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How and why to hire a project manager? 

Although here at Self-PMA we are all about empowering you to self-project manage your build, we understand that realistically, this is not for everyone.

There is a huge amount of time and freewill necessary to take on this role.

In some cases, we recommend hiring a project manager.

Now let’s find out how to go about to do this and why this is something you might want to consider.

Why Consider Hiring a Project Manager?

A project manager is your guide through the labyrinth of construction complexities. Their experience ensures that every phase of the project, from planning to closing, is handled with precision.

Time is a precious commodity, and a project manager understands the urgency of deadlines.

Appointing a project manager for your build allows you to sit back and watch your dream space materialise without being bogged down by project intricacies.

Building regulations, permits, and approvals can be a maze for the most people.

A project manager acts as your compass, ensuring that your project sails smoothly through the bureaucratic waters.

Staying within budget is a common concern for any project.

A skilled project manager brings financial finesse to the table, managing costs, negotiating with suppliers, and keeping your budget intact.

Embarking on a construction project can be stressful. A project manager serves as your stress-buster, handling the day-to-day challenges, troubleshooting, and ensuring that your project remains a source of excitement, not anxiety.

How to Choose the Right Project Manager:

1. Define Your Project: Before you start the hunt for a project manager, clearly define the scope, goals, and priorities of your project. Knowing what you need will help you find the perfect match.

2. Ask for Recommendations: Seek recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have undertaken similar projects. Personal endorsements are invaluable when selecting a reliable project manager.

3. Check Credentials: Scrutinise the credentials of potential project managers. Look for relevant qualifications, certifications, and a track record of successful projects.

4. Interview Potential Candidates: Treat the hiring process like a friendly conversation. Conduct interviews to understand the project manager’s approach, communication style, and how well they align with your vision.

5. Discuss Fees and Contracts: Transparent communication about fees and contractual terms is essential. Make sure that both parties are on the same page regarding payment structures and project timelines.

When is the Right Time to Bring in a Project Manager?

Ideally, involve a project manager from the planning stage. Their insights can shape the project, ensuring that it aligns with your vision and complies with regulatory requirements.

If your project evolves into a complex undertaking, a project manager becomes invaluable. Their ability to navigate intricacies ensures that complexity doesn’t derail your project.

If your schedule is already packed, bringing in a project manager is a wise move. They’ll dedicate the time necessary for effective project management, allowing you to focus on your daily commitments.

If the construction world is uncharted territory for you, a project manager becomes your expert navigator. Their industry knowledge bridges the gap, ensuring a smooth journey.

How do project managers determine their fees?

In broad terms, project managers may employ three methods to calculate their fees:

1. Percentage of the Project Cost

Suitable for: Projects where the work’s scope is not precisely defined. The percentage is based on the construction costs (excluding VAT), aligning with the expected time investment by the project manager.

How it works: An initial construction budget is set before commencing work, and the project manager’s fee is a percentage of the total. If the construction budget undergoes revisions, the fee might be adjusted accordingly.

Pros: Fees linked to a percentage of construction costs provide a reliable estimate of the final fee. Many project managers agree to a variance of up to 10% of the construction budget before considering fee adjustments.

Cons: Significant alterations to the project’s design can increase construction costs, necessitating renegotiation of project manager fees.

2. Lump Sum

Suitable for: Projects with a clearly defined scope of work, allowing the project manager to accurately forecast the required time.

Pros: Offers clients cost certainty. However, substantial project changes may lead to fee renegotiations.

Cons: Lump sums, estimated based on time, may not always offer the best value, as they usually account for the risk of project changes. If the project undergoes significant alterations, fee renegotiation may be required.

3. Time Charge

Suitable for: Projects with less-defined scopes. Time charges operate like a ‘pay-as-you-go’ system, with the project manager providing an hourly rate and capping hours, exceeding them only with client approval.

Pros: Time charges are flexible, proving effective in the project’s early stages when the workload is uncertain.

Cons: This method is open-ended, so obtaining estimates from the project manager for each project stage is advisable.

Additional Considerations:

Whether project managers base their fees on a percentage of construction cost, a lump sum, or time charge, several factors come into play:

  • Likelihood of design changes impacting construction costs and necessitating fee renegotiation.
  • Properties in listed or conservation areas may require more statutory consents, leading to higher architect fees.
  • Additional payments to local authorities for planning applications, building control, etc., are separate from project manager fees.
  • The project manager’s travel and printing costs are additional expenses.
  • VAT is charged on construction costs and usually on project manager fees as well.

Payment Schedule

Once you’ve decided to enlist the expertise of a project manager, understanding the payment schedule is a crucial aspect of the collaboration. Payment arrangements can vary, but a common and transparent approach is for project managers to follow a monthly invoicing system.

Why Monthly Invoicing?

1. Milestone Tracking: Monthly invoicing aligns with project milestones. It allows you to track progress and ensures that payments correspond to tangible achievements in your construction journey.

2. Budget Visibility: Predictability is key in any financial plan. Monthly invoices provide a clear picture of your expenditure, making it easier to manage your budget and allocate funds appropriately.

3. Regular Communication: Monthly invoicing creates a natural rhythm for communication between you and your project manager. It’s an opportunity to discuss progress, address any concerns, and ensure that the project is moving forward smoothly.

Understanding the Invoice:

1. Detailed Breakdown: A good project manager provides a detailed breakdown of the invoice, specifying the services rendered, time invested, and any associated costs. This transparency ensures you know exactly what you’re paying for.

2. Unforeseen Expenses: Construction projects can be unpredictable, and unexpected expenses may arise. Your project manager will communicate any additional costs promptly, allowing for discussions and adjustments as needed.

3. Flexibility in Payment Structure: Project managers understand that flexibility is key. While monthly payments are standard, they may be willing to adapt the payment structure to accommodate specific project needs or client preferences.

Communication is Key:

1. Regular Updates: The success of your construction project hinges on effective communication. Monthly invoicing serves as a touchpoint for regular updates, ensuring that you are informed about progress and any adjustments to the project plan.

2. Addressing Concerns: If you have concerns about the invoice or any aspect of the project, the monthly invoicing process provides a structured opportunity to raise and discuss these issues with your project manager.

3. Transparent Collaboration: Transparency is a cornerstone of a successful collaboration. A monthly invoicing system fosters transparent communication, building trust and confidence between you and your project manager.

Tips for a Smooth Payment Process:

1. Budget Contingency: Build a contingency fund into your budget to accommodate any unforeseen expenses. This ensures that you are financially prepared for unexpected twists and turns.

2. Open Dialogue: Maintain an open and honest dialogue with your project manager. If there are changes to the project scope or if you anticipate any financial constraints, communicate this early to address potential adjustments to the payment schedule.

3. Celebrate Milestones: Use the monthly invoicing milestones as an opportunity to celebrate achievements in your project. Recognizing progress keeps the momentum positive and reinforces the collaborative spirit.

Final advice

While hiring a project manager offers a valuable and streamlined approach to construction projects, there’s a unique satisfaction in taking on the role of project management yourself. It’s an empowering journey that allows you to be intimately involved in every decision, witness the transformation of your vision into reality, and, importantly, control your project’s destiny.

At Self-PMA, we celebrate the spirit of DIY project management and offer resources and guidance to support your independent attempt. Whether you choose the collaborative path or embark on the self-management adventure, the ultimate goal is a space that reflects your dreams. So, remember, if you need help, we are here.

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