Behind the Scenes – Starting on Site

By October 30, 2019 Managing a Renovation

After months of careful planning & design work, starting work on site is an exciting and busy time! Here is a behind-the-scenes look at what happens as a project transitions from drawings and spreadsheets into a building site;

2 weeks before: Finalising outstanding design choices

We recommend finalising all design choices before starting on site, as this helps to avoid problems. At this stage we will do a thorough review to identify any priority decisions that are outstanding. This may include;

  • Tweaks to the electrical & plumbing plan – 1st fix electrics happen in the first few weeks on site, so it is really important that the location of all switches, sockets, appliances & radiators is confirmed.
  • Flooring choices; The contractor will assess during strip out how the floor needs to be prepared to ensure an even finish throughout – so they need to know the exact thickness of tiles, wood & carpet to be used throughout.
Floor with self-levelling concrete
Levelling the floor for different finishes happens early on in the project
electrician setting up for 1st fix electrics
Preparing for 1st fix electrics
New doorway in wall on building site
Doorway positions must be confirmed before starting

Week before: Paperwork

We prepare a JCT contract for the contractor & client to sign – finalising the payment schedule, project timeline, and full pack of designs to go with it.

The contractor finalises the detail in the ‘Construction Phase Plan’ – the documentation of their Health & Safety plan for running the project (and required for every project under the CDM 2015 regulations ).

We also recommend clients remind the neighbours of what to expect during the works.

APM team inspect stripped out chimney breast with contractor on site
Hard hats should be worn on site
Your contract should include CDM
JCT contract

Day 1: Kick off

An on-site meeting with the contractor team to review all plans on site. We will agree the detailed timing plan for the coming weeks, including any site visits from specialists such as Kitchen & glazing suppliers. We discuss initial questions, and the contractor will flag priorities for any remaining details to pin down. 

Structural plans
Review structural plans
Renovation designs taped to wall on building site
All designs need to be finalised before starting
blue floor protection film on stairway
Protecting communal areas from dust

Weeks 1-3: Strip out

Existing finishes, plasterboard, walls & sometimes the roof are removed. Beams, studwork and pipework are all exposed. During this process the contractor verifies planning assumptions about existing plumbing & structure – so it is often a busy time solving problems and adjusting designs as needed to adapt where needed.

Below: Exciting discoveries found during strip out on current projects

Safe Waste Disposal Poster on wall revealed behind plasterboard on building site
Hospital Waste disposal poster found behind plasterboard
Copper water tank found during renovation works
Lovely copper tank
Decorative stone found during building works
Stonework found inside a chimney breast

Health and Safety considerations are particularly important at this stage. Assumptions made during design will be checked, and the contractor will need to continually asses whether any materials to be stripped out are hazardous.

This is a crucial stage of the project, and often requires daily management. If you are considering a renovation get in touch for help with project management and design.

Contractor wearing hard hat and safety mask working on part-demolished house
Stripping out the ceiling
Bathroom in part demolished flat
A part-demolished bathroom

White fluffy insulation around exposed pipework on building site
Not asbestos this time – but important to check!