My name’s Ixelles and I live on a building site.
Early 1990s house, getting extension to rear which incorporates existing kitchen. Mid-way through now, ergo we gots no kitchen. Well, we have the use of a fridge and cooker at the moment. The living room at the front doubles as a dining room until the job is done so it’s like tiny-apartment living.
The price of everything is higher than I’d have imagined at the get-go. Ignore only calculators that give price/m2 estimates. The time it took to get started - i.e. from calling an architect to having a builder on site - was nearly six months. Shocking. Partly due to slow work by architect in organising the tender but also because there are just fewer contractors willing to bid.
Now that I see all the work involved in foundations, insulation etc it’s easier to understand the costs of doing it right. Just to have so many people and machines around for two months is bound to be expensive, presuming they are paying VAT/taxes.
There was a big gulf in bids - almost 30% - and in the estimated time it would take. We opted for a guy who has his own crew and works locally rather than a guy who uses a lot of sub-contractors and was straight about how hard it is to get skilled people on site when you need them.
Now that things are under way, progress has been pretty swift. Only one unpleasant surprise: the method the builder had planned to use to attach a steel beam is not going to fly with the engineer. The latter wants it bolted in a way that temporarily affects upstairs bedrooms, so that brings added inconvenience and costs. Two additional days on site for three guys plus some extra equipment = around 1k.
Having an architect definitely adds to the cost. You have their fees, a surveyor (at least at the start), an engineer for any steel structures, and then they spec everything to meet the building regs so we’ve got insulated blocks that are twice the price of standard blocks. I hear people scoff when I say how much it’s costing because* they *know a guy who throws up lean-to sunrooms for [my guy’s price minus 40%] but I doubt we’ll regret doing it properly.
At least we’ll have all the documentation and the architectural technician shows up to inspect weekly before authorising any payment. The builder could tell me he’d done X, Y and Z but I’d have a hard time knowing if he was playing straight. Likewise on materials for foundations and flooring. Architect gets photos and or first-hand proof of everything to ensure it meets the standard.