Build with the best tools: 3 big benefits of a project manager

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“Who’s in charge here?”

Whether you’re are building your first new 5,000 SF office or you are expanding your current portfolio a construction site often resembles a beehive. The scene can often feel chaotic and out of control, with no single person being the point of contact for the entire project. With so many moving (and interdependent) parts, this can be a recipe for disaster.

Developers and experienced owners often find an answer with help from an owner’s representative project manager, someone who takes responsibility for all the planning and coordination needed to bring a new project to fruition-from the napkin sketch to the ribbon cutting.

Development and owner representative services are a way to simplify and control the process by providing detailed project cost information from the beginning of the project and throughout the process. In fact, the benefits for building owners, developers, and organizations can be enormous, including three big ones:

1.   Planning and preparedness

While some cost overruns can be unforeseeable, early planning allows the entire team to address potential problems before they arise. When you involve an owner’s representative at the beginning, you have additional opportunities to find cost savings especially if the owner rep has visibility on the entire scope of the project.

A good example of cost savings, and a benefit to the owner: As master planner for the City Center Lenexa mixed-use development, we identified a simple way to save a lot of money on the fill dirt required for the next phase of development. By planning ahead and notifying our earthwork vendors, we provided a three-month window for excavators to deliver suitable excess fill dirt from other projects—dirt they needed to get rid of anyway. That provided us with the fill dirt we needed without adding the additional expense of paying for that dirt (and paying for the countless deliveries) ourselves. Because we were involved from the beginning, we could plan ahead for the dirt we’d eventually need and find a simple way of saving substantial money.

2.   Reduction in delays

Building projects are notorious for interruptions and setbacks. But through early planning, an experienced project manager will have eyes on the entire process from the master budget and master schedule, allowing them to anticipate the owner’s needs. That drastically reduces the chance you’ll need to pause your progress to wait for a redesign. Experience is key. A track record of success is a sure bet you have the right firm for the job.

3.   Partnerships that pay off

Be sure to look for an owner’s representative who has strong relationships with architects, engineers, city leadership and planning staff, and other support vendors. That allows them to work closely to evaluate what makes the most sense for the project, navigate entitlements, and ultimately expedite a project’s delivery.

Should the parking garage be precast or cast in place? Would concrete or wood framing make more sense? What HVAC system is not only energy- and cost-efficient, but also appropriate for the type of structure and its occupants?

Any potential issues can then be evaluated early, which minimizes the risk of a larger problem popping up later in the project—when they cost more money and more time. This type of value engineering is crucial to keep the project on budget and as close to the original vision as possible. One construction estimator elaborates on the value of that early collaboration in Construction Executive:

“We can get the architect, construction manager and owner in the same room for a roundtable session, shoot a bunch of ideas out and make changes to the design really quickly. If the owner says, ‘What if we push this part of the building in or add this many rooms? How will it look and what is the cost?,’ we can show the impact during the meeting.”

Project managers build better construction projects

Your construction process doesn’t need to feel hectic or chaotic. Copaken Brooks has provided owner’s representative and project management services on all kinds of development and tenant improvement projects, ranging from $1 million to more than $200 million.

We’ll work closely with you from the beginning of the project and through regular progress meetings to make sure we’re staying proactive with any issues that may arise. That allows us to control and closely manage project costs and quality so you don’t have to.

The out-of-control beehive becomes something manageable, with order and purpose. And that means less stings and more of those sweet results you’re looking for.

Chris Tschirhart is Vice President of Development and Construction at Copaken Brooks, a full-service commercial real estate firm headquartered in Kansas City and serving the Midwest. The company’s full suite of services includes: owner’s representation, leasing (office, medical, retail and industrial), investment acquisition and sales, tenant representation and HQ relocations, condo management, property management, asset management, and development. Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @CopakenBrooks.

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