Visti

Costings Damage Control

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Whilst we've been maintaining a budget and a rough cost plan since engaging with out Architects, it's only in the last week we completed a detailed breakdown of our build costs via a quantity surveyor.

 

We'd budgeted ~£250k to build this house (£225k with contingency) and yet we were quite stunned (as was our architect) when the surveyor estimated a whopping £400k! We were expecting ~£1500/m2, not an extra 

 

You can see a breakdown of this below:

 

59fb794b88de9_QuantitySurveyor-Chart.png.3a27b0aeafea686bff12480657eb46a6.png

 

59fb7951ed6cf_QuantitySurveyor-Table.thumb.png.bf5ec5526a19c0d5f5aa77729ea3c4f4.png

 

 

I've been over every line item like a mad-man since and have been pulling out all unnecessary elements and identifying area's where we can do the DIY ourselves so that it looks more like this, cutting down the total by about £50k. Focus is on improving the superstructure and cutting down everywhere else.

 

Another £50k is feasible if we're willing to move into a 'technically finished' house with at least several years DIY work to complete which we'd ideally like to avoid!

 

I'd appreciate an experienced eye on where this looks bloated or under-committed! happy to provide the spreadsheet on request :)

 

59fb7a2522060_Adjusted-Chart.png.500db62f733c0074302df2a311a9fa93.png

 

59fb7a2a3bb6d_Adjusted-Table.png.795635bc835d70fb4b1b4d480029cdf3.png

 

 

 

For those interested, the plans for the house (184m2) are shown in this post here:

Edited by Visti
Title!

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£30k on an architect for a start!? Don't see why this could nt be somewhere between £5-£10k. I m sure others on here have come in less than this.

 

Drainage seems high to me - especially as I believe this to be a site with multiple new builds and therefore connection to the mains should nt be too onerous?

 

Ventilation costs seem high ? I paid £5.5k for my mvhr system including installation (330m2 house so probably a bigger unit and more ducting than you will need). Again, a lot of people on here did their own mvhr so probably some more savings could be made here.

 

Although possible, I think your kitchen is likely to come in considerably higher than £2.5k.

 

Painting seems high to me - another you could potentially do yourself. I bought someone in and labour only came in at £2000 (although I don't have painted woodwork/doors/skirting).

 

Overall I think (I ve never sat down and calculated exactly)  I ve come in at around £1100 m2 - circa £360k, on what I believe to be a pretty high spec house. I guess there are economies of scale to be had on building bigger though.

 

Hope this helps a bit, I m sure others will chip in shortly - good luck!

 

Edit - I have nt seen the full plans but £30k on windows seems quite high. I paid the same for all of my glazing (there's an awful blog on here somewhere that shows the amount of glass I have), and this included a large 3 x 1.5 flat roof skylight and 3 Hormann doors.

Edited by Trw144

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Those figures are crazy.

 

I wouldn't cut things out I would go through and see how the figures are calculated.

 

1. Architect at 9% of cost is very high, is the architect expecting to be paid more due to the higher budget? I negotiated a fixed price based on the budget costs. The cost is much more now but the price is the same, why should I pay the architect more if I decide to spec nicer windows for example.

 

2. £10000 for underground drainage seems v high, it is 2/3 of the foundation costs.

 

3. £27,700 for windows. My triple glazed windows cost only twice that in a house more than 5x the size.

 

4. £70-80000 for the frame, £440 a square metre is nonsense.

 

5. £20400 for electrical, again I am only about 50% more for a way larger house.

 

On the other hand some of the fittings and finishes numbers may be too low but they are much smaller numbers.

 

Get some quotes, look on the internet, ask him for a refund, he doesn't know what he is talking about.

Edited by AliG
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Agreed @AliG- the frame cost is way out. I would think you could pretty much half this. 

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One of the first items on that list, underground drainage £10K says all I need to know. That is a work of fiction and guesswork.

 

I installed all our drainage including a treatment plant (and I assume you have mains drainage so don't need that) for probably half that.

 

I would not trust those figures.  It reminds me of our previous house where we tried to employ an architect but they quoted a fee based on a percentage of the build cost then proceeded to estimate the build cost at a silly high figure (so of course that made their fee higher) We ended up not using an architect and building it for a little over half that cost estimate.

 

A lot of your costs should be fixed? If I understand it from previous discussions, the site sells you a "golden brick" which is your foundations and mains connections. If that is so, forget estimating, you will have that costed.

 

Now your foundations are costed your chosen frame company can give you a pretty good estimate of the costs.

 

One cost I would avoid, is employing a quantity surveyor. :ph34r:

 

Some people have already given some examples. We paid £8500 for our Rationel tripple glazed windows. You probably have more windows than us, but not 3 times as many?

 

The price for electrical is absurd. My labour cost to wire a new house is typically £3k. Materials will cost a bit more perhaps but in any event £10K should see it, so again twice the cost is should be.

 

There is a theme here. Take his quoted figures, divide by 2 and you are somewhere close.

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Your architect is earning way to much for a start, why is his bill so much??

How many Windows are you getting for that price and have you shopped round to get a better price than that??

You could buy a massive amount of paint for £500 and fire away yourself.

Get a price from bpc for the mhrv. They do kits for £2k.

Why so much for drainage do you have to put a treatment plant in or can you connect to the main sewer.

Is the site on bad ground to be such a high amount for foundations.

Have you priced round for a different timber frame supplier as that's a major outlay. You seem to be out a fortune just to get the house built and first fixed. Most timber frame companies will price a complete build including all you have as separate items, frame, insulation,  plasterboard etc that should come in way cheaper than that.

What is ceiling finishes, wet plaster ??

How did you come up with the actual figures, did you get different companies to price up their bits or did the quantity surveyor come up with these.

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I just had a look at your introduction page.

 

I see Charlie Luxton architects - Can't imagine that they are cheap.

 

Also an architect can justify high prices if they are overseeing the whole build as mine is. That can be a lot of work, I am sure I have underpaid mine. But here if you are buying in a frame there will be a lot less work for them to do.

 

You mentioned using MBC for the frame, do you not have a quote from them rather than an estimate, someone who has used MBC may be able to comment on how much they would expect to pay. I get the impression that they are expensive but very good.

 

I would expect that you can build something for £1500 a square metre plus architect costs.

Edited by AliG

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As a guide, our build was smaller, 130m2 so roughly 2/3rds the size.  This doesn't equate to 2/3rds the price, because of the fixed mobilisation costs for some of the heavy stuff.  We have a 300mm thick wall, 400mm thick roof, cellulose filled frame, on a passive slab foundation from MBC - they do the whole package, passive foundation and insulated frame as a package.  The windows are all passive house standard, triple glazed.  Our ground works were very expensive, as we had a big retaining wall and over 1000 tonnes of excavation, and this alone cost around £55k, but £30k of that was the retaining wall, and the rest of the costs included all the drainage, including the treatment plant and all the ducting for services, as well as shifting all the soil.

 

So leaving out the ground works, I can give some costs.  Frame and passive slab foundation system cost just over £60k.  Windows and external doors cost £8.5k.  I did the plumbing and heating, but the electrician and all the electrical stuff came to under £7k, albeit with some labour from me.  We didn't use an architect or architectural technician, so saved that cost.  Roofing and fascias/guttering came to around £9k, IIRC, but over 2/3rds of the roof was solar panels, and they cost around £8.5k, I think.

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There are a couple of things that aren't clear.

 

At 184 sq metres and 1500 a sq metre I would have thought your budget would be around £275,000, not £225,000.

 

I hadn't realised how expensive an MBC frame can be, that seems to be the cost for a passive frame, but the estimate has £14,000 for heating. In fairness you might need to budget a bit more for a passive house.

 

If there are no surprises below ground and you budget correctly you shouldn't need such a large contingency. If you have a firm price for the frame, that's the price, why would you add a contingency to that.

 

I suspect you are already committed to that architect, if so including that cost you might be talking £300,000 unless you do more work yourself, but certainly not £400,000 including a massive contingency. That is basically what your adjusted number is coming to.

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General Points.

 

I think the single biggest saving you can make is by not using your contingency, which on your revised costs would put you at £288k if you achieved it - within spitting distance. That needs you to sweat the detail first as far as possible and not fall prey to gold-plating later. You seem to be doing this - good. 

 

Even if, as has been suggested, the theoretical costs are "over", and you can afford it all in nearly-your-budget,  I think the experience will have been a useful one.

 

In Charlie's T&C, the basic architectural services are fixed cost, so that is in your favour.

 

On the hard-nosed side, if it hits the 2 years, and - eg - you have not built your veranda, there will probably not be a lot they can practically do to enforce. Will they chuck you out? Repossess and sell on? Come after you for money you have not got, which taking away would prevent what they want happening ? 

 

It is almost going back to how they self-built or renovated houses way back when ... build the minimum then gradually upgrade as funds allow while living with cast-off furniture, a kitchenette and rush-matting. My parents did that on a renovation that took a couple of decades.

 

Ferdinand

 

 

Edited by Ferdinand

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Focus on minute detail. Be flexible. Be determined.

 

What you have above is a serving suggestion. At this stage there's all sorts of hidden crap in those figures. At every level people take the p1ss out of self builders. That added to huge (often self imposed) pressure to ' finish ' makes price inelastic. Until you tell people to their face that their price is unacceptable. And in the current building boom...... 

Aim for £1500 per square meter as a fair price.

 

All you can do is network like mad. It eats time like nothing else I know and is stressful, and draining. 

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As already stated above

your Architect has got carried away

His or her fee is ridiculous 

In reality most of the work will be carried out by a junior or assistant 

 

You will be able to get a firm quote for drainage and will be able to cut the estimated cost of this significantly 

 

Also to spec 10 k for stairs and 12k

for a kitchen with appliances Seems lob sided

10 k sugests a high end finish

12 on a kitchen will restrict you to Howdens bq etc

Ive tried two German kitchen suppliers With a budget of 20k Both have said they will struggle

A third will Suplies my for 19k and I will fit the kitchen myself

i certainly wouldn’t cut it down less than 12

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We had a similar shock when our potential PM produced a (paid for) cost plan that came in way above our budget, was prepared by a QS and all the calculations (areas, lengths etc) were laid out in a big excel spreadsheet. PM wanted 10% of the build cost to oversee and bring in on or under budget.

 

At this point we politely parted company and struck out on our own. The cost plan was a great tool though and I used it to set and beat every price contained within by a significant margin, more that 30-40% in some cases. Where we overspent, it was discretionary (kitchen, stairs) and to achieve a high end finish.

 

Also dispensed with the architect after we had planning when they asked for £10k to discharge planning conditions and do BC drawings (even though MBC were giving me detailed drawings and cals as part of the package). Did the PCs myself and dealt directly with the independent BC. No issues.

 

We lived on site (which also saved a small fortune, 18mo in a caravan with wife, two pre-teen kids and cat was an experience) and PMd it ourselves, aside from the groundworks package and MBC package, every trade was employed directly by us (usually on recommendation).

 

Prior to this I'd not built anything more complex than an Ikea wardrobe. I now have a 6 bed 400m2 passive house with full footprint basement, the wife, kids and cat are still here as is most of my hair, although its slighty greyer. You will drink lots of wine.

 

This site and its predecessor was invaluable, as are the people who contribute. I tackled a few simple jobs myself (MVHR - self builder rite of passage) but left everything else to the experts. Sourced things like bathroom fittings (from Megabad), MVHR tiles, flooring, doors, skirting etc. and only had the trades supply the more basic materials where they got better rates or it was too much faff.

 

Unless you live very remote from the site and have zero time to spend on it, I'd seriously consider it.

 

What exactly are the architects doing for you from this point forward? What's that complicated that needs PMd to the nth degree? Our MBC package was very comprehensive, they left a fully insulated airtight shell with all internal stud walls up, service void battened out, floor deck laid etc - make sure other TFs are giving you equivalent or price in the difference to make it a fair comparison.

 

BTW, I can recommend a great electrician in the Oxfordshire area - very experienced with passive builds and the neatest dwangs you'll ever see - PM me if you're interested. 

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Agree with all the above. 

 

If the architect's fees include full management throughout, then perhaps you can disengage from them once you having planning permission. I know both the architects we worked with were happy to stop their involvement at any point (and both were happy to consult later on an hourly rate if needed).

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14 hours ago, Visti said:

Whilst we've been maintaining a budget and a rough cost plan since engaging with out Architects, it's only in the last week we completed a detailed breakdown of our build costs via a quantity surveyor.

 

We'd budgeted ~£250k to build this house (£225k with contingency) and yet we were quite stunned (as was our architect) when the surveyor estimated a whopping £400k! We were expecting ~£1500/m2, not an extra 

 

You can see a breakdown of this below:

 

59fb794b88de9_QuantitySurveyor-Chart.png.3a27b0aeafea686bff12480657eb46a6.png

 

59fb7951ed6cf_QuantitySurveyor-Table.thumb.png.bf5ec5526a19c0d5f5aa77729ea3c4f4.png

 

 

I've been over every line item like a mad-man since and have been pulling out all unnecessary elements and identifying area's where we can do the DIY ourselves so that it looks more like this, cutting down the total by about £50k. Focus is on improving the superstructure and cutting down everywhere else.

 

Another £50k is feasible if we're willing to move into a 'technically finished' house with at least several years DIY work to complete which we'd ideally like to avoid!

 

I'd appreciate an experienced eye on where this looks bloated or under-committed! happy to provide the spreadsheet on request :)

 

59fb7a2522060_Adjusted-Chart.png.500db62f733c0074302df2a311a9fa93.png

 

59fb7a2a3bb6d_Adjusted-Table.png.795635bc835d70fb4b1b4d480029cdf3.png

 

 

 

For those interested, the plans for the house (184m2) are shown in this post here:

 

@Visti

 

Looking through the QS costings, I would immediately question the following:

 

Architects fees - I would question the value of them overseeing the build, you have the design you want, pay for it, move on and get a building control and warranty package, saving £20K?

 

Below ground drainage, you are buying a service site, can't see this costing any more than £5K, saving £5K

 

Service connections, again buying a serviced site, services should be on the plot, I would have thought £2.5K at most, saving £2.5K

 

Stairs - £10K! - depends on the complexity of course, but I could have got a double winder all in oak, 7m of glass balustrades and oak handrails for just over £3K.  Have a look at Stairbox or one of the other online stair suppliers and you can cost yourself.  Saving £7K

 

Windows - again, I think you will be able to get passive standard 3g for at least half that if you shop around, Saving  £14K

 

Frame seems very expensive, but until you get quotes...

 

Kitchen appliances - budget at least £3K if you want branded appliances +£1K

 

Electrics, as @ProDave has said, silly money.  I would have thought closer to £7.5K, saving £12.5K

 

Heating, you are not going to have to spend £14K on heating system for a well insulated new build.  UFH pipes in the slab, plus an ASHP and UVC, or gas boiler and UVC, £5 - 6K depending on spec (UFH pipes may be included with your foundations depending on contractor you use), saving £8K

 

Ventilation, no way you need to spend £8K, £2.5K and do it yourself, saving £5.5K

 

Contingency, I would go for £15K - the biggest risk is getting out the ground.  From then on its choices or changes you make. Saving £42K

 

Totting those up of the original QS costings, £104K 'saved'.  Then you can look at work you can do yourself - painting (save £5.5K), landscaping (pay someone to hard landscape slabs etc, but prepare the garden yourself with a rake, seed the grass rather than turf etc - save £2K). 

 

Those savings would take you down to £281K

 

You then start to question the costings of various headings such as ceiling and flooring finishes - what's included and what's not, and squeeze savings by shopping round for materials.  Perfectly possible to save several £K more doing this - I shaved £20K from the cost of our last build by going through the costings of such things, identifying costs the builder had budgeted and included, but were not required.

 

Think carefully about what work you feel confident doing or want to do, and weigh up the time it will take against loss of wages or additional costs of rented accommodation.  You may find that the saving of doing things yourself, isn't quite what you think as you incur costs when you lengthen the duration of the build.  

 

 

 

 

 

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There are a few really odd costs in there, too, that need looking at. 

 

For example "acoustics" at nearly £3k,  What on earth is that?  For our build, with a very acoustically "dead" external wall structure (cellulose filled timber frame) the only additional acoustic insulation was 100mm stuffed into all the internal stud walls at a cost of around £250 for all the internal walls in the house, and 200mm in the ceiling (double the thickness actually needed, and which turned out to be a bit of a pain to fit) which cost around £500.  Labour for fitting all this was less than 1 man day, so an absolute maximum of another £180, making a total cost of £930, and we went OTT by doubling up on the ceiling acoustic insulation.  I doubt that you will spend more than £1500 absolute maximum on acoustic insulation, and could probably knock a few hundred off this if you shop around or did it yourself (it's dead easy to fit, anyone can do it).

 

There's also some double accounting going on, I suspect.  If going for an MBC frame, remember that this includes the foundation, the underfloor heating pipes, all the thermal insulation and the airtightness test, to PH levels.  All the roof battens will be fitted normally, too, as will the internal service void battens, something that may well be being costed twice, in the roofing and internal lining costs, for example.

 

 

 

 

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You are getting some excellent detailed advice here.

 

I will come back with some more later, and some thoughts about site and purchasing strategy (eg connect to your services early including waste in order to save £20 a week for a Portaloo, and get a cashback Amex and Credit card to give you 0.5-1% off on the finance side for everyone who can take them).

 

Ferdinand

 

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1 minute ago, Ferdinand said:

You are getting some excellent detailed advice here.

 

You're not wrong there! These replies are amazing and way beyond what I'd imagined! The missus and I are deeply grateful!

 

I fully realize that I came into the industry with SUCKER painted in massive red letters across my forehead however we'd chosen our architects specifically for the fact that we felt we could trust them to help us in that regard. We've certainly had a rude awaking this week with these figures, and much of the feedback here is eroding our confidence in the surveyor and trust in our architect given how clear we were on the budgeting message from the very beginning.

 

I'm going to incorporate everyone's feedback into a new iteration of the pricing and then get back to the architect and surveyor to 'have some polite words'. 

 

Once that's done I'll hope to get back to everyone on specifics and show the new estimate! If work isn't too mental that should be by sunday!

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I agree with everyone else, our build came in at £550k (290m2) not including the plot but all ground works full fit etc,  that included the MBC passive house frame and 60k in glazing. We did very little DIY ourselves, and paid our architect to oversee parts, like the glazing design and installation. In total including the deaign, planning, building regs and full design liaison with MBC and the glazing suppliers I think we paid around £10k to our architect. I can send you there details they are based in Newbury but cover oxford/Buckingham and I highly recommend them. About 10 people I know have now used them for various projects. 

Edited by Mikey_1980

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19 minutes ago, Visti said:

I fully realize that I came into the industry with SUCKER painted in massive red letters across my forehead however we'd chosen our architects specifically for the fact that we felt we could trust them to help us in that regard. We've certainly had a rude awaking this week with these figures, and much of the feedback here is eroding our confidence in the surveyor and trust in our architect given how clear we were on the budgeting message from the very beginning.

 

I mainly disagree with the 'architect rip off' comments in the thread above.

 

No. It isn't a rude awakening; it is a helping hand up the necessary learning curve - you are fortunate that it is while you are building spreadsheets rather than while you are gazing at an unnecessarily pricey water-filled hole in the ground which has swallowed 30% of your money.

 

I think you have engaged a known-good practice who have created an excellent house design for you that you like. Witness how detailed most of us had to be in our comments on your Intro thread to create feedback. A big chunk of what you have bought has been to reduce the risk of getting a poor design, and that has paid off already.

 

They have a clear upfront fee structure which is not imo particularly overpriced for a London-based practice.

 

They have given you a fixed fee price and structured cost package upfront rather than a % of the budget, which would normally be up to 15% depending on what services you are buying. 

 

When you talk to them, for heaven's sake try to not apply blame or imply any unacceptable motives on their part. I am sure you won't. Frame it as 'shocked by the estimated costs and can you help us address the issue'. The last thing you need is a bad relationship.

 

Take the beloved out for a really nice extended meal and a film this w/e where the subject of self-build is BANNED.

 

And I am one of the more sceptical on here wrt to some architectural practices.

 

So now use the lessons to save 10x as much on the build as the extra you invested on the architect :-). 1000% return - bingo.

 

Ferdinand

 

Edited by Ferdinand

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9 minutes ago, Visti said:

I fully realize that I came into the industry with SUCKER painted in massive red letters across my forehead 


Don't worry, this won't be the last time you'll feel like this!

 

You don't just have to ask for advice - feel free to have a rant as well. As long as you're working and learning, you'll get sympathy. Virtually all of us have been there are some stage (some of us several times!)

 

Keep your pecker up and crack on. B|

 

Oh, and I echo what Ferdinand said.  

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4 hours ago, jamiehamy said:

Don't let @SteamyTeasee this... ?

I am keeping my mouth shut except to mention that the contingency is 17% for each element.

To my mind that is just a fixed costing and is not based in reality or experience.

Try getting away with that in a restaurant because the chef is useless and see how long your last.

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We have been willing since the beginning to pay a bit more for a architect both for their design input as well as for the helping hand; we agreed 13% based on a fixed budget hence the higher than expected expenditure there. We knew they weren't cheap, particularly as Charlie himself has his own TV programme, but they were one of the few that we contacted who had a similar philosophy to what a home should be and appeared to be genuinely interested given our limited budget. That cost is firmly our call and can be adjusted downwards if we chose to manage more of the build down the line (which is likely... there's a chance that maternity leave will coincide with the build!).

 

18 minutes ago, Ferdinand said:

When you talk to them, for heaven's sake to not try and apply blame or imply any unacceptable motives on their part. I am sure you won't. Frame it as 'shocked by the estimated costs and can you help us address the issue'. The last thing you need is a bad relationship.

 

Heaven forbid, burning bridges doesn't ever work well in the long term and rarely does in the short term either! No, we'll engage as you've said; reiterate our shock, outline the areas where we (the collective we on here!) consider the quantity surveyor was off and then our plan going forward.

 

If anything, this has motivated us to take a lot more on board ourselves which is good. We both love powertools and I've a stack of IOU's to cash-in!

Edited by Visti
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I dont really want to tell you how much over budget we are because it makes me cry......we went for mbc frame and slab option as was a fixed cost but beyond that the whole thing is a nightmare.  Budgeted costings we were given now appear to be fairy stories. I had budgeted for high spec bathrooms, kitchen and lighting and I did all that myself on quotes and they are as expected. The rest of it is an absolute joke!

 

I have things not being done corectly the first time round and then having to be done again (not contractors fault or mine its not due to client changing mind etc).  Our ground works came in at 52k plus 35k for a retaining wall, we had no problems in the ground so I cannot see where 52k went......we have yet to get services down to the house (they are at the gate inside our property) or drainage and then backfill around the eps....this is another 10k plus so we have over 100k for groundworks and wall and honestly its not that complicated or difficult. We have had a professional project manager on board from purchase of plot, I do all the running around and spend a lot of time finding things we need. I am not able to physically ‘build’ it myself.

 

If are lucky and control very tightly the remainder we will end up on a 180sqm single storey build at £550k excl plot and vat reclaim......thats an eye watering £ps sq m! We had budgeted £375 - £400k after qs costed it at 340k, architect thought 3ish so we thought our budget was reasonable. Its a very simple bungalow!.

 

Yes I feel foolish and very stressed and have no faith in professionals now.  Learn from the excellent advice on this forum and do not put too much trust in your professionals where your money is concerned, by the time I realised what was happening we were so far in it was hard to stop a lot of it. I have done what can........oh and we are projected to be six months behind for completion which is another 12k in rent!

 

Sitting in corner sobbing quietly.........

 

Good luck.

 

Liz

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