The Difference Between a Construction Manager and Owner’s Representative

According to a survey of senior leaders from organizations carrying out significant capital construction projects over the years, only 31% of projects came within 10% of the budget, and just 25% of projects came within 10% of their original deadlines. Considering that missing either of these factors by too large a margin can be the difference between profit and loss, it’s important to identify what the leading contributors are and what you can do to avoid being a part of these shockingly low statistics. 

While some elements are beyond anyone’s control, most risks can be mitigated through experienced planning and leadership. For construction projects, these key leadership positions include Construction Managers and Owner Representatives, yet many owners and investors are unfamiliar with the details of these roles and the differences between the two. Having provided both Construction Management and Owner’s Representation services for over 40 years, we’re shedding some light on the ins and outs of each – aiming to help organizations and owners alike better understand how and when to implement our services, resulting in higher rates of project success.

Owner’s Representation

An Owner’s Representative is responsible for overseeing operations on behalf of the Owner, beginning at the earliest stages of planning and continuing through occupancy. Failure to meet budgets and deadlines can often stem from the planning stages, so having an experienced consultant on hand to provide guidance is a major contributor to setting realistic expectations. However, even if you have already progressed past the planning phase, an Owner’s Rep is a valuable resource to review plans, suggest changes, and serve as the Owner’s eyes and ears throughout the duration of the project and assist in coordinating the team.

Service Details 

While each project may utilize an Owner’s Representative in different capacities depending on the unique needs of the Owner, their responsibilities focus on oversight vs. management. Monitoring all major aspects of the development, an Owner’s Representative reports directly to the Owner on any issues that may impact the schedule, financials and team members, while making recommendations on problem-solving solutions. 

For example, an Owner’s Representative may review any change orders to ensure that the Owner is not being overcharged, charged for work that has not been completed or missed details within the Construction Documents. Upon review, the Owner’s Representative may provide suggestions on the change order or assist the owner in better understanding the need for change.

While the Owner’s Representative will interact with each department to track progress, oversee quality of work and mitigate any issues that arise from the perspective of the Owner, they are not directly responsible for managing contracts issued by the General Contractor; therefore, are not liable for any work performed. Although an Owner may grant their Representative the authority to make decisions on their behalf, they operate from a third-party role (from a legal and interactive perspective).

Each client brings varying levels of interest, experience and knowledge to their project. Understanding that the needs of our clients and their projects are unique, we custom create agreements for every project we’re on. This allows you and our team the opportunity to craft a plan that suits your style of interaction; ensuring we move forward in the most efficient and effective way for your business.

Construction Management

As the name implies, a Construction Manager takes on a managerial role in a development and is responsible for all the moving parts of a Construction Project. Oftentimes, this term is used interchangeably with General Contractor; as both roles include pulling all aspects of the construction team together.

Similar to that of an Owner’s Representative, Construction Managers will often have extensive experience in Project Management or other supervisory roles, such as a Superintendent. With this experience, knowledge and their skill sets, Construction Managers are able to compile quality teams – including subcontractors – manage operations, quality of work and the many other moving parts of a construction project.

Service Details

Just like we recommend including your Owner’s Representative early on in the planning process of your project, the same goes for that of your Construction Manager. Since they will be managing the project from start to finish, overseeing logistics, budgets, team members, schedules and more, their industry knowledge and experience can come in handy while your project is preparing to begin. Plus, it helps ensure that everyone is on the same page, prior to breaking ground.

For our Construction Management team, our goal is to keep you on time and budget – or as close to it as possible. One of the most integral parts of meeting this goal that falls under the responsibility of a Construction Manager is hiring and supervising subcontractors as 69% of senior leaders say poor contractor performance is the single largest reason for project underperformance. 

Think of your Construction Manager as the umbrella, of which every other trade falls under. Since they are responsible for managing your project, each subcontractor’s agreement falls under that same umbrella. Therefore, keeping your Construction Manager accountable for overseeing those trades in the most efficient and effective ways. This includes, but is not limited to, the initial bidding process and quality control.

How They Work Together?

With Construction Projects having so many moving parts, communication and cohesiveness between all team members is the key to maintaining quality along all fronts. For Construction Managers, they must manage their umbrella of responsibilities while maintaining clear communication with other members of the building team; including information requests from Architects, Engineers, and Ownership when needed to clarify a task.

The same goes for Owner’s Representatives. Although their responsibilities differ from that of the Construction Manager, an Owner’s Representative can’t fully understand the project without communicating with the teams that designed it, engineered it and are contributing to building it.

Since these roles are drastically different, it would be efficient for you to have both on your Commercial Development. With the Construction Manager focusing on the building of your project and the Owner’s Representative focusing on evaluating the project from an Owner’s perspective, you and your investors could remain confident that nothing is getting lost in the hustle and bustle of construction with the project and your investment protected.

Why They Matter

The Construction Manager is a vital part of every development, providing critical managerial and logistical contributions to the construction phase. While Construction is often where deviations from the budget and deadlines become apparent, the root cause of the issue can stem from a number of factors beginning with planning. This is why the extensive knowledge of an Owner’s Rep, who can provide insight from day 1, and provide oversight for all teams throughout the process, has such a positive impact on success. Developments are a team effort, and the more cohesiveness that exists within a project, the greater the chance your developments finish on time and on budget.

Just like any business, your Commercial Development has goals to hit and deadlines to meet. Our goal is to help you get there. By specializing in Construction Management and Owner’s Representation for large scale commercial projects, we’re always striving to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.  In doing so, we’ve been able to create systems that keep all team members in mind; from a managerial and consulting point of view.

Construction is a team effort and each project is only as strong as its weakest link. With our team’s extensive construction experience and innovative communication techniques, we’re able to move projects along while uplifting our team members along the way. Give your Commercial Development the best opportunity to thrive and build #BrahmaStrong today!

If you have additional questions about Owner’s Representation and Construction Management services, or would like to learn more about our custom packages and the impact they can have on your development, contact us today by clicking here.

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