Re: Hiring construction manager
From: Jennifer Lynn Mccoy (poljlmpanther.Gsu.EDU)
Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 13:34:42 -0500
In response to questions raised by John Major:  At Lake Claire in Atlanta
(where we're just moving in and so these issues are fresh in our minds),
we served as our own developer and hired our architect/burning soul who is
also a member of the group as Project Manager (for about $39,000 plus a
bonus of $7,500). His role was to liaison between the builder and the
group on decisions that had to be made along the way, and oversee the
construction.  The builder also hired his own construction manager to
coordinate the construction subcontractors. These are two different
functions. 

It is a very good idea to have your own person overseeing the construction
and representing your interests.  If you rely on the builder's
construction manager, you won't have that.  Hiring someone within the
group raises the perennial dilemma of  awkwardness if the group feels the
person is not performing, but we managed OK.

REgarding time spent and the role of the group -- we found very soon into
construction that the time estimated for the project manager (20 hours/
week) was not enough and he was spending much more than that.  He also did
additional design work during the construction as people made structural
changes (which I do NOT recommend).  We therefore formed a Project Team of
group members to handle the following issues: 

a) Financial - someone had to be the liaison with the bank and be
knowledgeable about draws; someone had to monitor our cashflow and pay the
bills and oversee the changeorders.  Our President and Treasurer did these
two functions, reporting to the Project Team and working with the Project 
Manager.  These functions took a lot of (uncompensated) time - the
treasurer estimated 20-30 hours/week for all of her work.

b) Design/decorating decisions -- the project team met periodically with
the builder for walk-throughs (along with the architect) and to
communicate questions and decisions between the group and the builder.  We
found that the Project Manager needed help in this liaison role -- there
were so many decisions that emerged, often on a very short turn-around,
that we had to have immediate group meetings or do phone calls.  We also
created committees to deal with various decisions:  paint colors, common
house appliances and finishings, landscaping, unit appliance and flooring
choices.  The unit design committee held a "decorating fair" one day where
they had collected samples of all the choices people had for their units,
and people came to make their selections at one time.


c) Contact point for the builder -- we designated one project team member
to be the contact for the builder.  We realized that the Project Manager
had so much to do just overseeing and coordinating all of the change
orders that we put in (which greatly complicated the project, but made
individuals happy), that he couldn't handle all of the liaison work.

I would make one more recommendation that we did not do well enough:

Appoint someone or committee to oversee construction of the common house.
Individuals will make sure their units are done correctly, but we fell
short in monitoring the common house construction and completion.  Our
Project Manager was also responsible for oversight of common grounds and
exterior construction issues (sidewalks, drains, lighting, siding,
grading, driveway, etc).

Jennifer McCoy
Lake Claire Cohousing
Atlanta, GA
jmccoy [at] gsu.edu


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