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What makes good project management?

We all work together to provide interior architecture, project management and interior design services to our clients. Irene leads the interior architecture/interior design team, with Ian and her team being on-site, mostly on the phone, as our in-house team for project management.
Our clients often ask us questions in the beginning stages of projects, such as whether they have a need for a dedicated manager or what their value is.

This post will explain why project managers are so crucial for large-scale renovations or refurbishments. It also explains why the project manager is important for the design team as well as the benefits of having them work closely together.

What is project Management?

Project management can be described as the general process of managing all aspects of a project. This includes the budget, the schedule, and the execution.

In the luxury residential sector, a project manager is responsible for ensuring every aspect of the project is in order. This includes coordinating the cost, communicating with all stakeholders, reviewing, approving, and delivering the project on-time and within budget. The luxury residential & hospitality sector also requires project managers to bring a healthy dose creativity and design flair to ensure that clients receive the unique, creative, and original ideas they have.

A project management team that is successful thinks at least five years ahead. It doesn’t matter if it concerns planning permissions or financial checks, consulting appointments, budgeting, sourcing artisansmen or all the paperwork, health, safety provisions and insurance issues.
Why is project management so important?

Any project can benefit from a great project management team. Although the architecture, interior architecture, and overall design scheme may be amazing, if deadlines are missed or budgets spiral out-of-control, if small details are ignored, or if budgets spiral out, a project can become overrun and stunning in a matter of days. If a homeowner invests significant money in their home’s construction or renovation, a less than perfect finish can ruin the enjoyment of that space.

Many clients think that their architect, main contractor or designer can act as project managers at no additional cost. Even though this approach is possible for an experienced client with several projects under their belt, and a team of exceptional people around them, we wouldn’t recommend it for the inexperienced or weak-hearted.

For high-end residential developments, project management is usually a full-time job. Apart from being able to access a large network trusted contractors, manufacturers and having established project checklists & programs, the project management team can bring a wealth in contract management, cost planning and organizational skills.

While a “white box” finish could be done on a newly built house with just 5 trades, an average project will require 20 or more trades to complete the fixed elements. While it’s relatively simple and affordable to fix mistakes in a white box finish it is difficult for luxury interiors. Ineffective communication, miscommunication, mistakes in programming and missed design approvals can all lead to costly errors. It is frustrating to have to ruin flawless wall finishes because a minor component of the electrical or mechanical services was not properly tested. This is even worse if a bespoke centerpiece stairway is delivered less than perfect due to missing communications. It is equally distressing to find out that entire stone floors must be removed because the incorrect order was used. A lot of elements need to be reviewed and approved so making mistakes is easy and expensive.

The role of project manager is more about preventing problems than fixing them. Assisting the architect and designer in defining the scope of work and ensuring that it is carried out on-site. This task is made easier when the project management team draws on their years of experience.

Let’s discuss money

Budgets are a topic that architects and designers often avoid until they get to the tender stage of a project. This is usually not because budgets are difficult to understand, but because they play second fiddle with the design workload. This area, along with the execution on site, is where it is crucial to establish a strong relationship between your designer/project manager.

Even with a’money is no object’ project, clients have a budget. Or they want to know what their spending limits are. Luxury interiors are not limited to the construction costs of the shell and core, but a large proportion of the funds will be used for the finishes. It will depend on the type and cost of the project.

A cost plan can be created and discussed with the team early to give the client an indication of the budget. This will allow the project managers to provide an estimate to the clients as well as a guideline for designers.

Project managers are able to support the design team and offer checks and balances. They can suggest areas for value engineering or propose alternative finishes and materials. They also manage the impact of key design elements within the construction program. Sometimes, a minor design change can make a difference and save you weeks of work.

What is the best way to know if your project manager works well?

Our view is that effective project management begins when you begin to question why you have paid for the service. This is when there seems to be a lot of reward for little effort.

Unfortunately, project managers are usually only made to the frontline when things go wrong. Don’t let this fool you, success is not always due to luck. Many emails, calls and meetings take place behind-the scenes. This is in addition to a lot paperwork needed to keep the project on track. Consider praising your project manager if you feel the move-in experience was pleasant and easy.