The detail of project management

project manager multi-task extension build

Project management involves a wide range of duties, including keeping to budget and programme, sequencing the work, minimising return visits, avoiding delays and management of contractors. When appointing contractors and purchasing goods and materials, it is important to be properly organised, with files for:

  •     Requests for quotations.
  •     Submitted proposals and prices.
  •     Orders.
  •     Confirmation of orders, prices and delivery.
  •     Delivery receipts.
  •     Invoices (separating the VAT element on the direct purchase of materials).
  •     Accompanying product literature such as; assembly instructions, operating manuals, spares and consumables information, maintenance and repair depots.
  •     A ledger recording all payments and financial commitments.
  •     Receipts of payment.

Other issues to address when obtaining quotations and placing orders include:

  •     Allowing for cutting and wastage.
  •     Purchasing spares and consumables to take full advantage of purchasing power.
  •     Obtaining warranties wherever possible.

Obtaining servicing and maintenance quotes at the same time to take advantage of competitive leverage. This might include; boiler plant, heat exchangers, security systems, sewage treatment systems, automatic gate systems, garden maintenance and so on.

Site set up

  •     Ensure the site perimeter is secure.
  •     Ensure vehiclular access is fit for purpose with appropriate external signage to identify the site from the highway.
  •     If appropriate, prepare schedules of conditions and photographs of adjacent properties or structures that will be retained.
  •     Ensure suitable welfare facilities are in place for the workforce.
  •     Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as; steel toe-capped boots, hard hats, high visibility jackets, and safety glasses for direct employees and visitors.
  •     Provide a first aid box within a site office suitably sized for meetings, drawings and filing.
  •     Ensure there is a secure, dry and well-lit location for the storage of materials (say 20 sqm depending on the project). A second-hand container is ideal and can be sold back at the end of the project.
  •     Arrange for the provision of necessary water, power supplies, and IT services required for construction activities.
  •     Provide temporary power and water supplies adjacent to the building for construction work.
  •     Provide temporary lighting to the proposed building footprint and access routes.
  •     Establish waste disposal facilities.
  •     Select plant to be hired or purchased. This should be oversized to avoid breakdown costs. When negotiating hire periods add a 25% contingency to accommodate inevitable delays rather than facing extra costs for over-running.
  •     Obtain statutory utility drawings of existing and surrounding services.
  •     Carefully record the exact positions of all underground service runs and if practical install permanent markers for future reference.
  •     Protect the open ends of pipes with stop ends to prevent debris being encapsulated in the system.
  •     It is worth considering the hire or purchase of a van as there will be many occasions where time can be saved by collecting goods, equipment and materials rather than waiting for delivery.


  •     Commission any geotechnical survey work that is required.
  •     Appoint party wall surveyors if necessary.
  •     Arrange a pre-contract meeting with the main participants to discuss the procedures that will be adopted during the construction stage.
  •     Publish a master programme for the works.
  •     Establish a contract register scheduling; the contracts that have been placed, who signed them and when, what the value of the contract is and where it is stored. This can be crucial information if, for example, the contractor becomes insolvent and someone else has to take over.
  •     Comply with any statutory conditions that must be satisfied prior to construction commencing (such as tree protection, submission of contaminated soil disposal plans and so on).
  •     Notify the local authority (or approved inspector) of the intention to begin construction.
  •     The self builder should make sure available funding matches the cash-flow projection.
  •     Verify that appropriate insurance is in place, this may include; public liability insurance, contract works insurance and employer’s liability insurance.
  •     It may be necessary to inform funders that construction is about to commence.


  •     Ensure site induction talks are carried out, explaining key safety issues and site organisation.
  •     Introduce a signing in and signing out book for all personnel.
  •     When appropriate, issue notices for each trade contractor to commence work on site along with instructions regarding phasing and sequencing of the work.
  •     Co-ordinate the preparation of any additional information required by the trade contractors for construction.
  •     Where there are proposed variations to the agreed works the self builder should give careful consideration to costs that may be incurred and should assess any alternative options.
  •     Regular inspections should be carried out and progress photos taken. In particular, photograph defective work before any remedial works are carried out and record the date the photos were taken.
  •     There should be regular construction progress meetings to assess progress against the programme, resolve design issues, inspect samples, and discuss the organisation of the next stage of the construction works.
  •     It is important to keep all contractors and suppliers informed about the progress of the project so they are able to plan their manufacture and installation works before receiving a notice to commence work. They will have a number of clients to satisfy and are likely to favour those that allow them to maximise their efficiency.
  •     Visit major supplier’s factories to check work is in progress and products are as ordered.
  •     Regular payments must be made to contractor(s) in accordance with the requirements of the contract.
  •     Throughout the project gather any product literature supplied with goods. File these in preparation for creating an operation and maintenance manual.
  •     Co-ordinate the utility companies to install meters and connect the permanent services.
  •     As the construction nears completion, agree procedures for inspections, commissioning, and testing building services.
  •     Ensure contractor(s) rectify any defects that become apparent during commissioning, testing and inspection procedures.
  •     Arrange for final inspection of the works by the building control inspector (or approved inspector) and arrange for them to issue a building regulations completion certificate.
  •     If the works (or trade contracts) are complete, certify practical completion. See practical completion for more information.
  •     Make any payments due.
  •     Inform insurers of completion.


A meeting should be held to formally handover the completed site for occupation. Keys should be handed over, along with as-built drawings, certificates, warranties and so on. A procedure should be agreed for reporting any defects. The defects liability period (or rectification period) is a period set out in construction contracts (often 6 months) during which contractors are still bound by the terms of the contract and can be instructed to make good any defects that become apparent in the works.

The self builder should:

  •     Keep detailed notes about any defects that appear.
  •     Decide whether defects are design deficiencies or construction defects.
  •     Notify the responsible party and arrange access for inspection and rectification. At the end of the defects liability period, prepare a schedule listing defects that have not yet been rectified and agree with the contractor the date by which they will be rectified. The contractor must in any event rectify defects within a ‘reasonable’ time.
  •     Ensure that all outstanding warranties, instructions and other paperwork has been received.
  •     Finalise any outstanding party wall matters.
  •     Arrange final inspections of the works and if satisfied issue a certificate of making good defects.
  •     Agree the final account.
  •     Issue the final certificate and make the final payment.