I posted back in October about our dilemma between Project Managing the build ourselves and hiring a full-scale Contractor to complete the job from start to finish, along with the seemingly infinite possibilities in between. Read about our thoughts on this here: Builder Required!
After we had finally finished meddling with the plans, including making final adjustments to the positions of the pillars in the open-plan section, we submitted our plans to tender. We had ruled out project managing the build ourselves and sourcing our own tradespeople as we just felt that we don’t have the experience, complete bank of contacts or time required to co-ordinate such a giant task. We decided to select a range of different Contractors to quote for the project who offered different levels of involvement and completion points.
Our first option was introduced to us via a friend who was in the final stages of having his own house built. He has known Martin for many years, and when we went to visit the site we were really impressed with the quality of workmanship and finishes. Martin describes himself as being a ‘working Project Manager’ who has lots of links to local trades, and is himself a qualified carpenter, which suited our wish for a flexible option.
We then submitted to a number of contractors who had either been recommended locally, by our architect or had shown an interest in quoting for the job via our instagram page @barnconversionblog
Six different builders came to meet us and do site visits. Each had different factors in their favour and we remained open-minded about which option would be best for us. Ultimately, we wanted to find a builder that was going to be as passionate as we are about the build, who understood and could achieve our vision for it and who could be flexible for this vision to evolve throughout the build. Price was, of course, always going to be important but, as this is to be our home, we decided that it wouldn’t necessarily be the prevailing factor.
It became immediately apparent which of the builders were keen on the project and one builder in particular was keen to really get inside the details of the project, to be sure his company could deliver everything we required. They had even installed a concrete kitchen which looked exactly like the one we were after. We visited two of his former projects, and had lengthy phone calls with two of his previous clients who could not have been any more positive about their experience in dealing with them. These were a ‘Fixed Price’ contractor who would have taken the build on from start to finish and all within the price quoted (subject to alterations of course). Although this wasn’t our initial preference for type of contract, we were so impressed with everything we were seeing and hearing, and our concerns about lack of flexibility were discussed and relieved, that these were definitely the front-runners as they seemed to be the most passionate and in-tune with what we wanted. They are an up-and-coming company who currently specialise in extensions but, as our conversion is relatively straightforward, they were confident they had all the skills and expertise required. We felt that a partnership with them would be beneficial for both of us: they were ticking lots of boxes for what we were looking for, and we knew that our barn would be the biggest build they had done and so would really boost their portfolio. Imagine our surprise then, after many lengthy emails answering very detailed questions to support the quote, to find out – with only a couple of hours to go until our quote deadline – that this company had decided against quoting for the project! No real explanation was given, they were clearly quite far into doing the quote but perhaps felt that it was a job beyond their capabilities.
This meant we were to consider the remaining four offers on the table:
- One-man project manager who is a qualified carpenter and has links to local trades. His quote was very competitive but was largely based on estimates so difficult to rely on accuracy. This option would give us the maximum flexibility as the build evolves.
- Large local contractor who converted another barn at the farm and came personally recommended. He was priced competitively and we are confident in their ability to complete the build, but they had only quoted for about half of the build so problems may have arisen when we were working beyond the remit of the agreed contract.
- Large local contractor who is renowned in the Ashby area for completing high-end builds. We expected his pricing to be considerably higher than the others but were pleasantly surprised at the total given. Again, though, large elements of the build had not been included in the quote and we were unsure about extra charges and costings for these.
- Small local contractor recommended by our architect. We discounted this last one as his pricing was too high to be considered.
Once we had broken down each proposer in this way, it became clear that our first option was going to be the best one for us. We want to enjoy the planning and evolution of the build without having to worry about incurring unnecessary charges for changing our mind. We will be able to use our trades contacts to get competitive quotes, but can be reassured that Martin already has a commended contact who we can use. We will have ultimate control over the build, but can trust Martin to effectively manage the day-to-day of the project and are confident in his ability to achieve the results we are after!
We have broken ground today and are so excited to be finally seeing some action! Let’s Do This! If you are a local tradesperson who would be interested in getting involved in our exciting barn conversion then please do get in touch – we would love to hear from you! Pop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on instagram or facebook!