A conversation with one of Real Projectives’ (RPL) Senior Project Managers, Tony Forano.
The General Contractor
Forano recalled a recent 26-story student housing project in Atlanta as we were discussing what makes projects successful. “What made that project work well was the general contractor. They were conscientious, they weren’t out to cheat anybody, and at end of project they returned $275k of unspent allowances, part of the shared cost. They did excellent work and maintained their schedule,” said Forano.
The chosen contractor can make or break how well a project goes. When a contractor’s not on their game, it’s more difficult to complete projects. What may be more obvious is that their organizational approach and relationships with subcontractors and suppliers are fundamental to building a quality product on time. Additionally, how they manage the paperwork throughout impacts the timeliness of completing close-out and a smooth transition to leasing and use. .
RPL either hires the contractor or makes recommendations, depending on our level of involvement. Often, based on the bids from different contractors, we’d have input on which we thought was the best bid or best qualified bidder. As Forano says, “Being expensive doesn’t make a contractor more qualified. You have to do your research on the contractors as well.”
Forano shares what the research entails. “You see how many liens they have against them. You check out their Better Business Bureau ratings. What’s the reputation they have? Do they have a lot of complaints? Is their workmanship shoddy? Do they pay their subcontractors on time? Do they pay their supply houses on time?”
Those some of the elements we consider when looking at contractors to qualify them. If we are actively managing a project, we choose the contractor. When we oversee a project, where the joint venture partner is the final decision maker, we must carefully and thoughtfully make recommendations. Forano continued about those cases, “We usually say that we’ve worked with a few different contractors in that case, and that the partner needs to vet them on their own. We have to carefully consider the type of client and partner that we have before we make recommendations.”
The Design Team
The second element of making a project successful is engaging a solid design team (architect, civil engineer, mechanical engineer, structural engineer) who responds quickly—no lag in getting information to the contractor—and has a well-coordinated team of engineers.
While architects often hire the engineers, they do work under the architect’s umbrella rather than working out of their (the architect’s) office. Forano says, “When we hire architects and engineers separately, I find, as an owner’s representative, we have the responsibility to coordinate them. When the architect hires the engineers, whether from same or different firm, they become responsible for the coordination. We appreciate it when the architect is responsible for all disciplines of design. It’s easier to manage one contact.”
If you’re planning a new real estate development or renovation construction project, we’d love to discuss the risks and options to help you overcome some of the challenges. Contact us today or call us at 888.357.7342 to discuss how leveraging our knowledge, expertise, and ambition could drive your next project or portfolio to success.