Choosing a builder

by Chris Newson on June 17, 2009

Always a tricky one this…do you use those builders you’ve used for odd jobs over the years? do you go with the one recommended by a friend? do you use an architect? a project manager? do you even do some of the work yourself?

Super Surveyor Jim Hatfield

Super Surveyor Jim Hatfield

As chance would have it, my sister had some bad luck with a house a few years ago and met Super Surveyor Jim Hatfield. He does actually have his own super-suit.

Jim and his crew (JJ Hatfield & Co to be more polite – and one feels one should be polite around Hatfield’s) do surveying for legal cases and building surveys, and they also do architectural design and project management. Jim is a restoration nut – he even has is own steam engine – so he seemed like a good person to have around for a project like this.

Anyway, i’m jumping the gun, we actually got Jim involved to do our building survey – for which he wore the famed super-suit – 9 hours of crawling around in the rafters, and a whole bunch of report writing later, we benefited from 2 inches of pure weapons-grade building survey joy – identifying every single problem with our future baby. For the first time in my life I actually trusted a building survey. Needless to say we bought the house.

Now Jim was so familiar with the house, and having been so impressed with him, it seemed folly not to give Hatfield’s a crack at project managing the renovation.

OK, so you could easily think that it would cost a bit more because of their fees, but actually it meant we wouldn’t go over-budget, we wouldn’t get any surprises, we’d have someone totally on top of the builders and we wouldn’t need to engage an architect separately.

We figured that in the end the costs would work out about even and we would get a much higher quality, and less stressful, job done. Much more importantly, 6 months in I still believe all of this to be the case.

David Witcombe - Project Manager

David Witcombe - Project Manager

So having got Hatfield’s on board, they specified every tiny detail of the first phase of the job – down to how many times to stir the paint in the morning (leave nothing to chance!) – and then put the job out to 3 builders to quote on. 2 of the builders they had worked with before, and 1 wildcard.

The wildcard came in cheapest, but their references just didn’t make us feel good, so we ended up deciding on builders no.2…

Ladies and Gentleman I present to you…the builders all our hopes are pinned to…. GT Developments.

So Job Done (well for this blog post anyway). Builders for phase 1 selected. Building work to commence January 2009 and last 3 months. Project manager, surveyor and heir to the supersuit, David Witcombe, was assigned.

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