Over the years I’ve completed (as has my company Rodine Australia) numerous builds and I have to say, there’s nothing more exciting than when the construction phase begins. All your hard work of planning, budgeting, designing and negotiating comes to fruition and the reality of your vision begins to take shape. It truly is an exhilarating time.
As exciting as this stage is, it can be fast-paced and at times overwhelming, which requires you to multitask with a multilayered team (eg. tradespeople, councils, consultants, suppliers) at any given time.
To help me I’ve found these 5 simple tips have played a pivotal part in making sure I stayed organised and on track. Which when building, is absolutely essential. Not to mention keeps you sane!
1. Contact lists
Mobile phones have now become an extension of our arms and a lifeline to communication. To make my correspondence easier to find and use, I set up a project contact list.
Within my contact list, I also categorise into specific fields. For example plumbing, tiling, electrical, consultants. The reason I do this is that sometimes I will need to talk (or email) multiple people who are part of the project and having them categorised is quicker and easier to do.
It also means I have a reference to go back to if I need to recall an agreement or action decided. There is nothing more time consuming (or annoying) than when you have to scroll through messages or emails to find something that was discussed weeks ago. This often leads to possible confusion, time delays (which may result in additional costs), design discrepancies and overall frustration.
I’ve also found it handy to know that the person calling you is Jack the electrician because as you can imagine your discussions with Jack will be vastly different from Sarah the plumber.
It may not seem like much, but when you’re getting many calls in a day from numerous people on your project you will want to know who and what role they play in your project. This also makes it easier to prepare yourself by having a gist of what area of the project you’ll be discussing before you press the accept button on the mobile.
2. Filing of drawings/plans
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve walked past worksites to see project drawings torn, covered in coffee stains or spread all over the floor. I shake my head because drawings are like a map to where you want to go and how to get there. If the emphasis is not on ensuring that the map is maintained, readable and something to refer back to, then the likelihood is there will be mistakes and something will be missed.
As may be the case, you might have amendments to your drawings through the construction phase (eg. change in location of a light switch, change in height of bench etc) so it is absolutely imperative your plans be treated like gold.
I always ensure that all drawings are available on-site, I have a copy, and that the most recent and updated drawing set is at the front of the drawings section in my project folder. You don’t want to have to be sifting through a whole lot of plans that are not in the right order.
Hint – To make sure they are readable, laminate the plans as this protects them.
As a backup, I also mark the most recent drawings with a bold red C in the corner as this is quick and easy to identify. The C stands for ‘construction’
3. Photographs. Photographs. Photographs
I make sure the site team send me weekly photographs to keep me updated on how my project is travelling (particularly if I’m not able to get to the site). Remember, you are the client and therefore can ask for updates which are more than a quick phone call or short email. It’s a good way to keep everyone involved in the project accountable. You get to see what works have actually been completed, not what you might have been told.
If I’m able to visit the site, I’ll also take photographs as a timeline reference for myself on where a project is at, which provides me with a visual project diary (eg. I have a photograph that shows me when the bathroom tiles went down, what condition they were in and what additional works are needed to complete that scope of works).
Another hint – even though I’ve been in the construction space for some time now, I too can get lost in a conversation with a tradesperson who is describing a project issue on site when I’m remote. So I’ve found by having them send me a photograph it has helped me fully understand (and I can see) what exactly it is we’re discussing and therefore have been able to make a decision quickly. Saves time and reduces confusion.
4. Use your calendar
We use our calendars on our electrical devices for everything from birthdays to doctor appointments, yet I’m often amazed by how many people don’t use their diaries as a tool for their project.
Once I have an overall timeline of a project, I diarise showing the start and finish dates, but more importantly critical points. It may sometimes range from when I need to have made the decision on the tile as there will be a 4 week lead time (how long takes from ordering til on site), to when a payment is to be paid. The easiest and clearest way I have found to manage my time within the project timeline is to set up a Project Calendar. This has kept me on track especially when juggling my work and family calendar as well.
I’ve also found having colour codes for tasks is a quick and easy visual tool to know what’s coming up next. For example:
- red = payments
- green = decision
- blue = order
- yellow = site meeting
- orange = inspections etc.
It doesn’t really matter how you decide to use your calendar or what format, but that you use it. It really will make your life easier during the build.
5. Tape measure with you. Always!
I can’t tell you how many times in the beginning years of our construction company, that when I needed a tape measure on hand, I never had one. It wasn’t really an issue as I was the owner of the construction company, so someone from my team could lend me one. Therefore I never really paid attention to the value of having a tape measure with you at all times; that is until I started my personal builds.
You will be surprised how often a tape measure comes into play, even though you are not the professional tradesperson.
Example: you’re asked if you’d like 900mm or 110mm heights. Now we know the difference is 200mm, but what does that actually look like are two different things. That’s where a quick extension of your tape measure shows you and a decision is made there and then. The tool becomes a pivotal assistant in your decision making. As the saying goes “time equals money”.
I’ve used my tape measure on sites from mapping out where a lounge seat will go, deciding if a certain desk will fit into a child’s bedroom, how far a light pendant will hang from a ceiling to the height of a plant at the front door entrance.
I now have a much better appreciation and respect for the humble tape measure. It may look like a mundane piece of equipment but it’s so much more.
I hope these 5 simple tips help you keep on track and stay organised throughout your build.
Written by Justine Teggelove, Co-founder of Build in Common