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Subject: When do we need a Project Manager and what do we look for
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09/07/2020 6:29 PM  
All our clients are in Dallas County, Texas, all but two are Property Code Chapter 81 Condominiums under the Texas Condominium Act, they were formed prior to January 1, 1994 and are not governed by TUCA.

However, that is not germane to our question:

One of our clients is a 15-unit property, two buildings, in an 'O so trendy' part of town. K-H off 75 for any of you familiar with Dallas.

The architect of the property is well known, properties he designed are sought after. The units sell in the low 7 figures.

The property was last painted @ 15 years ago, the buildings are wood frame construction with some brick facade, not structural, and mostly traditional 3-layer old fashioned stucco, including expanded metal lath and chicken wire, over a paper covering applied over the wooden framework. There are lateral walls defining patios which are ordinary concrete cinder block over which the stucco has been applied.

We have obtained bids to address cracks in the bricks, areas which need to be caulked, paint, demo and replace fences (common elements), everything we and the contractors can think of.

The bids for this work are in the low six figures.

We do not possess the skills to project manage this work and do not wish to represent ourselves as being capable of doing so. We can coordinate, arrange access, schedule, etc.

However we believe it important someone be on the property every work day (or, maybe not. Your thoughts?) to ensure the work is properly executed with respect to current construction practices, in compliance with the current property code, and in compliance with the terms and conditions of the contract.

What type of person do we need? Are there professionals out there who do this sort of thing? Clearly the contractor should have a project manager but a recent experience with another client has taught us a wholly independent set of eyes may be important.

What are your thoughts and experiences?

Thanks. Hope you enjoyed your Labor Day.


09/07/2020 7:07 PM  
-- I hear you that evidently this "recent experience with another client" resulted in a product not to people's liking; or not up to standards; or similar. How was the unsatisfactory workmanship discovered in this latter case? Is there really the same risk here?

-- Is whoever will be doing this non-structural work licensed and bonded? Is there any kind of warranty you all can get?

-- I fear that what you propose will amount to inappropriate micro-managing, both by the condo association and by any third party inspector hired. Contractors' licenses are supposed to mean something. You seem to be saying that such licences do not have enough meaning, based on a recent experience one of your condos had. I would be treading carefully so as not to disrespect whomever is going to be hired.

-- I do not think the title of the person for whom you all are looking is "project manager." What you all want sounds more like some flavor of inspector. I think the question then becomes to whom this inspector would report. I think it's a terrible idea to try to have the contractor take direction from a third party inspector that the condo association hires. The third party inspector would have to report to the board or the condo manager. If the third party inspector does not like something, now the board or the condo manager has to give an instruction (based in the third party inspector's report) to the contractor. This sounds awkward.

-- It occurs to me that maybe you could hire another contractor to monitor the main contractor's work. But again, I think this would tend to be uncomfortable. On the third hand, it might be worth calling around and making inquiries. Also, see if the contractors who bid would be okay with such monitoring and possible corrections here and there.

-- I would also call some Reserve Study companies and see if they have any ideas.

-- Perhaps an inspection after one day, one week, and then at the end of the job, to correct problems, might be agreeable to all.


09/07/2020 8:07 PM  

Reading what you wrote, it sounds like the person you are looking for, is someone often referred to as a “Clerk of the Works”, with experience in the building construction industry, who you would employ for your client, to ensure that the work is properly done.


09/08/2020 9:47 AM  

I think you're right to urge the condo board to enter into a contract with a firm that specializes in "construction management" given the description of the project and of the work. Other names I've seen are "construction quality control inspection" and construction consultants." Such a firm should have staff who are experts in a variety of construction-related fields.

The individual or firm would write reports for the Board via your MC. Yes, your PM would do the scheduling and arrange access. Every day sounds excessive for inspections. Weekly sounds good. They do not instruct the general contractor.

We hired such firm as our "project manger" for the painting of our twin tower 25-tory buildings, which including filling any cracks on our stucco exteriors including within our exclusive use common patios/balconies/decks. They also were to make sure the painters did caulking. The buildings had been recaulked 5 yrs earlier and some areas had been missed. The latter had been done without a construction manager, which was a mistake.

The results were so-so. I don't think they did that great a job though we had checked references, etc. Their construct was for $48,000.

I think there might be a construction specialist institute.


09/08/2020 3:12 PM  
Check with the BBB. They may have some suggestion or resources.

Not sure how much management that is needed by the HOA. Maybe overthinking some of it. If they are licensed and insured company they have to meet certain regulations. If you suspect code violations there is a code enforcement department with the city. Plus there should be departments in the city/government that do inspections.

I'd make sure you have the permit to do work on hand and a copy of the company's license/business license. Some work may not require a permit. Fences may not require them. However, each city building codes are different. So again consult your local building permits and codes office.

I've always acted as the HOA's "general contractor". Hiring and scheduling contractors etc. I've got lots of construction experience under my belt. So there is a fine line of micro-managing a job and letting the contractor do their work. Just let me know that your a HOA and that decisions have to be made by the board NOT the individual. That board may let the MC handle it but they still have to agree for whomever the "middle man" is, the board has to be informed.

Former HOA President
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