Project Management for an Office Buildout

by CoyDavidson on June 2, 2010

By: Bart Morey
Vice President-Project Management
Colliers International | Houston

Office improvement

Why, When and Who to Hire

You’ve got a project coming up that involves that whole design and construction process thing. And when you start thinking about it, the process doesn’t seem all that overwhelming? We’ve all run projects of one size or another; from installing a door knob to remodeling a house. Some of us have even managed fairly complicated adventures. And they all get built. Sometimes they don’t turn out exactly the way we imagined. Some of them took a little more time than we expected. And most of them cost more than we originally anticipated. Sound familiar? The role of Project Management is to improve this process and insure the right product is delivered on schedule and under budget.

Bringing on a Project Manager at the onset of the process will establish project goals, define realistic task durations, and establish an all inclusive project budget. During the Consultant and Contractor selection phases, well defined goals will clarify expectations and maximize the competitive bid process. Interviewing prospective team members affords the Tenant the opportunity to acquire a sense of who has the best understanding of Tenant’s needs. In today’s competitive market, serious bidders can get to the low number. The decision frequently hinges on the quality of personnel. A qualified Project Manager orchestrates this process to discern accurate information so the Tenant can make informed and intelligent decisions.

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So now you’ve made the decision to hire a Project Manager but what do you base your decision on? At the end of an interview with a qualified candidate, the Tenant should have a clear and detailed understanding of how the PM is going to manage the design and construction process. Their presentation should address the following:

Details and examples on how the competitive bid process is going to be presented.

  • Methodology to documentation and follow-up on critical project issues.
  • Problem solving philosophy
  • Regularly scheduled reporting tools
  • Communication

Look for someone who is not going to push paper from one team member to the next. If their idea of problem resolution is to pick up the phone and blame someone, run away. The PM should direct a consensus driven partnering effort to achieve the project’s goals.

So the last question is how does the Tenant afford Project Management? Well the fact of the matter is how can a Tenant not afford to hire a PM. Fees usually range from 2% to 5% of project cost.

  1. If the PM can’t save his fee in the process, then the PM selection process was flawed.
  2. Utilizing a PM insures an expedited schedule to minimize disruption to the Tenant.
  3. Having a PM on board allows the Tenant to remain focused on their business.

The design and construction process is not complicated. But it does have a lot of moving parts which need to be effectively managed. Utilizing a competent Project Management professional insures that this process is completed on schedule, under budget, with NO surprises.

About the Author:

For almost 30 years, Bart Morey has been directly responsible for the project management of approximately 4.24 million square feet of commercial projects totaling over $236 million in value while also working on behalf of the owner and directing projects encompassing over 4.4 million square feet worth approximately $170 million. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Civil Engineering from Rice University.

  • Mark Brannon

    Bart,
    I’m glad to see you found a new home and continue to prosper in the good ol’ construction management field. I am touching base with you as I find myself looking for employment in the Baltimore area and I would like to list you as one of my references.
    Hope the Holidays are finding you and your family well.
    *Nice picture on the Coy Davis write up about selecting a compitent PM =) – take care and hope to here back from you.

    Thanks,
    Mark Brannon

  • http://www.pmhut.com PM Hut

    Hi Bart,

    I know that you have written this post more than a year ago, but this is the first time I read it.

    It’s interesting how you stress the importance of having a project manager on such projects. But which PM methodology do you recommend for office buildout projects? Waterfall?

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