In a world where privacy is hard to come by, your home is a space where you can relax, entertain, work, exercise, keep belongings, raise children and create lifelong memories. It’s also likely to be the most valuable asset you own. With so much at stake, dismantling and renovating your home needs careful planning. The complexity and risk of a building project is often underestimated. Of course, it is possible to manage a building project yourself, but there are multiple aspects to consider.
Fundamental elements are – design & specification, health safety, budgeting, compliance (planning, building control, license to alter, insurance) choice of builder/professional team, supplier agreements, scheduling, contracts and legal. If well prepared then delivery of the project should be smooth, focussed on quality, cost control, and problem-solving. The first and probably hardest decision to make is choosing the right professional for you.
Criteria for selecting an independent project manager:
Take a dispassionate stance and base your decision on two criteria, competence and personality. Competence is gauged by:
- Project history – are the projects relevant to yours?
- Request references – at least one must be recent.
- Financial health – ask for a set of accounts or go to company’s house.
- Insurance cover – do they have public, employee liability and professional indemnity? What value of protection do they have, and is it for the relevant services?
- Health & Safety policies and accident history – they must have these; any repetitive incidents will indicate competence.
- Personality – this is quite simple; do you get on? Projects are personal. You will be working with this team/individual for a length of time through a complicated process.
As a Project Management company, Huntsmore would always advise that you hire an independent client-side Project Manager. Here is why:
Can my project be managed by my architect?
An architect doesn’t build, and a builder doesn’t design. It’s taken years to develop these skill sets and knowledge; both are very different competencies. An architect’s or designer’s core responsibility is the design. Typically, the designers take a percentage of the construction value, therefore, design ambitions might impair consideration of time and money. With a busy design office to run, will they be onsite regularly and at the key moments to check nitty-gritty construction details?
Can my project be managed by my interior designer?
Interior designers are creative people with an eye for colour, texture and pattern. Their area of expertise is primarily how rooms look and feel. While many of them do have a strong sense of spatial design and interior architecture, they cannot be expected to possess all the technical knowledge required to fully understand the nuts and bolts of a construction schedule or to assess whether elements are being installed, finished or insulated correctly. And as with architects, their fees are often calculated as a percentage of project costs, which could affect the independence of their decision-making.
Can my project be managed by my builder?
Build quality does motivate a good builder, nonetheless, they will not typically be looking for savings. Construction is labour intensive, and even the best builder can miss a detail and make mistakes. Also, patience will dwindle when their team is working at low capacity; this could be the result of client indecision, poor information from the design team or a shortage of materials.
Why choose an independent project manager?
When the design and build responsibilities are separated, who is accountable for checking information and resolving discrepancies? It might seem cost-effective for the architect or contractor to act as a project manager or contract administrator, but how do they stay impartial?
An independent Project Manager will ensure you have someone in your corner, guiding you from design to completion. Whilst they aren’t designers or builders, they understand all aspects of the construction process. It is their role to check your builder and architects work, coordinate all the stakeholders, answer questions, tackle problems and look for savings.
An independent Project Manager’s role is to safeguard the client’s interest by:
- Creating a comprehensive tender pack for quotation
- Fulfilling the Contract Administrator role
- Controlling the budget throughout the build
- Advising and helping discharge your health & safety responsibilities
- Undertaking regular site visits each week to control quality
- Managing variations or issues arising
- Completing the snagging process and obtaining all warranties
Huntsmore are able to make fair judgements, but most importantly take responsibility and accountability for delivering the project on time and to budget, whilst safeguarding the client’s interests.
Key benefits of working with an independent project manager:
When embarking on a construction project, the money spent on professional fees can sometimes feel like it’s eating up a considerable proportion of the budget. However, we believe there is a real return on investment when it comes to the fees of an independent project manager. A good project manager will carefully map out each stage of your project and coordinate all stakeholders to ensure no money is wasted on errors, miscommunications or delays. Throughout the process, they will protect your financial interests by keeping a close eye on the spend on materials and labour and minimising or mitigating any unplanned costs that might arise.
There are a lot of moving parts in any construction project, and inevitably a number of disparate stakeholders. Many expensive mistakes arise as a result of misunderstandings or miscommunications between different parties. An independent project manager oversees the entire project from start to finish and acts as a central communication hub for architects, interior designers, builders and the client. This makes the process much more streamlined and removes the danger of miscommunication in which responsibility for decisions becomes unclear. The project moves forward in a timely manner and quality control is high.
An independent project manager’s ability to design a genuinely competitive tender process and select the best contractors for the project is a major asset. As people who regularly hire builders, they have extensive networks and more ‘purchasing power’ than a client who might only do one major renovation project a decade! Within the construction process, project managers can reduce costs on an ongoing basis by breaking the project down into bid packages and selecting the most competitive bidder for each service or supply. They can resolve disputes, negotiate dispassionately and eliminate conflicts of interest that could silently push your costs up. A professional project manager is therefore the best choice to keep builders on schedule and on budget.
Value engineering and fast tracking
Project managers use the principles of ‘value engineering’ to solve problems, identify and eliminate undesirable costs and improve quality, in order to maximise the return on the client’s investment. An important part of this is assessing the competence of builders and the safety of the building site so that any problems can be swiftly identified and corrected before they affect the project schedule. They will also be alert to potential ways to improve the project’s outcome by reducing change orders, project scope creep and, ultimately, completion time, a process known as ‘fast tracking’.