Why Good Planning is Essential - Start Early

As thoughts turn to spring, many people are starting to think more seriously about building or renovating their cottage once the snow melts and the roads are free to get supplies and workers to the site.

Talk of new open kitchens, extra rooms for family and guests, or a new screened in porch overlooking the lake starts to heat up.  People want to finalize the budget, find a builder and get going this spring.  It means a summer of cottage sacrifice but it will be more than worth it in the end.

Then the reality of the project hits.

Many owners are unprepared for the amount of decisions to be made and the time commitment required during the pre-construction phase of the project. The likelihood of a project coming in on-budget and on-time is very much determined by the effectiveness of the project’s pre-construction planning phase.

An effective pre-construction plan will likely include the development of the following items:

  • Pre-construction timeline
  • Final design of the home or cottage
  • Establishment of budgets for the project
  • Selections of finishes and features for the project
  • Development of construction drawings
  • Sourcing of construction management for the project
  • Management of the permitting process
  • Creation of a construction timeline
  • Sourcing of resources (labor, materials and equipment)
  • Development of a financial plan including a project cash flow

These are just some of the items that will be necessary in an effective pre-construction process.  Every project is different and more tasks may be necessary depending on municipal and conservation requirement or other unique needs.

Even with a well-structured plan, you will still encounter surprises and changes; without one, you are flirting with disaster.

In our experience we have seen the same mistakes over and over again.

1. Under Planning.

This is usually due to insufficient understanding of the complexity and technical requirements in building. Not understanding building code, or lacking the technical skills and knowledge of construction.  Not being prepared for the quantity of decisions required in building a home or cottage.  In the pre-construction phase, it is necessary to orchestrate the timing and sourcing of materials, labor and equipment required during the course of a project and this is by far the most frequently underestimated phase of the planning process and the primary driver in cost over-runs and delays.

2. Over Confidence.

This mistake presents itself in many ways.  Our clients are successful people who are very good at what they do.  We sometimes see an impression that building a cottage or home is “not that difficult”.  In this circumstance, especially when we are asked to rescue the project, overconfidence has often moved to despair and clients are faced with a high financial cost.  Mistakes have been made, expenditures have been misguided and the final product is nowhere in sight.

3. Unrealistic budgeting.

Many people have unrealistic expectations when it comes to budgeting for a project of this magnitude.  “My cousin can give me a good price” or referencing costs from a project that was executed 15 years prior are not the foundations of a well-structured and thought out budget. 

Many resources that owners believe that they have at their disposal often disappear when faced with the reality of budget and timeline.  The tradesperson often has better prospects with clients who are willing to pay market rates for his efforts.  Why would he work for you for less?

There is a reality to what things costs.  You need to come to terms with that reality in the planning process, not in the construction phase of the project.

Plan, plan and plan some more.  A well-conceived plan will make the construction phase of your new home or cottage seem easy.

Find the right partner, put in the time and effort at the start and watch your project come together smoothly and easily.

We would love to help!

Ed FreibauerComment