February 14, 2024

Do You Need An Owner’s Rep for Your Commercial Construction Project?

commercial construction project planning

For every commercial construction project, you’ll have unique and strategic roles among the teams of professionals managing your project. And as you may have noticed, not all construction firms have the same roster of titles on their teams. And many of these professionals are niche specialists. But what if you need a big-picture generalist on your team? Do you need an owner’s rep to oversee your upcoming project?

You might start to question if you’re going to need an owner’s representative to intermediate on your behalf throughout your commercial construction project. You’ve heard there are advantages to having an owner’s rep in your corner, but do you need to bring in yet another role to the project and add more costs to your budget? Some of the larger corporations, responsible for multi-level construction projects year-round use them. But for your specialty project, as a smaller enterprise, is an owner’s rep someone worth hiring? 

And do the benefits of having one outweigh any disadvantages? 

Today, we’ll help you weigh your options. And we’ll answer the question of whether or not you need to have an owner’s rep as part of your project. Luckily, when you work with Jerdon Construction, you don’t have to worry about an owner’s rep responsibilities. Our teams allow you to enjoy all the benefits, without making an unnecessary hire.

Understanding the Responsibility of the Owner’s Rep

The role of the owner’s rep has certainly evolved over the years. And more recently, owner’s reps have been emerging as a highly valued niche service. So, what do they do? If you’re on your first commercial construction journey, you may not know. 

The owner’s rep is typically a construction professional hired by the project owner (you) to serve as a liaison and advisor. You can hire someone externally to fill this role. But it’s important to know that when you work with a professional and reputable commercial construction partner, you likely won’t need to hire an additional owner’s rep since the responsibilities are assumed by your chosen contractor. Essentially, a qualified owner’s rep can help ensure your best interests are met at every stage of the process, including development, site selection, designs, permitting, construction, and finalization. 

This person will primarily monitor, not manage, the various tasks associated with your commercial project. You should expect consultation and expert advice along the way about evaluating bids, mitigation, and more. For anyone who simply does not have the time, resources, or experience to handle a commercial construction project, the owner’s rep is a must-have professional service. So, it’s ideal if you can choose a commercial construction company that provides these types of owner’s rep benefits for you without the need for an external hire.

The Perceived Value of Working with an Owner’s Rep

Working with a professional owner’s rep as part of your commercial construction endeavor will come with plenty of advantages. But if you choose not to work with an independent owner’s rep, you can look for your commercial construction partner to provide these direct benefits. Here are those most beneficial to your process and your bottom line worth considering. 

Streamlined Communication

Within the scope of your building project, you’ll have a host of specialists, including architects, designers, legal consultants, project managers, and a construction supervisor. You may consider having a member on your team who can see the big-picture project and facilitate streamlined communication between all of these specialty roles. 

Terminology Definitions

There is a whole ecosystem of terminology involved in the commercial construction industry. And if you’re not familiar with all the acronyms, implications, definitions, and expectations for some of these terms and processes, it’s the owner’s rep, or dedicated commercial construction manager, who can help provide the clarity you need to make sound decisions.

Relationship Building

Owner’s reps will often already have industry connections and relationships. And they’re generally masters at helping their clients make the right contractor partnership decisions, as well.

Contracting Help

Your project might require various consultants and third-party vendors. Your owner’s rep can take the reins on the RFP process, interviewing partners, and negotiating contracts on your behalf.

Scope of Work Oversight

An owner’s rep will take on additional responsibilities regarding the scope of work and connect architects and contractors. From surveys and soil samples to move management and IT, the owner’s rep can make sure there are no gaps or oversights.

Project Evaluation

There is a quality assurance element to the role of an owner’s rep that many projects can’t live without. Having an extra pair of eyes on everything, including drawings, meeting minutes, review documentation, construction accuracies, and operational efficiencies can be very beneficial.

Potential Cons for Hiring an Owner’s Rep

As with any decision you plan to make regarding your commercial construction project, there will be certain risks and potential pitfalls to consider. Working with an owner’s rep has many benefits, as previously outlined. But there can be a flipside, especially if you decide to work with someone less experienced in the role. 

These are some of the cons of working with an owner’s rep to help you evaluate your current position and make the best partnership decision for your project moving forward. It only reinforces the idea that instead of an owner’s rep, your interests will be better kept with the right-fit commercial construction partner who can leverage all those aforementioned advantages for you.

Some Firms Offer Owner’s Rep Services

Be mindful when consulting commercial construction firms. Because the need for owner’s rep services is growing, some firms are offering in-house owner’s reps. Many of these offers are worth considering. However, not all construction firms have the right tools and resources in-house to properly execute and provide an unbiased owner’s rep service. Be diligent about your vetting process before making a decision.

Additional Expense

Hiring an owner’s rep will translate to another incurred expense for your project. Many will charge a percentage of the entire project and have fees built in throughout the process. You’ll need to prepare the budget accordingly. Working with a construction company that provides all the benefits of an owner’s rep, without the unnecessary “advisory” role itself, is far more beneficial.

Potential Timeline Delays

An owner’s rep will be responsible for oversight of the budget and schedule. But because you have an added layer of decision-making in the process, it could be the owner’s rep that causes delays. When contractors wait on hold for quality control evaluations and additional communications and approvals, there could be timing concerns along the way.

Not All Owner’s Reps Are Created Equal

Some industry professionals will tell you the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of working with an owner’s rep. However hiring anyone without the qualifications, experience, or industry knowledge can do far more harm than good for your commercial project. Be thorough with your vetting and hiring process before partnering with anyone.

Finding the Best-Fit Construction Company

There are certain criteria you’ll look for specifically when evaluating and hiring a commercial construction company for your project. Before you hire anyone externally for the role of an owner’s rep, consider finding the best-fit construction company that can eliminate unnecessary hire and provide all those inherent owner’s rep benefits directly.

Do you have a comprehensive understanding of the commercial construction process?

Your construction partner should have extensive knowledge of everything from design to bid to build. They’ll provide you with examples of previous work and testimonials to document their ability to provide those key advisory services and oversight management that an owner’s rep would provide.

What’s your administrative process?

Look for someone who can navigate today’s construction environment with digital accuracy and precision regarding all paperwork, approvals, bidding, change orders, and contracts. 

Do you have experience in our industry?

Hospital construction will be different from an office building and manufacturing facilities will present different requirements from faith-based organization builds. Make sure you select a commercial construction partner who has experience with projects in your industry.

How familiar are you with today’s construction costs?

Materials and labor change almost daily. You need a team that understands this dynamic and is prepared to manage real-project cost data on your behalf in a knowledgeable way without going over budget.

What’s your expertise in value engineering?

A great construction partner will spot cost-saving opportunities with different materials or building techniques. They’ll make these suggestions without compromising quality, either.

What services are included in your contract?

Look for any construction firm to provide a complete outline of their responsibilities in their contracts, usually standardized. However some will only offer occasional site visits versus daily supervision. And while some will provide full-service, hands-on oversight, others will be more hands-off. Ask for specifics in the services provided, including:

  • How many site visits does this include?
  • Who manages which documents and approvals?
  • Who’s responsible for reviewing submittals?
  • Who’s responsible for missed communication delays?
  • How are change orders managed?

Owner’s reps can play an important role in today’s commercial construction environment. However, the most efficient and knowledgeable construction teams will be able to provide these key owner’s rep advantages in-house. 

Finally, trust your gut!

Consider these pros and cons as you make your next-step determinations and trust your gut! Jerdon Construction is happy to be your trusted construction partner for your next building project. Working with our teams means you’ll enjoy all the benefits of having advisory and project oversight without the need for additional hires or external services.