Do I need a project manager for a house extension?
In the construction industry the term ‘project manager’ often gets confused. For a house extension, a ‘project manager’ role is not typical and could be superfluous to requirements if you have a good architect and a good main contractor.
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A ‘project manager’ could fall broadly into three categories:
1. Project management during construction
For an extension project, most people hire a main contractor who will run the job on site, including hiring the different tradespeople, oversee health and safety, deal with building regulation compliance, procure materials, schedule the works etc.
2. Client representative
This type of project manager acts as the client’s representative to plan, schedule, manage and troubleshoot over the course of the project. They will bring technical expertise to all the decisions a client would otherwise need to make. Their role might involve interviewing and appointing consultants, such as your architect, structural engineer, party wall surveyor etc.
It’s worth noting that this type of project manager should have no role or influence in the building contract between you and the contractor. A project manager should therefore not be the ‘boss’ of everyone or give instructions to the contractor/other consultants, which may be in conflict with the building contract. The building contract is there to project all parties from disputes and has strict guidelines in terms of what can happen with cost, payments and timeframe.
A client representative is not common for domestic projects. They are usually only appointed to act on behalf of a company for large commercial developments.
3. Contract administrator / lead consultant (e.g. your architect)
A contract administrator will oversee the work on site in relation to the building contract between you and the main contractor. This role is often taken by the lead consultant (typically your architect), who will have been trained in all aspects relating to contract administration. They will issue instructions to the builder and certify that the work is completed at different stages for payments to be made. They will also take the lead during site meetings to check on progress and help resolve issues.
Your architect (lead consultant) will be skilled in the following ways to take on this role:
- construction and contract law
- value engineering
- cost control
- building contract options/ how the builder will be hired and what role they will take
- project planning
- contract administration
- dispute resolution
- management of other consultants.
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