Do I need a project manager for my renovation?

15 May Do I need a project manager for my renovation?

Managing a renovation can be a tricky and stressful thing to undertake.  You might think that you will be saving money if you do it yourself, but you might end up losing money if you aren’t quite sure what you are doing.  Here are a few articles explaining the role of the project manager and if it’s worth having one on your project or not.

Please follow the links provided to read the full articles.

Back of House

By Lucy Searle – Real Homes

“Knowing how to project manage an extension or renovation can help you minimise costs and stay on budget. Managing your own project when extending a house or renovating a property does require a lot more planning and responsibility, so it’s important to make sure you’re aware of what will be required before taking on the role.

Providing a realistic insight into the day to day requirements of the role, as well as tips on hiring sub-contractors, handling money and VAT, our guide is here to help you decide whether taking on the role of project manager is for you.

Budgeting is an important part of the project manager’s role. Our extension cost calculator can give you an idea of how much you should expect to spend when extending your home – this will be handy when working out budgets.

The project manager’s role is to take your drawings and chosen fixtures and finishes, and to deliver a completed home, just the way you want it, within a set budget and timescale. This can take away the pain of organising a home-improvement project, meaning all you have to focus on is selecting the look and paying the bills.

In addition to taking responsibility for the build, they should oversee the contractor and/or subcontractors, as well as dealing with your local authority’s planners, building control, health and safety, and utility companies. For large projects under a formal contract, they may also take on the role of contract administrator, or be responsible for appointing an independent professional in this capacity.

They will also co-ordinate the rest of the design team and any other professional consultants involved in the projects, these may include:

Structural engineer
Tree consultant
Historic building specialists


Undercover Architect –

(Only portions of the interview are published below)

“As busy people with busy lives, renovating or building a home can be massively disruptive to our already-very-full schedules.

And as with anything you do for the first time, it can quickly become overwhelming and all-consuming, as you navigate a process you have little experience in.

Many homeowners fall into the trap of believing their agent is their builder.

However, despite how lovely and professional any builder is, their main agenda is to protect their business. Sometimes this can be at odds with being your agent, representing your interests and needs.

So who checks the builder’s work? And keeps them accountable? Who checks that you are actually getting what you paid for?

It is my recommendation that, if you’re not proficient in the world of residential design and building, that you hire someone who is, to be your agent.

There are various professions in the industry who can perform this role for you. Each will take a slightly different tack at it, and it’s ultimately up to you to choose based on what type of support you’re seeking.

One profession that many think of is a Project Manager. I mean, it’s right there in the job title isn’t it? They manage your project.

However, Project Managers can and will do much more than simply be the person who checks in on the builder. How much more? Well, that’s what this blog will discuss.

Ben Larsson, of All In Project Management (AIPM), is a Project Manager who specialises in residential projects.

I asked Ben to tell us about the role of a Project Manager, and a bit about his business.

He gives us his big tips for getting your reno or build to go smoothly, and create the home you’re seeking.

And he has some great advice about the budget blowing mistakes he regularly sees homeowners make!

What role does a Project Manager perform? Why would a homeowner need you?
As I touched on earlier, people are not getting more and more free time every year – it’s going the other way.

With the volume of detail in a substantial residential project, the number of consultants to coordinate and strategic issues with both Council and neighbours to manage, not every home or land owner is going to be equipped to effectively manage their careers, families and a substantial project overlaid on top.

As such, the AIPM service is essentially a dedicated resource, tasked overall with identifying and addressing project risk, handling time intensive elements and smoothing project delivery.

The benefit is that there is a specialist handling a specialist role, allowing the architect to focus solely upon design and documentation without having to lift off to address non-design issues.

Further, the homeowner/landowner knows that their interests are being represented throughout the project from start to finish, allowing them to take care of the most important things in their lives.

How does this differ from, or not overlap, the work of other professionals on the project?
One of the key elements of the role is that it does nothing that any other consultant (including the architect) would otherwise specialise in.

It’s critical for the client-side Project Manager to procure the right architect and supporting consultants for that project and ensure that their scope of works and overall role is clearly defined.

Although not responsible for the design elements of a residential scheme, my support of the architect extends to ensuring that what is being designed is approvable by Council and reflects each of the Brief and budget.

In taking care of overall project coordination, the Project Manager allows the architect to focus upon his/her core discipline – design and documentation – without wasting time and energy dealing with Council, or briefing/hiring/coordinating a structural engineer, or geotechnical investigation, or BCA consultant etc.

Similarly, I’m not taking levels and producing surveys of various sites – but I’m keenly aware of which surveyors are reliable, cost-effective, capable and available for the type of work a particular project might require.

What are your top 3 big tips for getting it right in a reno or new build?
Tip 1: Don’t try and crack a coconut with a nutcracker
Hire the right professional(s) for your job. Architects are wrongly perceived as being expensive, but they bring a level of expertise, detail and design resolution that a draftsperson is just not capable or qualified to bring.

Tip 2: Ask yourself if you have the time, personality and inclination to manage the project yourself.
Consider whether having someone run it for you, allowing you to minimise costly mistakes and get some sleep at night, is a preferable option.

Tip 3: Don’t put too much stock in neighbour’s or friend’s statements of what their renovation cost to build on a rate per square metre.

Most rational people are incentivised to talk down the cost of their project to either cover up a bad mistake or to demonstrate what an excellent project manager they are.

Further, rates per square metre is a deeply flawed metric by which to compare projects, as it doesn’t take into account what’s included and what’s excluded (landscaping? pergolas? builder’s prelims/margin?), doesn’t take into account site conditions (steep/flat site?) and doesn’t take into account the state of the residential trades market at the time the project was tendered and let.”

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