Every construction project needs a construction manager.
A construction project takes significant time away from where owners and clients are needed most, and it requires specific expertise to manage and evaluate bids and coordinate schedules of selected contractors, subcontractors, and vendors. Kelly Nelson, a Senior Construction Manager at SHYFT, says “A construction manager (CM) is to a construction project as what a conductor is to an orchestra. They get all parties to perform their individual part in concert with the rest of the players. In construction, the CM is the central source of information, planning, and communication. They know what each trades’ role is, when it is to be performed in the schedule, and how each scope of work interconnects with other contractors.” Construction managers also play an important role with the client. They make sure that the client’s budget is managed properly, their goals are met, and any changes are communicated and implemented.
Construction Management can be used for any type of project – commercial, corporate, higher education, and residential. While CM duties remain the same for essentially all project types, there is one type that stands out as the most dissimilar – residential. Nelson states that “residential projects are often smaller in size and budget. And even though a residential project may be smaller in size, the level of detail and expectations for dwelling spaces often exceeds that of a place of business. They often have more emotion and sentiment wrapped up in the overall expectations and outcome from the client’s perspective. It is important to be sensitive to that component.” Colton Caldwell, another Construction Manager for SHYFT, states “even though residential projects can be smaller and less complex than corporate or commercial projects, CM’s risk running into more issues with existing conditions, especially in older, historic homes. So, it is important to stay on top of them.”
Both Kelly and Colton are currently working on multiple DEV Partners house flips in two historic neighborhoods of downtown Columbus, Ohio – German Village and Victorian Village. The leaders of SHYFT & DEV Partners decided early in the pandemic when work was slowing down and projecting to be slow for at least the remainder of 2020, that it could be beneficial to create more work for us while investing in real estate. SHYFT has the expertise in-house to manage the projects from a development standpoint, design and produce permit drawings, and take care of the construction management as well. It would also give DEV Partners a plan for growth.
They sought a group of investors to pool funds together with the goal of purchasing, renovating, and selling single-family or small multi-family homes. Ultimately, FRMD (formed) was born.
Currently, SHYFT is renovating three historic homes as part of our FRMD portfolio, one in German Village and two in Victorian VillageThrough design and construction management, SHYFT & DEV’s goal is to bring captivating, historic homes (old or not so old) back to life so they can be a home for new owners: families, couples, singles, or any resident.
Now, you may be wondering what construction management looks like when working on a historic, residential flip project. Kelly explains that “with house flips, budgets and profitability are a key component of each project. The construction management team’s primary role is to maximize the amount of improvement for the least amount of cost. This involves a level of creativity and budgeting that is not as straightforward as other projects. Additionally, there are many more unknowns regarding the existing conditions. In most cases, the only information that can be gathered is from site visits and field measurements.” The CM must be prepared for a higher level of ambiguity at the outset and continue to bring clarity and definition as more information arises. Colton states that he and Kelly are having to make more decisions on-site when running into issues with existing discrepancies. “During a new build, you mostly know what is going to happen and how it should be accomplished. With house flips, you throw all of that out of the window since you surely will run into something that won’t work as drawn on the plans.”
With our FRMD house flip projects, we believe SHYFT has brought tremendous value through integrated design and construction coordination. “Our design and construction teams work closely to cover every detail of the homes, clarify the scopes of work for improvement, and find the right contractor mix for each project. Any issues or concerns that arise are quickly addressed so that projects stay on track”, says Kelly. As such, these projects could not succeed without construction managers. “There is a lot of work that goes into the day-to-day operations to keep things running smoothly. Transferring the projects from drawn plans to real life requires a great deal of effort. When a plan is created, it is drawn before anything gets opened on the projects. It is up to the construction managers to make the game-time decisions that keep the project flowing”, states Colton.
At the onset of a construction project, it is the CM’s goal to ensure all players have what they need to make that project succeed. While there are many different things that can easily throw a job off track, the CM’s duty is to put them back on track. While CM’s know how to set a project up for success, here are some best practices to help manage a construction project in the most efficient way:
1. Clarify scopes of work with both the client and the contractors
2. Review project plans and knows them better than anyone else
3. Set realistic budget and schedule expectations for the client early on
4. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
An orchestra could not succeed without its conductor. They would be out of tune.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could not succeed without Tom Brady. The team would not know the right plays and would not have won Super Bowl LV.
Some construction project could not succeed without a CM. Just as a conductor oversees its musicians, a CM oversees all players and activities on a construction site to ensure the project’s success. They keep up with established budgets and timelines and find cost-savings without compromising quality or design while having the project finished before the proposed deadline. Not only do CM’s create cost-savings with fewer change orders, but they also provide peace of mind to the entire project and project team, as they have the required expertise to take charge and lead the construction.