Why You Need A Renovation Project Manager


Do you manage your own home renovation projects or do you prefer to work with a project manager? The role of a project manager in a renovation is often poorly understood. 

I was talking to Ruth Newman during the class project about the fact that many of her clients choose to project manage their own renovations. It is an area in which our businesses overlap, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk to Ruth about what renovating project management involves.

Ruth Newman Architects

Ruth runs a business called Ruth Newman Architects. They have been in business in Sydney for roughly fifteen years. They work on residential as well as retail properties. Just like their clients, the work they do for them is varied. They may just do the sketches a client needs for a renovation, or they may do everything from completing the full documentation and selecting the finishes for the project for them. 

Ruth refers to her business as an architectural concierge. She explained:

The concierge process was more of a way to…help people understand what we do. So kind of like a hotel concierge, anything that you need for your project…if we can’t do it directly, then we’ll find the person that’ll do it for you.

There are often things that crop up during a project that people are not aware of at the beginning of a renovation. Part of Ruth’s service is to help their clients with the curve balls they have to deal with during a renovation and aspects of the project that may be a bit complicated. 

The Benefits of Having a Project Manager for Your Renovation Project

Ruth’s clients will often ask her to complete the architectural drawings for her and then go ahead and manage the rest of the renovation on their own. Often they don’t understand what that involves. 

David (my husband) says he loves it when a client has a project manager because then he can be confident that the plan will be executed well. The benefits of hiring a project manager for your renovation include:

  • Hiring someone who knows what they are doing will save you money. A project manager has the experience to make decisions that won’t have an impact on the rest of the project. One poor decision at the beginning of a renovation project can have a knock on effect later on in the project. Seemingly small decisions can have an impact on the viability of the project.
  • Ensuring that the renovation is in line with the building regulations. Small changes to the plans can have a big impact on whether or not the property will be signed off. The planning approval is done at the beginning of the project and carried through to the end.

The Builder Is Often The Project Manager

Ruth says that the builder is often the project manager. If you have a good builder, the outcome can be good. Ruth went on to explain:

But, the problem with that is there’s no secondary opinion on what’s going on with the build.

It is always a good idea to have a third party who can advise on alternatives. It can save you money when you run short of materials, for example. The builder may not be aware of the alternatives available or the cost of those alternatives.

Most of Ruth’s clients choose their builder. Part of Ruth’s services is to work with the clients and guide them through the tender process. They have a list of preferred builders in the area that they can recommend. The client can then go directly to the builder or Ruth will take care of the tender process for them.

Paying Your Project Manager

When it comes to paying your project manager Ruth recommends negotiating a lump sum for a fixed number of hours at an hourly rate of $200 to $300.

The Pitfalls Of Project Managing Your Own Renovation

  1. There are no checks and balances if you rely too heavily on your builder.
  2. A lack of understanding of the impact on the project of seemingly small changes to the plan.
  3. Not being aware of the differences in materials used in the plan and others available on the market.
  4. Not being aware of the differences in costing, especially now during Covid.

The Skills You Require To Project Manage Your Own Renovation Project

If you are still keen to project manage your own project, I asked Ruth to describe the skills you would need to ensure that you do a good job. To summarise what she said: Education is the key. 

Learning what is involved in renovating a property will make you aware of many of the problems you may encounter along the way. You should have a basic understanding of the process as well as the materials you are going to be using. Ruth says there are a lot of courses available to teach you the more technical side of things without being too complicated. 

Ruth recommends doing an owner builder course, something I have done and found very enlightening. It teaches you about your responsibilities and how to undertake the tender process. 

Of course, I have to mention our course here. Anyone who has been through our course will have a good understanding of renovation project management. 

It surprises me that women often think that they will not be able to do it; it is too hard. Most women have developed some useful project management skills being a wife and mother, and running a home. 

Women are excellent organisers. When it comes to project management organisaton is the key. Women are also pretty good at communicating with the various parties involved in the renovation project.

A Project Manager Can Help Ensure Your Renovation Is Approved

Having someone to dot the “Is” and cross the “Ts” from the beginning of the renovation project to the end will help to ensure that your project runs smoothly. You are also less likely to face any surprises when the inspector comes around to sign off on the build.

If you would like to get in touch with Ruth her website is www.ruthnewman.com.au. You can book an appointment through their contact page.


She Renovates Free Facebook Group

If you want to meet up with a group of savvy renovators. I would say come over and join She Renovates Facebook Group. It’s a completely FREE Facebook group and it is growing at the rate of knots. We hit over a thousand members just recently, and now it seems to have picked up momentum. They are all savvy renovating women and men working their little hearts out to live a better life through renovating.

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Bernadette Janson

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