• Duane C. Barney

Is your construction project at risk

Construction projects can go wrong, very wrong, way over budget, behind schedule or even failure to reach completion. Blame is placed on the contractor and in many cases that is fair, or is it? Let’s look at the roles and responsibilities of the typical players in every construction project, Owner architect and contractor.

Architect – The architect is the design professional whose responsibilities are for the project design and project oversight to ensure the construction meets the design intent. A critical yet limited role of responsibility. The architect therefore is rarely looked at as a responsible party in the failure of a project. Contractually this is fair in most cases, but in many instances, the client lacking understanding of the process is relying heavily on the advice of the architect to guide them through the process. Their expectations are that the architect is providing management of the process, rarely is this true, their responsibility begins and ends at design.

To be honest, your architect can be replaced, your contractor will become un-extractable, not entirely but only at a huge expense in time and money.
This will be your key decision in the project success.

Contractor – The contractor is tasked with construction of the design as provided by the architect, nothing more. With respect to the three factors of control, Time, Cost & Quality where you can only control two base on the availability of the third, the contractor holds responsibility for Time & Quality base on the availability of money. They do not control the cost, that is reserved for the owner, based on the design as provided by the architect. With respect to managing the project, the contractor is responsible for managing their scope of work. Rarely is the project wholly within their scope, the architect, owner and outside consultants all influence the ability of the contractor to perform. This is primarily a function of information management; the contractor needs answers to do their job and the ability to manage to be effective.

Your project is a small business and it must be managed, are you the right person for the role?

Owner - The client, as the boss, holds the largest role; Provide funding, make selections, manage their team, Architect and Contractor. Funding is funding, you either have the money or you don’t, selections can be challenging, the list is endless, and the process is exhausting but management is typically non-existent. The reasons, the client has the false expectation that, once the architect and contractor are on board, the project will “just happen” from there. It will happen, by sheer force of will, your team has two common goals, project completion and client satisfaction with those they will find a way to get it done, with or without you. Think of two interlocked elements of your business, sales & marketing, design and manufacturing. Each will present solutions but you, as the business owner with keen insight into the business, makes the call. In construction, the person making the call for your construction project is working in a vacuum, no knowledge of the business or the process with only a vision of the outcome, most owners can hardly read the plans and specifications, the basis being used to determine the outcome.

“Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing”
Warren Buffett

The complete Team – The gap in this trifecta is top level management, the client., the Owners Representative, is the role to fill that gap. The project COO, the owner’s representative serves as the eyes and ears of the owner with the experience to understand and interpret the drawings, the project and the process and provide options in layman’s terms, because, let’s face it, when it comes to construction the owner’s management skills are the weakest link. It is akin to running a race with a three-legged horse, you will finish but you will NOT win.

How will you build your project team?
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