Stuart Barr
Barr Joinery
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13th Nov 2018

The Open Book Approach; an ever more popular build choice.

For every construction project there are many potential ways to build. The Barr Group ethos is to put the client at the forefront of everything we do and when that principle applied to the build process there is certainly no ‘one size fits all’.

At Woodland Road our client was keen to proceed with works without a lengthy tender process. Plans had been drawn up and planning permission achieved but the build design and finer specification details were yet to be confirmed. In order to commence quickly the client requested an open book (time and materials) contract. Our client had previous experience of the Barr Group services (albeit indirectly) and therefore understood our transparency of pricing, flexibility of process and relentlessly high build standards; therefore, there was a strong level of trust from all parties involved.

The Woodland Road project involved the complete renovation and extension of this substantial Oxford family home. Works included the new build of an attached oak-clad annex which tied in with the external facelift to the main house. The kitchen / dining area and hallway were remodeled, with Crittall style screens inside and out, dividing the space, adding character, bringing in light and completely transforming the 1920's residence.

To run a project of this scale as an open book contract required optimum communication between client, the Barr Group team and the contracts administrator, HollandGreen. In our client’s words; “Throughout the project, the site foreman, Shane, was able to make appropriate decisions on my behalf - we made a lot of changes and additions during the build, so his input was vital”. He goes on to say, “Due to the nature of the build, budgets and timelines were constantly changing – the process we had in place offered the clarity and flexibility to allow for this, without hindering project progression".


This was far from the first open book project to be carried out by the Barr Group (you may have read about similarly structured projects in previous newsletter stories, such as the 1950's Pebbledash Transformation and the Lopemede Farm Conversion). Chris Noonan, StuartBarr CDR Director says “the approach used at Woodland Road was similar to several other projects we have run recently. The Barr Group are a client-led organisation, flexible enough to design each build programme and the process behind it to suit the particular client. There are certainly more people looking for a build service which can get underway without a lengthy tender process and prolonged planning phase". 

“The process is straight forward and transparent. A project specific mark-up is agreed for preliminaries, labour rates, and overheads. Throughout the project, monthly valuations detail all materials and sub-contractor invoices, as well as electronic timesheets for labour hours. In order to remain cost efficient throughout the process multiple quotes are acquired for all sub-contracted specialist works and non-standard materials. Quotes are submitted to the client or contracts administrator for consideration and approval”.

“Clients also benefited from the company’s competitive procurement system, which achieves significantly reduced material and plant hire costs; in this case whole-house replacement of aluminum doors and windows, oak cladding and micro-screed flooring, as well as all standard build materials".

 The benefits of an open book contract include:

- Negating the need for a complicated tender process, in which organisations may use different costing systems.

- Allowing works to commence quickly, with the flexibility of adapting plans as the project develops.

- Flexibility to modify build specifications to suit changing client budgets and timelines.

To see more of this project click here. Woodland Road kitchen cabinetry was designed by BarrKitchens, with internal cabinetry by BarrJoinery.

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