The importance of proper planning when doing a build or restoration really can’t be overstated. As well as for logistical and cost control reasons, it’s also something that is vital to maintain a sense of morale, enthusiasm and respect for the client / the client’s design and management team on a build.
Major issues to consider with respect to planning are:
Planning permissions in place
For any major building works you need planning permission in place before you start with works. As this process can take quite a while (typically 3-9 months) it’s good to get that started at the earliest opportunity.
Are services connected?
Two basic requirements on any building site are electricity and water. Before most works can commence you will need to ensure that at least running water is available on site. Most builders should be able to source a generator if no electricity if available on site, but this is something they will need to know in advance, and it’s better to arrange a builder’s electrics connection on site if possible.
Weather dependent works
Certain works are weather dependent, such as roof replacement and exterior painting. In addition to this drying out a property is often a crucial element of a restoration and as this is much easier to do in the summer the calendar for the project needs to take this into account.
As a restoration project has a specific order of works (see our stone walled and concrete framed restoration pages), for example with most interior works requiring a weatherproof shell, the seasons and likely weather need to be borne in mind during planning.
It is also worth noting that in July and August temperatures in the middle of the day are often too hot for exterior building works. This added to being fiesta time means that many suppliers are closed for several weeks and generally very little building work happens at this time or year.
Much of Galicia is served by tiny roads with tight bends and vertiginous slopes and sometimes site access can be a major obstacle to getting building materials to where you need them.
When you are arranging suppliers for the major materials needed for your build or restoration be sure to discuss site access with them if road access is limited or difficult and especially if any part of the access is unpaved.
Materials on site
When to get materials on site is always a tricky issue. On the one hand you don’t want work delayed whilst you wait for materials to arrive (and non-standard stuff can sometimes take months longer to arrive than is initially promised by the supplier), but on the other hand having materials on-site when you don’t need them means they can get dirty or damaged and also that you have to store them somewhere and work around them.
Additionally, whilst theft isn’t a common problem in Galicia, a perhaps not very secure, unoccupied site filled with expensive building materials is inevitably a target and therefore a risk, and also may well not be covered by any insurance policy you have on the property.
The best policy is to have a clear plan of works and also an up to date and honest assessment from suppliers of how long key materials will take to arrive so that materials only arrive on site just before they are needed.
All necessary reference plans and materials available
Even with the most detailed plans there are always questions that come up during a build, and more often than not these questions will be asked in a big cloud of stress by someone who is in the middle of some job and has just realised that something can’t be done without some specific information.
Of course it’s much worse if these questions aren’t being asked, because the issue will arise anywhere, but there should always be someone immediately available that knows the plans inside out and can answer such questions as where plugpoints are going, what model of shower/toilet/sink is being fitted, what size floor tiles will that room have, what height will the kitchen worktop be, etc..
Additionally having this person on-site often enough to be able to spot work being done that is incompatible with plans at the earliest possible opportunity can save a lot of time, money and hassle and also helps get a better end product.
If you have multiple trades and builders on site then they won’t all know all of the plans and all of the details, just their own bits, and so this really is an important issue to have covered.
Workforce on site with no work to do
As each job on site is to some extent a link in a chain, and because most jobs also need materials available on-site, a lack of proper planning can man that you have contracted workers on site who can’t do the work they’re contracted for.
OK, there’s almost always site clearing or other odd jobs that can be done, but as there’s a limited amount of this and because builders contracted to do something else normally has stunningly little enthusiasm for this kind of work, it’s a situation that should be avoided as it costs you time, money and morale.
However, it can be worse…
Workforce going to another job “for a few days”
If builders, at least ones who are any good, spend too long without proper work to do the inevitable will happen and they will go off to do another job “for a couple of days”, and if you see them again inside a month you’ll be lucky.
This situation should be avoided at all costs as absent builders hold up everything after them in the chain (and those workmen can also disappear to other jobs), and in the event that they don’t reappear and you hire someone else to do the work it will inevitably be the case that the newly hired person makes continuing someone else’s work awkward at best. And, of course, this situation tends to lead to disputes about money, either a deposit that you’re trying to get back or whatever the departed builders feel you owe them.
If you have the sourcing, management skills, time to be on site throughout the whole project, and of course language skills to manage your Galician project then you can save considerable cost and also (possibly!) have a highly rewarding experience managing the creation of your own home.
You should, however, be brutally honest with yourself when deciding this, and if there is any doubt then get yourself the necessary help – it will save you time, money and stress.