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What is the difference between a Project Manager and an Owner’s Representative?

Throughout the many years in the construction and the engineering business, I have heard of many nomenclatures and meanings that often get confused and misused.  After all, the construction and engineering businesses are extremely complicated.  Products and materials may come and go and may be referred to by many different names; and after many years, get replaced by other products.  The many services and professionals that are used in the construction and engineering businesses are varied and at times also get confused. Such is the case of the Project Managers being called Owners Representatives and vice-versa.  This blog will explain the difference.

I will begin by defining what a Project Manager is.  A Project Manager is a person that manages any type of project. You have Project Managers that head a team of designers that are building a website, are researching a theory, or any other item that requires a team approach to accomplish. Of course, a project may also include the construction of a building or managing construction of any type.  It would not be a mistake to say “I am looking to hire a Project Manager to manage the installation of the drywall installation of my drywall company”.  It would also not be wrong to say “I am looking to hire a Project Manager to oversee the implementation of a quality control process for the manufacturing of a new electrical automobile”.  It will also not be incorrect to say “I want to hire a Project Manager to oversee the General Contractor for my construction remodeling project”.  So, as you can see, a Project Manager is basically a person who manages a team that is trying to accomplish something; whether it’s a construction project or not.

An Owners Representative, on the other hand, is a type of Project Manager that specifically deals with representing the owner of a construction project (i.e. the person that is paying for the construction). Since the Owner’s Representative represents the owner on a construction project, the specific scope of work and responsibilities that an Owners Representative may undertake may vary widely from job to job. As such, it is important that a good contract between the Owner and the Owners Representative be made where all of the duties of the Owners Representative are laid out in detail.  At times the Owners Representative may be in charge of making sure the safety of the project is overseen, and at other times it will not be.  At times, the duties of the Owners Representative may become so burdensome that the Owners Representative will be required to be present at the job site every day at all times if he is to fulfill the duties as laid out in his contract.

Simply put, an Owner Representative is a type of project manager.  It will not be wrong to use one or the other when you are referring to a person overseeing a job and representing the owner.  However, bear in mind that you are being more specific and that more people will understand exactly what you are referring to when you have an Owners Representative on your project and they are called out as such. It is sort of like saying “I’m going to the cardiologist today” as opposed to “I’m going to the doctor today”. Neither is wrong.  People will just understand the specifics of what the doctor’s scope of work is.

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Are you getting ripped off on your 40-year recertification?

If you are reading this blog, there is a good chance that you are one of those people that are in need of 40-year recertification.  In a way, you are in luck because the internet is full of information about what a 40-year rectification is and how to go about getting this needed inspection. Click here if you want to know what 40-year recertification is.  I will assume that you have already done that homework and you are past the initial shock phase and on to how you will go about getting your building certified without breaking the bank.

This blog will not get into the details of how to hire a professional to perform your 40-year inspection.  There is another blog that deals with this specific issue. You can Click here to see this blog.  This blog deals more with avoiding spending more money than you have to when there are repairs that need to be performed on your building in order to pass the inspection.

Related: How much does a 40 Year Recertification cost?

For starters, you must know that the 40-year recertification is not a tool to bring your building up to the current code. It is, however, a tool to repair items that are more of a safety hazard that pertain mainly to electrical and structural issues.  If buildings were required to be brought up to current code,  then practically all of the 40-year-old buildings would require millions upon millions of dollars of work done.  One small example of a common misconception is the apparent requirement to replace a roof that is leaking.  If a roof is leaking but is in acceptable structural condition, your roof does not have to be upgraded to a roof that is up to current code.  Another common example is if your railings do not meet all of the current code requirements, but are currently in acceptable structural condition and were allowable at the time the building was originally built, you do not necessarily have to incur in the huge expense and change all of your railings.  There are many more cases of issues that are not necessarily a requirement to be repaired and/or upgraded in order for your structure to be certified.

In reality, your Building Departments that impose this 40-year inspection requirement do not expect that your building is completely brought up to current code.  So why would you want to self-impose spending more money than you would want to? The key is to make sure that the professional that you hire does not perform the inspection and produce an all-encompassing “wish list” of items that they want to get done.  There are many reasons that an engineer or architect would want a large list to be produced. Some of these reasons include the following:

1- Your professional is being conservative in their assessments.  At times, professionals tend to err on the safe side and tend to require more than what is needed.  There is actually nothing wrong with this except that if you are an owner that is strapped for money, then you may want to leave some repairs for after the building is certified.

2- Your professional is ignorant of the requirements of the 40-year inspection and/or has little experience in dealing with the detailed inspection requirements.

3- Your professional is purposely trying to obtain more work.  The reasons vary greatly on the reasons for this. It is beyond the scope of this blog to go into the details on this.

In order to avoid being required to perform repairs that can potentially be outside the scope of the 40-year recertification, you should thoroughly investigate your professionals before they are hired.  Some steps that you can use are as follow:

1- Ask your professional how many inspections have they done in the past to gauge their experience.

2-Ask your professional for references on the last 5 inspections that they have performed.  Note that I did not state 5 inspections that they have done in the last year.  Get references from those inspections that they have done within the past week or very recently.

3- Ask them in a direct fashion if they will ever require an issue to be repaired that is not necessarily a requirement in order to pass the 40-year recertification.

Related: Guide on How to Hire An Engineer to do your 40-year Recertification

 In conclusion, it is easy to get caught in a situation where you will be asked by your professional to perform repairs that you will not necessarily need in order to pass.  The reasons are varied and most of the time has very little to do with your professional being incompetent or wanting to take advantage of you.  After all, it is our job to guard public safety.  The best you can do is do your homework and find a company that has good references and tracks record.  It is also a good idea to go to Florida’s DBPR (Department of Business and Professional Regulations) website and search for any complaints against the professional’s license.

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What is the difference between an Architect and an Engineer?

In order to understand what the differences between an Architect and an Engineer are, we must first basically define these.

An Architect is a person who designs buildings and is typically the point person of a design team. 

An Engineer is a person that specializes in the design of a unique aspect of the building such as electrical systems, Air Conditioning systems, and plumbing designs. 

Architects and engineers must work together closely to design and construct the building. Although their duties overlap to an extent, they are totally separate professions with their unique skills and responsibilities. 

Architects and Engineers take a different curriculum in school. During college, architects will take more art-related classes, whereas engineers will take more science, technology and math classes. These different educational paths reflect the different focuses each professional brings to the project. While architects concentrate on the aesthetics of the project, engineers instead focus on the structural components of those projects. 

Generally speaking, the architect draws the plans showing general views and details of all the spaces and elements of the building, then the engineer based on those plans he draws another set of plans showing the specific size of all the structural components of the building. 

Therefore the key difference between an architect and an engineer is that the architect focuses more on the artistry, beauty, and design of the building, while the engineer focuses more on the technical and structural aspect of the building. 

If you as a customer need a little room, an addition to your existing house, renovate your existing residence, or to build the home of your dreams, then the very first thing that you need to do is, to hire an architect, because he is the qualified professional to translate your needs, and desires into habitable, functional, and beautiful spaces. Once the architectural design has been accomplished satisfying your needs then the architect will work together with the engineer to make sure all the structural components of the space or a building will perform their functions in perfect harmony. 

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Community and Business Excellence Award

I always say that giving back, being thoughtful, and generous are the cornerstones of being a"good" human being.  One grows up with such saying such as "its better to give than to receive". When I was a child, I always thought that this was not true.  But as a mature grown-up man, I've come to realize that nothing is true.

This past Saturday I was extremely proud to have received the "Community and Business Excellence Award" from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  One does not help others for the recognition, but for how good it makes you feel when you give of yourself to others, or help those in need, or share your past experiences with others that are trying to build their businesses.  But its truly something special when others take note and decide to publicly give you recognition.

I will be the first to acknowledge that I've tried to start many businesses and have failed miserably in most of them. Most of the time it was because I made many mistakes or simply out of ignorance I failed to pay attention to certain warning signs, I was associated with the wrong people and, last but not least, I could not produce an error Strong business plan before embarking on the dangerous journey.

I love that people ask me for advice and share my experiences

I have the scars of war to prove it and use them as a badge of honor because only those who have a "just do it" mentality are the ones who usually go ahead and "do it". But how powerful is it not only to have the experience and the scars of battle, but also be willing to share that experience so that others take advantage of them and do not make the same mistakes? There are very few successful entrepreneurs who are concerned and who do not want to share their experiences. I love that people ask me for advice and share my experiences. I almost feel that it is a selfish act to help and guide others by the good feeling that it produces.

I am on the lookout for those few and unique individuals that have that "fire" in their hearts to get ahead and do great things and start their own businesses.  Do you have that "fire"? Are you willing to put in the hard work? If you are, strap yourself in getting ready for the ride of your life. And when you make it, make sure to reach back and pull others up. There is no better feeling in the world. I promise you.

Learn about the career of Greg Batista

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What is an Owners representative in construction?

Owners representative

Simly put, and Owner’s Representative is a person that represents the Owner on a construction project. This may seem like a simplistic and obvious answer, but given many players that can be involved on a project and its legal and logistical complexities, then the answer may not be as straight-forward. For example, if the Owner hires an Architect to take care of the project and oversee the construction, does the Architect really have a fiduciary duty to protect the Owner in everything related to the job? Not necessarily. This is where the Owners Representative becomes valuable. The Owners Representative actually also watches over the design team, architect, contractor, subcontractors and all other players comprising the construction team.

When Do I know when I need an Owners Representative?

Construction houseThis is a great question that is somewhat difficult to answer. Theoretcially, an Owner should hire an Owner Rep any time the Owner feels that they do not have the time nor the expertise to oversee the details and complexities of any construction project. However, Owners Representatives are not cheap and will be a significant budgetary drain on any project. But most of the time, the Owners Representatives end up paying for themselves by way of saving the Owner money on project expenses such as :

1- Aggressively questioning the contractor on additional expenditures such as Change Orders.

2- Questioning the Design Team, including the Architect, on money-saving alternatives on the project.

3- Getting into the details on the manner in which the project is being executed as far as safety and keeping an eye on the project schedule and making sure that the contractor is doing its job to stay on track to finish in a timely manner.

4- Representing the Owner during meetings when there are issues. All construction projects have issues and problems. Issues and problems usually translate to money expenditures of one sort or another. The Owners Representative protects and fights for the owner to ensure that th contractors and design professionals do not take undue advantage of the Owner.

That being said, the question really comes down to this: “Is this construction project complex enough and large enough to warrant the additional expenditure of hiring an Owners Representative?”.

The reality is that most small and medium size projects that are several hundred-thousand dollars can be handled by the Owner themselves if they have the time. If they don’t have the time, then usually, the Design Professional can fulfill that role. On the other hand, when a construction project is in the millions of dollars, the need for an Owners Representative increases significantly. The more expensive the job, the more the need for an Owners Rep. Once a project is in the tens of millions of dollars, then an Owner should definitely hire one.

What does an Owners Representative do for his money?

Lets start by explaining something about all the players on a large construction project. The Architect is a registered professional that is licensed to design a project and put plans together and to a certain extent assist the owner on some aspects of the job during construction. The Contractor is also a registered professional that is licensed to carry out the instructions on the plans and make them a reality. The relationship between a contractor and the Owner is adversarial in nature since the Contractor is typically under no obligation to protect the Owners interest.

Owners representative The Owner’s Representative, on the other hand, is not required to have a license or be registered. The Owners Representative is also not required to perform any specific duties like a licensed contractor or a design professional would in that, through their licensing, would have to comply with the Law on their basic services.

The Owners Representative main duty is to protect the Owners interests against the Contractors, Subcontractors, Design Professionals, City Inspectors, etc. Therefore it is absolutely imperative that the Owners Representative have an abundance of experience as it relates to construction, design, permitting, engineering and implementation, and must be a well-rounded individual in all aspects of the industry.

An Owners Representative can provide a whole menu of services and basically be on the jobsite each and every day protecting the Owners interests. Conversely, an Owners Representative can only provide one service such as checking the monthly invoice from the contractor and that will definitely not involve having to visit the project each and every day. Typically, Owners Rep services will be somewhere in the middle where there the Rep will show up every once in a while to the project and provide a menu of services that should be explicitly written down in the contract between the Representative and the Owner.

Why Hire G. Batista & Associates?

Because G.Batista & Associates is both a design firm and a construction firm, we are best suited to provide you with Owners Representative services because this is what we do and we know all the tricks of the trade. Most other Owner’s Representatives are former contractors that have lots of experience in construction (and have never had experience working in an actual design firm). G. Batista & Associates is your best bet for protecting Owners interests particulary at the outset of the project when the project is being conceptualized and designed. Most problems are dealt with during the beginning stages of the project. Call us today for a free consultation with the Owner and President Greg Batista, PE, CGC, LEED AP, CEM.

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How much does a 40 Year Recertification cost?

G. Batista and Associates Books

If you are reading this blog, then you have received your notice to perform a 40 Year Inspection.  Simply put, a 40 Year Recertification is an inspection that is required by the State of Florida when a building turns 40 years old.  Additionally, you must to inspections every 10 years thereafter.  You can find a lot of information on the web that will help you understand what a 40 year recertification is.  However, this blog is about the price of a 40 year inspection.  But in order to talk about the cost, one must realize the reason for the existence of the 40 year inspections to begin with.

Beginnings of the 40 Year Recertification

The 40 Year Recertifications were put into law primarily for the public safety.  Building owners perform upgrades and renovations to buildings without pulling permits. Also, Owners many times do not maintain their buildings properly.  As a result, many properties contain unsafe conditions for its occupants.  Examples of these unsafe conditions are as follows:

  • Faulty or exposed wiring
  • Spalling concrete
  • Hidden structural problems
  • Failed roofing systems
  • Possible fire hazards

The law requires that a licensed architect or engineer take the responsibility of the inspection and submit a signed and sealed report.

The Cost of a 40 Year Recertification

The best way to find out how much a 40 Year Recertification will cost you is by calling around and getting proposals.  Of course, a simple search on the internet will yield  lots of information on available professionals in your area.  Each engineer or architect has their own way of calculating how much they are going to charge you for an inspection. The following are the items that most affect the price of a 40 year building inspection (in order of importance):

  • Size of the building (i.e. number of units)
  • Complexity of the structure
  • Accessibility

Size of the Building

As you may have guessed, the size of the building is the factor that most affects the price of a 40 Year Recertification.  Lets take the example of an inspector that has decided he must visit 50 apartments in the case of a high-rise building.  An inspection like this could take most of the day.  Depending on the inspectors findings, the report could be lengthy.

Complexity of the Structure

As an extreme example, lets say that the inspector is to do a 40 year inspection of an electrical plant for FP&L.  On the structural side, there are many unusual structures such as towers and trusses which are difficult to inspect.  On the electrical side, there are high-power devices and mechanisms that are not typical to a regular inspection. Naturally, the inspector will have a very difficult time looking into all the details unless he has much experience with these types of structures.

On the other hand, a much simpler inspection would involve a one-story four-plex apartment building.  Typically, these buildings are constructed of concrete and block and a have a roof structure that has trusses and a shingle roof.  This simple building will also likely have 4 electrical meters and an electrical panel for each unit.

Accessibility

Although this does not tend to be an issue, accessibility can be a big problem. An example of difficult accessibility is the lack of authorization to enter the units of an apartment building.  Another example is where the inspector cannot easily see possible structural problems at the exterior of a 50 story high-rise building.  Accessibility issues can be easily overcome by coordinating with the Owner by planning ahead.

Conclusion

Although the cost of a 40 Year Recertification can vary widely from professional to professional, there are certain basic items that can affect the cost.  Either way, it is a good idea to understand what these potential issues are so you can discuss these with your engineer.  Your engineer can provide you with a proposal once he has a good understanding of your building.  Some engineers  provide a price “per door” or per apartment. Prices can range between $10 per door to $300 per door (depending on many factors).  Others provide a price based on square footage.  Still others take into consideration the location or the structure, its age, and even if it has a crawl space that he may have to squeeze into.

Be ready to provide answers to your engineer.  The better information you provide, the better proposal you will get.  Let G. Batista & Associates provide you with a proposal.