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Dodging Lemons: 3 Keys to Avoiding a Construction Manager Disaster


Choosing a new car can be tough. What features do I really need?  What models have the best fuel economy? Which car is best for me in the long run? Just recently, my wife and I spent — what seemed like a month — researching our options, calling up dealerships and checking out vehicles until we found the “right” one. All this for a $20K decision!

Choosing a construction manager is a much more difficult decision, but too often the selection process is inadequate. As a building owner, you may spend less time vetting construction firms than I spent buying a car! In the traditional process, you will skim each written proposal, watch a couple of 30-minute presentations, discuss with stakeholders and then make a decision. All correspondence is filtered through one person so that you, the decision-maker, interact very little with the construction firms. At the end of the day, do you feel as good about your construction manager as I do about my new car? When preparing to spend millions of dollars on a project, you should know you have the “right” construction manager on your team. I think there is a better way.

When preparing to spend millions of dollars on a project, you should know you have the “right” Construction Manager on your team.

1.  Do the Research

Even before beginning the selection process, you can learn a lot about potential construction firms. Use this information to narrow down your list of preferred firms. It is much more manageable to read three to five proposals instead of ten.

2. Take a Test Drive

Spending quality time with the proposed project teams can help you determine who will be a good fit for you. An efficient way to do this is to tour a recently completed building with the construction management teams. Not only will you be able to judge the quality of craftsmanship, but also the personalities of the key team members. Remember, you will be working with this team for many, many months. It is important that you click personally.

3. Read Reviews

Other building owners have been through this already! You need to know what previous clients have to say about their experience with each firm — both the good and the bad. Ask each firm for both positive and negative references so you can hear about how they handle problems.

Adding these three steps to your hiring process can help you feel more confident about finding the “right” construction manager for your project. Take your time, and don’t be afraid to step outside of the traditional RFP process. Before you know it, you will be driving off into the sunset with your new construction management team.

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May 28, 2024