As a Co-founder and CEO of a commercial construction company, I am often asked what it is that the Rodine team does that ensures continued successful delivery of a project. We consider a successful project to be one that is built on time, to budget and with a client who is happy with the end results. Pretty simple really and a win-win for all.
I have found there are 5 key components to a successful project that can be applied to any size or budget project. For example, I have used this approach for my own home renovation to multimillion-dollar contracts within my company. Construction can at times seem like a confusing labyrinth, but if you get these 5 key areas right, then the likelihood is that the project will be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all involved.
1. Fully understand the brief
What I mean by this is that all people (including yourself) who are going to be involved in the project know exactly:
- What is to be achieved,
- What is being built,
- What it will look like, and
- How it will be built.
To ensure this, it’s imperative to have good documentation that clearly reflects this. I can’t stress enough how having documentation that is thorough and detailed ensures the project is on the right path from the start.
Think of it like a recipe or instructions. The more information is clearly provided, the easier it is for all to follow, understand and prevent misinterpretation and confusion.
Yes, the B word. Let’s be honest, you need money to build your project, so you must understand what financial commitment you’re making. Key tips I live by with project budgets:
- Set a budget and stick to it!
- Monitor your outgoings and costs regularly. This means not just a quick glance, but a close and thorough check.
- Be pre-emptive. Don’t wait to act if you are thinking you might be going over your budget. Address the issues head on and resolve each as you go.
- Make sure your budget includes a buffer. As much as we would like everything in life to go smoothly, alas this is not the case! Construction is no different. There may be unforeseen issues (eg. latent conditions) or a change in supply of an item that could affect the budget. How much you want to have as a buffer is up to you, but I think a good place to start is 10% of project value. Think of it as another GST.
It’s all well and good to have clear documentation and budget but if the project is going to be built during school holidays when your home will be the busiest, it’s probably not the ideal time.
So, planning the program of the build is very important as poorly programmed projects can cause more stress, possibly more money and diminish everyone’s overall lack of enjoyment of the process.
Having said that, as mentioned before, life can through some curve balls, so be prepared to amend or change your program if needed.
4. Decisive decision making
Over the years with all the projects we have built, I have found the ability to make clear decisions (sometimes quickly) has been invaluable. I look at decisions as the beginning of an action and this is crucial to get a project going, keeping it on track, maintaining the momentum and achieving the desired goals.
I always advise, be prepared to make quick decisions, sometimes even ad hoc, as things may crop up on a project that you had not anticipated. Firm decisions will need to be made for the project to keep moving forward and importantly to budget.
I know this word gets bandied around a lot, but I can tell you first hand that good open communication can have profound impacts on projects (as can poor communication). If you think about it a project will have a multitude of people (trades, consultants, suppliers) involved, somewhat like a sporting team, all collectively working towards a common goal.
Though to reach this, every member will play a different role and their part of this has an impact on each other member.
To be effective, communication is paramount. I have found the best way to ensure not only that I understand, but trades/consultants/suppliers also have a full picture of what is happening on a project, is meetings with minutes or notes.
The amount of information in the minutes may depend on the project, but irrelevant of size, you should always have notes taken and shared with the project team afterwards. This keeps everyone on track, reminds all what needs to be done, creates accountability and prevents confusion which can affect timelines and budgets.
I was given some advice many years ago when I first stepped into the construction arena.
“Be prepared, be active and enjoy”
This mindset has put me in good stead over the years and I think applies aptly to any project you may be looking at achieving.
– Justine Teggelove
CEO, Rodine Australia and Co-Founder, Build in Common