Archive for the ‘Project Management’ Category

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What Drawings should you get from your Architect / Designer?

June 20, 2015
Every architect and designer provides a slightly different service but below is a list of the drawing (drg) packages that most professional provide;
  • Outline Design Stage – these drgs gives you the gist of a project and is similar to what you have now.
  • Scheme Design Stage – these drgs indicate all of the major design decisions required on a project
  • Planning Stage – these drgs provide the planners with all of the information they required to make a decision on whether to grant planning approval or not
  • Fire Certificate Application Stage – these drgs provide the fire safety officers with all of the information they required to make a decision about a fire certificate. This is only required for commercial buildings
  • Detail Design / Tender Stage – these drgs shows all of the design information and construction information that will affect the cost of the project
  • Contract Stage – This is what the builder agrees to provide for whatever the agreed figure is. Sometimes the tender drgs and contract drgs are the same but often builders can suggest alternative ways of constructing things and this needs to be reflected in the contract set of drgs.
  • Construction Stage – This is all of the information that the builder needs to construct the project and will include details like the exact position of light fittings, which may only have been shown as a rough location on previous drgs
  • Completion Stage – These show how things were actually constructed on site and reflect design and construction changes that happened during site works. Not all designers do this but i think they’re useful for home owners, especially when it comes to cable runs etc.

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Tips on Writing a Brief

May 5, 2015

Explaining what you want to a design professional or builder is perhaps the most difficult part of a building project. Here are a few tips on making it more successful.

  • A picture tells a thousand words. Your version of ‘modern’ or ‘electic’ may not match that of the person you’re communicating with. To avoid any ambiguity use images to explain what you desire.
  • If you’re engaging a design professional make use of their creativity and focus on objectives and not solutions when writing your wish list. For instance saying you want somewhere to read allows the designer flexibility to propose novel solutions, whereas a request for a chair in that corner does not. I would always advise clients to write out a list of activities that they want the space to accommodate rather than a list of fixtures and fittings. This allows me to search for solutions that facilitate multiple activities.
  • Consider the extent of the service you require. The more work you commission someone to do the greater the bill. In my experience the following are items that vary from client to client;
    • Extent of presentation material. The ability to visualise a design in 3D varies from person to person. Some need lots of 3D models while others can gleam the design from simple mood boards.
    • No of site visits / updates from site. Some building owners are very involved in the construction phase and want to know exactly what’s happening when; others prefer not to get involved. The level of information that you want will determine the fee you pay a professional that is managing the construction phase for you.
    • Sourcing of finishes, fixtures and fittings. You may be able to save yourself some fee by sourcing these items but it depends on the professional / builder. Some designers / contractors will have preferred items that they get at a discount while others will be quite happy to take this work out of the contract. Be careful with this though, if you drop the ball on ordering stuff on time you could end up paying your builder and professional compensation for holding up the project.
    • Assisting in the Construction Management phase. This is the day-to-day management of the project on site and mostly involves chasing deliveries and tradespeople who 9 times out of 10 don’t arrive on time. Providing this service will help the construction phase go more smoothly but don’t underestimate the time involved and the flexibility required to do it well. I would suggest you set down 1 – 2 hours a day to chasing people and this needs to be throughout the day. Just phoning before or after work or during lunch hours just won’t work.
  • If you’re hiring a design professional that is offering consultancy only you can be very honest with your budget because it doesn’t make a difference to them how much you spend. However if you’re hiring someone who gets commission on products that they propose or offers a design-and-build service then i wouldn’t give a figure, instead i would set a quality standard for them to work to, i.e. ceramic or natural stone tiling, formica or marble countertops etc. and ask them to quote for the work. Not all designers declare openly that they get commission so ask!

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Building Renovations / Construction and Regulations in Ireland

February 19, 2015

Building Owners embarking on a renovation / construction project need to determine whether their project needs

  • to comply with Building Regulations,
  • Planning Permission
  • a Health & Safety Plan

All of these regulatory areas are separate and the obtainment of planning does not confer compliance with building standards or health & safety regulations.

Building Regulations
The Building Regulations apply to new buildings, extensions, material alterations and changes of use of buildings. More information on current Irish Building Regulations is available here.

Planning Permission
In Ireland planning permission for modifications to a house is required except in the following circumstances;

  • Building an extension to the rear of the house which does not increase the original floor area of the house by more than 40 square metres and is not higher than the house. The extension should not reduce the open space at the back of the house to less than 25 square metres which must be reserved exclusively for the use of the occupants of your house. If your house has been extended before, the floor area of the extension you are now proposing and the floor area of any previous extension (including those for which you previously got planning permission) must not exceed 40 square metres. (There are also other height restrictions.)
  • Converting a garage attached to the rear or side of the house to domestic use so long as it has a floor area of less than 40 square metres. Building a garage at the back or side of a house so long as it does not extend out in front of the building line of the house and does not exceed four metres in height (if it has a tiled/slated pitched roof) or three metres (if it has any other roof type). This building will be exempt from planning permission once the floor area is limited to 25 square metres. Garages or sheds to the side of the house must match the finish of the house and may not be lived in, used for commercial purposes or for keeping pigs, poultry, pigeons, ponies or horses.
  • Building a front porch so long as it does not exceed two square metres in area and is more than two metres from a public road or footpath. If the porch has a tiled or slated pitched roof, it must not exceed four metres in height or three metres for any other type of roof.
  • Capped walls made of brick, stone or block, wooden fences but not security fences can be erected as long as they do not exceed 1.2 metres in height or two metres at the side or rear. Gates may be build provided they do not exceed 2 metres in height. Permission is always required to if you wish to widen or create new access to the public road.
  • A central heating system chimney, boiler house or oil storage tank (up to 3,500 litres capacity).
  • Car parking spaces, garden paths etc
  • A TV aerial on the roof so long as it is less than 6 metres higher than the roof
  • A satellite dish (up to 1 metre in diameter, and no higher than the top of the roof) at the back or side of the house (a dish on the front needs planning permission). Only one dish may be erected on a house.

Click here for more information Projects that are exempt from planning permission

Health & Safety
A building owner’s liability in relation to Health & Safety on their construction project requires them to do the following;

1. determine the competency of people doing paid construction work for you,
2. appoint one Project Supervisor for the Design Process and a Project Supervisor for the Construction Stage if
  • there is more than one contractor involved in the work, or
  • there is a particular risk, or
  • the work is going to last more than 30 days or more than 500 person days.
3. keep the safety file for the work as appropriate, and
4. let the Health and Safety Authority know if your project is going to take longer than 30 days or
more than 500 person days (person days mean the number of days the work takes multiplied by
the number of people doing the work).

Residential Construction work is defined as the following;
• building a new house or an extension, porch or garage,
• converting your attic,
• refitting your kitchen,
• re-slating your roof,
• fitting solar panels or a skylight, and
• re-wiring your house.

Click here for more information on appointing a PSDP and PSCS

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Health and Safety on Building Projects

February 18, 2015

A building owner engaging in construction work must do the following;

1. determine the competency of people doing paid construction work for you,
2. appoint one Project Supervisor for the Design Process and a Project Supervisor for the Construction Stage if
  • there is more than one contractor involved in the work, or
  • there is a particular risk, or
  • the work is going to last more than 30 days or more than 500 person days.
3. keep the safety file for the work as appropriate, and
4. let the Health and Safety Authority know if your project is going to take longer than 30 days or
more than 500 person days (person days mean the number of days the work takes multiplied by
the number of people doing the work).

Residential Construction work is defined as the following;
• building a new house or an extension, porch or garage,
• converting your attic,
• refitting your kitchen,
• re-slating your roof,
• fitting solar panels or a skylight, and
• re-wiring your house.

Project Supervisor Design Process
The project supervisor for design process (PSDP) must be a suitably qualified individual or company and can be a firm of architects, chartered surveyors, consulting engineers or project managers.  It can also be the main contractor (e.g. in cases of design and build contracts or small projects with minimal design input).  In all cases the person or company undertaking the role must have the necessary competence to carry out the relevant duties.  The PSDP must be appointed before design work commences.  This is to ensure effectiveness in addressing and co-ordinating safety and health matters from the very early stages of a project.

Duties of the Project Supervisor for the Design Process (PSDP)
The duty of the project supervisor for the design process is to ensure co-ordination of the work of designers throughout the project.

The PSDP must:

  • Identify hazards arising from the design or from the technical, organisational, planning or time related aspects of the project;
  • Where possible, eliminate the hazards or reduce the risks;
  • Communicate necessary control measure, design assumptions or remaining risks to the PSCS so they can be dealt with in the safety and health plan;
  • Ensure that the work of designers is coordinated to ensure safety;
  • Organise co-operation between designers;
  • Prepare a written safety and health plan for any project where construction will take more than 500 person days or 30 working days or there is a particular risk and deliver it to the client prior to tender;
  • Prepare a safety file for the completed structure and give it to the client;
  • Notify the Authority and the client of non-compliance with any written directions issued.

The PSDP may issue directions to designers or contractors or others.

For further guidance on the role and duties of the PSDP please see our guidelines.

Project Supervisor for Construction Stage
The role of the project supervisor construction stage is to manage and co-ordinate health and safety matters during the construction stage.  The project supervisor construction stage is appointed before the construction work begins and remains in that position until all construction work on the project is completed

For further guidance on the role and duties of the PSCS please see our guidelines.

A helpful Homeowners Guidance Document is available here and it comes with a helpful checklist to help owners assess the competency of tradespeople and professionals

For information on Getting your construction project certified see here

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Who pays for mistakes on site?

October 15, 2012

Last night i watched Dermot Bannon’s Room to Improve programme on RTE 1 and it raised an old chestnut. When an architect or designer makes a mistake on site why does the client typically pay for it?

In last night’s episode the builder had half-built a chimney before receiving a revised drawing from the architect showing a new location for the chimney? The builder originally quoted €1700 to move the chimney, the quantity surveyor negotiated to have this reduced to €1300. The quantity surveyor then wanted the builder to reduce it further to €650, arguing that his was partially to blame for the cost because he should have stopped building the chimney when he received the revised drawing. The builder was reluctant to do this but in the end the bill was settled at €1000.

What is amazing to me is who paid that €1000. The client! Unless i misunderstood the programme the bill came about because the architect was late in issuing a drawing to site not because the client had asked for it to be moved. If this is the case why wasn’t the architect asked to pay at least a portion of the bill?

I’f i ever caused extra work on site due to a mistake or ommission I always paid the contractor or supplier, not the client. Is it too much to ask other professionals to do the same?

Elaine