When a Project Manager is Needed

I have never seen a Condo Declaration that required a project manager for any maintenance or repair. But if I were to look, I would look at the maintenance provisions, the authority of the board provisions and the damage and destruction provision. The damage and destruction provision often provides the OPTION of hiring architects and construction professionals. I have seen many Declarations that require the association hire an Architect or Engineer to inspect the building and advise the association on required maintenance. This was a standard provision that started going in during the 2000’s to protect the developer from construction defect claims. The idea was that if small problems were found and corrected as maintenance, then there would be no large claims. Most associations are not aware of the provision in their declaration, and the provision is ignored. But this only required inspections, not the hiring of a project manager. Some management contracts will specify situations where a project manager is hired, or where the management company is paid a fee to manage a project or insurance repair claim. For condos, by statute, if a repair to the building exterior (roof, decks, windows, siding, etc.) exceeds 5% of the tax assessed value of the property, then you are required to hire a licensed Architect or Engineer to design and specify the installation materials and methods, and you are required to hire an independent (not the owner and not the contractor) inspector to verify that the work performed is in substantial compliance with the specifications. Those roles are often done by the “project manager.” But project management is not the same as specifying and doing inspections. But when you are looking at a roofing, painting or deck project, you should compare the price of the project to the tax assessed value of the property to see if the requirement applies. Whether it is reasonable to hire a project manager would depend on a number of factors. Boards are required to act with reasonable and ordinary care. If a repair project is outside the expertise or comfort level of the board or manager, then it is prudent to hire a professional. If the project is expensive, professional management is likely more reasonable. If the project involves damage to the structure or soil movement, then specialized experts may be needed. When a project involves the exterior waterproofing elements, I would recommend that a qualified project manager be employed. These projects are the ones we see the most problems with after the work is done. Usually because the work fails, and there are leaks. If there were no specifications, there is little recourse against the vendor. Hiring project managers is something that many boards consider an unnecessary expense. I would view it much like insurance. You are paying to make sure that the work proposed by a vendor is the right work, and that it is performed properly during the course of construction. It should add only about 10% to the project cost (a higher percentage for small projects, lower for large projects). I strongly recommend getting competitive bids from the project managers, and verifying their qualifications. (Are they licensed and insured? Does their insurance actually cover them for errors and omissions?) I am confused why so few clients send us the expert’s contracts to review. Most of these expert contracts contain provisions that are ultra-protective of the consultant to the detriment of the client. Before contracting with any vendor, but especially in high dollar-value contracts, we strongly recommend that associations have their attorney review the contracts.