Owners Representation: You as a client want a new home built, but you need someone with knowledge and experience loyal to you watching out for you and orchestrating the process. This isn’t to imply that people on the design side or the construction side aren’t great people, but everyone has their own agenda and their own kids to feed. Always remember that everyone you do business with will be a pro in their field. If they want to outsmart you they can, they are the knowledgeable party. We become involved as an owners representative to protect your interests and to get you value for your money as well as a quality product. What we try to do is create clear expectations for all the parties involved. I consider myself tri-lingual. Owners—architects—contractors/laborers. Over the years I have learned to not be intimidated by the arrogance of architects and the gruffness of the guys in the trenches. I can create a forum where we all communicate positively with mutual respect for everyone’s input. Translation creates clear expectations.
You stop by after work to look at the progress going on in your new custom home. Oh no!! the arches in the dining room are nothing like you had pictured in your mind. So you talk to the builder and he shows you that he is doing just what the plans say, but of course he can change it for an added fee. So you bring in the designer and he shows you that they built exactly what was on the plans that you signed off on. But you say that was a flat plan drawing and I remember telling you what I wanted. How was I supposed to see that? you say. Now we have a case where everybody is right, but we have the wrong outcome. If we had been on board as your representative odds are good we could have caught that communication gap aka misunderstanding. However if we didn’t we have the ability to facilitate an outcome that works for everyone and avoid a senseless war where everyone and especially your home suffer. So I get the architect to give a little, the builder to help us out because we aren’t trying to fry him, and you the owner give a little. Nobody gets squished and we keep things moving positively (very important).
Over the years I have done my share of expert witnessing in construction litigation. Nearly every time it is a lack of communication and compassion that gets these things started. The one given is that everyone looses. Even if you win you loose.
You would never think of running a business doing a million dollars worth of business without your own manager on site even if you knew everything about the business, now would you. Well don’t try it here.
Two other interesting things happen with our serving as an owners rep.. Originally I thought the General Contractors would fight our involvement, but what we found was after they worked with us for a little while they found we took most of the burden of dealing with the owner and designers off their plate so they could attend to the business of building your home. The other thing I was pleased with was the cost to hire us. Although we add another layer of cost to your project (this varies, but approximately 5% of hard costs), we find that by our being professional intermediaries we save more than we cost as well as make it possible for the contractors involved to deliver more. Effective management from the start can trim time, money and heartache from any building project. Everyone gets to do what they do best.
From my experiences I have come to the conclusion that the best system for anyone building a new home whether it is for personal use or for investment is to hire someone with experience and a personality that you can work with to work on your behalf. A major part of the construction business is relationships that take years to develop. General contractors have developed a list of subs and suppliers that have proven themselves over time that they can call on. A good owner’s rep will make your life easy, the contractors’ job easier facilitating a better outcome for you the homeowner.