Renovating on a Budget?

I’m about to risk raising some eyebrows with this suggestion, but I’m going to make it anyway.

There is a simple way for homeowners to save significant sums on renovation projects. And that is, if you cannot act as your own general contractor, hire an Owner’s Project Manager (O.P.M.) to manage the project on your behalf.

Why should that raise eyebrows? Because it relieves the general contractor of that duty, and therefore also relieves him of a hefty mark-up on the subcontractors. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the function of a general contractor, especially on large and complex projects (in which case having both an O.P.M. and G.C. would be a good idea). But, on smaller projects where the G.C. may be only funneling work to the subs and there is not a lot of work for his own crew, an O.P.M. seems to make sense.

A G.C. doesn’t really want to be bothered with a bathroom renovation, for example, where there is little carpentry involved. However, some homeowners have neither the time or the inclination to be their own G.C. This is where an O.P.M. can help. An O.P.M. can organize the project, coordinate the subs, communicate between the client and subs, make decisions on behalf of the client when necessary, manage the schedule, manage the budget, and see that everything is done according to the project specifications. For this service, an O.P.M. could save a client literally thousands compared to a G.C.’s mark-up.

If you plan to give it a try, look for an experienced Construction Project Manager, preferably with a Construction Supervisor’s License and general liability insurance.   Here is one resource for locating a Construction Project Manager in your area:

The Importance of the Project Plan

More than once I’ve been asked whether or not it’s really necessary to hire an architect. Depending on the project scale, the straight answer is no, there may not be a need to hire an architect. But, what IS essential is a comprehensive project plan which is often times prepared by an architect, designer, or design-build contractor. The project plan includes specific details on the entire project scope from beginning to end.

When details are not clearly defined, the likelihood of problems is almost guaranteed. The first problems arise when the contractor must make assumptions on certain details in order to provide a cost estimate or leave those details out of the cost estimate altogether. Either scenario invites the potential for costly change orders and added time to the project schedule, both of which result in heavier stress on all sides. We all know that elevated stress levels create a breeding ground for conflict, therefore leading to further issues.

Take the time to clearly define the project plan with all of the details specified. Estimate the cost as accurately as possible and set a target completion date. It will save you money and plenty of headache medicine in the end. After all, don’t you want to enjoy your investment when it is done instead of being reminded of all the anxiety it caused?

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