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What should I do if my build starts going over budget and deadline?

What should I do if my build starts going over budget and deadline?

Help! My build’s going over budget and deadline.

It’s very easy to get carried away and go over budget with a build. Contractor rates, materials and expensive extras always seem to find a way out of the woodwork to turn your carefully saved finances to dust. Before you know it, the gentle chipping away at your contingency fund has left your building dreams in the red.

According to UK Construction Online, less than one in three projects will come within 10 per cent of the original budget. It’s a common problem to find your build over budget and running late but there are some things you can do to stop things spiralling further out of control.

Build over budget

If your build has gone over budget, you have several options:

  1. Use alternative materials.
  2. Reduce the project scope.
  3. Get more funding.
  4. Build in phases.

Alternative materials:

If you are running out of money, sometimes you have to abandon your best laid plans. Radiators instead of underfloor heating, laminate instead of granite worktops or pine beams instead of oak. Changing materials can make a huge difference, especially if you can anticipate early on if costs are increasing more than you thought. It might mean a delay in the build if you have to return items and wait for delivery of a cheaper alternative, but the compromise will be worth it, if it keeps you under budget. 

Reducing the project scope:

Look at the original reasons for starting your extension. Did your aspirations for bigger and better mean you started tweaking the original design into a mega bucks grand design? What aspects of the build can you not live without? Think about what is really important to you and accept the fact that you may have to go back to the drawing board. Reducing the design scope may require new drawings but in the long term it will reduce the stress of money worries when you can’t afford to finish the project.

Get more funding:

How deep are you willing to dig into your pockets to build your dream extension? Securing extra funding is a viable option either through personal loans or a remortgage, but beware of over-spending on your home’s value. If houses in your street sell at £350,000, don’t build an enormous extension and ask for £500K. People looking for a £500K house won’t want to live in a £350K street.

Build in Phases:

If your building project is your forever home and you don’t intend on moving anytime soon, it might be possible to build your project in phases. Have you considered splitting the build into structural and internal phases where you get the main contractor to build you a weather tight shell and then you manage the fit-out stage yourself. Or, hold off on that double garage renovation or expensive kitchen design and make do with a cheaper alternative until you can afford the one you want in a few years’ time.

If your build project has passed its deadline there are also a couple of options:

Firstly, look at the reasons why the building work has over run. The life of a build never runs smoothly – bad weather, supplier delays, equipment breaking down, even acts of god - can all play havoc with deadlines despite a builder’s best intentions.

Poor communication is one of the biggest causes of delays so build a relationship with whomever is project managing the job. If your builder is time-poor and not keeping to the agreed schedule, it can make more sense to pay someone else to manage the project. Be wary if you think you can do a better job. DIY Project management requires a major investment in time. You need to be on site daily to greet and instruct contractors and deliveries, have a good head for figures and scheduling.

Ultimately, the challenge with any build is finding a balance between getting a job well done or getting it rushed and finished to a lesser standard - just because you wanted to be in by Christmas!