If you are a fan of architecture, you may be an avid watcher of Grand Designs. One of the areas that you will have seen often (accompanied by a startled look from Mr McCloud!), that catches out a lot of people, is an apparent lack of contingency planning! Or maybe that a contingency plan was made, but it was not sufficient.
During construction there are often issues that crop up that can’t be anticipated beforehand. This is particularly true with existing buildings where it is not possible to know what is behind every wall and under every floor finish. If a contingency hasn’t been allocated – or the contingency is not enough – it can cause real problems! These might include having to find more money for the build, or potentially compromising on the design or redesigning to reduce costs.
On one of our recent projects at In Ex Design we were given a reminder of why we always recommend to our Clients that they put aside a contingency in their budget. During some investigative works to take a wall down, it was discovered that the adjacent structure was not fully supported, and additional structure was required. The issue was easily dealt with but not without additional cost to cover a visit from a structural engineer and the cost to rebuild the blockwork post to provide proper structural support. Thankfully our client had put aside a contingency of 5% of the build cost at Tender stage and this was more than enough to cover the additional costs for the new beam. It only takes a couple of these kinds of small issues (or even one larger one!) to make a dent in a budget and without a suitable contingency, such issues can add significant stress to a project.
The thought of putting aside a contingency at the start of a project can be difficult, especially if the budget is tight and every penny counts. Of course, this is when it is even more important and we do recommend that a contingency is built into your project from the very start. The good news is that if towards the end of the project the contingency wasn’t required, you have the option to upgrade the specification on the finishes, furniture or planting etc.
The appropriate value for a contingency varies between projects and also varies as the project progresses. Often the amount can be reduced through the design process as the design is finalised and surveys are carried out. A key part of our technical design stage includes the collation and gathering of as much information prior to works starting on site in order to reduce the risk that unforeseen issues could arise.