Building a new luxury custom home is a very exciting and rewarding experience, but it can be a long and taxing process. Building your new home is a major time consuming effort that can last upwards of 2 to 3 years from the design phase. It is an emotional and complicated process even for the experienced home building owner. I am asked regularly why should anyone use a project management firm instead of a traditional architect and general contractor. The answer lies in the owners design / build objectives and risk assessment for their home project. We will explore some relevant situations that warrant the consideration of using a professional project management service team.
Full Service Project Management Services
Project management at it’s very definition involves any and all matters associated with the design and construction of your new home project. This service provider by its inherent nature is a trusted adviser in all affairs including service contracts, payment schedules and risk management. The project management firm represents the interest of the owner without any associated conflict of interest. They can be a direct hire as a design-build service firm, but traditionally a project management firm are retained to oversee the betterment of the clients project.
During the design phase of the home planning process, the PM will facilitate a feasibility study for the owner in the form of a conceptual budget for their architectural design. This can be done before the owner hires an architect and/or during the actual design phase to insure budget conformity with design. This provides the owner the time saving features required from a major redesign due to unexpected budget surprises.
One of the significant advantages of retaining a professional project management firm is their ability to close gaps in contractors scope of work for the services and products provided on the project during the contract awarding. These scope of work gaps often lead to unplanned budget expenses and scheduling conflicts that cause time delays and price creep on the overall project. Another common responsibility is confirming or creating a detailed critical path project schedule. These design and construction schedules provide essential information concerning construction trade activities and product delivery events that have an impact on the projects progress.
One of the important aspects of the project management team other than the monitoring of the project’s execution is the associated administrative task essential for verification of the projects execution compliances. There are tremendous quantities of documentation to review, process and properly catalog on a large project. The creditability of the quality control and reduction of inherent risk in each project is directly dependent on this commonly overlooked responsibility. Without the proper document requirements and controls the project can spin out of control and leave the owner personally liable for unexpected financial consequences.
Advisory / Consulting Services
If you ask a dozen home owners that have previously built a one of a kind home what the experience was like, you will likely get a dozen different answers. There is a fundamental reason for this outcome, designing and building a dream home is a very personal journey. I like to use the comparison of the luxury one of a kind home building process to financial or legal process matters. When faced with challenging legal or financial matters, the vast majority of people will hire a professional adviser. This is also the primary motivation that owners will hire a professional project management team, to oversee the owners interest throughout the design / build process.
The extent of the services needed is directly associated with the time restrictions and risk reduction goals of the home building owners. The more unique and complicated the design the higher the risk associated with an unwanted issue or result. Project management services range from a 1 on 1 professional discussion with your adviser before and/or during important decisions to full service design build financial and operational project services.
Supplemental Project Management Services
Supplemental project management services are al carte services that owner builders use to shore up areas of their design build team that they feel is insufficient or has greater exposure than they are willing to accept. These service items include the vast amount of the administrative tasks from insurance and financial monitoring to onsite testing and inspection reports to full project quality control. Additional al carte task include, feasibility studies, budget and cost estimation, plan and engineering reviews.
The supplemental project management services is most effective for the owner when the owner has an architect and general contractor that are having issues or when the owner has confidence concerns about his general contractors good faith effort. Having an objective inside professional to have an open conversation with can be of great benefit and comfort for the owner.
These services can also be useful for an owner who would like another layer of quality control and quality assurance. Third party inspections and testing is a excellent preventative measure in avoiding undetected future problems.
Project Recovery Services
The project management services required for a poorly performing or distressed project requires a special set of skills beyond the traditional project management skills. In most project recovery assignments they dictate a redevelopment of the project leadership team and often additional redesign of some architectural details. This transitional period usually results in reduced project progress as all related contractors are evaluated and project issues are addressed.
The key to a successful project recovery transition is the cooperation of the owner. Many of these troubled projects are the consequence of cutting corners on proper pre-construction due diligence or the owners efforts in attempting to save money from a ballooning construction budget. Regardless of the reasons for the non performance, it is essential for the project management team and the owner to be aligned in the commitment to the methods and means to correct and advance the projects performance.
As you can see hiring a project management firm to facilitate your needs is completely associated with the home building owners project goals and personal situation. These services fit many owners needs especially owners that do not have the time required to get intimately involved in each phase of the home building experience. The project management services is a vital and important function in the design build one of a kind home building process.