What is an Owner's Representative?

As our SUMAC team explores Owner’s Representation projects with clients, we hear certain questions regularly and we learn that there is a lack of clarity about what Owner’s Representation is; what an Owner’s Representative does; and the difference between an Owner’s Representative and construction manager or project manager. Our goal is to answer these questions and provide some clarity around this subject.

An Owner’s Representative, in its most basic definition, is the person or company who represents the owner of a building or facility project. An Owner’s Representative advises the owner to ensure the owner’s project needs are met and that the project comes in on time and under budget. An Owner’s Representative can help companies and organizations that don’t have this capability or enhance a company’s current in-house team.

The Owner’s Representative has technical expertise in construction, real estate and architecture. The role manages relationships with general contractors, architects, construction companies, municipal authorities and financial institutions involved in the project.

An owner’s representative can work across all or any stages of a project including:

  • Conception
  • Design
  • Construction
  • Completion
  • Close out

What does an Owner’s Representative do?

The Owner’s Representative advocates for the owner’s goals in a development project and ensures its proper close-out and the successful move-in of a client. The work of an Owner’s Representative varies in scope by project and per the project owner’s requirements; their involvement can happen as early as in the land acquisition process, or later in the actual construction phase of the project. 

Because owners often don’t have the time or expertise to deal with the technicalities of a building or facility project, an Owner’s Representative can help with project elements including:

  • Securing land, permits and financial incentives for the project
  • Ensuring the project mets local and municipal requirements
  • Fielding request for proposals, bids and hiring vendors such as contractors, engineers, and architecture firms
  • Managing the project budget and schedules, including all sub-budgets and sub-project schedules

Why should you hire an Owner’s Representative?

As the owner of a building or facility project, your one and only goal is to turn your plans into results. An Owner’s Representative makes sure that your plans turn into the necessary and appropriate action that achieves your desired results. An Owner’s Representative also makes sure that this action is happening in a timely fashion and under a designated budget. If your primary business activity is something other than managing construction projects, an Owner’s Representative provides you with the technical support, time and dedication that are key to completing your project.

When deciding who your Owner’s Representative will be, you should consider this person or firm’s past experience and what your working relationship would look like. Projects can vary widely in scope, goals, budgets and schedules so it is important that who you choose to represent you has experience doing similar kinds of projects. Moreover, since you’ll be interacting with this person or team on a daily basis, you should make sure that they make you feel comfortable and confident in their work. Transparency and mutual communication are important for this relationship to work effectively.

Benefits of hiring an Owner’s Representative include:

  • Providing technical support and knowledge
  • Providing a team of experts
  • Saving time and money across the project
  • Managing and supervising budgets and project schedules
  • Managing conflicts within project entities and teams

When hiring an owner’s representative, there are two main characteristics that should be considered: experience and relationships. Take a look at the scope of your project and inquire about whether the candidate has similar or greater past experience in that kind of project. Obtaining candidates’ resumes, project portfolios, and problem-solving and success stories, are effective ways to identify if a candidate’s experiences match your individual requirements for your project to be carried through successfully. Additionally, as the project owner, you will be interacting on a daily basis with an Owner’s Representative and his/her team. For this reason, it is crucial that you hold a good relationship with this individual. Team communication and trust are key components to build a strong relationship with your Owner’s Representative.

Why is Owner’s Representation necessary?

In a construction project, the probability of going over budget and schedule is very high. General contractors can offer attractive but potentially unrealistic proposals to try and win a project. Project delays and incongruences can emerge and result in serious conflicts and legal challenges. An Owner’s Representative can help mitigate these potential issues before they arise and help owners achieve their goals for the project within the desired budget and schedule.

When don’t you need an Owner’s Representative?

Owner’s Representation may not be useful for smaller projects that can be managed by in-house maintenance or operations staff. Sometimes projects and budgets aren’t a good fit for comprehensive Owner’s Representation support and services.

What is the difference between an Owner’s Representative and other project roles?

An Owner’s Representative, a construction manager and a project manager could all work on the same building or facility project, so what’s the difference?

A project or construction manager and an Owner Representative are similar in their tasks; they all oversee a project’s budget, schedule, workers, and make decisions when issues arise. The difference between an Owner’s Representative and a project or construction manager, is to whom they report to.

An Owner’s Representative works for the best interest of the owner and intervenes and advocates for the owner’s goals for the project. Project and construction managers oversee their own team’s work for the service they’re offering and would work only for their firm’s benefit and interests.

The owner of a project must interact with the different entities that make the project possible: government agencies, lawyers, engineers, contractors, architects, occupants, etc. An Owner’s Representative is hired to assist with managing these interactions for the benefit of the owner and project. A construction or project manager is solely responsible for their portion of the project.

Program Manager:

 

  • Someone who manages the design, construction, and roll out of several projects for the same firm. 
  • Oversee and allocate resources for various construction projects.
  • Work closely with engineers and architects
  • Develop plans, establish timetables, and determine labor and material costs.
Tenant Representative:

 

  • More commonly seen in real estate negotiations
  • Hired by the development company or owner of the project
  • Look for the ideal location
  • Short-term management and deal for its client
Project Manager:

 

  • Prepares or modifies designs for projects.
  • It can be an architect, engineer, or an interior designer
  • Anyone who specifies and alters designs as part of their work

FAQ

What is Owner’s Representation?

Owner Representation is a service that ensures that new building and facility owners’ best interests are represented in every decision and throughout each stage of the project from conception to construction and close out.

What is the role of an Owner’s Representative?

The role of an Owner’s Representative is to assist with its technical expertise in construction, real estate, architecture in building structures for companies or organizations that don’t have that in-house capacity and technical expertise to do so. A representative ensures that their needs are met and that the project comes in on time and budget, by managing relationships with general contractors, architects, municipal authorities and financial institutions that are involved in the project.

What is the difference between an Owner’s Representative and construction manager?

The difference between an Owner’s Representative and a construction manager is who they report to. An Owner’s Representative works for the best interest of the owner and intervenes and advocates for the owner’s goals for the project. On the other hand, construction managers oversee their own team’s work for the service they’re offering and work only for their firm’s benefit.

What is the role of the owner on a construction project?

The role of an owner on a construction project is assuming financial responsibility for the success of the entire project. Usually the owner is a nonprofessional that is in charge of determining the needs of the company and what real estate is necessary to achieve the company’s goals.

What is a construction representative/administrator/inspector?

A construction representative inspects construction to ensure adherence to specifications, codes, and contract documents. They require technical knowledge of multiple construction processes and experience in given field of inspection work. They typically report to a supervisor.

What is an owner’s agent?

An owner’s agent is the same as an Owner’s Representative, it refers to the individual or organization in charge of representing the interests of the owner.

What is a contractor’s representative?

A contractor’s representative is the person authorized by the contractor to act and make decisions on their behalf. A contractor’s representative ensures the contractor’s best interests are represented in every decision.

Interested in learning more? Contact us