Whether you're building a new property or re-developing an existing one, design and construction projects are expensive, complicated, and come with a lot of risk.
Aside from the time and money required, no two projects are exactly alike, and transforming an idea into a built reality is a tremendous undertaking requiring a vast amount of expertise. Too many projects are either late, over budget, or both. Many end in bad feelings, and even litigation. But your project doesn’t have to go that way. One way to reduce risk and avoid these common problems is to find an experienced Owner’s Representative to guide you through the process. Hiring one can mean the difference between success and struggle.
What is an Owner’s Rep, and what do they do?
An Owner’s Rep is the person or company hired by the owner of a building or facility project to execute their goals and mission on their behalf – particularly when they don’t have the time, capabilities or resources in-house to do it themselves. With allegiance to neither the designer nor the contractor, an Owner's Rep acts in the owner’s best interest to manage projects from beginning to end. They are hands on and able to provide expert oversight and impartial advice throughout all project phases.
An Owner’s Rep is like a conductor in an orchestra. Someone has to lead all of these talented, creative artists and plan for how they’re all going to work together, in the right sequence, to create something beautiful. Instead of sheet music and instruments, the Owner’s Rep structures scopes of work and schedules to align with a project’s master plan – making sure everything is moving exactly when it needs to move, costing exactly what it’s supposed to cost, and resolving any conflicts that may arise along the way. And a good Owner's Rep can save a lot of time and money.
When is the best time to hire an Owner's Rep?
Effectively managing a development or construction project takes a tremendous amount of time and requires a great deal of specific, specialized experience in building and construction management. Few internal teams have the time, experience and knowledge to run a project successfully without sacrificing other job responsibilities.
Many owners hire an Owner’s Rep after the design has been completed and they are ready to put the project out to bid. Other clients hire an Owner’s Rep at the start of construction. Some hire such a firm only after their project has gotten into trouble with unwelcome delays and cost overruns.
Owner’s Reps can provide valuable assistance at any stage, but whenever possible, the best time to hire such a firm is at the very start of the project -- before soliciting bids, hiring engineers and contractors, or seeking financing. When the Owner’s Rep is engaged early, they can ensure that the project gets off to the right start by helping define the project’s full scope, design and budget.
Once these fundamental pieces are in place, the Owner’s Rep can then help align and procure the ideal team of design, construction and specialty consultants to deliver on the client’s goals. From that point forward, it’s about management, communication, coordination and resolution.
What challenges are clients who hire an Owner’s Rep typically facing?
When an owner seeks support from an Owner’s Rep after the project is already underway, it is typically caused by one of four reasons:
The owner is overwhelmed: All the sudden they realize they no longer have the capacity to get their day jobs done, or they are not as comfortable with the process as they originally thought. They’re being inundated with change orders and requests and they’re unable, or don’t have time, to answer all of the different questions coming in from their consultant team. They are becoming a bottleneck in both the project and their day job and need help to keep both moving. Without this help, they won’t be able to make timely decisions and the project will likely fall behind schedule, if it isn’t already.
They encounter mistakes (i.e. they don’t know what they don’t know): Maybe they didn’t know they needed to hire a permit expeditor, or they don’t have the knowledge to evaluate their Contractor’s payment requisitions. A key component of their project unintentionally slipped through the cracks because they didn’t buy it correctly and now they have to figure out how to fix their mistake, which will take time and add cost to the budget. Because owners often don’t have the time or expertise to deal with the technicalities of a building or facility project, an Owner’s Representative can help.
They’re behind schedule: Keeping a project team on schedule is complicated – and every additional day has an impact on budget. Sometimes an overwhelmed owner may not even realize when or why delays have happened. They need someone to help identify issues, reestablish critical milestones, and get the project back on track.
They need back up: Sometimes an Owner’s Rep is hired to explain controversial or complex issues to key leadership that internal staff may not have the experience or background to do. Plus, such a firm can handle conflict resolution so the client doesn’t have to take on that role. Whether it’s dealing with cost overruns or difficult personalities, the Owner’s Rep can stay impartial and out in front of issues – developing strategic solutions to resolve them before they impact the project.
How can an Owner’s Rep positively impact your project?
Construction can be like quicksand, especially for people who have not been doing it every day for decades. Cost overruns, project delays and incongruences can emerge and result in serious conflicts and legal challenges. Hiring an independent, professional Owner’s Rep can help mitigate potential issues before they arise.
Such a firm will:
Ensure your budget is adequate - but not excessive - to achieve your desired outcome.
Manage your entire process, from design through bid evaluation, contracting, permitting, construction and final completion.
Inform you of when decisions need to be made and provide recommendations for making those decisions.
Help you find and select the right professionals to execute your project.
Keep those professionals (engineers, architects, designers and contractors) on track.
Quickly and cost-effectively resolve issues and solve problems.
Plan for, anticipate, and minimize surprises that may arise during the construction process.
Deliver your project on time and in budget.
An Owner’s Rep also allows clients to appropriately invest their time in connection to the project in a way they can manage. In the end, an Owner's Rep provides the owner with peace of mind and a final result that’s exactly what they envisioned.
Looking for that next level of service for your building project? Contact us to learn how GRE can protect your construction goals and bottom line down to the smallest detail.