Planning a major home renovation, extension, or new build project? Then it makes sense to have a construction project manager organise and oversee your build.
But how to find the right project manager for your build? In this blog we outline what things to consider when selecting the best building project manager for your self-build project. And why your choice of building project management company is even more important with the Covid-19 pandemic.
1. Why is it so important to pick the right building project manager for your renovation, extension, or new build project?
The short answer is because they are the person – after you – with the greatest influence over whether your project is a success.
Your building project manager will guide you and help you organise your build so that your project is completed correctly, to a good quality and is finished on time and within budget. In the pre-construction phase, this means they can help you check that your designs match your budget and will ensure that your project is designed and documented in sufficient, consistent detail to enable builders to quote comprehensively. They will then help you choose and appoint your build team before overseeing the works on site.
As you can see, your choice of project manager will have a huge impact on your building project result.
2. But aren’t all building project managers the same?
With such as varied a task list and set of responsibilities, your construction project manager needs a great deal of construction knowledge and experience to do their job properly.
A key part of the role is coordinating all of the information provided by other experts involved in your build – such as your architect, structural engineer, landscape or interior designer. They will make sure the brief to your build team is correct, detailed, and consistent. Clearly, the larger, and more complex the project the more important this role is.
The best construction project managers (such as those here at CLPM) are highly qualified professionals and/or have decades of construction knowledge and experience to fall back on. Modern methods of construction mean they need to be able to understand not only how to build a quality property using bricks or blocks but also with ICF, timber frames or SIPs. Likewise, your project manager needs to know how to sympathetically renovate a historic listed building or coordinate the creation of an uber-chic Passiv Haus kit home.
Scratch beneath the surface and many project managers just do not have this breadth of experience.
3. Why it can be a costly mistake to choose your project manager on price
Building is an expensive process, and it can be unsettling to see your budget chipped away by costs that don’t seem (at the time) to be directly related to the construction of your dream home. But stinting on professional fees can be a costly mistake. In the same way that you wouldn’t choose the cheapest architect to design your home – you also shouldn’t pick your project manager based on the lowest quotation. Ultimately you do get what you pay for.
Remember that the role of project manager is to help you get the best result, at the best price and to mitigate your financial risk. How well this is done can make all the difference.
A cheap project manager is cheap for a reason. He or she is unlikely to be highly qualified or have much experience, and so they may not have the breadth of knowledge to share with you. Likewise they probably won’t be able to offer you additional advice such as Quantity Surveying services or Heating advice – all of which will enable you make better, more informed decisions.
A sole practitioner may not have the overheads of a larger project management company, but they also will not have the expertise or manpower of a bigger team to call upon. Meaning if he or she falls sick, is on holiday or has to self-isolate for 2 weeks you may not have the support when you most need it.
N.B This latter point is worth noting as it means that appointing a sole practitioner project manager is a particularly risky strategy at the moment.
4. How a good project manager will make it all seem effortless, but it’s anything but!
Like a swan, a good construction project manager will work hard behind the scenes to organise and monitor your build. They’ll protect you from the stresses of building by preventing most of the usual issues before they even happen. After all prevention is better than cure.
The most experienced project manager will do this by setting up and then closely monitoring your build in such a way to avoid any errors. Their actions will keep your project on programme by quickly resolving queries and problems – and so preventing costly delays. If any changes happen, they will ensure that the build team submits quotes which are fair and reasonable; meaning you’ll be protected from any unscrupulous behaviour relating to typical builder ‘extras’.
It’s difficult to measure things that ‘don’t happen’ but our research has shown that in 90% of projects where the builder manages the building works himself, they typically over-run and overspend by 20%. Preventing this scenario means that with larger projects a good project manager will save you tens of thousands of pounds in build costs, not to mention additional associated expenses such as scaffolding hire or storage.
The best project managers will usually pay for themselves.
5. Your project manager must be aware of legal, insurance and tax aspects too
You wouldn’t buy a house on a handshake, so why would you build, extend or renovate your home without a formal legal framework in place?
Building contracts are a key element of every major building project – and so are Contract Administrators. But the role of CA is complex – especially with the additional complications of Covid-19. How should the pandemic affect ‘Extensions of Time’, for example?
If you are appointing a CA you need to be sure that they fully understand how to interpret the law in our ‘new normal’ – so that you are properly protected. Only a seasoned professional will be interested in, and up to date with, the minutiae of contract law. But its interpretation could make a huge difference to the outcome of your building project. Now more than ever, it makes sense to invest in expertise.
In a similar way, you will need advice on how best to insure your home while it is being built or improved. And with the rates of VAT payable varying across construction project types, it’s good to be able to get expert advice on these important areas too. Larger construction project management companies (such as CLPM) will have a much greater knowledge base and network of experts to call upon than sole practitioners. Likewise, larger organisations will normally carry a higher level of professional indemnity insurance should anything happen.
We hope you found this blog on how to find the right project manager for your build useful. Are you planning a major building project? If you’d like to find out more about how a CLPM construction project manager can help then do get in touch. Call 01923 896550, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete a contact form.