are accredited conservation architects working with traditional buildings throughout the North of Scotland.