When Should A Tenant Project Manager Get Involved? From The Very Beginning.

How do you convince the Owner/Tenant to bring on the project manager early?  The Tenant Rep Project Manager or Owner’s Rep brings many things to the table before the project is in pre-construction. Plan reviews, scope writing, budgeting, etc.  It’s important that they get involved from the beginning, even before the design team to help guide the owner to good decisions and relationships.

The Owner’s Rep manages who engage early and manage all aspects for the tenant. They understand the tenant’s perspective to guide brokers, vendors, consultants and the design and construction team.

The tenant improvement work letter or TI is the critical document that lays out how the landlord might build a space. Take a law firm for example. Lawyers don’t want their closed-door conversations heard in the next office or outside the conference room. Does the TI specify high Acoustical rating on ceiling tiles or acoustical treatments in the wall cavity? How about floor to ceiling sheetrock to minimize sound transmission? Does the TI specify the number of outlets per square foot? Lawyers typically have cpu, 2 monitors, cell and tablet chargers, dictation, phone transformer. How does the landlord address this when multi-outlet extension cords are often illegal? Did you provide enough power for paralegal cubes who often need at least six receptacles. Did you calculate the floor load for your high density filing system? Brokers don’t always address these issues during lease negotiations.

PMs guide the tenant by asking questions to help them understand the full parameters of the project and the full value of an owner’s representative’s services: what are your objectives for the project? what is your program; how did you arrive at it? have all the stakeholders contributed to that program? do you have an overall project budget including planning, design, engineering, energy analysis, permitting, temporary facilities, owner-furnished items, inspections, commissioning, furniture, fixtures and equipment (FFE) as well as construction? If so, how was it developed? Are there constraints on financing that have to be considered in project planning and execution? Do you have an overall project schedule? What are the constraints on that schedule? How might those constraints influence decision in the delivery method of design-build vs design-bid-build vs fast track with a CM at risk, etc.

By asking these questions, it gives a quick insight into to the status of the project and the owner’s resources and sophistication. It gives a platform to overview the value of an OR’s services, and gives the owner an immediate sense of what it would be like to have a PM on their side throughout the project.

OR/PMs are often referred to as “Construction Managers” and the downside to being labeled as such is the tenant thinks they don’t need you until the construction starts. And if the landlord handles construction, they don’t think you’re needed at all. It makes sense that the tenant could easily see value just in the perceptive questions being asked. It is a very small price to pay to avoid unwanted delays and claims.

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4 Comments on When Should A Tenant Project Manager Get Involved? From The Very Beginning.

  1. Richard, as a practicing architect I’d like comment, perhaps “project managers often encounter instances” with “the wrong architect” could be changed to “project managers sometimes encounter instances”. I try to stick up for our sometimes maligned profession, when everyone points to the architect as being to blame for all the design/construction ills on a project. Assuming the architect is experienced, he/she will be cognizant of the issues you speak of and has the trained vision to coordinate all except, probably, the financing. It is up to the owner to take on the additional cost of a PM or CM if the project is complex enough to merit that.

    • Sarah, thank you for the feedback. My thoughts while writing the line were actually about a healthcare project where the architect was a friend of the owner who had no healthcare experience. As you correctly pointed out it was poorly communicated. I have removed the line all together. Thanks for pointing it out.

  2. Good read Richard

  3. Carolyn Jinks // May 22, 2012 at 5:12 pm // Reply

    Excellent article Richard.

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