Does an Experienced Project Manager Make a Good Owner's Representative in the Construction Sector?

The ultimate goal of any project is keeping it on time and within budget. Construction projects have many moving parts that create a complex process and involve many people, including architects, contractors, engineers, and HVAC specialists. An owner's representative or a project manager can take on the role of overseeing such projects. The owner's representative serves as an extension of the owner and a bridge between the owner and project manager, while the project managers manage each stage of the project.  

Role of Construction Project Manager

Construction Project Managers supervise and designate resources for different construction projects. A good construction project manager is proficient in both the technical skills expected for the job and in guiding and advising their team. Construction project manager's responsibilities are what guide a project to completion. Projects can range from residential, commercial, and industrial buildings to bridges and skyscrapers.

Construction project managers supervise all aspects of the building process, working closely with engineers and architects to generate plans, establish timetables, and determine labor and material costs. They are accountable for ensuring the construction is executed on budget and within scope. They also hire and supervise subcontractors and employees, obtain permits, and make sure all aspects of the project are up to code. The primary construction project manager responsibilities are overall project planning, distributing resources, time management, risk management, creating benchmarks, managing the budget, managing staff, and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders.

Role of an Owner's Representative

An owner's representative is hired by the owner of the project to represent him or her throughout the entire completion of the project, including site selection, design, entitlements, permitting, construction and management of the total budget including design, construction and FF&E. The owner's representative serves as a contact and looks after the owner's best interests.

An owner's representative duties include making sure that the overall project is carried out on time and within budget. The representative helps with bidding processes, project mitigation, and relocations.

If a project owner lacks the time and experience to perform these duties themselves, a representative who is knowledgeable about the process becomes their eyes and ears of the project. Representatives stay in constant communication with the owner and reports on project issues and progress.

Owner's representatives work within your existing team to help them recognize and manage the intricate details of the construction project. They bring technical expertise to the construction team that helps guide the thousands of decisions required daily.

What is the Difference Between a Project Manager and an Owner's Representative?

The owner's representative is not a construction project manager, general contractor, architect, or design-builder. The owner's representatives help the owner plan and execute a successful capital improvement plan.

The owner's representative understands the entire project, from planning to execution, and serves in a broader role. They act as the liaison between the architect and designers, construction crew, and your organization to help you successfully manage each project, regardless if it's new building construction or a renovation.

Even though an owner's representative has project management experience, they serve as the trusted advisor because of their vast experience. The owner's representative presents all of your options and will help you make an informed decision through each stage of the construction project. The owner can call on the processes, procedures, resources, and technical expertise of the owner representative to guide them to the decision that is right for your organization and project. The owner's representative acts as the owner's independent fiduciary who helps the designers and constructors of the project stay on budget and schedule on track. They can also help clients balance the value of design vs. construction costs.  The owner's representative's primary goal is to protect the owner's investment through every stage of the construction project, within the scope of the project, and keeps the owner informed on the project status.

Can an Experienced Construction Project Manager Make a Good Owner's Representative?

An Owner's Representative and a Construction Project Manager can both work on the same building or construction project. They have similar tasks. They oversee the project's budget, schedule, workers, and will make important decisions when issues arise. However, the difference between an Owner's Representative and a Construction Project Manager is to whom they report and the breadth of their responsibilities. An Owner's Representative acts on behalf of the best interest of the owner of the project or organization and intervenes and promotes the owner's goals for the project. Project Construction Managers oversee their own team's construction work for the service they're offering and work to protect their firm's interests.  Both managers work with the underlying goal of creating a satisfied client at the end of the project.

The owner of a project must communicate with the different entities that require a project to move forward: government agencies, lawyers, engineers, contractors, and architects. An Owner's Representative can assist with managing and coordinating these interactions. A construction project manager is only responsible for the construction portion of the project.

In a construction project, the chance of going over budget and schedule is a possibility. General contractors can offer attractive but potentially unreliable proposals to try and win a project. Construction delays and incongruences can arise and result in severe conflicts and legal hurdles. An Owner's Representative can help alleviate these potential concerns before they happen and help the owner achieve their goals for the project within the desired budget and schedule.

After a project, without some oversight, there's a tendency for things to linger. An issue may not get adequately addressed, or paperwork and lien exposure not sufficiently mitigated. Also, financial closeout doesn't happen at the proper time. The longer these issues exist, the higher the business risk if these obstacles arise at the end of a project.

Construction projects can vary widely in scope, goals, budgets, and schedules. It is vital that you choose an owner's representative that has the experience you need. Moreover, an owner should strive to select a representative who will interact with your organization or your team daily. This person should make sure they make you feel confident in their work. Transparency and mutual communication are essential for this relationship.

If your organization would like to learn more about how IAG Commercial’s owner's representatives can help your construction project be successful, contact us today.


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