My refurb plans seem light on detail, do we have to go back to the drawing board?

Property clinic: Preparation should reflect complexity – leave nothing to imagination

A scope of works document should be developed based on a thorough inspection of the building

A scope of works document should be developed based on a thorough inspection of the building

 

I’m having work done on my house but the plans provided by my designer are light on detail. They were submitted for planning alright but any builder that I ask to price the extension says that they need more detail and working drawings. Two separate builders have given me quotes but these are miles apart. I’m confused as to the detail I need to provide. Surely the builder would know what’s involved in the job. How much detail do I need to give and should my designer have provided this information?

We all seem to be fascinated with programmes like “Room to Improve”. In a well-worked formula, projects usually involve encountering the unexpected, with subsequent hold ups, cost increases and stress on all concerned. Whilst this makes for very entertaining viewing, in reality, there is usually a tighter control on the full impact of even the simplest extension or renovation.

The level of detail required should reflect the complexity of the job in hand and should clearly set out the scope of works in both writing and on drawings.

Professional organisations like the RIAI (architects) and SCSI (surveyors) will have “Work Stages” documenting the role of the designer from inception of a project through to completion. This will set out fee levels for making planning applications if needed, and for procurement of the building contract.

You should be clear on what stage you have contracted with your designer, as this will dictate the level of detail they will provide. There can be confusion over the desire to have planning or design concept drawings, rather than “working drawings”.

This should be clarified with your designer at the outset. Clearly, if you are trying to get competitive quotes for the work, you should leave nothing to the imagination and all work should be clearly set out on drawings and other documentation such as a schedule of work.

Detailed workings

Issues like the removal of internal load-bearing walls should be assessed. One recent episode on television, showed the builder being instructed to remove all of the upstairs walls to allow for the creation of an upside-down house, with open-plan living accommodation on the upper floor and bedrooms below on the ground floor. The consequence of removal of the walls of course, was that the roof, which relied on the walls for support, then needed emergency alterations and propping at great expense. The most rudimentary planning of the project would have envisaged this.

A good tender package, to include a set of well-annotated and detailed working drawings, accompanied by a Schedule of Works, should allow you to obtain competitive tenders. Each builder will know exactly what is involved and can work out how long the project will take.

If you do not have a working drawing and schedule of works to fully detail your proposed renovation on your house, you should re-engage with your designer and expand the brief to include this in the service to you.

A scope of works document should be developed based on a thorough inspection of the building. This will identify any defects which need attention as part of your proposed refurbishment and improvement, and any associated costs. A well-planned job with the full scope of works developed prior to commencement will ensure that the project will be delivered on time and within budget. Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. – Noel Larkin

Noel Larkin is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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