Project Manager for Construction Projects- do I need one?

In this newsletter we deal with the role of a project manager for construction projects and whether you should appoint a project manager for your next building project. At a time of such considerable expense, many people often feel this Project Manager role is one that they can do without or one where they believe that they can undertake this function themselves.

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What is a Project Manager?

A Project Manager for a construction project is generally a qualified Building Surveyor. They need to have a very good understanding of Building pathology, construction methods and they need to be well versed in the legal and compliance issues of a construction project. 

Before appointing a Project Manager for construction projects, ask your contacts for recommendations and once you have found someone who you feel comfortable with do not be afraid to ask for details of their qualifications and experiences. 

Project Manager Qualifications

Relevant qualifications could include Chartered Building Engineer (MCABE or FCABE), RICS Building Surveyor (AssocRICS, MRICS or FRICS) or Chartered Construction Manager (MCIOB or FCIOB)

If you wanted to search out someone who is additionally qualified as an energy assessor who could assist on that side too then you will need someone with OCDEA and/or DipDEA after their name. If you wanted them to have party wall expertise too then they may also be members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors, Members of the Party Wall Academy or the Pyramus and Thisbe Club.

What does a Project Manager for construction projects do?

Having run many sites and been involved with new build, conversions and refurbishments from everything from a lock up garage to a stone pier, I have learned that a Project Manager is a key role and one which should be seriously considered as being part of your team. Indeed I started accepting project management appointments following requests from Clients who had realised that a Project Manager was an essential ingredient to a development!

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Project Management encompasses a number of functions but at the outset can involve assistance with the Architectural team to advise how design will influence likely build costs and construction times. The experienced Project Manager will also be able to advise how the proposals can make use of the rights of the Party Wall Act or possibly how to avoid the Party Wall Act in its entirety. 

At Graham Kinnear Property Consultants we believe we are well placed to undertake project management. Not only do we understand buildings and building pathology, but we are also qualified in fire risk appraisal, energy calculations and party wall matters. We are therefore able to provide considerable advice at the outset of a project which will ensure compliance with the various legislation and to ensure that the all important SAP certificate is achieved at the end to allow for Building Control sign off.

You will surely appreciate that it is more cost effective and takes less time to complete a development first time than having to make additional changes at the end in order to pass an energy certificate, sound test or other compliance issue. Indeed as far as project management is concerned the adage “Failing to Plan is Planning to fail” is certainly true.

Five functions of a Project Manager

If you are yet to be convinced of the value of a Project Manager then consider the following 10 aspects that they typically undertake and see firstly how well equipped you are to undertake these yourself and secondly whether you have the time to spare to undertake them fully:

1) The Project Manager will review the plans and make suggestions of how the project could be built out within budget and to the required timescale. 

2) The Project Manager can produce a specification of works which will allow them to obtain a number of competitive quotes for the works.

3) The Project Manager will doubtless have relationships with experienced and trustworthy contractors who could be considered for your project and this will inevitably reduce the risk you may otherwise face by picking a Builder at random.

4) The Project Manager can advise on any obligations under the Party Wall Etc Act 1996. This is important as there is a lead time of 2 months for some party wall notices and a failure to address this aspect at the outset could cause significant delays and potentially some ill feeling with your neighbours.

5) The Project Manager can advise on fittings and materials which will enhance the energy rating of your development. Not only is such an approach advantageous from a sustainability point of view but it will also ensure that your building meets the required standards of thermal insulation and energy efficiency which are demanded by the Building Regulations.

Five more functions of a Project Manager!

6) The Project Manager will appoint the Contractors and deal with the contractual relationship with them. This is likely to be in the form of a building contract which may also include provisions for damages in the event that the works over-run. It provides you with some legal protection and includes provisions for holding a retention of monies due until snagging works have been undertaken and any latent defects addressed.

7) The Project Manager will deal with the payments to the Contractors, ensuring that you are only asked to pay for works which have been undertaken and materials which have been actually used, rather than those which are just on site.  This significantly aids cost control and reduces risk.

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8) The Project Manager will attend the site regularly and monitor both the progress and the quality of work. Most Project Managers will then undertake a meeting, telephone or video call with their Client to share details of progress.

9) The Project Manager will deal with the routine inspections by Building Control throughout the project and arrange for the Council sign off at the end of the scheme. They will also liaise with the utility providers in respect of any required new connections to your site and given the headache this can sometimes cause I often feel we warrant our fee for this function alone!

10) The Project Manager will procure the commissioning certificates from the Contractor and deal with any snagging and retention issues. You will then, hopefully, be presented with a beautiful building, on time and on budget.

A Project Manager will typically charge somewhere between 5% and 10% of the Contract Value for their services and whilst this can seem like a considerable sum, you should be aware that if you were to allow a project to go slightly off the rails, the costs would invariably be significantly higher.

I am of the belief that a professional Project Manager will charge you less than you will save by using them. Add to that you will be detached from the stresses that construction work can otherwise bring.

Could we help you?

If you have a project coming up, whether it is a small domestic extension, commercial to residential conversion or a new build then we would be delighted to speak to you about how our service could assist you.

If you would like some further information on our Project Management services then please click here or contact us on 01843 583000 or [email protected]