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Thursday, 22 February 2007

Surviving building: Part 1

Lesson 4: Surviving Building Part 1

How do you make an annoying builder disappear? Pay him up front for the materials or labour.

You can choose from several different ways of losing your money to a dishonest builder. For simplicities sake I’ve just included one way from each of the main types of contracts. There are of course many more.

  1. Turnkey projects:

The builder undertakes to have the plans approved, procure all the materials and construct the building.

A supplier of mine had a plan-and-construct contractor build him a storeroom for his work from home business. He chose this contractor because he was promised that the work would be done quickly before his baby arrived. The builder started (and finished) the construction without submitting the plans (which incidentally were included in the cost ) and now he is stuck with five problems:

  • No approved plans
  • An encroachment over the building line
  • No record of building inspections
  • No approval to alter an old (>60yrs) house
  • A disinterested builder.
  1. Conventional Building Contract
  2. This builder supplies all materials and labour and constructs what is shown on your plan.

    The fastest way to make your money disappear with this kind of agreement is to ask questions when you see bits missing from the building (ceilings, cupboards, tiles, window sills). You’ll feel a sharp pain in the wallet every time you hear the words "That wasn’t included in the original contract". The drawing may well not show everything you would assume to be an integral part of the work.

  3. Labour Only Contract
  4. The builder supplies the labour while you purchase the materials.

    Some of these type of builders may be able to lay bricks or plaster walls but have never successfully managed the construction of an entire building before. If they have under quoted or are not able to achieve the production rates they hoped for you may end up with the labour budget expended before the work is complete. You also stand the chance of being held responsible for the safety of workers, for unpaid wages and for numerous violations of occupational health and safety regulations.

  5. You Sub-Contract

You manage the building process (if you have the time and experience) and hire sub-contractors for each trade.

Choose from any of the ways above to lose your money this way.

If you’re still feeling brave enough to carry on we’ll look at some tactics for keeping relationships intact during the building process.

Author: Pete Bowen

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