|How to Choose the Right Construction Management Company|
A key player in development is the construction management company. Whether large project or small, selecting the right construction management team for your project can make the difference between a great experience and end product or a months’ long headache with a financial hangover that can haunt you for years.
Qualifying your construction management firm
Start with a simple review:
What is their work style? Owner/developers should ask how the company handles the process of keeping the owner, in the loop on all communication about the project.
How do they price and manage change? Do they have a track record of providing accurate pricing? If no, is it the result of an owner’s change or lack of adequate numbers? How quickly do they alert you to the change? How did they manage the process?
Answers to these questions will help you gain more insight as to how the construction management company is likely to perform on your job.
Ask for references. This includes past clients, subcontractors, the city, etc. You should have three to four names to call that will provide a reference for the construction management company. Know what former clients, the industry and word-of-mouth rumblings are saying about your list of prospective construction firms.
Confirm licensing. Your construction management company should be licensed if they are in a jurisdiction that requires it. Missouri does not require a license, however, Kansas does. Check with your state to determine if licensing is a requirement.
Check its bonding capacity and safety procedures. Ask if the construction management company has the ability to bond a project. Of course, the goal is that you never have to use it, but it should be in place if something happens.
What about safety? The firm must have a safety plan in place. OSHA is the regulatory governmental agency for construction safety, and every job site should be in compliance. As an owner, you should not completely rely on this agency to ensure the safety of the workers and the overall jobsite. Ask to see the construction company's safety plan, which should be pro-active, focus on environmental health and require regular safety audits. Safety on a project is an on-going responsibility and should be in place and updated as needed.
Controlling the budget
Many construction management firms tend to underbid because they bid on the scope instead of what the owner really wanted. This just sets the project up for failure because the client’s expectations will not be met. A good contractor will work thoughtfully to pull out the hopes and dreams of the owner/developer that may not have made it to the page but will eventually impact cost. With the best sense of the owner’s wishes in hand, the good contractor will then give an honest timeframe and budget from the beginning.
This will allow for fewer hiccups, headaches and arguments later. Good construction management firms avoid miscommunication and underbidding with transparency throughout the entire process. They share with the owner, up front, any potential problems for which they may not have accounted. They discuss with them the possibility of including a contingency to the budget. Owners and construction management companies have a common goal – to deliver the project on time and on budget. Numbers and pricing are crucial to the success and completion of the project. Watch for underbidding which can severely impact the project when most already have their hands full monitoring inflation, volatile markets and changes in costs of materials.
Look for contractors who have stood the test of time. Good contractors will remain in business for the long haul because they are fair, honest and upfront with their pricing. But, honest and upfront pricing is more than just numbers and costs. It also is about how a company functions institutionally, not just about how the contractor priced this particular job. Construction companies who are committed to the client and the project, will remain transparent, provide the highest quality available, and promise a fair way of doing business.