Are you considering hiring a project manager for your upcoming office build-out or renovation?

This comprehensive guide provides essential information for selecting the ideal project manager for your project. It covers the role of a project manager, the cost considerations, the advantages of hiring one, and effective interview questions to identify the top candidate.

Guide to Hiring a Project Manager

Don’t Have Time to Read the Entire Guide Now?

Fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version of the guide you can reference later.

Dustin Hogzett | Commercial Project Management in Austin, Texas | AQUILA Commercial About the Author

Dustin Hogzett

As a project manager with AQUILA, Dustin leads and manages fast-track and task-critical design and construction projects.
Chapter 1

Who Should Hire a Project Manager for Their Construction Project?

A project manager can help your company with an upcoming construction project, including:

  • The build-out of a new office, industrial, or retail space from shell condition
  • Interior renovation of your existing space
  • Ground-up development

A project manager can also help you if you already have a construction project underway.

Bottom line: if your company has any type of construction project in the works, a project manager may be a good fit for you.
Chapter 2

What Is a Project Manager and What Do They Do?

What Is the Role of a Project Manager?

A project manager serves as your representative, overseeing all aspects of your construction project. Their responsibilities include vendor management, budgeting, and scheduling, alleviating your day-to-day management. With the complexities involved in construction, hiring a project manager guarantees timely and cost-effective project completion.

The project manager’s sole job is to take these tasks off your plate and manage the process for you, from initial planning to move-in day and beyond.”

Dustin Hogzett
What Is a Project Manager & How Can They Help Manage My Office Build-Out?

Project Manager vs. Construction Manager Timeline

What Are the Responsibilities of a Project Manager?

A project manager collaborates with you throughout the entire construction project, providing support in lease negotiations, budgeting, and overseeing the project’s completion, including move-in and ongoing assistance. Their role is to ensure seamless execution.

Site Selection Process

While your broker remains your main contact during site selection, involving a project manager is crucial at this stage. The project manager assists with test fits, preliminary project budgets, and schedules for comparing multiple options. They possess knowledge regarding the necessary tenant improvements (TI) that should be negotiated into the lease. Having a preliminary budget before signing the lease is vital, enabling brokers to negotiate suitable TI amounts and inform you of potential out-of-pocket expenses in advance.

Design Process

The design process is spearheaded by the project manager. They oversee every stage, including design discovery, bidding, and design approval, ensuring seamless coordination among vendors and necessary steps to create an ideal office space for your company.

Bids & Permitting

The project manager facilitates vendor selection and assists in obtaining the necessary permits for your project. Referred to as the “pre-construction” phase, this period brings all elements together to bring your project to fruition. It involves finalizing construction documents, bidding and selecting a general contractor, securing permits, and completing any other prerequisites before commencing the project.


Throughout the construction process, the project manager serves as your primary contact, overseeing contractors and vendors on your behalf. To ensure timely and cost-effective project delivery, the project manager conducts regular quality control inspections, facilitates weekly owner-architect-contractor (OAC) meetings, and provides scheduled progress updates. They also coordinate vendor installations and oversee punch list completion.


After construction concludes, the project manager remains responsible for coordinating your move-in and offering ongoing support for any post-occupancy issues. This includes addressing warranty matters that may arise during the first year of occupancy.

Read the full article here: What Is a Project Manager & How Can They Help Manage My Office Build-Out?

Chapter 3

Why Should I Hire a Project Manager for My Construction Project?

There are three main benefits of hiring a project manager for your construction project.

  1. Saves you time and money
  2. Keeps your project on time and on budget
  3. Manages any problems that arise

Project managers employ value engineering and innovative approaches to expedite project schedules without compromising quality, effectively resolving unexpected costs or schedule issues.

With years of experience under their belt, your project manager should have a solution ready for any issue that may arise during your build-out process.

Dustin Hogzett
3 Benefits of Using a Project Manager for Your Renovation or Construction Project

Read the full article here: Benefits of Using a Project Manager for Your Renovation or Construction Project

Chapter 4

When Should You Engage a Construction Project Manager?

Early engagement of a project manager is highly recommended. It is ideal to involve a project manager during the office search and lease negotiation phase. By partnering with a project manager at this stage, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the timing, scope, and costs associated with each space being considered, enabling informed decisions for your company.

By bringing the project manager in during the site selection process, it makes for a smooth transition into the build-out of your project.

Taylor McHargue
5 Reasons to Hire a Tenant Rep Broker From a Full Service Firm

Although early engagement is optimal, it is never too late to hire a project manager. Whether you have already begun your office search, signed a lease, or commenced design, a project manager can be engaged at any stage. They excel at managing projects regardless of their current status and can recover troubled schedules and budgets.

In the case of remodeling your existing office space, the initial step should involve enlisting a project manager. They will assist in determining the project scope and recommend and solicit bids from vendors.

Read the full article: How Soon Is Too Soon: Why It’s Important to Hire a Project Manager Early

St. John Neumann Sanctuary | AQUILA Project Management Case Study

From Design to Budget, How AQUILA Brought This Project Back on Track

Here’s an example of a project that was already underway with a different project manager and well into the design and bid phase. The client realized the project was off track and over budget and brought in a new project manager who brought the project back on scope and budget.

View Case Study

Chapter 5

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Construction Project Manager?

The cost of your project will vary based on its scope and size. Fees can be determined as a percentage of the total project cost, a fixed monthly fee, or a cost per square foot.

Four key factors influence the project cost and management fees:

  • Square Footage: The project’s size
  • Construction Scope: Whether it involves ground-up construction, renovating existing space, or shell construction build-out
  • Level of Finish Out: The choice of materials and finishes
  • Schedule: While a longer project incurs higher expenses, a rushed timeline may carry additional costs. Your project manager will ensure an efficient timeline that aligns with your requirements and budget.

Read the full article: Cost to Hire a Project Manager for an Office Build-Out or Renovation (Fees/Rates)

Chapter 6

How to Find the Right Project Manager

Typically, there will be many project managers in your market; however, certain specialties or attributes can set them apart. It is crucial to seek a project manager who possesses market knowledge and relevant experience with projects similar to yours.

Here are five key questions to address when interviewing potential project managers:

1. Does the project manager work for a reputable firm?

To select suitable candidates, prioritize reputable and trusted firms. Evaluating their reputation and available resources is essential to determine the best match for your project.

In most markets, there will be both national and local firms. To help navigate which is best for you, we’ve put together this article highlighting the pros and cons of each.

2. How much experience does my project manager have?

Experience goes beyond the duration a project manager has been in the industry. It encompasses their knowledge of the local construction market, relationships with industry vendors, and relevant work experience aligned with your specific requirements.

Ensure that your project manager possesses an extensive network of connections, a roster of satisfied clients, and access to market resources.

3. Have they worked on similar projects?

Specialized experience in the specific type and scope of your project should be a decisive factor. Commercial spaces vary significantly based on their intended use, highlighting the importance of finding a project manager with industry-specific expertise and familiarity with your particular requirements.

Consider the contrasting needs between a manufacturing plant and a Class A law firm space as an example.

4. What was the outcome of their last project?

Inquire about the project manager’s past projects and their key success factors. Additionally, ask them to share lessons learned from any recent challenges or setbacks. challenging projects often serve as valuable learning opportunities, enabling individuals to avoid repeating past mistakes, which may or may not have been avoidable.

5. What certifications or qualifications does my project manager have?

Project management is a technically demanding field that necessitates substantial training. Moreover, when aiming to obtain environmental certifications for your project, having a project manager with specialized training in that domain proves highly beneficial.

Many project managers hold a degree in civil engineering or construction management. Additionally, they may hold special certifications such as:

  • LEED Certification
  • Project Management Professional Certification (PMP)
  • American Institute of Construction Certification (AIC)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Quality Management for Contractors

Read the full article here: Hiring a Project Manager for Your Construction Project: 7 Must-Ask Questions

Office Build Out | Hiring a Project Manger

30 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Project Manager

We’ve compiled 30 must-ask questions to help make the process of hiring the right construction project manager for your office build-out or renovation as easy as possible. Download the free questionnaire today and feel confident that you’ve hired the right team for the job.

Download Now

Are You Ready to Talk About Your Upcoming Construction Project?

Contact AQUILA

Have a question? Ready to chat about your commercial real estate needs? Reach out below.

Learn how the AQUILA Project Management team can help you keep your project on time and on budget, and see if we’re the right fit for you.

Learn More About AQUILA’s Project Management Services >