Should you choose a project manager or builder?Should you choose a project manager or builder?Starting home renovations or new home build is a major task.  Knowing whether you need to choose a Project Manager or a Building Contractor  is one of the first questions you’ll ask yourself.  You may not even know the differences between them. To confuse things even more, it’s not unusual for their roles to overlap.

Building Contractors employ a number of skilled workers, and the majority of core trades are often done in-house or sub-contracted to companies they have built up a good working relationship with. They own (rather than hire) most of their own equipment, are able to take on larger projects and may be members of the Master Builders’ Association.

You may save time by choosing a Building Contractor due to them having in-house back-up and not being so reliant on sub-contractors. When choosing a Building Contractor over a Project Manager be aware you may have to organise and supervise other contractors.
When should you choose a project manager?

Project Managers manage the construction process in its entirety, including supervising the Building Contractor. When you choose a project manager, check they are an excellent communicator as they work with every person associated with the project.  This can include local government officials, sub-contractors, architects, designers, and homeowners.

choose a project managerAll the trades within the entire build or renovation will be sub-contracted.  This includes the labour force digging the foundations, brick layers, carpenters, electricians, painters, plumbers and roofers just to mention a few! All equipment required will be hired or provided by subcontractors.

The only downside to hiring a Project Manager is that they are fully reliant on the performance and reliability of the sub-contractors that they engage.

Can a builder be a project manager?

It is definitely possible to find a Builder that could manage the whole process, but the key to success is identifying someone suitable and being aware of what aspects you will be expected to deal with yourself. Ask questions when selecting the Building Contractor or Project Manager to make sure they are capable of dealing with all aspects of the work.

  • How long have they been in business?
  • Have they completed projects like yours recently that they can provide references for?
  • What professional associations do they belong to?
  • Will subcontractors be used, and if so, are they licensed to work in these areas?
  • Are they insured?
  • Will your project require a permit?

Search for someone who is reliable and trustworthy.  One of the best ways to find someone is by reading reviews on (for tradespeople who respond once you have posted a job) as it’s easy to see if home owners have had a good or bad experience with a Project Manager or Builder.

Ask for references from previous clients who had similar renovation work done. Check with the referees to make sure that they have experience managing renovations, including appointing and managing licensed sub-contractors.

Get your building contract in writing

The nature of your written contract is important. If you are spending a significant amount of money, it’s worth considering getting a Lawyer to check it over.

In many instances, the builder would quote for the entire job, including the use of subcontractors.  It is important that the quote is detailed in respect to the budget and timeframe.

choose a project managerYou should also discuss what would happen in the case of unforeseen expenses, disputes and remedial action. Make sure it is very clear in the contract about who is responsible for what. Regular communications between all parties will help to keep control over the budget and timeframe.

Whoever you decide to use, find out about their experience at managing projects first. They need to have the organisational skills, commitment and time to see your project through on budget and on time.

Post your job on and let both Builders and Project Managers come to you. Read reviews, talk to them then decide which is right for you.