Extension Build Software
Not everybody has a PC at home but a lot of people do and it makes sense to use them to help with the management when building an extension. Here we will be looking at software that can help once you've gone past that part of the building process.
But what sort of software is there that could help? We take a look though some of the options and show you where to look for them.
Using Standard Office SoftwareWithout going out and spending money on specialist software there is still a lot you can do. Most computers come with pre-installed office software and you can use word processing software to write up notes of meetings with architects, planners and builders.
Send those notes off as letters or emails. It will help everyone be clear about what has been decided. And if anything should go wrong you can go back to the letters so there’s no dispute over who said what.
Excelling at the SpreadsheetIf there’s a spreadsheet package on your PC it can be used to create a budget, perhaps plugging in the figures from your estimating software (see other article). Then as the extension building progresses you can add in the actual figures and see straightaway whether or not you are still on target.
You can also easily play ‘what if’ scenarios. By changing prices you can see the effect on the budget of buying higher quality but more expensive items.
Finding Office SoftwareIf you don’t have office software you can buy commercial software or download a number of different free versions from the internet. Make sure that you know the difference between ‘shareware’ or ‘trial versions’ and ‘open source’ software. You can download shareware and trials for free and try them out. But then you need to pay to unlock some of the features or use them past the trial date.
The Open Source ResourceBut 'open source' software is genuinely free to obtain and use. Some of it is a little ropy as it relies on people running the project as a hobby. If they get disinterested then bugs may not be fixed. But much open source software, particularly in the office software space, is supported by big corporations.
Search on the internet for 'open source software', and the type of software you are looking for, and you will see plenty to choose from. Make sure your firewall, anti-virus and anti-malware software are all running and up-to-date though.
Project Management SoftwareIt is possible to take the spreadsheet application a little further and start producing project plans, although project planning software is unlikely to be included in any standard office software package. Project plans can be invaluable if designed properly in the first place and updated methodically as the building work progresses.
A project plan can show you where you need to make changes if one part of the plan slips. It will identify which jobs have to wait on each other and which ones that can be done in parallel. It can show jobs that can be done when you think you have to down tools waiting for a delivery or a particular trade to come on site.
Again searching for open source software will deliver a good selection of project management tools, or you can buy market leading software from a shop or on-line. Often you'll find software like this on magazine cover disks too. Software companies will often give away the previous version in the hope that you will like it enough to pay for the latest version.
Look at Mind-Mapping Software TooOne neat way of getting project management software is to look at mind-mapping software. This is a way of representing a project in bubbles, connected with lines. But many of mind-mapping software products have product management elements built in.
Once you have drawn your mind map a click of a button delivers a project plan. Not many of the open source mind mapping products will have this functionality so you might have to rely on trial products or actually buy software. But if mind-mapping appeals to you as a way of capturing your thoughts, it might be a worthwhile investment anyway.