The Camberford Construction Story: Spring in the Step (Part Nine)

The Camberford Construction Story: Spring in the Step (Part Nine)

Here is the latest instalment of the Camberford Construction story, tracing the progress of an FMB registered construction company from the very start.

The sun is out and the sites Camberford is working on are looking a little less trench-like these days. The warmer months are always a good time to make hay while the sun is shining on site and with a full workload at the moment, I’m hoping a few less washouts will be affecting our schedule.

What’s really positive is that the phone keeps buzzing with enquiries at the moment. I’m booked up for the next five months, with the potential for more work to come out of the series of gym refurbishments I’m currently doing.

Obviously, in this business you’re only one job away from being unemployed, so to have this many projects ready to go is a huge boost for me.

The hard work is paying off (though definitely not easing up!) and I’m cracking on with the big extension I recently started.

We’re having to contend with two trees which have a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on them, which is a bit of a nuisance as it’s affecting our ability to put down the foundations for the extension.

Dealing with that means having to talk to building control, an architect and the TPO officers about a solution, which isn’t exactly straightforward.

We’re looking at using pad foundations and beams spanning across the roots in order to avoid interfering with the trees, but as anyone reading this will know, coming up with a solution is only half the battle.

Still, the learning curve I’m on for the business side of things is still big and I learnt an important lesson about contracts recently.

The client and I agreed to do things on a cost basis, plus some money on top to act as a wage, as a way of getting some experience on my CV.

It was a good job, an excellent grounding in the kind of field I want to get into, and I was keen to impress the client. Unfortunately, things got a bit messy when agreeing a final price.

Those kinds of situations can happen when you don’t sign a contract and it’s very much a lesson learnt on my part. Not only does a contract get onto paper everything that’s been agreed price wise, but pretty much everything else as well.

Finding yourself in a situation of ‘he said, she said’ isn’t good for you or the client and, especially when you’re trying to get a job signed off so that you can move onto the next, it can make life difficult.

Still, an important bit of experience gained. I definitely will be using a contract from here on out, and seeing as the FMB have an easy to understand template that comes with membership, it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle to do in the future.

Having a good network around you is so important in situations like that. No two days have been the same for me and I imagine it’s the same with pretty much every other construction business out there, whether they are a month old or 20 years in the business.

Having a good bank of contacts who can share their experiences and point you in the right direction when something new comes up is a big help.

In particular, it was good to speak to my director for FMB South, who’s been a great person to have in the phonebook. He drew attention to the helplines that were available to me to help resolve things with my client and was able to offer more general advice on what I could do to protect myself in the future.

He also offered to put me in touch with some other FMB members who’d been in my shoes before, which is really useful to know.

For more information on the FMB click here.

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