Beginning a new construction project can seem daunting, and that’s doubly true when dealing with a Home Owners Association (HOA) renovation or construction project. No matter its complexity, any project has the foundation to be successful if it follows specific guidelines and has a sound construction management team leading the charge. But before those steps take shape, all relevant stakeholders must be identified.
Important Stakeholders in Any HOA Construction Management Project
Apart from outlining the practical aspects of the project it is also important to collaborate with experts in the field and hire those in residential construction management who will contribute to its success. Consider that a construction manager needs to handle 120 diverse responsibilities, which range from personnel management and budgeting to implementing safety protocols and solving stressful construction issues. The ideal construction manager needs to have a ready-to-go team, a strong understanding of technical matters such as physics and math, and an ability to motivate and delegate to others. Outside of the appointed HOA construction management team, some of the other professionals that should be connected to the project as early as possible include:
- Potential construction management contractors to bid for the project
- An attorney
- A banker
The Construction Management Project Process
Ideally, at the start of the project your HOA construction management team should conduct a financial appraisal to determine how much money can be obtained to support the desired project. Then, a thorough undertaking must be done to create a project plan that clearly outlines the work required to complete the project. Finally, a construction management contractor can be brought on to complete the project work.
The Construction Management Site Review
The site review needs time to be completed, but will closely be followed by the preparation of a specification, or spec. The completed spec document is forwarded to potential contractors who will study it and then bid for the contract. In many cases, this part of the project takes between 3 and 4 weeks.
The details that a site review often scrutinizes typically relate to any large-scale changes that affect roofs or walls, alongside how much reconstruction or demolition is required to ensure the HOA renovation is completed successfully. These types of major changes can cause disruption for existing tenants. Therefore, it is important to account for the impact to the HOA tenants when planning for a construction management project so everyone’s needs are met, while trying to be as respectful as possible of each owner’s property enjoyment.
The Construction Management Project Specifications
The spec should include sufficient detail about the requirements of the project so that bidding contractors can accurately estimate the necessary resources, including time, equipment, materials and staff to complete the work in a successful manner. Other details that should be included in the spec such relate to:
- Compulsory safety protocols
- Local compliance/licensure/insurance requirements
- Sanitation provisions for the job site, and/or
- Arrangement of payments
Once the spec is ready to distribute, the HOA construction management team has the responsibility to select particular contractors to request bids from for the project. Potential construction management contractors are likely to have:
- Proven success working on key HOA construction management projects
- Proper insurance
- Prior experience working on major construction projects, and
- Sound financial standing
Requesting Bids From Construction Management Contractors
After the specification is shared with potential construction management contractors, the contractors selected to bid will pay a visit to the site, accompanied by a representative from the HOA’s construction management team. Following this onsite visit, the contractor will have a better idea of the project requirements before submitting a formal bid in accordance with any deadline set by the HOA’s construction management project team. Once all bids are received, the HOA team responsible for the construction management project will select a preferred contractor before the project officially commences.
Preparations During the Pre-Construction Phase
What happens immediately before construction commences is just as important as the actual building. While one of the first pre-construction tasks involves hiring a construction manager, it’s far from the only one. Typically, an HOA representative and the manager will meet to discuss the HOA’s plan and clearly state various goals and objectives. From there, the manager will engage in a number of tasks, such as:
- Assessing any extant engineering
- Estimating costs and establishing a budget
- Finalizing a strategic plan
- Creating a project design
- Determining responsibility for various tasks
- Obtaining the necessary permitting
- Procuring materials
At various points, the HOA may need to approve various steps or provide crucial feedback to help ensure a successful start to the project. Additionally, the HOA will need to approach a financial institution and arrange some sort of financing.
What HOAs Should Do While Construction is Under Way
While life has few certainties, there are some things we can count on, such as death, taxes — and something going awry with a construction project. Because timeliness matters and the HOA (and, by extension, its residents) have to live with the end results, HOA representatives need to step up and stay proactive. What does that look like practically? When issues arise, the HOA should seek to mediate them, minimizing dissension and uncertainty. This may require avoiding blaming, seeking to build consensus among affected parties, and quantifying particulars, such as the extent of any corrections and the impact they will make on the budget. Additionally, in some situations, the HOA could need to tap lines of credit, consult with legal counsel, and approve changes to the scope of work.
Addressing problems isn’t the only thing that an HOA should do. Even when things are going well, representatives will need to communicate updates to residents. Establishing a realistic timeline prior to the beginning of construction and sticking to it will help ease residents’ concerns. Sending work-in-progress photos and repeatedly emphasizing the necessity of the project (which helps win over skeptics) is also important.
Final Steps to Take Post-Construction
Even when the work is done, it’s really not entirely over. Once the dust has settled, the HOA should take several steps, including:
- Ensuring that the manager has properly submitted and finalized all change orders
- Completing a full walkthrough with the manager
- Communicating with the architect to address any issues
- Taking possession of and understanding all post-construction paperwork (e.g., certificate of substantial completion, certificate of occupancy)
- Receiving architectural drawings and any operating manuals
- Training HOA staff to operate any applicable equipment and how to access or properly use the facilities
Only after you’ve completed these steps should you truly consider the project over. Following this formal construction management project process will ensure renovation success for any HOA project. If your HOA is considering upcoming construction projects, get in touch with GNP Realty for assistance with navigating the process and to work with an experienced Chicago construction management contractor adept at HOA projects.