Project Bloopers, Episode 1

I once had a client who called me in to help figure a very basic bathroom remodel. They had a limited budget.  I told them we could help them get what they needed within their budget as long as we stuck to inexpensive finishes and fixtures.

The next thing I knew the clients wanted to add finishing a portion of their basement. We went through the exercise of design for both the bathroom and basement, keeping things simple for a low budget project.

It wasn’t until I delivered the renovation estimate that the clients broke out into a sweat and told me they had expected me to stay within the budget of that very first ball-park number, the one I gave when the project was for the bathroom only.  I had assumed it was understood that the cost would increase as the project scope increased.

Sometimes what you think is obvious is not so clear to someone else.  I learned it’s best to communicate, put it out there, state the obvious, never assume.

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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:

http://cmaanet.org/find-a-cm-pm

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