The Role of Facility Managers in Construction Projects

A company’s facility manager knows the ins and outs of what makes their building and operations tick, ensuring that everything is maintained properly and that occupants are safe, comfortable, and secure.

Their job goes beyond building repairs and making sure equipment keeps working, however. They play a critical role in the planning and implementation of construction projects when renovating, adding on, or building a new facility. Excluding this critical role from the design and construction phases could result in regrettable and costly decisions down the road.

During the Construction Planning Process

Project owners should invite their facility manager to the table as early as possible. A facility manager’s participation in pre-construction meetings will reveal questions and perspectives that impact the design, layout, materials, and other aspects of the project. They’ll often act as a liaison or gatekeeper for the project owner on a daily basis, reviewing designs and helping to select finishes and equipment.

Their knowledge of maintenance requirements and daily operations will help inform many decisions. For example, there may be preferred door security, such as badge readers or PIN pads to grant access to restricted areas. Or, there may be preferred vendors that the facility manager wants to continue working with. 

Are there mechanical products that need to match existing systems in other parts of the building? If there are multiple facilities, should HVAC be the same brand and model as the others so the maintenance team won’t need to learn how to service a different product or work with multiple vendors? Should each office have its own thermostat or should multiple office temperatures be maintained by a single control? 

It’s these seemingly simple questions that can be answered quickly by a facility manager who’s familiar with how the company’s workforce currently operates and their expectations. 

The facility manager can also coordinate meetings with key stakeholders. In a hospital setting, he may identify a core group of healthcare workers to provide insights on a nurse’s station configuration or infection control protocols. Workers need to contribute their first-hand insights, and understand the scope of the project and any disruptions to continue to do their jobs effectively. 

During the Construction Phase 

Facilities managers will work closely with the general contractor and project superintendent during construction, conducting regular site inspections and quality checks. They’ll work as a team to verify installations and accessibility, oversee system start-ups and testing, and coordinate shutdowns for utilities when tying into an existing facility.

Warranties and service contracts need to be reviewed, and suppliers and equipment installers may need to provide training and documentation for maintenance staff. Maintaining normal operations during construction is also a pivotal role that a facility manager helps to oversee. 

The relationship between the construction superintendent and the facility manager is the backbone of the project. If the facility manager is brought in late to the project, there will inevitably be details that get missed and obstacles that need to be overcome, some of which could be costly to fix or simply not be possible once the project is underway. 

Choosing a construction firm involves much more than bid packages and the physical structure; it must center on relationships and communication. At The Samuels Group, we strive to provide the best of both worlds. Contact us today for a complimentary assessment of your needs and to share your ideas and vision.

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