17 Aug 5 Things to Know About An Owner’s Representative
As one of the most significant investments most people are likely to make in their lifetimes, a home construction or renovation project needs to be managed carefully. In the current real estate market, the cost of buying has become prohibitive, so many owners are turning to construction and renovation to create their ideal home. A 2023 Houzz survey revealed that more than half of homeowners intend to renovate in 2023. These projects come with a lot of moving parts, and homeowners rarely have the time, experience, and expertise to manage from start to finish. Rather than take crash courses in architecture, engineering, product sourcing, contracting, interior decoration, and project management, homeowners can use the services of an owner’s representative. Here are five essential things to know about these services.
What is an Owner’s Representative?
An owner’s representative is an advocate with the specific skills, knowledge, and expertise to look out for the homeowner’s best interests and efficiently guide them through the overall development process from planning to design, construction, and occupancy. The owner’s representative serves as the liaison between architects, engineers, contractors, testing agencies, utility providers, municipal authorities, financial institutions, FF&E (Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment) vendors, other specialty consultants, and third-party vendors.
When Can an Owner’s Representative Be Used?
The role of the owner’s representative depends entirely on the needs and preferences of the homeowner. They are there to fill in the gaps in the homeowner’s experience and time so that the project can proceed to completion according to the homeowner’s wishes. The following phases can benefit from the services of an owner’s representative:
Project Initiation: The representative can help translate ideas, general requirements, and technical specifications into a statement of work to obtain initial bids
Contractor Selection & Procurement: The representative can manage and evaluate bids, formulate delivery expectations, coordinate legal review of a proposed contract, and advise on non-legal terms and conditions
Project Planning: The representative can schedule and lead planning sessions, establish a communication plan, and identify risks, contingencies, and mitigation for the project.
Project Execution: The representative can conduct on-site inspections, review pay requests, prepare progress reports, and analyze and advise on changed conditions.
Project Close-out: The representative can participate in walk-through final inspections, assist with creating a punch list, ensure warranties are activated, and coordinate warranty inspections
What Makes a Good Owner’s Representative?
The devil is in the details, and so is the necessary expertise of a good owner’s representative. In order to effectively represent the homeowner, the representative needs to be familiar with the full scope of a home renovation or construction project and be able to effectively translate the needs and expectations of the homeowner to the many parties involved. Good communication, long-term, local experience with construction projects, and a proactive attitude toward identifying and resolving issues are all essential qualities. In addition, an owner’s representative works best for the interests of the homeowner when they are independent, objective, and unbiased. The owner’s representative should be in no position to benefit financially from any particular project outcome.
How Much Does an Owner’s Representative Cost?
The cost of a home construction or renovation project is substantial, and it can feel overwhelming to contemplate an additional expense. However, the cost savings and efficiencies of a quality owner’s representative outweigh their fees in the long run. Owner’s representatives generally structure their fees depending on the scope of the engagement. A full engagement, where the representative is involved from the initial ideation to the final warranty work, will usually be structured as a percentage of the total project cost (1-3%). Piecemeal engagements in which the representative assists with specific parts of the project will be charged hourly, ranging from $350/hr to $450/hr.
Where Can I Find an Owner’s Representative?
Owner representation is a recognized profession in the construction industry, and thousands of firms and individuals are offering these services nationwide. When looking for a good match and seeking out an independent, impartial owner’s representative firm, ask the local experts for referrals. Residential realtors, contractors, and architects likely have names that they can recommend. Be sure to interview multiple firms, ask for referrals, and look for a good fit in terms of expertise, communication style, and commitment to owner representation.
Biller & Associates provides owner representation services in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC areas. Our representatives have expertise in all aspects of construction (planning, design, architecture, engineering, etc.), excellent project management skills, and a proven track record of coordinating the team members, schedules, materials, equipment, and budgets necessary to achieve a successful outcome. If you are considering a home improvement, renovation, or construction project, contact us to learn how we can help you.