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Who is a cost consultant and why do you need one on your project?

I hate the words Quantity Surveyor. It has absolutely no meaning to the general public. Cost consultant makes more sense as it kind of gives a brief overview of who the hell this person is and what kind of a task he does. But it doesn’t really help in comparison with the word 'accountant', does it?

An average Joe Bloggs knows about renovating more or less as much as ‘I need an architect to do the drawings ’ and then they get to choose paint colours for the walls. Quick and easy process. A cost consultant and project manager basically fills the gap in between the two stages. Small gap. Tiny really.

What the building work isn't...

In an ideal world the process would be that you take the drawings from the architect, hand them over to the builder and he would transform your house into a dream property. But the world isn’t ideal. And builders in general have very little to do with mind readers or future tellers. That’s why God has given us people specialising in construction consultancy. So that the drawings from the architect can go through someone to get a high-level assessment of costs. Pretty much you get the biggest hit of the truth before you get to see any builders at home and so that you have enough time to accept this reality. Or if you really want to fight you might need to do some small design tweaks to reduce the initial costs.

What is the tender process?

While you are relatively happy with the design and you have got over the initial shock without (hopefully) tearing apart your cheque book, you will need someone who will help you choose the right builder. Usually, the architect will know Bob who is fantastic, your neighbour next door will recommend Fred beyond the scale in praises, and you might also come across John knocking on the door randomly on Saturday afternoon. Someone needs to help you choose the RIGHT builder for you and at the same time make sure that the final cost doesn't result in an A&E visit.

Do you really need a contract?

Once this stage is also ticked off, you have got the best builder ever, we need to make sure your interest and money is protected with the right Contract. And yes, it’s a great idea to download a free template online when you need a contract to sell a car. For building work let's stick to standard forms of contract that actually PROTECT you.

If you need help deciding how to achieve this you might have a look here:

Most of the contracts need administration. Otherwise, how would you know that you are not overpaying your builder for the work done? How would you know he is not ripping you off for any changes or extra works? Who is going to keep your side if you’re not happy with something? Who is going to help you solve the problems and keep up on top of things?

That is pretty much what a cost consultant does. You might ask, why do I keep highlighting that I’m a project manager as well as a cost consultant. Because I add two layers to the above. I don’t only follow the numbers, but I look at things as a whole picture to make sure your ultimate goal is fulfilled. And I get the job done. So that you can focus on choosing your kitchen pulls or paint colours. You don’t need to know about all the problems on site. You don’t want the delivery pains; you just want the baby in your arms, right?

Now the final question, do you need a cost consultant on your project?

Unless you can give up your current lifestyle and do it yourself or have an absolute faith in your architect to be super commercially aware, you definitely need one. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to go with my services. Without moving my bum I can point you to 6 other people that will happily help. But as far as Im aware Im the only one who offers stand alone, ad hoc advisory when you need it. Not a day rate, not a fixed fee, not a contract work. The choice is yours.

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