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Becoming Your Own Self Build Project Manager

Summary: What does it take to become the project manager of your self-build? Find out what qualities you need and whether it's the right choice for you.

There's no question that building your own home can get pretty expensive. However, the largest part of the cost is likely to be in the labour, rather than the materials that you will need. One of the highest paid people on site is going to be the project manager, who coordinates everything to make sure it runs smoothly. Managing your own self-build can save you money, and it also lets you be in charge of your own project. However, anyone who has seen Grand Designs knows that it isn't necessarily easy to manage your self-build. There are some key things you can do to make it easier.

What is a project manager?

Project manager is a role that you will find in most industries. The project manager takes the lead on a project and keeps everything running smoothly. On a construction project, it's the project manager's job to coordinate the project, keeping it organised and on track. One thing to remember is that being a project manager isn't easy. It can be a full-time job, so it's not something to go into lightly. You need to be able to manage your time and instruct other people, set and keep to a budget and ensure communication between all relevant parties.

How can you manage your self-build project?

Being project manager on your self-build project is possible, but you need to be prepared to take on the task. If you were to hire someone to be a project manager, it might be a dedicated person or you might have your architect or main contractor handle the job. Project managing your self-build will take up a lot of your time, and it will be pretty tough to do on top of another job. While some people are able to manage their build on evenings and weekends, you might find that you need to be there full-time if you want your build to be completed in a timely manner.

If you want to be project manager, you need to make sure you know what the role entails first. You will need to be comfortable taking the lead and doing everything from hiring contractors to making sure that your build is being carried out within the law. Anyone can technically be a project manager on their self-build, but you can expect there to be a learning curve.

What qualities do you need to be a project manager?

When you're deciding whether to be the project manager for your self-build, you should think about whether you have the right qualities and abilities. If you've project managed in another capacity, perhaps at your day job, you might feel you have the right skills. However, even if you've never been a project manager, you could still have what it takes.

Some of the qualities that you might need to project manage your self-build include:

  • Leadership skills - having what it takes to manage a team of people
  • Organisation and planning skills - planning and executing the build
  • Communication skills - being able to listen and instruct the people you work with
  • Budgeting skills - managing both time and money to keep a project on track

How much can you save by managing your self-build?

Being the project manager for your self-build home could save you money. Of course, it could also mean being unable to work or having to cut down on your hours, so it's important to take that into account. Being a project manager doesn't necessarily mean being on site all the time, but a professional would stop by a few times a week to check on the progress. You might want to visit daily to see what's happening. You'll also need to be doing work behind the scenes. If you decide to hire a project manager, it could cost you between 8% and 15% of the total cost of the build. Choosing to be your own project manager could help you save a lot if you can do a good job.

How can you keep everything running smoothly?

Project managing your self-build is a big ask, but it's not impossible. If you want to ensure your project is on track, try some of these tips:

  • Spend plenty of time planning before beginning your project to make sure everything is in place
  • Be realistic about your budget and the costs involved
  • Check references for contractors before hiring
  • Ensure your construction site is a pleasant place to work

Be sure that you're ready to take on the role of project manager before doing so. If you think it might be too much, call in a professional to do it instead.