Are you considering hiring a project manager for your upcoming office build-out or renovation?
This guide will help you learn everything you need to know before making the decision and hiring the right project manager for your company. We will explain all you need to know, from exactly what a project manager does and how much they cost, to the benefits of hiring one and what questions to ask during the interview process in order to select the best team.
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As a project manager with AQUILA, Dustin leads and manages fast-track and task-critical design and construction projects.
Who Should Hire a Project Manager for Their Construction Project?
A project manager can help any company with an upcoming construction project, including:
The build-out of a new office, industrial, or retail space
An interior renovation of your existing office space
The ground-up development of a new project
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.
What Is a Project Manager and What Do They Do?
What Is the Role of a Project Manager?
A project manager acts as your representative throughout your entire construction project. Essentially, it is our job to take the day-to-day management of all aspects of your build-out off of your shoulders including vendor management as well as budgeting and scheduling. Because there are so many moving parts during a construction project, hiring a project manager can help ensure that your project comes in on time and on (or under) budget.
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.”
The project manager is responsible for managing the contractors, as well as the architect, engineers, and any other vendors involved in your construction project.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Project Manager?
A project manager will be by your side throughout your entire construction project. From assisting in lease negotiations and budgeting to the completion of your project including move-in and ongoing support – a project manager is responsible for making sure your project runs smoothly.
Here are a few key things a project manager can help you with:
Site Selection Process
While your broker will be your primary point of contact during the site selection process, it is important to bring in a project manager at this stage as well. Your project manager will assist with test fits for potential spaces as well as preliminary project budgets and schedules for you to compare if there are multiple options being considered. They will also know how much TI you may need to negotiate into your lease. Having a preliminary budget prior to executing a lease is important so that the brokers can negotiate the appropriate amount of TI and let you know your potential out-of-pocket cost ahead of time.
This is where the project manager really takes the lead. From design discovery, through bidding and design approval, the project manager will coordinate all of the vendors and steps involved in designing the perfect office space for your company.
Bids & Permitting
The project manager will guide you through the vendor selection process and will also help you obtain the appropriate permitting for your project. This period, also known as the “pre-construction” period, is when all of the pieces come together in order for your project to come to life. This process includes the completion of construction documents, bidding and awarding of a general contractor, permitting, and anything else required in preparation to begin your project.
During the construction process, the project manager will act as your direct point of contact and manage all of the contractors and vendors on your behalf. In order to ensure that your project is delivered on time and on budget, the project manager will perform regular job site quality control inspections, conduct weekly owner-architect-contractor (OAC) project meetings, and give you scheduled progress updates. Additionally, the project manager will coordinate all vendor installations and punch list completion.
Once construction is completed, the project manager will continue to coordinate your move-in and be available to assist you with any issues that may arise once you have occupied the space. This includes assisting with any warranty items that may come up within the first year of occupancy.
A qualified project manager will be there to solve problems when (or even before) they arise. From value engineering to innovative solutions to help expedite your project schedule, if an unexpected cost or schedule issue arises, your project manager should have solutions ready that do not sacrifice the quality of the project.
With years of experience under their belt, your project manager should have a solution ready for any issue that may pop up during your build-out process.
When Should You Engage a Construction Project Manager?
A project manager can (and should) be engaged as early as possible. Ideally, you should engage a project manager when you begin actively looking for office space and negotiating your lease. When determining if a space is right for your company, a project manager can help you fully understand the timing, scope, and costs associated with the various prospective spaces.
By bringing the project manager in during the site selection process, it makes for a smooth transition into the build-out of your project.
While this is the ideal timing, it’s never too late to hire a project manager. If you have already started searching for space, signed a lease, or even started your office build-out, you can still engage a project manager at any point. They can help guide the project, no matter what state it is in, or even bring it back on schedule or within budget.
If you aren’t moving into a new space, but are instead intending to remodel your existing office space, the first step should be to enlist a project manager to help you determine the scope of your project. They will also recommend and bid vendors.
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.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Construction Project Manager?
The cost will depend on the overall scope and size of your project. The fees may be based on a percentage of your total project cost, a fixed monthly fee, or cost per square foot.
Typically, your total project cost and project management fees will depend on these four factors:
Square Feet: The size of your project will be a major factor in your project fees.
Construction Scope: Is this a ground-up construction project, a renovation of existing office space, or a build-out of shell construction?
Level of Finish Out: What types of materials are being used? High-end? Mid-tier? Low-cost?
Schedule: While this is typically tied to the scope of the project, the time spent on a project can impact the cost as well. Obviously, a year-long project is going to come with a higher bill than a quicker project, but a rush job can come with its own premium as well. Your project manager will be able to guide you through this and ensure that your project timeline is efficient and fits your needs.
While there are many qualified project managers in the market, some have certain specialties or attributes that differentiate them. It is important to find a project manager that has knowledge of the market and experience with projects of similar scope.
1. Does the construction project manager work for a reputable firm?
Doing some initial research on a potential project manager’s firm will go a long way. In order to narrow down your candidates, be careful to choose from trusted firms. Reputation and resources are key components in deciphering if a project manager will be the right fit for your project.
2. How much experience does my construction project manager have?
Experience in this sense is not limited to how long a project manager has been in the industry. Instead, this question asks how well they know the local construction market, their relationships with industry vendors, and the kind of specific work experience you’re looking for.
You should make sure that your project manager has a strong list of connections, clients, and unique access to market resources.
3. Have they worked on a project in our field before?
Having specific experience in the type and scope of the project you are looking for should be a determining factor for your project. Because commercial spaces can vary dramatically depending on the intended use, it is important to find a project manager with experience dealing with your industry and the type of specific requirements you need.
For example, imagine the different need requirements between a manufacturing and distribution plant and a Class A law firm space.
4. What was the outcome of their last project?
Be sure to ask about the project manager’s previous projects, and dive into what made them successful or what they learned from a recent bump in the road. Failed projects often help people learn from mistakes and not make them again.
5. What certifications or qualifications does my project manager have?
Project management is a highly technical field and requires significant training. Additionally, if you’re hoping to achieve environmental certifications for your project, it’s extremely helpful to have a project manager with training in that area.
Many project managers hold a degree in civil engineering or construction management. Additionally, they may hold special certifications such as:
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.