Why employ a project manager when building or renovating a home
- Credit: Stangrove
Adam Gough and his team at Yorkshire-based Stangrove have worked in property development since 2012.
Following recognition in the Yorkshire Property Awards, they were approached by clients asking them to project manage their own high-end renovations and luxury new builds.
Adam outlines the many benefits a professional project manager can bring:
Q: Who might employ a project manager?
The first type of client could be an individual or family requiring extensive alterations to their existing home or considering building a new home. They would instruct me either prior to purchasing or as early as possible in the process. I then look at budgets for them so they can understand likely costs and possible designs and we consider budgets, timescales and how we might need to work with planners and planning consultants. These are people who might not have the time, skills or expertise themselves to manage their own project. Then the other type of client is someone who has a building with an opportunity to add value either through sale or long-term rental. This involves understanding the commercial aspect of the project: how to plan tax and ensure the property is created with relevant legal documentation, certificates and warrantees etc. With both groups, we take on the on-going management and quality approval of all works on site until we hand over the completed project.
Q: Why do homeowners not oversee the work themselves?
For many reasons. Firstly, there’s always a romance to building or renovating your own home but once someone has been doing it for a month or so they often realise it is not as much fun as they thought it would be! Our core expertise is understanding the steps and sequence a project needs to go through in order for it to be a beautiful family home or successful commercial development, right down to the interior design and landscaping. We not only focus on quality and attention to detail but if there’s a profit to be made then we are mindful of that. The client can be as involved as they want to be, but our job is to lift the stress from their shoulders.
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Q: Do you manage and coordinate trades?
Yes, and we have an extensive network of contacts. Not only do we have highly skilled plumbers, electricians, kitchen makers and other craftsman, capable of delivering a project to specification, but we have access to specialists for particular projects. We sequence and coordinate the trades, as well as interior designers and landscape architects and gardeners and ensure all health and safety processes are adhered to. We know how to inspect work to ensure a good job and will see things with our professional eye that the client might miss. Our attention to detail is second to none and we manage all snagging issues before handover and 12 months afterwards if the client wishes.
Q: Does a project manager oversee planning issues?
Yes, we manage all the planning processes before and during the construction phase and also ensure everything is signed off when it should be in line with building regulations and any requirements from the warrantee provider. We work with planning and conservation officers, and make sure any specialist conditions are met and approved. On some projects we also work with a funder, who might be releasing funds as certain stages are completed.
Q: Who orders the materials in a renovation or build?
We manage the procurement of materials, for the main build and any interior finishes: it is down to us to coordinate this and deal with any problems. Recently, for example, we had to procure Italian tiles from a specialist manufacturer in the middle of the pandemic, which we managed to do on time despite the difficulties.
Q: How much does a project manager cost?
It varies greatly depending on the project, but our clients understand it is an investment and can ensure significant savings in the long term. A property will likely be the biggest expense you make in your life, and we are here to ensure that investment is designed and built to reflect that investment. It is about getting the job right first time, down to the tiniest detail, and that everything is future-proofed for any changes that might be required later. Throughout the project, my role is also to represent the client commercially; to ensure we are buying materials, labour and all resources at the right price and that wherever possible savings are passed on to them – and with all my contacts I can do this.
Q: What other reasons are there to employ a project manager?
I manage the unexpected, everything from problems on site to things out of anyone’s control, such as the weather or Covid. If an unexpected amount of money is required to fix a problem, I manage and mediate that to understand whether it is the client’s cost, builder’s cost or a shared cost. I handle disputes, perhaps with neighbours, usually resolving them myself but if need be escalating them to the relevant specialist, such as an architect or lawyer. With Stangrove, the whole process is conducted to a highly professional standard, with detailed budgets and presentations at meetings etc, and client confidentiality is always ensured.