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Five Tips to Help You Project Manage Your Self Build

Self built home from Potton
(Image credit: Potton)


A great way to cut costs and stay on top of a self build, renovation or conversion, DIY project management can be a demanding task but proves immensely rewarding when you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Make sure you don’t start off on the wrong foot, and read up on what to expect before you start. 

1. Prepare and Research 

We’ve all heard the old phrase “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”, but in this case, it could not get any truer. For many people, building a house is a culmination of a lifetime’s worth of savings balanced on an ambition to achieve a perfectly tailored home. Be sure not to neglect awareness of materials, build processes, tradespeople and the impact they will have on not just the finished project, but also on the experience throughout. The key to successful project management is to utilise resources like magazines, exhibitions, online tutorials and workshops to the best of your ability before starting on site. 

Self built home from Potton

Timber-frame experts Potton (opens in new tab) offer a myriad of courses and workshops to help any self-building novice to a point of designing and managing their own projects. Take a look at Potton’s Project Management Masterclass online to see how to organise and set up a site. (Image credit: Potton)

2. Be Ready to Learn From Others

A common mistake to make when project managing for the first time is to not listen to advice from experienced self builders, tradespeople or suppliers. Accepting what you don’t know will make issues and problems along the road much easier to solve and will cut down on potential frictions later on. 

Self built home from Potton

Taking advice from seasoned experts along the way, such as by using a Potton Self Build Consultant, will no doubt provide great insight into creating your dream home. (Image credit: Potton)

3. Communicate With Your Team 

Clear and consistent dialogue with both tradespeople and suppliers is essential to any build, big or small. Set up weekly, if not daily, site meetings to review what will happen, who will be on site and what is expected to be finished in a reasonable timescale. 

Setting up an office on site is another great way to make sure your team feels comfortable coming to you with problems and questions, no matter how minor. The beauty of project managing your own build is that the buck stops with you; any queries will be ultimately resolved by you and you’re able to step in when something goes awry. Make the most of this opportunity to speak up if you aren’t happy with the quality. It is much cheaper to ‘nip it in the bud’ on site than to come back at a later date to fix. 

4. Be Aware of Trades and Timings

On the topic of dealing with trades, make sure your schedule for when people are coming and going on site is realistic. Make a note of what trades can’t arrive until others have left and always make sure the essential materials and on-site preparations are in place to save precious pennies. 

5. Stay on Budget

Here to Help

Potton has been assisting aspiring self-builders for 60 years and their Self Build Show Centre organises regular events for builders of all experience. Find them on Facebook (opens in new tab)Twitter (opens in new tab) and Instagram (opens in new tab) or on their website (opens in new tab).

Making decisions well ahead of time, not changing your mind and ensuring lead-in times are observed saves both time and money. When starting a project, make accurate estimates and calculate a realistic contingency fund (usually 10-20% of the overall budget) in case things change. During the build, the best project managers are reactive to unexpected costs and effectively balance the budget accordingly.