Project Management is the ugly side of design. It’s the part that nobody really understands but that HAS to happen and HAS to happen well. The pretty part of design is selecting fabrics and finishes and pretty accessories, but the project management side is making sure the right fabrics and finishes and pretty accessories get ordered correctly, installed correctly, move quickly and work together. Homeowners don’t realize a lot of the project management that goes on behind the scenes for a job - design or remodel, it happens.
If you’re thinking about project managing your own job, we’ve got some tips that might keep you from pulling out ALL of your hair by the end of it. We’re not going to lie— the project management side is difficult and frustrating and stressful, but if you’ve got the mentality that there will be problems and you will not freak out about them but instead will find a solution, you’ll deal with everything much better.
The thing with project execution is there there are always a lot of balls in the air at once. It’s a dance and timing is everything. If you have anything else going on in your life, you’ll likely forget about something, so be sure to track it all. Excel spreadsheets and lists are your friend! A lot of designers and builders have project management software that consolidates everything and keeps everyone on the same page, but you probably don’t have access to this. So consider things like Google docs or just shared spreadsheets that help keep everyone on the same timeline and with the same information.
Being on the same page is key to a smoother project. With so many moving parts, if one person has a different understanding or idea in their head of what should or shouldn’t be happening, it can throw a wrench in the whole project. Pictures are good, measurements are awesome and an open line of communication is ALWAYS important. Your contractors and sub contractors need to feel comfortable asking questions so make sure they know they can! The minute someone feels like they can’t ask a question is the minute they start assuming and that’s when the problems arise.
Don’t start any work until all of the material is ordered, received and inspected. This is important for the “in transition” side of the project. If you’re in the middle of a remodel and you run out of material or you’re redoing a room and you haven’t selected the paint color, it stalls the project. And stalling a project is very bad for multiple reasons. First of all, it means you have to sit in the unfinished space for that much longer which is an inconvenience. Secondly, it means you risk loosing your contractors for an unspecified amount of time. When the work stops on a job site, contractors move to the next job….and if they start another job because yours is stalled, they won’t come back to yours until the new job is complete (or stalls as well)…so that delays things as well. Time is money is the mentality that most contractors have so be sure there’s enough work to keep things moving even if something comes up to pause a portion of the job.
Get ready for the questions. You’ll get approximately 1 million questions as the project manager. About half will be duplicates but they’ll be asked nonetheless, so just be prepared. But, going back to our previously mentioned point of establishing an open line of communications— don’t get too upset when contractors ask you a question more than once. At least they are asking before they’re doing the work which ultimately saves everyone time and money in re-doing it if it’s done wrong because they didn’t ask the question!
And finally, the most important tip of all — have a cash cushion! Projects always have surprises and changes that ultimately affect budget. Sometimes it’s something completely out of your control BUT you still have to pay for it (one way or another). So give yourself that little cushion you need to be able to fork out some extra dough should (WHEN) once of those problems arise. Having the money ready prevents stress and delays and then everyone stays happy!