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What you have to understand about these two key denominators is that they will run side by side for the duration of your entire project. It will be crucial to ensure that you have robust methods in place to control and monitor their progress.

People involved with the project will always be asking you, “Hey, when is this happening, what time do you want that delivered, how much is that going to cost and what’s in the

budget for this item?”

Time and money are your barometers of how the project is progressing and a way of forecasting the future weeks ahead. So let’s look at each item individually to see how they work.

 

Time

Without any awareness of time, your project will end in tears and be over budget, a domino effect ending in real problems for you. It is vital at every key stage that a non-negotiable time frame is understood and agreed upon by all parties. Commitment to time is the key to success. To help you manage time I suggest you do the following:

  • Develop a Construction Program

  • Have regular site visits

  • Insist on weekly meetings (with minutes taken)

 

So what is a construction program? It’s a very simple Gantt chart that shows all the activities of the project on the left-hand side listed in the order that they are required on-site. Running across the top of the page is time, which might be hours, days, or most commonly in weeks.

You should highlight any item that has a time pressure against it. Start using the construction program at the very beginning of the project, this will ensure critical timekeeping is paramount from the beginning.

Too often, I have seen time burnt up at the start of a project whilst the client has been dealing with landlords, or getting bogged down in design, leading to crazy construction times at the back-end of the project. This leads to escalated costs due to overtime and leaves no time for a smooth transition to the new premises.

Take time at the very beginning to work out what is critical to you and your business. Write down the ideal dates by which you want to achieve these critical items. Mark them on your construction program and highlight them in red. You now have target dates that are highlighted on the construction program and the team can work towards them.

I often hear that construction program time plans are a waste of paper and no one looks at them so don’t bother writing one up. This is usually said by the person who can’t manage time. On every successful project I have ever run there has always been a construction program. They are an essential tool that you should not work without.

They are very rarely 100 percent accurate on a day-by-day basis, but they’re a planning tool. Dates will slide forward and backward over the project, but they keep you on track and

pushing when you need too. As long as you meet your final deadline date, then the program has done its job. As one long-time colleague and great friend always says, “You have to have a plan, you can’t change a plan if you don’t have one to begin with.”

Once under construction, regular site visits are another great way to monitor time by seeing for yourself the progress on-site and how it is tracking compared to the construction program.

Are you interstate? I have completed jobs all over Australia and thanks to a digital camera and email, photos are a great way to get updates on progress – ask for them weekly.

Weekly meetings between yourself and everyone involved are a great way to stay on track with time. As discussed earlier there is nothing quite like the pressure of an upcoming scheduled

weekly meeting to kick you into action. With our ever-increasing busy schedules, things can be pushed to the back of the pile or just simply forgotten, but knowing there is a scheduled weekly meeting drives you to make sure you’re ready when it’s your turn to speak.

 

Key Discussion Points

One key discussion point at every weekly meeting should be the construction program. Make this the number one point for discussion.

It will give you an immediate idea of where everything is at and you will soon hear from people if there is a problem or if everything is on track. Weekly meetings are a great forum for members of the project team to voice an opinion or an issue they might have on their particular area of the project. It’s far better for someone to voice a problem at the start of a job when there is still time to source other solutions or work around the problem rather than in the last week when it’s all too late. As the meeting director you should encourage all members to participate and voice issues weekly.

 

Money

The second key denominator, money also spans the entire fitout process and one that requires accountant-like control. Money will form a part of every decision you make - from what property to lease to the type of furniture you select, down to the signage on your entry door. Money needs to be controlled and a strict budget set based on your business planning and future forecasting. The big financial commitments of the project need to be addressed at the very start of the project. They will generally be nominated as the lease and the fitout. It’s important to have your budget in writing and agreed upon by your business directors before you start the building process.

 

Factor in all the Costs

The lease, of course is an ongoing monthly commitment by the business and when you are paying approximately $350 - $500 per metre squared per annum to rent that floor space the financial commitment quickly adds up. E.g., 425(m2) x $350 = $127,500 per year. Multiply that by the term of the lease (say a minimum three years) and you are committed to $382,500.

The other big commitment, is of course, the building cost. Let’s assume you have leased the 425 m2 of clear office space with carpet, ceilings, lights and air conditioning in position. Depending on your business’s specific requirements, the cost to fitout this space in a standard arrangement will be between $950 - $1500 m2 e.g., 425 m2 x $950 = $403,750.

That is money that will need to be paid in a very short-term, once the business has committed to the new lease. It’s essential that the money is set aside by the business. The very first phone conversation I have with a prospect is usually around them asking how much will it cost to construct an office fitout. This depends on a number of factors and it’s like buying a new car.

 

How much do you want to spend?

You choose the model of car but the level of options and extras you select can take the price to double the base price very quickly. Office fitout costs can do exactly the same. This is where you need to have a wish list of all the items you want in your new office so that when you are getting pricing for construction you can provide clear and precise details of what you want.

Some people like to quote squared metre rates over the phone - this is without seeing any plans, visiting the site or meeting with the client to obtain a better scope of what is required. Just

how valid is that price going to be without further details?

 

Summary

  • Get organised early with reference to the two most critical factors in your build – time and money.

  • A construction program keeps everyone honest.

  • Go on-site – judge progress for yourself at least once a week.

  • Keep minutes – well-documented with action and persons responsible.

  • Get the budget sorted out early on and in writing.

  • Keep a vice-like grip on costs and understand early on the full commitment you are making.

  • The costs come down to the options you choose.

  • Get quotes based on the same information.

  • Keep accurate files and check what’s happening weekly.