HOW TO CREATE A SMOOTH, PREDICTABLE AND ENJOYABLE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT

I am listing below tasks that I have found are critical for creating a smooth running home construction project.  These are all tasks that an experienced Owner’s Representative, (a.k.a., Project Manager) should either initiate or ensure are accomplished during the design and building process. Ideally the Owner’s Representative/Project manager is to be the person in charge of managing these tasks listed below.

  1. Budgets:  Create budgets that are realistic at various times during the process in order for the owner to be confident that the project is proceeding within the financial comfort zone.  This budget should be comprehensive including all associated costs and wish list.  
  2. Budgets ideally are created:
    1. Early in the conceptual design phase and verifying as the design progresses that the original budget is still realistic.
    2. Prior to the construction drawings being drawn.
    3. Prior to construction starting
    4. Once a month during the construction. Keep owner apprised of Predicted Final Cost.
  3. The design team is the clearing house for all design related communication, unless otherwise requested.  We don’t want random people making design decisions that may not have the overall design direction in mind.
  4. Offer possible solutions to problems prior to announcing the problem.  Always consult with Design team first, then after agreement, notify owner of the problem with options for solution.
  5. Consolidate questions (RFI’s) into a list and then communicate these to the appropriate entities with as much lead time as possible. Avoid panic phone calls. Identify which party is responsible for answering each item: Architect, interior designer, owner, contractor.
  6. Arrange questions to be answered into groups by date needed in order to continue an orderly pricing/ordering/construction process.  
  7. Expect that some answers will come as building takes shape. In a true custom home some selections are best made when the building is taking on character.
  8. Send weekly updates to design team and owner apprising them of tasks being worked on each current week as well as planned for the following week.
  9. Plan ahead on critical times for owner and design team to visit the site; such as electrical wiring time, to avoid future surprises and changes.
  10. Make client feel as much an informed participant in the process as they wish to be.
  11. Schedule site meetings with all key subs, and if needed designers, during various stages of the job to coordinate their needs and timing.
  12. Update budget and schedule on a monthly basis and share with owners, and if desired, the design team.
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If You Want Confidence You Have a Good System in Place When Building a Home

By hiring me a your owner’s rep early on in the process you can be assured of having a great process that will give you peace of mind and save you lots of money during the entire construction process. (And design, if you bring me in early enough.)

Here are four duties I can perform that will give you confidence that you have a good system in place:

1. Verifying that the Budget is appropriate and sufficient for the planned work.

  • Become familiar with the plans and specifications
  • Analyze the contractor’s budget line by line item and compare to others
  • Comparing the budget values for costs compared to the proposed construction schedule

2. Vetting the contractor

  • By checking on his financial and professional standings
  • Inquire and verify as to his/or her’s commitment and availability for this project
  • inquire and vet the key management and support personnel. (If any)
    • In the case of the one man contractors:
      • Establish his/her experience, knowledge and skills
      • Establish what systems if any will be used for budget and schedule management.
    • If needed, supplement contractor’s capabilities with Owner’s rep’s systems for tracking budget
    • Create and update our own schedule.
    • Verify with contractor that key steps such as site utilities are planned for.

3. Vetting the major sub-contractors and verifying they can fit our construction schedule.

4. Verifying plans are complete and all permits are processed

Here are other tasks I can perform during the construction process:

  • Create preliminary schedule for the entire process from design to move in
  • Ensuring, building and design remain within budget
  • Substantiate Status of permit processing, facilitate as prudent.
  • Verifying that the Budget is appropriate and sufficient for the planned work
  • Analyze the contractor’s budget line by line item and compare to historic data
  • Comparing the budget values to the proposed construction schedule duration. (e.g: is supervision enough)
  • Review all plans and specifications
  • Review all contracts with all subs and owner paid consultants
  • Compile budget encompassing all hard and soft cost envisioned for the entire project
  • Keep all encompassing budget up to date
  • Work with contractors, and designers to provide detailed construction schedule
  • Keep construction schedule up to date
  • Weekly site meeting with Owner’s Rep and Builder.
  • Twice monthly meeting with Owner’s rep, Architect, Contractor (owner invited to all key meetings)
  • Substantiate all temporary and permanent utilities are planned for
  • Additional subcontractors recommend as needed
  • Green building features and materials suggestions
  • Review and negotiate proper change order issues
  • Giving options to the design team when needed to potentially save money, including alternative construction techniques, and reviewing other areas of cost saving.
  • Scrutinize all invoices, explore questions in invoices and approve proper invoices.
  • Managing final close out at completion:
    ▪ Collect all lien releases
    ▪ Collect all warranties
    ▪ Manage final payments to subs and contractors
  • Prepare Operating Manual for owner’s future use and maintenance with emergency preparedness.
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Sonoma County Fires Will Cause Scarcity of Contractors and Subs

We feel deeply for all those that suffered tragic loss in Sonoma and Napa this October 2017. One of the many unfortunate outcomes is that the construction industry in Northern California including the San Francisco/ Bay Area will become stressed even beyond the overheated conditions we have currently.

Even more than in the present contractors and subs will become difficult to acquire and more costly. There will also be material shortages and price hikes.

As your plans for your rebuild in Marin, Sanoma or Napa County get developed consider hiring and securing as many subcontractors and large materials as you can purchase.

Napa & Sonoma County Fires 2017

Napa & Sonoma County Fires 2017

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