Taking on a home renovation is a daunting task. By hiring a team of experts, you can get the results you want without the stresses you don’t. Project Coordinator Mac Sulewski and Site Manager Artur Sawczynski both have over 10 years’ project experience working on home renovations. We asked them some of the common questions posed by prospective clients about their roles and why having the Kantec project team on board might be the best decision you make.
What does the project team do?
Mac: A better question might be, what doesn’t the project team do? We think of ourselves as the team whose job it is to make the client’s project a reality.
My role as project coordinator is to act as the guardian of the project; I take overall responsibility of the plan and ensure that the project is clearly mapped out and that the timelines we set out at the start are adhered to.
I am also the site manager’s technical support. When there’s an issue on site, it’s my job to contact the relevant people to find a resolution, this frees up the build team to continue with work in other areas so we do not lose time.
Artur: My job is to make sure that the build team I am responsible for on site are delivering against the project plan. I need to allocate tasks and ensure that they have the materials required to deliver a high-quality finish.
I also have a more in-depth relationship with the client, as I am on site every day, which means I’ll see them regularly if they are living in the house during the project.
An important part of the job is coordinating all the deliveries and lead times of the various suppliers, and making sure the deliveries for client-supplied items are booked in when they are needed. Mac and I would put all this information onto a build schedule before we start the project, giving the client plenty of time to make decisions and place orders.
It sounds like a lot of work – but what’s to stop me doing it myself?
Mac: Nothing. Of course, project managing a major home renovation is a full-time job and it’s unlikely you’re going to have the time and experience to get the results you want. Problems on site, if not managed thoroughly, can cause long delays in the project. Having the experience to understand which course to follow to manage these issues can ensure that the project runs as smoothly as possible.
One of the biggest issues you might face managing your own project is dealing with a builder who works by himself and to a loose time schedule, as opposed to a clearly thought through plan of action. With limited experience you’re not going to know what information you need from your builder, what decisions he needs from you and when to place orders. This can lead to severe delays.
Artur: As a team, we’re always looking ahead and offering our clients useful advice based on years of experience. Sometimes the design drawings do not reflect the actual space so we can provide good advice to get that little extra from the space you’re creating.
Mac: You might also face problems with building control – this is when surveyors from the planning authority visit your site to check each stage of the project is meeting UK regulations. If you don’t get them in at the right stage in the build, they might end up asking you to remove work – bricks, flooring, wall coverings – so they can make their checks, all at a cost to your renovation.
Are you always on site?
Mac: The bulk of my work focuses on site checks, liaising with building control, structural engineers and architects. I also spend time communicating with client suppliers to ensure the site is ready for them to make their installations. The rest of the time I’m carrying out site visits to check the progress and quality of the works.
Artur: The majority of my time is spent on site managing the build team. I also spend time on the road arranging material deliveries from various suppliers.
What are some common problems a project team has to deal with?
Mac: A build project is rarely problem-free. However, as project coordinator, my job is to identify potential problems before they arise and resolve problems effectively if they do. I will pool resources and contact the relevant people such as the architect, engineer and building control to get a resolution and then provide detailed feedback to the site manager and the client so that the team understands the issue and how we plan to resolve it.
Sometimes the client changes their mind on an aspect of the work, which results in significant changes to the design. An example of this is where a client was not happy with their architect’s roof design and we needed to change the design significantly enough that it warranted a planning amend. We managed the planning amend, discussed the options with the client and the neighbours that it impacted, and then built the new design.
Another issue that can cause problems for clients is neighbours objecting to the build or being affected by it. Having a professional person who is senior to the build team is really important. I always give the neighbours my card so they can call me directly with any concerns. The reassurance of a project coordinator makes such a difference. Generally, builders can be very defensive if anything goes wrong – that’s where we step in and calmly explain the situation. And if there’s a problem, we’ll resolve it.
What makes the Kantec project management approach value for money?
Mac: Our clients tell us that the convenience and transparency our service provides is worth every penny. With the project team they always have someone that they can turn to with any questions and problems. And it means they don’t have to worry about when things need to happen, like arranging site surveys and booking in building control visits. There’s also the bonus of having someone available to provide clarity on what’s happening with their home. It’s a weight off their shoulders. For us, the client is the most important person, and we want the journey to be as easy for them as possible.