How long is a piece of string?
Wrong sorry. Every project that we undertake, despite the size or predicted cost of the task at hand we devise an action plan. Literally, with old-school pen and paper (or on an Microsoft Excel Doc pending the project complexity).
Let gantt charts and itemised budgets become your best friends. (And don’t roll your eyes, it’s important).
How to whip-up a pimpin’ gantt chart?
// List your items or actions. Start in the order of physical commencement of the project right way through to completion.
// Think dates and timings. Always work backwards and from the right hand side of the page from the deadline date. For example, if you need the timber decking laid and oiled before you host this year’s christmas party, then bobs-your-uncle, a few days before the party is your critical due date (and yes we both actually do have uncle Bob’s). Then work your way left across the page noting earlier dates based on the prior action and it’s completion time.
// Note there is a bundle of excellent software should you get really into scheduling your projects such as Microsoft Project or Primavera P6. We’d recommend this type of investment if you were considering an owner builder project.
How to crunch numbers like a bookkeeper?
// Anything you can’t reasonably guess-timate the cost of then call a supplier and seek a quote (written or verbal) and ensure the terms meet your schedule. Don’t be afraid to request a 60 or 90 day quote. This can save you blowouts down the track if a supplier bumps up the price.
// Always include Goods and Services Tax (GST). Essentially this is an expense out of your pocket today, so include it even if you can make post tax deductions at a later date (lucky you). Note that some tradies you may exclude GST in their fine print or are maybe not GST registered (which is no biggy).
// Keep all receipts. Keep all receipts. Keep all receipts (got it). Store them in a shoe box and hand write a note on the back if you think you will have difficulties later recalling the purchase. Better yet, type them weekly into an excel spreadsheet or save them straight into your accounting program (we use Xero and it’s fantastic). This makes calculating the final cost of the project at a later date a dream.
// Always add a contingency margin. This ‘fat’ figure is your call, however we often use 8% for medium to large scale projects, say over $500. It’s inevitable that cuts may go wrong or weather may cause delays and subsequently your skip hire turns from a 2 day hire fee to a whopping 5 days (damn).
// Create an Evernote file on your iphone (and later sync to your desktop or laptop) for easy collation of prices as you see the item you love when you’re out browsing in Freedom. Pinterest is also great for saving product ideas too (not necessarily costs though).
So there you go. You’ll now be saving time and cash like a pro. Keep us posted with how you go, we’d love to hear.