Starting a project

Starting a project

Starting A Project

6 Factors to consider before starting a project

1. Budget

An overall budget needs to be determined, together with a breakdown of the various cost elements. The budget should include build costs, utility costs, fees, charges and levies. It should also include a contingency sum. The input of a quantity surveyor will be useful with regard to estimating the required budget. Find a quantity surveyor.

You should endeavour to ensure that any over-runs are compensated for, where possible, with savings while also calculating how much your involvement will save in terms of the budget.

2. Financial institution support 

Ensure your financial institution is fully in support of and has approved the project. If you are managing the project yourself, you will need additional approval for your role as project manager.

3. Figure out how much time it will take 

Work out what amount of time will be needed to direct, instruct, and manage the various workmen, electricians, plumbers, heating contractors etc. Understanding the time the project will take will help you know if you can manage the size of the project or if hiring a professional project manager will make a difference.  Whoever is managing the project may well be required to be on site every day, including nights and weekends.

In addition to taking away the time and stress of managing a project, a project manager will be crucial to keeping your project on track and on budget.

Other factors to consider include:

  • Material purchases & prices. Building professionals will know the most economical options for buying materials and often receive discounts which you may benefit from.
  • Ensuring quality control. Building professionals will know how to gauge quality of workmanship, compliance with building regulations, codes of practice for installations of pipework, heating, electrical etc.
  • Sourcing contractors. Building professionals are well connected to suitable, experienced, registered contractors and subcontractors. Not having the right contacts can slow the process.
  • Decision making. Figure out the extent to which you will require technical input on a regular basis to assist you in decision-making. You may require the services of an architect/building surveyor, engineer or quantity surveyor at various stages during the build.

Using a project manager will help ensure you get the best material prices and keep project moving forward on track and on budget.

Click Here to Find a Project Manager.

4. Obtain certification of the completed build

An architect/building surveyor will be required to provide a Certificate of Compliance. This document confirms that the build has been completed in accordance with the planning permission and the building regulations and is necessary should you wish to dispose of the property in the future.

5. Set yourself up to avoid delays 

If you employ a builder to project manage the build on your behalf you should bear in mind the following considerations.

First, make sure you have the project finance in place from the financial institution to avoid any unnecessary payment delays which could hold up the project.

Secondly, a key consideration is to only employ a registered individual with a proven track record in project-managing similar developments. You need to do some research here and this could save you time, money and heartache in the long run. You need to check all references, look at other projects the builder has completed and talk to his previous clients.

6. Make sure that you have insurance in place for the work

Once you select a builder as project manager, the next step is to define the scope of the works and specify exactly what your requirements are. Agree on a fee and sign a contract to avoid any ambiguity over what he is expected to do.

You should also insist that the builder only uses registered contractors and subcontractors and it would be a good idea to review the list of who he intends using.

Other factors to consider include:

  • Whether you require that he employs an architect/building surveyor to periodically review the quality of the work and to advise on technical issue
  • Whether you require that he uses a quantity surveyor to obtain tenders, to manage the budget as outlined earlier and to advise on payments to the contractors, subcontractors and suppliers.
  • How often you will undertake a review of the work and the budget — we suggest twice weekly.
  • How he will ensure that you receive all the necessary warranties, guarantees and documentation.
  • You will also need to ensure that you get a Certificate of Compliance on completion of the project.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is project management?

Project management includes the integration of the various phases of the project life cycle. Other definitions are available, all of which highlight the transient nature of projects; they have definite start and finish points, and are unique in terms of processes, outputs or deliverables. Project management is therefore concerned with defining what has to be accomplished, which is usually expressed in terms of technical performance (scope of works, which may include quality criteria, safety requirements, environmental considerations in addition to the technical performance criteria of the works), cost (budget) and time (programme or schedule).

In simple terms project management does this by:

  • planning what needs to be done
  • implementing the plans
  • monitoring and controlling the project work; and
  • risk management.


What is the role of a project manager?

The project manager leads and directs the project participants.

He or she is accountable to the project sponsor for the project’s successful completion (delivering the requirements on time and within below budget and to the required standard).

A project manager is the person who is given responsibility for introducing change and is accountable to the project sponsor or project board for its successful accomplishment. The role of a project manager is therefore to lead and motivate the project participants to finish on time, within budget and to meet the requirements. This should result in satisfied clients.


Why consult or hire a project manager? 

Your home is both your refuge and one of your most significant financial investments. Relying on professional advice will help you make the best decisions for your project. Project managers take the stress out of big projects by being there every step of the way to provide you with advice for decisions and to ensure the project stays on track.

Find a project manager. 

Planning permissions normally have several conditions attached to them. It is important developments comply with all conditions. If they do not, they are unauthorised. If someone suspects an unauthorised development has been carried out, they are entitled to write a complaint to the relevant planning authority setting out the nature of the unauthorised development, which can include breach of planning conditions.


As long as the unauthorised development is not deemed to be of a trivial nature, the planning authority is obliged to write a warning letter to the person responsible within six weeks.


Among other items, the warning letter will: ask the developer to respond to the allegation; state the authority may enter the land for the purpose of inspection; state an enforcement notice may be issued; and give an explanation of the penalties that will incur if the situation is not remedied.


After the letter has been issued and if the unauthorised development does not cease, the planning authority can, within 12 weeks of issuing the original warning letter, decide to issue an enforcement notice.


This will outline the steps that need to be taken to rectify the situation. After an enforcement notice has been served – or as an alternative to an enforcement notice – the planning authority can also apply to the courts for an injunction to stop the unauthorised development. This tends to happen in cases where there is a more serious breach of planning.


Interestingly, any person can seek an injunction via the courts to cease an unauthorised development or to ensure conformity with conditions to which the permission is subject.


However, the potential cost, stress and uncertainty associated with this course of action mean it is not a decision to be taken lightly.


The HRI scheme will only cover for works that attract a 13.5 per cent VAT rate, ie painting and decorating, tiling, fitting kitchens, landscaping, bathroom upgrades and more (refer to Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland HRI guide for full list of qualifying works).


Therefore, if you supplied materials directly for some of the works (eg paint), then they would not be eligible under the scheme, as these would attract a 23 per cent VAT rate. In addition the works need to be completed by a tax-compliant contractor.


For homeowners who are eligible under the HRI scheme, the process for selecting and applying for the scheme is as follows:

1. Seek a number of quotes from HRI- registered building contractors

2. Select a contractor for the works and obtain a final quote for the works

3. Request a copy of the building contractor’s tax clearance certificate, ensure that it is in date and retain for safe keeping

4. Obtain a copy of contractor’s insurance and retain on file

5. Obtain a letter from the building contractor regarding the programme for works (including start and completion dates)

6. Give the building contractor your property identification number, which can be found on the local property tax letter.

7. Request the building contractor to upload your details and the works details onto the Revenue’s HRI online system.

8. Retain all payment receipts and invoices from the building contractor

9. Ensure that the payments have been made and are being uploaded and notified to Revenue by the building contractor.


The Home Renovation Incentive will provide an income tax credit on the VAT paid by homeowners carrying out work on their home in the subsequent two years. The credit will be calculated at 13.5pc on qualifying expenditure between €4,405 and €30,000. Where the cost of the work exceeds €30,000 (exclusive of VAT), a maximum credit of €4,050 will apply.


The scheme will support fully tax-compliant builders as the spending and relief will have to be registered with the Revenue Commissioners. Please note that homeowners can only claim the relief under the Home Renovation Incentive if their Local Property Tax (LPT) and Household Charge obligations are up to date.


Qualifying expenditure

  • Windows
  • Extensions
  • Attic conversions
  • Plumbing
  • Tiling
  • Supply & fitting of kitchens
  • Plastering
  • Garages
  • Rewiring
  • Insulation
  • Landscaping
  • Items including furniture, white goods and carpets are NOT included in the HRI.


Read our full Guide on the House Renovation Incentive:

First, you need to set out what it is you want from the project, ie identify and list your requirements, prioritise them and note how much you have to spend. Next you need to obtain the services of design professionals such as an architect or building surveyor.


They will make the most of the space you have and will advise on whether planning permission is required — generally minor changes, rear extensions under 40sq m (430sq ft) are exempt. They will also advise on the design and once this has been agreed a chartered quantity surveyor will then put real costs on the renovation and/or extension. The surveyor will also organise a list of suitable builders, tender the works, manage costs and guide same through to completion. In terms of choosing a builder, it is often a good idea to take a look at other projects they have completed if possible. Your decision on which builder to appoint should not be based solely on the lowest price but rather quality of previous work and reputation.


In terms of costs, it really depends on how far you want to go with the renovation and extension to the property. Many people undertaking projects decide to upgrade other parts of their property which would include adding insulation to the floors, attic and external walls, re-wiring, upgrading the heating and plumbing system, new doors, joinery, kitchen, sanitary ware, decoration and external patios.


The cost for renovation works can vary in the order of €60 to €95 per square foot depending on the requirements and specifications. A single-storey ground-level extension could vary in cost between €140 to €200 per square foot, depending on varying items such as architectural design features, the extent of glass, heights of walls, overhangs, quality of kitchen units, bathrooms etc.


Remember that if you extend your house your insurance reinstatement value will increase and should be adjusted upon handover.

Advantages of appointing a Chartered Project Management Surveyor

Project Management Surveyors are responsible for coordinating the entire development process to maximise efficiency, economy, communication and successful completion of each specific project. Their work involves technical competence, professional expertise, leadership skills, human resources and risk management.

Chartered Project Management Surveyors can (and do) add value to the development equation through their unique blend of construction knowledge, professional and people skills. For example, at concept design stage they can provide strategic advice on schematic development plans; at detailed design stage they can advise on the programme and procurement options for alternative design solutions; and during the construction phase they can motivate the design and construction team to deliver completion of the construction contract on time and within budget. The peace of mind that this gives construction clients should not be underestimated.

The benefits to clients of using a Chartered Project Management Surveyor are numerous and typically include all of the following:

  • Added value design solutions that optimise programme and procurement opportunities

  • Increased certainty that the building will be completed on time and within budget, delivered through coordinated and collaborative teamwork

  • Increased confidence that the surveyor has acquired the skills and expertise required to deliver the service required

  • Confidence that the surveyor has adequate professional indemnity insurance

  • Access to an independent complaints handling procedure.

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