Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Where things can go wrong - Build and Make Part 5

Hello folks,
Welcome back for Build and Make series, an experience sharing posts for home makers.

Link to the prequels
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

You have an architect, you have planned everything with him. You have short listed a builder who has done miraculously great job before. So you think there can be nothing to go wrong. There can be many stages/ situations where things can go wrong. So be cautious and alert and monitor.

  1. Make sure that communication is established properly.
    * Avoid phone meetings
    * Giving instructions over phone.
    * Make sure your builder has understood the drawing provided
    * Make sure builder and architect are in touch instead you being the interface between them, after all you are a layman
    * Make sure that only final versions are given to the builder. There are lot of chances that multiple versions of the same drawings are released due to changes/ corrections
    * Always have a copy of drawing with you. I am sure your laborers or contractor himself might lose or carry old versions of the drawings
  2. Make sure that thorough quality check is made by the supervisor/ builder/ architect at time to time.
    * This should be enforced by you and also make sure that they are doing at right time.
    * Should be done at all various stages like - After marking has been done for earth excavation, Plinth, one course brick work, Lintel, during roof, during plastering, during flooring, After marking of the electrical points and conduit, water points and conduit,
    * Ask questions thinking they have not done quality checks. Be pessimistic, to find as many defects as possible at the early stages. It saves you time and money
    * During roof, if concrete is prepared with a mixer machine, make sure that you know the ratio and you count number of bowls sand/ cement/ jelly mixture. It is always better. It's not that you are not trusting builder, it is just to make sure that no human error happens. If it is RMC (Ready Mix Concrete) Make sure that you get have computer reports for mixture which was loaded in the vehicle.
    * Be aware that you can perform lab tests for concrete which tells you the accurate strength.
  3. Think many steps ahead as in the chess game
    * Always think ahead, think big picture during execution
    * Think if certain work happening is going to spoil something later, is going to have a problem to something else.
  4. Set the expectations with Architect/ Builder with respect to your schedule. When you need your home ready.
    * Don't surprise them by saying you need it in 6 months. More the time they have neater the work they do.
    * By hurrying things, your schedule may be met, but not the cost and quality. So be informed and keep all stake holders informed
  5. Review your electrical and plumbing drawing with electrician / plumber at site
    * Civil work is usually done without much problems by the builder. There is not many inputs that you might have to give to the masons. But its electrical/ plumbing you need to review all switch points, taps, think about 2 ways needed, out lets you need, traps you need. You might have discussed the same with Architect offline. But when u are in the site, you might get more ideas and you will have accuracy.
  6. Always think that your masons, carpenters, electricians, plumbers are not co-coordinating their work
    * There are hundreds of scenarios where there should be absolute coordination between these folks and please don't assume they will always coordinate. They always think about their job. They don't have big picture. Your supervisor/ builder should have it. But make sure that they are coordinating in time. Otherwise raise flag.
    * There is usually trade-offs between schedule and coordination. :)
  7. Make sure one's work is not spoiling others'
    * Usually there will be delicate items, make sure they are properly protected or covered. May be the flooring, fittings etc. Masonry work may spoil them. You can protect granite / marble with POP, and cover plumbing/ electrical/ wood fittings with covers/ tarpaulins etc. May be you can instruct carpenter to put a ply wood sheet where ever he is working. May be you can instruct painter to put a soft bush to the stool he is using.

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