Why Communication Is Key

When it comes to project success, three elements get plenty of attention – time, cost and quality. Most owners wantlower costs,reduced construction time and maximum quality from their build.

While this equation is a fair generalisation, there’s anx-factor that’s all too often out of the mix. But, as an experienced builder, I can tell you it’s imperative for a smooth, efficient build.

And that extra something is… communication.

The importance of clear lines of communication between you and your builder cannot be overstated, and it’s an element we at AJP pride ourselves on.

Here are five reasons why better communication is a must:

  1. Clearly understood early documentation

Setting up strong communication straight away means the details of the construction can be laid bare, so both builder and client understand the particulars and can move forward with confidence.

Strong communication means the client can tell the builder exactly what they hope to achieve from the build. Meanwhile, the contractor can more accurately define the plans, specifications, timing and costing it’ll take to meet those goals.

Excellent early communication can offset potential disagreements down the line too.

  1. Queries asked and answered

Goodcommunicationallows for a Q&Aprocess between the builder and client as the project progresses.

For example, if a builder needs a decision on which particular fitting or fixture the client desires, they must ensure their strategy allows quick communication, and documentation of the decision.

Similarly, a client may need to clarify an aspect of the build – say, who’s responsible for the cost of an additional, unexpected outside sub-contractor. Again, the process will be in place to have this question asked and answered.

  1. Variations

Variations can be the source of frustration and headaches, particularly is they could have been avoided by better upfront communication and/or investigations.

Other changes that can occur include increases in the scope of work or changesin selected products. These are normally alterations made during construction in response to the practicalities of the build. It might be that a client wishes to shift a window frame slightly to catch a particular view, or additional light fittings and power points might be needed in certain rooms.

Having a communication plan allows the client to reach out to the builder and discussthe changes and their implications in astructured manner, so there are no misunderstandings come handover and final payment.

  1. Dispute resolution

It’s amazing how many disagreements get blown out of proportion simply due to a lack of open and easy communication.

Seamless lines of communication help release the pressure valve of potential disputes. If there’s a disagreement over an element of the build – say, who is the responsible for the supply and delivery of an item, or whether a cost variation is fair – having excellent communication is essential.

Knowing there is a path to raise potential issues and have a reasoned discussion means everyone can proceed with confidence that, ultimately, we all want the same outcome… a great house for a client and an enjoyable journey from start to completion for all key stakeholders.

This is a particularly beneficial if the disputerelatesto a sub-contractor. Being able to discuss your issues with thebuilder means they can address them with a subbie on your behalf in a professional manner. If exchanges become heated because communication is not clear, it can lead to costly delays and a potentially priceybattle.

  1. Confidence

Great communication gives the client confidence their build is proceeding in the expected way. It means they know KPIs and progress stages are being completed satisfactorily, which give the client comfort their build is proceeding properly and without delay.

This is best done proactively too. If the builder is regularly updating the owner without having to be requested, it shows they are holding themselves accountable to their projections.

AJP’s portal for success

My approach to communication is simply that openness, transparency and responsiveness are the foundations of a great building experience. Communication is so important that we’ve taken on the idea of a client portal for each build.

By having their own login code access, owners can stay across the progress of the buildand have their queries and concerns addressed quickly.

We upload photos each week to the portal which allows owners to view and comment on what they see. The portal also has a project-management element attached. On the portal, there’s a GANTT chart aligned with a calendar that forecasts the stages of the build. We then plot the actual progress of the build against this chart and calendar, highlighting key dates and progress draws as they’re reached, so clients are kept fully informed of how we’re tracking.

Another great element is the central area on the portal where all the documents – including actual working drawings – are kept. Clients never need hunt around for hard copies again.

As you can see, communication is key. When next selecting your builder, factor in the level of importance they place on keeping you in the loop. A builder that communicates well with all key stakeholders ensures you will get both the best result and an enjoyable journey from your construction project.