The Camberford Construction Story: Onwards and Upwards (Part Seven)

The Camberford Construction Story: Onwards and Upwards (Part Seven)

Professional Builder continues to chart the relentless progress of Camberford Construction.

The past month has been a manic one for Camberford construction. We finally finished the extension and loft conversion we’d be working on for the past five months and in that time also managed to begin – and finish – a job fitting one of the UK’s biggest new gyms.

We worked around the clock to finish the latter job, clocking up the kind of hours that are do-able in the short term but can’t be sustained for too long. The job was in North London, meaning a fair old commute for me and the team from where my company is based in Camberley.

Leaving at 5.45am to get to site for seven am, and then working through the day to 4pm was tough, but as we got closer to handover, those days got longer and longer.

The job wasn’t exactly glamorous, involving mainly wall repairs, building new stud walls, new window boards, fitting of chequer plates to all walls for protection from the gym weights, plastering and all the painting and decorating.

No matter how many times you do it though, closing a project and dealing with all the snagging is pretty exhausting. Also, as the job was a conversion within a large old building, it was a good day when we were finally able to see some sunlight!

The last couple of projects have been made all the more difficult by how much material prices are spiking suddenly at the moment. It’s getting harder and harder to cost things accurately in advance, with some builders’ merchants telling you about a 10 per cent price rise in a particular material with as little as a weeks’ notice.

The clients I’ve had have been fairly understanding so far but it’s still a tricky business to explain why the price of a job is going to go up by more than you’d originally said.

I make my costing process as transparent as possible so that the client can see for themselves why prices have changed, which helps, but ideally you always want to get things as close to the original quote as you can.

Obviously, the art of giving a quote that is both competitive and allows you to make enough of a profit is the difference between building firms that succeed and building firms that fail.

Having helped out with pricing things before I started up my own firm, I had some experience, but when it’s your business, and ultimately you’re on the line for every last penny, it takes on a whole new meaning.

It really puts the value of things into focus and, as I keep pushing things onwards, the outlays – and the risks – get bigger. I bought myself a new van to help the company take on multiple jobs at the same time and am considering getting myself a digger as well.The costs of that – fuel, insurance, servicing and everything else – adds up.

Insurance in particular is often a killer and one I can hate having to deal with, as comparing quotes against one other is pretty time consuming.

A cousin of mine is also a member of the FMB, and because he was able to get the member discount that FMB Insurance offers to Master Builders, he managed to save a lot of money and time on his van fleet insurance.

Hopefully I’ll also need van fleet insurance myself soon and when I do, it’s something I’ll bear in mind. I’m also hoping that it’s not long until I get to see some sunlight…

For further information on the Federations of Master Builders click here.

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