Project Manage or Not...? Part 2 / by Graeme Fan

In my last post I touched on the advantages and disadvantages of project managing yourself. To expand on this, as in my opinion, it requires careful thought and can make or break your build.

As mentioned previously, I think the most important thing is time. If you have a lot of it, then this can compensate for some lack of experience. And as long as you are studious in your efforts, any challenge can usually be overcome with enough persistence. Leaning and searching for a good network to support you will be crucial in this endeavour.

Select carefully your project team to get you through the project successfully. Crucial in this team are a good architect, engineers and a main contractor. If you build a good relationship with them AND be respectful of their time, you will have a great chance of achieving a high quality build.

You must also be decisive. Dilly dallying over design issues, will delay progress and escalate costs. Accept that you will have to make compromises along the way and give yourself the benefit of understanding that you are doing your best. Only you will know whether this is the truth or not.

One way of deciding whether you should project manage or not, is to estimate your time (and therefore opportunity cost) involvement and whether it is more cost effective for you to outsource this to a professional. PM fees charge anywhere between 2-10% of the construction budget - depending on the level of involvement. It might seem like a lot of money, it is. But then your time is valuable too and you might wish to consider what your opportunity cost is.

To commit around 50% possibly more of your working week time to this build is a commitment not to be taken lightly. It's far more difficult for a project manager to pick up the pieces mid-way and having to rectify costly issues which might have been avoidable. I personally have had first hand experience being parachuted in to projects in disarray and being responsible for bringing them back on track. It's a highly stressful situation and not an enjoyable experience.

Beaudomus interior designs and main contracts our builds in-house, we achieve a lot of cost savings by doing this ourselves. But this is our core business and so in our interests to deliver this internally to ensure our brand and quality is executed in line with our vision.

Walk yourself through various scenarios that might occur such as issues on site. Do you have the character traits to diplomatically navigate through this, patience, persistence, openness, flexibility and dogged determination. Are you organised, have high levels of energy and enjoy juggling many overlapping deadlines at once, often with interdependencies and consequences following decision changes and an ability to re-organise following that.

There is no failure in handing over this responsibility to a dedicated project manager. You can always maintain control of aspects you wish to. There is sometimes a fear of losing control when appointing a project manager, that you might not have visibility/control over key aspects of the build. There is nothing stopping you providing a clear framework as to how important aspects of the project remain in your direct control.