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We love working with other businesses that share our passion for natural stone, restoration and making your homes beautiful. This week we caught up with Nicky from CL-PM.

CL-PM are an independent construction consultancy. They are family run and based just outside Rickmansworth but help organise and oversee projects right across London and the Home Counties. Their aim is to help people build in a smarter and more sustainable way – and they provide a range of Quantity Surveying, Sustainability and Project Management services to help their clients build better, while saving them time, money and stress. CLPM work mainly with homeowners and architects, but they also support small-scale residential and commercial developers, business owners and organisations in the charitable sector.

Getting Started

AS: We work with lots of clients who are renovating or extending their property. Before getting stuck in to a building project like this, what would be the first thing that they should be thinking about?

CLPM: The most important thing to do is to invest plenty of time doing your desk research. Work out what you can afford in total upfront. Then calculate what you will need to budget for your architect to create your design, planning applications, other professional fees. There’s other costs associated with the building project to consider too, such as putting your belongings into storage. What you are left with is your construction budget and within that you’ll need to build-in at least a 10% contingency.

Financial planning is crucial but is something many people simply do not do. In our experience the more time you put into your financial planning at the early stages, the more successful your build will be. Likewise don’t try and skimp on professional fees – they are worth paying. You’ll get a better result and avoid costly mistakes if you work with experts rather than trying to do it all yourself.

Once you have a construction budget, this is the figure you share with your architect so that he or she knows the scope of the project. Later, when you have designs you’re happy with, CLPM’s Quantity Surveyors can help you check they’re still affordable. They can give you a detailed breakdown of the costs and help engineer out any over-spends, then go on to help you find and appoint your build team using a competitive tender.

We’ve got a video on the Quantity Surveying page of our website that explains how to set a construction budget for your building project.

 Energy Efficiency

AS: With winter approaching, we are all thinking about keeping warm. Energy efficiency is something that should be considered as part of a building project, but what are the key considerations?

CLPM: Here at CLPM we take an integrated, fabric first approach to energy efficiency.

By this we mean we look at the building and the needs of the owner as a whole, but target the structure of the building first. For example when our Energy Experts carry out an energy review of a property they will assess:

The important thing to realise is that every building project, and client is different – and so they needed to be treated individually. It’s a complex area and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to energy efficiency. If you want to make changes to your home to make it more energy efficient you will need an independent energy expert like CLPM to help you make the best choices.

Sustainability

AS: We love working with old stone and helping to keep features like this as part of building projects. What are other ways that clients can make their building project more sustainable?

Yes we agree! The most sustainable thing you can do is take steps to make your newly improved home as energy efficient as you can. However the 3 Rs – re-use, reduce and recycle are an important part of a sustainable building project too. We always encourage our clients to buy in an environmentally responsible way and to take steps to ensure that any waste created by their building project is recycled rather than thrown away or placed in a skip. Items like old doors and windows can get good prices on Ebay and excess building materials can be given away to charities or via local sites such as Freecycle and Gumtree.

Aftercare Advice

AS: Once a building project is completed, we’re often called upon to clean or resurface natural stone as part of the snagging. Do you have any top tips for what clients should look out for in the post-build phase?

CLPM: Dealing with snagging and defects at the end of a construction project is a necessary, but difficult process and it can be a difficult for homeowners to do. However this is a service our building project managers provide to clients who have appointed us to oversee their build. It generally involves our inspecting the works, room by room and looking for things that do not work or where something has been missed; such as sealing around a new bath or fixing a wonky paving stone. What constitutes a defect is quite technical though! The solution to making this stage as smooth as possible is to have a formal building contract in place. When we appoint a builder for our clients we prepare the building contract so that there is a retainer. This is a financial sum – usually around 5% of the total construction figure – which is not paid to the builder until all of the snags and defects have been resolved. In larger projects this retainer can run into many thousands of pounds so it usually encourages the builder to sort things out promptly!

Lockdown DIY

AS: And finally we love finding out about the DIY projects that everyone has been taking on during lockdown – have you turned your hand to any home improvements this year?

CLPM: Many of the team have been tinkering away as you would expect during lockdown, but one of the most amusing projects has been the conversion of a dis-used horse shelter into a rather chic drinks bar with a large decked terrace. The project used a lot of recycled materials – the decking surround used old farm gates, the doors to the bar were bought 2nd hand on Ebay and the actual bar itself was made out of scraps of MDF overlaid with planks taken from old wooden pallets.

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