I’m building a home, will I need a Project Manager?

A project manager can refer to an individual person or the whole company which is responsible for all aspects of the planning, development and management of a venture. This ranges from the initiating and closing of the project, to the day-to-day planning and management of the project. The manager has the authority to control all aspects of the venture, which includes dealing with costs, safety and all contractors who are working on the project.

When would I need a project manager?

A project manager works mainly in areas of construction. Whenever a large venture is going to be carried out, a project manager is needed to oversee all areas and to coordinate them to ensure smooth running of the construction. Project managers will often work closely with architects, who design the venture and then employ the project manager to carry out its construction. Once the architect has produced the design, it will then be taken to the construction team and the project manager.

The project manager will then start planning the construction of the project, employing contractors and scheduling what will happen when. The project manager and the architect will work closely together throughout the production, so that the project manager can ask the architect any queries with the design, or get him or her to help solve any problems if they occur.

What various areas of the project does the manager control?

  • Initially the manager has to define what the project will entail. This involves writing a specification for the business enterprise so that it can be compared to the project at all stages of the production. This also means that the people for whom the project is being managed can ensure that the manger has the correct idea about what the outcome of the venture should be.
  • Next the manager is responsible for all aspects of the planning. The planning is one of the most important steps of the project as it will include working out costs and allocating funds, making a schedule which will ensure that the venture is completed on time, as well as taking into consideration all health and safety issues.
  • The manager will often have key contractors whom he or she will have used before, or know of specific contractors who are suitable for this type of project. During the planning stages the project manager will ask a few contractors to submit a proposal, including costs, and then the manager will choose the one he or she likes best or the one that coincides with how much is budgeted for that area of work.
  • The manager then has to produce a plan of which work will be carried out when etc. This is called the project plan, and has to include all tasks, all contractors who perform the tasks, deliverables (these are tangible outputs from the venture, like the project agreement) and all resources that will be incorporated in the project. This linear plan will let the manager, and all others who are working on the project, know what is happening when, and who by.
  • A separate plan of costs will also be produced according to which contractors were chosen and what materials are going to be used. The manager has to try and make sure that the venture does not exceed these costs.

      • The manager is then responsible for ensuring that the project sticks as accurately as possible to the plan. If, for some reason, the plan needs to be changed, then the manager is responsible for contracting the appropriate people and making sure that these changes take place as smoothly and efficiently as possible. If there is a problem on site that is caused by the design, then the project manager will take this back to the architect who will then reproduce part of the design so as to solve the problem.
      • The manager will be on site every day supervising and coordinating the activities of the contractors who are working on the project. Knowledge transfer needs to take place throughout the project. This means that the contractors will tell the manager daily what they have done, any problems they think have arisen, and if they think that they can solve these. This means that the manager is always informed about the progress of the project or any setbacks.
      • On site the project manager assigns tasks to the different contractors and consultants who are being used. He or she will also make sure that all health and safety issues are being adhered to, and ensure that if there are any accidents on site that they are dealt with according to regulations, and reported to the appropriate people.
      • The project manager will also have to provide constant feedback; this is usually done weekly, to the company or person who has requested the project. If this is a large company quite often they will have set certain aspects of the project’s development which they would like to be checked each week, and it is the project manager’s job to give replies to what they wish. The project manager also has to let the employer know if the project is going to run over costs or time.

      Where would I find a project manager?

      • More and more architect companies are becoming affiliated with construction companies, and are taking them on in partnership. This means that if you take your idea to an architect to have him or her produce a design of it, they will often be able to give you a project manager and a construction company to carry out the production part of the project.
      • Another place to look is on The Association for Project Management website. This gives a list of its members throughout the UK as well as some international members.
      • The Project Management Institute is another accredited body which has a list of members all who have to meet and adhere to special education and experience prerequisites.

      What qualifications should I look for?

      The Association for Project Management and The Project Management Institute both offer some of their own qualifications which their members have to pass in order to join. Some of these are the equivalents of those offered by the International Project Management Association, and they are linear qualifications which depend on experience and the amount of time that has been spent in the trade. Initial requirements for entry into these institutes are SVQ/NVQs level 4 and 5 in Project Management. These are the basic minimums which all project managers should have.

      Now there are also degrees (MSc) and diplomas available, and these are the two qualifications which you should make sure that the project manager has.

      How much will a project manager cost?

      The cost of a project manager is usually job specific, so that the greater the job the more they will cost as the larger their responsibility and job will be. However, on average the price that will be charged by the project manager’s company will be around £100 - £200 an hour. This will be dependent on how much time they spend on site, so although paperwork appears not to be paid for, this area of the project manager’s job is not as hard and therefore will cost less.

      This means that the total amount paid will cover all aspects of the job in general so that the project manager does not have to keep a constant tally of how much of which job he is doing. Thus, the initial wage is often high to make sure that this occurs.

      What should I ask my project manager?

      • How long will planning take?
      • Have you done a similar project to this before?
      • Do you already know of contractors which we will be able to use?
      • How long will construction take/I want construction to be completed by … is this possible?

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