Be your own Project Manager – you can do this!

With Winter nearly behind us and Spring on its way many of us are getting excited and looking forward to new projects. If project managing a build to your home is one of the big things you’ve got planned for the year ahead here are just a few things you should consider before jumping in feet first.

As yourself these questions:

  • Are you a planner? Do you enjoy spending hours researching materials and tradesmen?

    wood staircase in a modern self build home

    Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

  • Are you organised, do you get a thrill just thinking about a gantt chart?
  • Can you give clear direction and make timely decisions?
  • Are you comfortable hiring and firing – will you be able to have those difficult conversations if the need arises?
  • Do you have the time to be on site every day?

If you’ve read the above and you’ve thought “oh no thanks” we suggest you call in a professional project manager, sit back and watch your dream materialise before your eyes and let someone else deal with the headaches.

If you read it and thought “Hell yeah, bring it on” then read on and I’ll give you some pointers that will help things run smoothly.

Cost savings

Self-managed builds tend to take longer but you can save up to 15% on the overall cost by project managing the whole thing yourself. Being prepared for the huge commitment, that is overseeing and having overall control of a medium to large scale project, is key to completing on time and on budget.

1. Plan ahead

Planning is key to the success of any project. If you don’t have a plan you don’t have a project!

calculator on desk with project work

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Get a calendar and be realistic about how long each phase of the project will take.

You will need printed plans, both in the office and on-site to refer to. Have you checked if you need planning permission, many people assume for smaller builds they don’t need it – this is a costly mistake that is easily avoided from the outset.

2. Set a budget

Be realistic about your costs and make sure sub contractors are clear on when and how they are going to be paid. You can find out more about how to set and stick to a budget.

3. Get references from your subcontractors and check them!

Save yourself an awkward conversation or having to delay your project when you have to fire a contractor by checking the references prior to hiring them. Top tip – always check their availability too!

building site hard hats hanging up

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

4. Follow the rules!

We’ve already mentioned planning permission but you need to ensure all your sub contractors hold the correct qualifications and licenses to operate and that your building meets all the required building regulations.

Save yourself time, money and heartache by avoiding having to pull any of your build down, because it does not meet the local councils fire safety standards, for example.

5. Keep your neighbours onside

Showing your neighbours courtesy and consideration throughout the life of your building project makes for a more peaceful life afterwards. Let your neighbours know well in advance that building work is going to start and how long you anticipate it going on. If there are delays communicate these too. They will appreciate being kept in the loop. And it desn’t matter whether you build on a small plot or a large footprint – your neighbours are important!

6. Protect your investment

Some people say that insurance is the cost of fear and responsibility but if you want to sleep at night, my advice is to take out a self-build insurance policy that covers you, your site and your contractors and a structural warranty to protect your build in the long term.

drilling wood

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

7. Make your site a nice place to work

This basically means ensure a free and plentiful supply of tea, coffee and biscuits, oh and a Portaloo! Keep your workers happy!

8. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Things go wrong, things get delayed, people get sick, shit happens. If you’ve got the budget, the plan and the insurance you don’t need to sweat the small stuff. In fact I have outlined some simple management mantras to help you avoid the mistakes of the self-builder.


If you’ve decided to self-manage your project, the chances are it’s a labour of love. Enjoy the experience, the huge learning curve and the new skills you’ll have gained once its complete.

If you’ve read all this and you’re still determined to project manage your build, by sticking to my advice you should hopefully avoid any major disasters.

I understand my clients and I know they want beautiful homes. Some elements of creating a beautiful space can be stressful but choosing art doesn’t need to be one of them. If you would like help oradvice on choosing some art for your home then please do get in touch.

Or have a look at this spectacular £3m new build – adorned with my original artworks of course – and see what can be achieved when you set your mind to something great!

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