Start a Home Build Smarter with Patricia Power, Quantity Surveyor
Patricia Power, renowned Quantity Surveyor and featured in RTÉ’s “Room to Improve”, illustrates
her essential conditions for getting the most out of your home build and contractors.
These are a few guidelines that, if you can follow from the outset, will make the entire process run
much smother from start to completion.
Firstly, engage a team of professionals as early as possible: Architect, Engineer and your Quantity
Surveyor (QS). Draft up your list of requirements, do a mood board; it is very important that the
design team understands the style you are trying to achieve.
Get the QS involved at sketch/pre-planning stage, as this is the time to budget cost everything. Nine
out of ten times the wish list and the build budget don’t match, so work needs to be done at the
early stages to make them match up. I always advise to put the time in at this stage, work with the
team and get it right.
My role as a Quantity Surveyor would be to budget for everything required to build your home, so it
is in turn-key walk-in condition; all you need to do is bring your table, chairs and bed.
As building costs have risen so much in recent years, many suggestions would be to think laterally.
Think smaller, think taller! Take advantage of the cost of the foundations and roof; it is cheaper per
square foot/square metre to build two or three floors using the same substructure and roof cost – its
better bang for your buck.
Try keeping the building symmetrical. Line up the internal and external walls so a wall at ground
floor supports a wall at first floor, it simplifies the build, and reduces steel frame/supports required
and thus the cost. Look at frame wall options like metal frame, timber frame, insulated concrete
Windows or glazing can be stunning and we need natural light, but remember glass is more costly
per metre squared than an external wall. Where you have floor to ceiling height glazing, you will
need a structural frame, as glass is not structural. You could drop the head height to install a
beam/precast head to support more efficiently; it may be an economical solution.
Try and minimise the number of trades required by looking at the treatment of the external walls;
try and keep the same finish throughout. A mix of render, timber, brick and stone will require four
specialist trades and could lead to a stop-start scenario, thus costing more time and more money.
Don’t forget about the paperwork
When you lodge for planning, it will take a minimum of three months before you get a final granting
of permission. All going well, there is an option to speed up the overall waiting process, whereby you
could instruct the design team to proceed to the next stage to develop up drawings and a bill of
quantities for tender, as again this takes time. Have this ready to go to tender towards the end of
the planning timelines, so you may be in a position to appoint a builder and start on site very quickly
once planning is in place.
Gathering a list of builders, I always recommend that the client, architect and quantity surveyor
suggest the builders, so a good mix is achieved. Do feel free to chat with them and meet them during
the tender period, as you are going to develop and need a good relationship with his builder for the
period of construction and after completion, so its important that it works.
Be realistic on build time; building takes time, so give it the time it deserves. Don’t choose a builder
because they are proposing an initial shorter construction program timeline, as this can change so
quickly. Choose a builder based on price, quality, availability and recent references.
Invest in your home; it is the best money you will ever spend. Investment in insulation, air-tightness,
and renewable heat sources to increase the overall energy rating are a must in the current climate
and should never be compromised.
You can catch Patricia Power in discussion at the DFS Interiors Theatre on Friday 21 st and Saturday
22 nd of April, at the permanent tsb Ideal Home Show, in the RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin.
Patricia Power is one of Ireland’s most renowned Quantity Surveyors.
She has been a major feature on the much loved TV Show RTÉ’s “Room
to Improve”. Patricia is best known for her straight talking no nonsense
approach, continually delivering projects on budget, whilst always
considering and preserving the design aspirations of clients. Her
professional quantity surveying practice was set up in 2011 and deals
primarily in new one off houses, extensions, renovations and general
home improvements. She is your one stop shop for all cost and
construction advice on your home.
Patricia is a Registered Quantity Surveyor and a Member of the Society
of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, the Royal Institute of Chartered
Surveyors and the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors.