How much time will it take to manage your own Construction Project?

Some owners think a professional construction manager is not needed. They are sure that in just a few short hours per week they can keep in contact with all their subcontractors, make material choices, manage the project’s finances and even deal with the building inspectors. “It shouldn’t be all that hard,” they say to themselves, “why pay for services I don’t need?”

Okay, that’s one way of looking at it. But, before making that decision, it might be a good idea to think about it a bit more; especially to gain an understanding of everything involved in managing a construction project. There’s actually quite a bit of work that needs to be done, even before the project begins. Not only does the project need to be put out to bid, but the schedule needs to be written, the scope of each contract needs to be developed and the plans need to be drawn.

There are some things which need to be done, no matter how big or small the project. Pulling construction permits and dealing with inspectors doesn’t change with size; nor does the selection of carpet and paint colors. No matter how big the project is, these things have to be done.

On the other hand, there are items which are highly dependent upon the project’s size. Developing a schedule, project specifications, plans and blueprints are all items that are affected by the size of the project. Even though there might be an architect generally taking care of the plans and specifications, they do so with the input of the owner. The bigger the project, the more questions they’re going to have and the more time the owner is going to have to spend discussing options, making decisions and checking the plans and specifications.

Then there’s the actual management of the construction work. Communication is key to a successful construction project, not only verbal communication but written and visual communication as well. When ample time isn’t given to properly document decisions that are made and instruction that is given, there is more opportunity for misunderstandings, errors, and even law suits.

Then there’s the need for regular inspections and reports of the project’s progress. Why are regular inspections and progress reports needed? Because without regular inspections, there is no way of knowing whether the contractor is doing the work according to what is expected. How can you know if the change to a position of a wall is actually done, if you don’t check it? How can you know if the right size plumbing pipe is used without measuring it yourself? You can’t count on the contractors doing what you say, without checking their work.

There’s a great management saying, which applies very much to construction, “People do what you inspect, not what you expect.” Never assume your contractors are doing what you expect, unless you take the time to inspect their work. This would be even truer in cases where what you expect isn’t the norm. If you had the architect specify 4” drain pipes for your toilets, and the plumbing contractor is used to using 3” drain pipes, he might very well put in 3”, even though you are expecting 4”. Unless you inspect his work, you’ll never know.

The reality is that daily communication and regular inspections are an absolute necessity for any construction project. All of this needs to be thoroughly documented, to protect you as the owner. If you don’t do so, you are asking for trouble.

The real question isn’t whether or not you can manage your own construction project; it’s whether or not you have a system that helps you organize the time to do so. If you can’t dedicate a couple of hours per day to managing the project, you don’t have enough time. You won’t end up happy with the results, because your contractors will misunderstand you at every turn. Your project won’t be successful, but rather, be a series of ongoing problems for you.

That’s where Construction Conductor and Construction Coaching come in. With Construction Conductor you get a complete understanding of all the terms we talked about above. You get the secrets to using project management best practices and get the tools necessary to ensure every project is a success. You’re taught everything you need to know about practical day-to-day construction management. A dedicated Construction Coach who knows everything that needs to be done and how to do it is has the time and knowledge necessary to ensure that everything on your project is completed and inspected properly. That ultimately saves you time, money, grief and gives you a better finished project.

© 2012, RCartright. All rights reserved.

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