Project planning - Gant Chart

We are aware clients are keen to take possession of their dream homes it must be noted that buying abroad, and particularly having renovation or other building works carried out when not in the country does pose special problems. We do our best to push things on as fast as possible but this is France and speed is not always of the essence! Modes of communication need to be agreed and adhered to and clients need to understand they also have a responsibility towards the architect. This is often a large investment for our clients and we want it to be successful and enjoyable which means dedicated input from both parties.

Most projects can be divided into three stages.

stage a

Schematic – one to three months – this depends on how well prepared the client is and the nature and size of the project. We establish a working brief with the client – this period is intensive and a good result relies on a clear understanding of the clients’ expectations and our local practical knowledge. Quality expectations and budget play a large role from the very beginning. It is important the client is available to spend time with Nicholas at this stage as this is when the form of the project takes shape and a good working relationship can be established which will allow for the successful completion of the works.

This stage is completed with the preparation of a scheme ready to be submitted for either: a declaration to the local commune or a construction permit via the local commune and department prefecture.

stage b

Paper Work – two to three months – the permit process and the building specification document used for negotiating prices from artisans. (this may take place during the permit process assuming there are no fundamental changes). To obtain prices from artisans or a builder and to avoid later discussions/surprises it is essential to set down a list of items clarifying quality and quantity. This does not need to be a bulky document and can be efficiently cross-referenced to plans and elevations so artisans and project managers can understand the scheme. It also means that obtaining additional quotes is a simple matter.

stage c

Work on Site – Having signed the contractural documents the missing link is the Programme. There are two possible paths during this stage. One is to use a building firm who will coordinate all works, the other is to employ a series of artisans. The builder will charge more but will be responsible for the project. Using individual artisans will be cheaper and may allow for the use of more specialised workers - but each artisan is responsible only for their work.

Naturally there are stories of artisans failing to appear, not clearing up etc (just like in the UK) but problems are sometimes caused by unclear instructions given by the investor (client) and poorly planned or programmed projects. Money may often be saved by having a project properly designed and programmed and there are the additional benefits of the design experience offered by the team which can lead to surprising solutions to complicated briefs – and this is not just true for large projects. Smaller buildings are often more difficult to get right.

If you do choose to go down the artisan only route you will need a manager unless you have some experience in the field, speak fluent French and are able to visit site frequently. We are able to offer this service as part of the process and as authors of the project in our opinion this is more efficient.