I knew this was going to happen – it happened when we did renovations before… Renovations are a huge time suck. When you least want to be bothered there will be a call and you’ll have to run to the job site or do some research so the contractor gets the information he needs to keep working productively. It’s sorta draining.
If you’re considering renovations and have a demanding job and just can’t afford the disruption you have a few options…
An Owner’s Representative
The best option, IMHO, is an owner’s representative. They’re someone you contract to act on your behalf. When they say something it’s as good as if you said it. Needless to say you need to trust the person implicitly. If you have an owner’s representative the contractor would deal would deal with that person for all day-to-day issues and your owner’s representative would just pull you into the discussion as needed – the way one spouse would bring the other spouse into the discussion if they didn’t feel comfortable making the decision themselves.
A Project Manager
A project manager is less than an owner’s representative. They’re the go to person for day-to-day issues, but ultimately you have to tell the contractor what to do. Need someone to spot problems, check that things are being built according to plan, or pull spec sheets for the sub-contractors? A project manager is great for stuff like that. But then that project manager would present you with the problem and suggested solutions and you’d need to make the decision. Ultimately they can’t make decisions on your behalf.
A Construction Manager
Owner’s reps and project managers do not actually manage workers. In both of those scenarios the contractor is responsibile for the “means and methods” of construction. If you want someone who is part project manager and part contractor – that’s a construction manager. They’re sort of like a uber-contractor.
Your architect should always be involved in construction to make sure things are being done according to plan, and be available to answer questions and fill in any missing details. They can be the project manager on the job, but when your negotiating your contract with him/her you need to be really clear about how much project management s/he’ll be doing.
Have Clear Expectations
Whether its your architect or someone else, project management isn’t a yes or no issue – it’s a sliding scale. For example on our project it helps to have someone to go by the place 2 or 3 times a week to really catch problems early, but our architect comes by once every week or two – typically when we’ve spotted a significant issue and want their input. If you want your architect there two or three times a week you’ll pay more for that.
All I can say is expect things to be more disruptive than you think they’ll be, and have the support you need in place to deal with the demands and questions your contractor will put on you. If you don’t have the time to do it, hire someone to do it for you…
Hello from the other end of the world 🙂
I stumbled across your blog while researching some building-related topics … we are just at a similar stage of reconstructing a near-ruin into (hopefully) a dream home, just on the other end of the world (Prague, Czech Republic). You are not alone with the red tape, fire dept. objections and bad plumbing! Keep going 🙂
@Gryllus – I love the global nature of the Internet 🙂
I’m sorta torn on the whole difficult part – I understand that living in a city you need strict building codes to keep things safe, but there’s just gotta be a better way…