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What is an Owner’s Representative?

By Anne Bourgeault

An owner’s representative is a valuable asset for any project, as they essentially act as a right hand to the project owner. They provide a range of essential services throughout all stages of a project to ensure it runs smoothly and that complex goals are more easily met.

An owner’s representative operates as part of the project team. They integrate with the client’s organization but work under a separate contract held with the owner. Their role is to act on behalf of the owner to oversee the entire project. This can include project planning, design, construction and commissioning, as well as the closeout phases.

An owner’s representative reports directly to the owner and always acts in their best interest. With expertise in all areas of design and construction, they offer valuable and unbiased advice.

Why do I need an owner’s representative?

If you already have a qualified team of engineering consultants and contractors working on your project, you may wonder why you need to hire a separate owner’s representative. Essentially, they operate differently than the rest of the team in one very important way – they work for you, the owner. Everything they do will be in your interests alone.

This means that an owner’s representative offers impartial advice with no conflicting interest. They can help expertly navigate any issues that may arise, as well as prevent problems from occurring in the first place. There are many things that can go wrong in a construction project, which may impact schedules or cause budget overruns. Having an owner’s representative with the right expertise to oversee your project can mitigate those risks.

What services do they provide?

An owner’s representative can perform a range of services at every stage of a project, depending on an owner’s needs. Their goal is to reduce costs, maximize value, ensure construction quality, and keep the project on budget and schedule.

Key owner’s representative services include:

Budget and schedule development/management: An owner’s representative assists with budget development for the project, providing options to ensure the best value and efficiency. They understand that budgets need to align with funding availability and will work to ensure your project stays on budget through the use of robust tracking tools and procedures. The owner’s representative will also proactively incorporate the consultant and contractor’s schedules into a master project schedule to ensure all project aspects are considered and monitored. The owner’s representative will identify opportunities for improvement and flag potential schedule issues to address and avoid delays, and to make sure the project is completed on time.

Design oversight and review: The best time to hire an owner’s representative is before the project design phase even begins. This gives the owner’s representative the opportunity to manage and support the procurement of the design team. Acting as the owner’s advocate during the planning and design stages of the process, they can oversee and review designs to ensure the owner’s needs are being met. They can also ensure that applicable codes and regulations are being followed and considered from the very beginning of a project.

Construction coordination and monitoring: An owner’s representative is also involved throughout the entire construction phase of the project. They may even manage contractor procurement and pre-qualification. They closely observe construction through all stages to make sure everything is being completed on time and according to the designs.

This means they are frequently onsite and in constant communication with all project stakeholders, such as the construction manager, contractors and commissioning agents. They can also perform construction risk assessments to proactively identify potential problems before they arise.

FF&E, move management and operational readiness: An owner’s representative can provide detailed and knowledgeable planning to ensure all systems, people, and furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) are operational once occupancy is reached.

Project close out: Finally, an owner’s representative makes sure that the project is closed out properly. They verify that all contractual obligations have been met, commissioning is complete, deficiencies are corrected, all close out documents are received, and training is complete.

Whether you are building a new property or retrofitting an existing one, hiring an owner’s representative ensures that you always have an advocate to guide your project to a high level of quality.

*Originally posted on the Colliers Project Leaders USA site, with minor revisions