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Navigating the High Fees

Have you ever heard the story about the couple who started building their dream home but ran out of money leaving it unfinished?

Imagine you were fortunate enough to book a once in a lifetime Caribbean cruise. Think of how you would feel if you got half way through and discovered the boat had insufficient fuel to continue the journey. 

There is a great deal of similarity between the boat and the paused project. 

You would expect the captains of these huge boats to plan fuel consumption before setting out on the ocean. Similarly, the couple should have had a cost plan for the building of their home. In fact all projects need a cost plan. 

In the same way that the captain can estimate fuel consumption fairly accurately, a project manager or quantity surveyor can prepare a cost plan for your project even before any drawings are prepared.

An independent professional quantity surveyor will be able to give you a very close approximation of the total project cost by simply listening to what you have in mind. 

‘Can I afford my dream home?’ is also known as a feasibility study. 

Like the captain who realizes his fuel tanks are not big enough for the ocean voyage, you can discover if you can afford your ideas and dreams before proceeding to the expense of design. 

In a recent major project the final contractors’ bids were within 5% of our original estimated advice to our client. Your estimate may not be that close but it will be close enough to give you confidence that, with good project management, the final project costs will not exceed your budget. 

Remember there is a distinction between the total project cost and the building cost. When you get an estimate ask for the total project cost.

If the feasibility study is within your budget then you may be ready to move to the next stage but there is little point in setting a cost plan if you do not keep to it through the design process. In the same way that the captain and navigator need to monitor fuel consumption through following the planned course and speed, you will need to monitor your cost consumption during the design. 

The best way of monitoring this is to break your project up in to stages that require your approval and to check if it is still within your budget. 

In the course of the design process you will find the unexpected, these are similar to the eddies in the Gulf Stream. If they are working against you, then you will need to alter your plan so as not to run out of fuel on a stormy night.

In the next stage you will need to select your designer, enter into a contract in which your concerns about cost management are addressed and finally start the design process.

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By Chris Potter

Chris is the owner and founder of Chris Potter Associates. He is a highly experienced construction professional with experience as a contractor and consultant quantity surveyor and project manager in the UK and Caribbean construction markets.

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