Your association is gearing up for a large project. Maybe it’s time to re-do the clubhouse or plan for that $2M dollar concrete restoration project that was put off for far too long. Other large scale projects can include painting, concrete restoration, interior restoration, deck/paver repair or replacement, and foundation repairs, and so much more.
Too often, associations rely on untrained personnel to handle these projects such as a board member or manager. Doing so, is penny wise but pound foolish. Sure, the Board feels as though they pay a manager so the manager should manage the project, too – but remember the qualifications for being a licensed community association manager have very little to do with construction project management. In fact, often times, management contracts have disclaimers that limit management company liability when the assigned manager finds themselves involved with project management.
Gary Pyott, LCAM, who was involved with association management for over 20 years, is now a principal at Association 1st LLC, a Professional Project Management/Owners Rep company and he has a lot to say about this subject. Pyott explained that in his 20 years of association management he has seen case after case where the Board’s perception of their manager or management company experience regarding project management was over estimated. Pyott says, “associations hire attorneys to do legal work, accountants to complete financial work, engineers to write specifications, why not hire professionally trained Project Managers to manage large scale projects in the interest of all of the owners especially when millions of dollars of unit owner funds are on the line.”
All too often Pyott has witnessed the situation where an association allows their manager, and in some cases a board member or committee, to oversee large scale projects which, in the end, cost the association significantly more dollars in legal fees and remediation contractor fees to complete the project correctly. Without properly trained professionals to oversee and manage projects, the chances of having vendor and material issues increases, the time for project completion is more likely to far exceed the original timeline, and project budgets can experience significant overruns which can easily lead to another special assessment. By that time, the community is up in arms over the situation.
According to Pyott, a Project Manager/Owners Rep engaged by a community association has the responsibility to protect the association, its members and the board, too. He explained that there are three phases to project management of this scale.
1) Project Planning & Pre-construction Phase:
• Discuss project, construction methods & materials, and identify expectations from all parties.
• Prioritize the budget, schedule and project specific requirements.
• Identify any items which may not be included on permit/bid but which may impact cost, (municipal approvals, specialty trades, etc.).
• Coordinate with the association’s lawyer in regard to material alteration votes and loans.
• Provide preliminary schedule of values based on drawings from design team, and coordinate as needed with all parties (design team, contractors, vendors, specialty trades, etc.).
• Prepare preliminary cost estimates for specific line items or divisions for items beyond the scope of the general contractor, if applicable.
• Prepare formal comprehensive budget including items which may be excluded from the general contractor’s estimate.
2) Construction/Project Management Phase:
• Hold weekly meetings with contractors and project team, and provide report/minutes.
• Conduct regular scheduled and unannounced site visits.
• Require and monitor GC updates and maintain project schedule on a weekly basis, and identify any lags or delays in schedule
• Track contactor’s inspection progress
• Confirm status of long lead time orders
• Review and coordinate requests for information
• Review and coordinate change orders
• Track contractor deliverables such as shop drawings, submittals, and samples for approval.
3) Project Close-Out/Transition Phase:
• Monitor progress of final inspections.
• Confirm lender close-out requirements.
• Request and track subcontractor final release of lien.
• Track and confirm receipt of contractor’s close-out book to include: All as-built drawings. All equipment manuals. Warranties. Extra materials from project. Finish samples and identification of finishes used which are not identified in ID drawings.
These three phases have a multitude of additional items under each phase that a professional in the field of Project Management/Owners Rep will coordinate and oversee on behalf of the association. Spending time to evaluate and hire a Professional Project Manager/Owners Rep initially is a core responsibility of the board and should be the very first step in large scale project planning.
If your board has any specific questions or needs regarding project management you can contact Gary Pyott at Association 1st LLC, a Professional Project Management/Owners Rep, by emailing him at email@example.com or by calling him at 305-588-7658.
Jeffrey Rembaum, Esq. of Kaye, Bender, Rembaum attorneys at law, legal practice consists of representation of condominium, homeowner, commercial and mobile home park associations, as well as exclusive country club communities and the developers who build them. He is a regular columnist for The Condo News, a biweekly publication and was inducted into the 2012, 2013 & 2014 Florida Super Lawyers. He can be reached at 561-241-4462.