Hiring a Project Manager for Your Steel Building Project

Published September 25, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

Consider a bicycle wheel. If all of the spokes are of similar lengths, evenly spaced and strong in their own right, the bicycle can move smoothly and efficiently from Point A to Point Be. If any of these factors are out-of-whack, the wheel will bump and grind along, making their way unevenly down the road and possibly breaking down altogether.

When you commence a steel building project, hiring the right project manager is like establishing a strong hub of that proverbial wheel, one that measures, monitors and oversees all of the various spokes required to get the tire to the finish line in a balanced and organized manner.

A Construction Project Manager Connects All the Dots

Once you hire a construction manager to oversee your project, you can relax a bit, knowing that all of the dots will be connected in a logical and methodical way. Project management professionals know how to take the plans provided by your architect and then orchestrate a myriad of tasks involved in the project such as:

  • Assessing your needs and wants before the project commences
  • Working with the architect to incorporate your needs/wants, keeping site and code restrictions in mind
  • Applying for and securing building permits
  • Orchestrating and monitoring the bidding process
  • Negotiating better prices for material costs and labor
  • Hiring a team of licensed and qualified subcontractors
  • Providing advisement on legal and environmental concerns
  • Maintaining a safe job site
  • Scheduling subcontractors, deliveries, vendors and inspections
  • Reviewing bills to approve them for payment
  • Troubleshooting any problems that arise with minimal interruptions for the building owner

This last piece of the puzzle can be invaluable for a building owner. The construction manager will act as YOU on the jobsite, taking care of business, problems, change orders and so on, so you don't have to be bothered or interrupted unless your input is absolutely necessary.

Using a Project Manager Can Save You Money

Every building owner is concerned with keeping project costs to a minimum, which is one reason why you might consider skipping the expense of a PM altogether. Yes, an extra employee increases the budget, but what he or she adds to the project - and the stress a PM subtracts from you life - can be invaluable.

Even the best general contractor may lack the well-rounded skill sets required to oversee an entire project, especially a larger one, from start to finish. If, in a worst case scenario, something should go wrong or a mistake is made, the project manager will catch it and rectify it immediately, resolving any potential issues with the subcontractor or vendor responsibly.

That type of quick and professional response and mediation is often what keeps a job snafu from blossoming into future litigation, which can cost you or the construction firm tens of thousands of dollars - if not more.

Most project managers charge either a percentage of the total contract, or an hourly rate. Be very wary of the latter as it can ring up a very hefty bill. If you do want to work with a specific manager who charges by the hour, add an agreed upon earning cap in the contract to protect your bottom line.

Hire a the Right Person For the Job

Of course, not all project managers are created equal so your job is to find the right one for your specific project.:

Know exactly what you need

If you don't know what you need, or don't fully understand the scope of the project, it will be difficult to find the right PM. Ask yourself:

  • Do we need more technical or functional management?
  • What are our weak points and where do we see a construction manager providing the most assistance?
  • Which PM strengths will be the most valuable to the project?

Rather than relying on general job descriptions, get to the heart of what you need and then hire a PM who is a good fit for those particular angles.

Balance education and experience

A good education is important, but don't fall into the trap of placing more emphasis on a degree than on solid work experience. Construction is not something that can be learned in a book, and it's amazing how many professionals earn graduate degrees in construction project management with very limited hands-on knowledge of what goes on at a jobsite, not to mention the ins-and-outs of architecture, foundation pours, carpentry and other sub-specialties.

What "works" on the plans doesn't always work out in the field; a good PM knows the difference and can rectify it before things go too far.

Don't let your project get off to a bumpy start. Hire a project manager with metal building experience and you'll enjoy a much smoother ride and a more successful finish.

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