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Essential considerations for Designing Green Buildings

I’m self-building my home – here’s how I am avoiding soaring inflation

We’re not looking for any suggestions such as take on more work yourself, but rather looking for alternative materials to replace those that are now very expensive or hard to find, or any other money-saving tips. Does it make sense to save part of the building work for later? Lay foundations for the conservatory but build it at another point – that sort of thing.

We are all living in the middle of political, fiscal and economic uncertainty and the building industry is directly affected. We are experiencing a shortage of both skilled and unskilled labour, with material supply chain shortages and market forces driving up the cost of materials weekly, resulting in build projects not meeting timeline deadlines and cost increases.

If you are at the design stage of your self build, pre-planning approval, it is now that you should consider and have discussions with your designer/architect on the type of materials to use, whilst ensuring you meet local planning guides. Many of the structural materials involved will be determined by your architect or designer, but your choice of finishing materials will have a massive effect on how your new home looks, feels and operates. So, it’s worth taking the time to really consider all the factors that come with the various materials; from costs and getting the best quality and performance, to knowing your lead times; where, when and how to purchase.

The planners will have the final say on external materials – such as windows, doors, external wall facades and roof coverings – but you/your architect can argue for your choices. Assuming they are in keeping with any planning conditions and the local vernacular, the planners will usually look to support your preference.

Getting the quantities of your building materials right can sometimes be difficult, and although miscalculations and over-estimations are common, they can still be costly. If you are not contracting a principal builder to deliver your build, who would normally be responsible for planning and purchasing general building materials, you should consider working with a QS (Quantity Surveyor) or ask your architect to quantify the type of material and quantities required for your build.

Armed with your materials and quantities, you can then ‘tender out’ to builders merchants – I recommend at least 3 – for their costings for call offs when required (they will only hold the prices for 30 days) and/or discounts to take in one delivery/pay for all in advance. Some builders merchants will offer a take-off service, whereby you give them your plans and their own QS team will calculate the materials you need and supply their costs.

Prior to agreeing when and what to buy, check your plot to ensure you have access to the deliveries, room to store, and adequate security. Transport/delivery planning would normally be part the granting of planning permission. It’s always important to ensure there’s someone available to accept deliveries, otherwise expensive materials could be dumped anywhere on-site or be taken back to the depot. Keep a log of all deliveries, including details such as the product and quantity delivered, company and name of the driver.

If you are not contracting a Project Manager to manage the build, purchasing and supply chain, I would recommend building a comprehensive spreadsheet that governs the names of suppliers, quantity of product, unit costs, lead times of products and delivery dates. Material delays are costly and it is vital to keep your project on time and to budget.

Jonathan Spencer – founder and director of JPS Project Management Services

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