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QS/project manager for timber frame house in SE London


cc247
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Hi guys,

 

We're gearing up to build a new timber frame house in SE London starting in late spring/early summer. It's been suggested that we should get a quantity surveyor on board to draw up packages and keep costs under control - we do live in SE London but we're not rolling in cash! We probably need some project management help as well given our other commitments. Maybe the two roles can be combined?

 

Anyway, if anyone has a recommendation, or can provide any other advice, that would be great - I realise I haven't provided a lot of info, so feel free to ask!

 

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37 minutes ago, cc247 said:

Hi guys,

 

We're gearing up to build a new timber frame house in SE London starting in late spring/early summer. It's been suggested that we should get a quantity surveyor on board to draw up packages and keep costs under control - we do live in SE London but we're not rolling in cash! We probably need some project management help as well given our other commitments. Maybe the two roles can be combined?

 

Anyway, if anyone has a recommendation, or can provide any other advice, that would be great - I realise I haven't provided a lot of info, so feel free to ask!

 

 

A PM will want 10-15% of the build budget for their fee, as would a main contractor. A PM is going to be more neutral vs a MC.

 

A PM can work with a QoS to get a costing plan (on which they will base their fee). They will probably justify their fee by saying they'll 'beat the budget' but in my experience you can do this on your own. QoS should be a fixed fee but will expect some degree of detailed drawing from which to cost.

 

Note that there is a LOT of variation in timber frame systems depending on your performance requirement (bog standard regs, high SAP, passive etc) and in what the frame co provides - supply only, supply & erection, flooring, all internal walls, temp stairs, foundation system,  felt & batten roof, crane hire, crew safety systems etc..

 

This makes it hard to to apples to apples comparisons so the best input for any QS is firm quotes from your preferred TF company. Many firms will generate these off your planning drawings and you choose your preferred system. The rest of the house is pretty standard irrespective of the superstructure which is usually 15-20% of the build cost.

 

 

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Thanks! Yeah, I've read in various places that a self-builder should be able to put together specs for the various works packages and put them out to tender, but I'm really not confident, which is why I think I need a QS.

 

We've made some of the decisions already, including the timber frame, so hopefully that should help any QS we appoint.

 

By the way, if the superstructure is usually 15-20% of the build cost, is there a standard breakdown floating around somewhere showing the proportions for each stage (groundworks/substructure through to finishing the house internally)?

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35 minutes ago, cc247 said:

Thanks! Yeah, I've read in various places that a self-builder should be able to put together specs for the various works packages and put them out to tender, but I'm really not confident, which is why I think I need a QS.

 

We've made some of the decisions already, including the timber frame, so hopefully that should help any QS we appoint.

 

By the way, if the superstructure is usually 15-20% of the build cost, is there a standard breakdown floating around somewhere showing the proportions for each stage (groundworks/substructure through to finishing the house internally)?

 

If you already have made a frame decision, and have a quote from a supplier, then the QS can include that into their estimate. It is absolutely an essential tool to have as it helps you budget and see where savings can be made.

 

As we went along, we plugged 'real' quotes into the spreadsheet often beating the estimates so the overall budget came down.

 

Our QS just took measurements off the PP drawings (we did not have a detailed drawing at that stage) and calculated all the quantities, areas etc which was great for getting quotes. Much easier to ask a contractor for a quote for xM2 of plastering or render vs let them figure it out for themselves.

 

I've not seen standard breakdowns myself, groundwork is highly dependent on your site conditions but once you're out of the ground everything else should be predictable - however recent materials and labour shortages & price rises have thrown estimates out of whack to some degree.

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From a detailed drawing (to Building Regulations level of detail), Estimators Online provide reasonably well-informed quantities, rates and prices for a small fee (under £200). Very detailed, down to the number of fasteners. If going the TF route, they can be instructed to use your TF price & to provide quantities/prices for the rest. 

 

Armed with this info, you can then ask prospective main contractors for quotes. Providing them the spreadsheet of quantities (but with rates & prices blanked out). If they too use Estimators Online for their own quote, that makes life way easier down the line. The advantage of a well-established Main Contractor can be that they obtain labour and materials at near the agreed prices despite all the shortages. They give a lot of business to the building merchants & subcontractors, so they often get priority for supply for labour and materials.

 

You can put clauses in the contract to incentivise them to keep costs down. eg., 50% share in cost savings, 50% share in cost increases. Plus a sweetener eg., generous bonus at your discretion if they bring things in on budget. 

Using a MC who holds Trustmark status can be helpful, because if errors occur then they can be reminded of that status and the codes of practice involved.

 

This is just one option that has been known to work reasonably well. The key is to maintain a collaborative atmosphere throughout, the contracts etc are just for if/when things go wrong.

Good luck

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On 08/02/2022 at 15:36, cc247 said:

Maybe the two roles can be combined?

I think these are two very different roles, with different skill sets.

Because if the chicken and egg nature of design and costing, I think you should focus on the main elements of your design first, prepares tender doc and then approach a QS, or a builder who had their own QS. You will then get a breakdown of what each bit of your tender costs and you can then re-engineer your design to bring down any elements of the design that are unaffordable. It is iterative, but in my experience it is the only way to get an accurate handle on what different design choices cost. It is obviously very helpful that you already have some big decisions behind you. Next big ticket items will be all glazing and external doors, kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, insulation, MVHR.

 

 For electrics in London, a good ballpark is £50 per electrical point/lighting point.

 

to plumb my entire 5 bed house with a secondary loop, brand new gas system boiler and cylinder and high end smart controls (although apparently low end UFH pumps) was about £25k, not including the price of the sanitary ware or boiler and taps/showers etc.

 

Edited by Adsibob
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If I could only choose one I would go for the PM rather than the QS.

 

However I would want the PM to be a builder or ex builder not a professional project manager that last  worked on some failed government IT project. I would expect him to be on site to open up at 7am and pickup jobs nobody owns. Things like keeping trades supplied with materials. If necessary going to the Builders Merchant on the way home after closing the site to buy stuff to keep people working next day. Last thing you want are the brick layers going off site to buy cement, you wont see them for hours. 

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One option would be to hire a QS just to estimate the build cost at the start. Ideally use someone the PM has worked with before and trusts. Normally a QS wants to include other services such as monitoring progress, valuing the project at various stages, adjusting costs when issues arise etc. The full package can be expensive.

Edited by Temp
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7 hours ago, Temp said:

 

However I would want the PM to be a builder or ex builder not a professional project manager that last  worked on some failed government IT project. I would expect him to be on site to open up at 7am and pickup jobs nobody owns. Things like keeping trades supplied with materials. If necessary going to the Builders Merchant on the way home after closing the site to buy stuff to keep people working next day. Last thing you want are the brick layers going off site to buy cement, you wont see them for hours. 

 

That reads very expensive...

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14 hours ago, Temp said:

If I could only choose one I would go for the PM rather than the QS.

 

However I would want the PM to be a builder or ex builder

Thanks Temp - I've had a good look for someone like this, but no-one seems to be advertising their services that I can see. Do you know where I might find someone? An ad on Gumtree maybe?

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if your architect cannot give you 3 names then get another architect.

 

get the build professionally priced so you know what it should cost then go out to tender. 

 

Pay in arrears for work done against the QS and you wont go wrong.

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