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Project Managing Your Own Construction Project


Manage Your Own Construction Project


Published on:

05 Mar 2023


Project managing your own construction project. You think you’ve got what it takes? Here’s what you should consider before you embark on a complex project.

Getting organised

Organisation is key when it comes to project managing your own construction project, and when you’re embarking on a complex project you must keep track of everything. You need to find a system that works for you – making concise to-do lists is a great place to start. An organiser app for your phone such as Trello or Evernote means that you can keep your list at the end of your fingertips wherever you are. However, some people prefer a traditional excel spreadsheet or a good old-fashioned notebook and pen. Whichever method you choose, keeping a detailed schedule of the works you have going on is a must if you want to bring your project in on time and within budget. Make sure you plan months ahead and mark key dates for when contractors will be on-site and when materials will arrive.

Hiring a builder

Before you hire contractors for your project, you need to make sure they’re the right fit for you and the type of structure you are looking to build. If you’re building a specific type of structure with unusual requirements, do they have the specialist knowledge and experience required? It’s important to do your research and ask to see examples of their previous work before you bring them on board. Recommendations from friends and family can offer assurances of quality or you can ask to speak with previous homeowners they’ve worked with. When it comes to pricing up your project, make sure you get quotes from contractors in writing, otherwise, the price may be liable to change. Find and contact local contractors and tradesmen during the planning process and get them organised ready to start when you need them. In the run-up to your build, stay in regular communication with your contractors and share your works schedule with them. If they encounter delays – perhaps their previous project overruns or material delivery dates are postponed – you need to know as soon as possible as this will have a knock-on effect on the rest of your timetable. Once your project is up and running it’s important to keep the site clean and tidy and make it a safe environment for your contractors. A messy or uncomfortable workspace can lead to tensions which can threaten to derail or delay your project. 

Quantifying building materials

From the outset, it’s important to find out exactly what your contractors will provide as part of their quote. Some builders will include materials in their price, but many contractors will expect you to have purchased these yourself, ready for when they need to begin their work. Hiring a quantity surveyor could be a good first step, as they will be able to tell you the amount and cost of the building materials that you need. Alternatively, a reputable building material retailer can offer a handy one-stop-shop for all your building needs. If you choose to source your building materials yourself, be aware of the time and research this will require – it really is a full-time job. Remember to ensure the products you purchase meet building specifications and if you’re thinking of buying online, always request samples before purchasing. Regardless of who procures your project’s building materials, you need to make sure your erf has adequate access for delivery trucks and cranes. If there’s not enough space to manoeuvre materials onto the site you could run up costly delays.

Setting a realistic budget

It’s easy to let your budget spiral out of control – there are plenty of horror stories of people who’ve overspent by tens of thousands. This doesn’t have to be the case if you’re realistic and set the right budget from the very beginning. Start by keeping track of your expenses and the dates payments are due in a spreadsheet. Make sure you budget for the unexpected. You should have a contingency sum of around 15-20% of your total budget to cover you, should disaster strike. There could be supplier delays, bad weather, structural problems or even ground issues, so you must be ready for any unexpected extra costs. Before you start the building process, you’ll need to decide what sort of finish you’re going for. The difference between the cheapest and most expensive materials can be huge and you may have to make a few sacrifices to bring your build in on budget. For example, it’s wiser to spend more money on the structure of the build, rather than the aesthetics that can be easily updated in the future. 

Following the planning and building regulations

Anything you build on your property needs plans unless it is defined as “minor building work”. However, the Act states very clearly in Part A: General Principles and Requirements (this was previously Part A: Administration), that any structural building work that is defined as “minor building work” requires authorisation by your local authority’s building control officer before you can commence with any work. As long as you have made an application and have received the necessary permission from the local authority, you do not need plans. But the law is also very clear in terms of compliance with the regulations; minor building work must comply with the regulations. Ultimately it is up to the local authority to decide whether or not you need plans. Find out as early as possible from your local authority if you need to submit plans for the structure you have in mind. Do this before you start looking for contractors or estimating material requirements. If plans are required it is best to consult with an architect, specifically someone who is familiar with your specific municipality. Not only will the plans be drawn correctly, but it will also speed up the approval process. Most municipalities in Gauteng and the Western Cape offer eServices so building plans can be submitted electronically. The application can be done online for the City of Cape Town and the City of Joburg. Approval is granted by a building control inspector, who will carry out periodic site inspections to ensure regulations are being met. The local council will then inspect the building at the end of the project to ensure the conditions have been met.

Getting insurance

If you intend to be an owner-builder or to contract out any type of building work we strongly recommended that you take out a public liability insurance policy. This covers you if a family member or member of the public is injured as a result of the building work. You could be liable because you own the property. No matter how organised and efficient you are things can still go wrong, so you need to arrange adequate protection to safeguard your project. Before your build begins you should purchase site insurance, which will cover risks including theft, fire and injury to workers. Make sure you take out a structural warranty at the start of your build too. The warranty provider will inspect your home throughout its construction to ensure regulations are met, and this will then cover the structure for 10 years if something goes wrong. It’s a good idea to take out warranties at the beginning of build works as you could end up paying five times more if you purchase after completion, as the provider won’t have been able to monitor the property’s construction.

Keeping the neighbours onside

If your property falls under the rules of an HOA or Body Corporate, you have to comply with their regulations. Consult with the relevant person on the committee immediately when you have decided to start planning the project. You want to waste valuable time planning a build that will not be allowed. Make sure you find out what your local municipality’s bylaws are. These specify how far from boundaries you are allowed to build. Contentious planning applications can sour relationships between you and your neighbours before the build has even begun, so it’s important to begin discussing your plans with surrounding homeowners as soon as possible. To prevent any animosity, regularly update your neighbours on the progress of your build and be sure to give them ample warning before any loud construction stages or large deliveries.

Hire a professional contractor

The success of the project is largely determined by how efficiently it is managed. If you have a full-time job or other commitments, it might not be possible for you to project manage your own construction project. Be realistic about your capabilities and the amount of time and energy you’re able to devote to project managing. If you’re time-poor and would prefer a more hands-off approach, you might consider hiring a specialist project manager to oversee the entirety of your build. This is a far less stressful road to your dream outcome but expect a hefty price tag. The other, much more affordable option is to choose a professional contractor who will project manage the entire process. A competent construction contractor will run the site and organise all the subcontractors. He will take care of all the planning and schedules and will require minimal involvement from you. All that will be needed is being reachable by phone and meeting on-site regularly to discuss progress.

Consider the role of construction project management carefully before taking on a complex renovation on your own

Renovating your home or office is exciting. But any type of construction is stressful – it’s construction! Think about the quality of your life over the duration of the project. Peace of mind is priceless. Hiring the cheapest contractor could cost you a lot more than just money. Project managing your own construction project is a serious commitment, that is likely to leave you frustrated.

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Tips & Ideas for Discerning Property Owners: Paving & Construction Projects

Tips and ideas for discerning property owners in Joburg and Cape Town.

paving and construction

Renovate Your Outdoor Entertainment Area

  |  Joe Smith

Everybody wants to use their outdoor entertainment area more. Particularly since we are all spending more time at home than ever before.

Some folks have a large area with a lawn, a swimming pool, garden beds and a patio.

But most people have a few square meters only. And that is ok. You don’t need a huge space to create an enjoyable outdoor entertainment area.

Think about how you like to use that space. Is it …

Your private chill space?
A play space for the kids?
Where you entertain?
All of the above?

Consider what would be the biggest change you would like to make to this space.

Put a roof covering over it?
Make minor structural changes?
Replace the flooring?
Put a few cabinets in for storage?
Add a cooking/braai space?
Cover the walls with cladding?
Install a feature like a fire pit?
Add some ambience with pillars and flower boxes?

There are many ways to turn a dreary space into a cosy area.

A project like this may sound overwhelming at first, but that is why we are here to help you with your paving and construction requirements.

The best months of the year to embark on a renovation like this is during early autumn. This is when the weather is moderate with less rain than during the other seasons.

If you are ready to get started, please get in touch with us.

In the meantime, you can browse through some ideas here.

Live Your Best Life


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Driveways and Drainage

Driveways and Drainage

Driveways and drainage have caused many homeowners some headaches.

Drainage is such an ubiquitous part of the construction that it often goes unnoticed unless something goes wrong. Water management is an important aspect of all types of building and landscaping.



Mike Glen


Whilst we live in a country with plenty of sunshine, we do have our fair share of storms, heavy rain, wind. Gutters, stormwater drains, and driveways can’t cope and often become completely flooded. If the drainage system isn’t enough, the water has nowhere to go. So it sits on the surface and that can cause damage that will need much repair work done. This could be a problem that requires a lot of time and money to solve.

But there are solutions, in the form of different driveway drainage systems.

Positioning Drains

Place drains in the areas that receive the most water. That way the drainage has the best chance of working to the greatest potential. So, if your driveway slopes down towards the road, place the drain in that bottom section.

Keep Water Out Of Your Garage

A reputable driveway paving contractor does two important things:

  • Installs a drain where the paving and the floor of the garage meets.
  • Slopes the paving so the water runs into the drain – from both sides.

Common Problems with Poor Driveway Drainage

Many homeowners have come across the same common drainage problems on driveways. Below are a few of them.

Flooding: Homes with driveways that slope down towards the house experience flooding during heavy rains. This may lead to dampness forming in walls. Or even damage inside the home if the water gets in through gaps, such as the undersides of garage doors.

Standing Water: If the water isn’t absorbed and there is nowhere for the water to drain away to it pools in one place. During colder months when there isn’t as much sunlight to help the water evaporate, you may have large puddles of water in your driveway for days.

Damage: When water pools on a driveway for a long time, it could lead to extensive damage. Particularly in autumn and winter when there is frost. Frozen water expands in the cracks and gaps, opening potholes in your driveway.

Moss and Mould: Trapped water in the cracks on your driveway creates an environment for unwanted plant life to grow. You will then have to deal with weeds, moss and mould.

You can easily avoid all these problems by installing the correct drainage system for your type of driveway. For example, some drainage systems work better for a concrete driveway rather than a gravel driveway. There are a variety of options for you to choose from to pick the perfect drainage system for your driveway.

Driveway Drainage Options

Here are some ideas that you can consider. Bear in mind where they will work best, and which driveway types they are most suitable for.

Channel Drainage. Also known as “linear drainage” or “trench drains”. Channel drains are long, narrow drains (resembling a small trench) with a grate cover. They collect water and carry it away before it reaches an area where you don’t want to risk flooding. Channel drains come in cast iron, stainless steel or polymer concrete. The most popular choice is the polymer concrete channel drain. It is cheaper and very durable.

Gully Drainage. Like channel drains, gully drains are long, trench-like drains with grate covers. But, the difference between the two is that gully drains only drain water at one point. This type of drain is also frequently used in open car parks, or basement parking garages.

Be aware channel and gully drains get blocked easily due to their size. Remove the grate and clean them out regularly. That will keep them working optimally. Or, you may consider calling a professional service provider to do it for you.

French Drains. This is another trench-style drain. But, they differ from the others because they are dug to a gradient and filled with an aggregate, such as gravel. There are finer pieces on top, which gradually get larger towards the bottom. This helps the water to flow and filters out debris from the system.

Soakaway Crates. This is the endpoint of most drains. Water is either absorbed or it is drained away. In most cases, we would highly recommend that you install a soakaway crate to allow the water to seep away naturally into the ground. The pipe which runs from the surface water drainage system will lead straight into the crate. The water runs through this system to prevent flooding or waterlogged patches around your property. A crate could even take rainwater straight from the gutter, to get it away from your house in no time at all. 

There is a chance that, like with any other drain or gutter, debris could still get through the Soakaway Crate drainage system. This results in the pipe to your soakaway becoming clogged. In these cases, you should call a plumbing company to unblock the problem for you. They are experts who will take care of the problem straight away. This will save you time and money. Not to mention the cost of potential damage caused in attempting the work yourself.

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