The world of Project Monitoring can be misunderstood, with various stakeholders misinterpreting the role and work included. In this article we explore what should be included in project monitoring and the benefits it can bring to a building project.
Project monitoring is distinct from both project management and construction monitoring. A reference from the RICS Guidance Note on Project Monitoring gives the following definition; “Protecting the client’s interests by identifying and advising on the risks associated with acquiring an interest in a development that is not under the client’s direct control”.
The role of the Project Monitor
The role of the project monitor is to be an investigator and advisor to the client. The client may be a bank or other lending institution, but can be a funding institution, proposed tenant with long-term lease obligations, and public grant funders all of which require an independent and impartial assessment of a development scheme. This involves providing advice based on the associated risks with a development to protect the client’s interests.
Project Monitors provide advice on:
• Land and property acquisition matters
• Statutory consents
• Competency of the Developer, the team and any
proposed project management systems
• Financial appraisals
• Development, finance, consultancy and construction
• Construction costs and programmes
Resolving unforeseen planning permission issues
When an experienced project monitor is appointed, this means the client has help and guidance on the associated risks on the project that does not have full control over. The client will then be best placed to make decisions both prior to construction works commencing and ongoing, throughout the construction period.
An example is a case involving a small business park extending the development into a larger business park. In this instance, there were over twenty 3,000-4,000 sq foot industrial units being constructed on land, having planning permission for the units. As the units were being constructed it was apparent that the frames and floors seemed different and not quite what the planning permission drawings indicated. The project monitor queried this with the developer explaining the discrepancy, and it transpired that the units built were 10% larger than were shown on the planning permission drawings and so in turn increasing the rents that were to be gained from the development. Reporting this to the bank, they then insisted that the developer complete ‘Phase 1’ of the scheme and resubmit for changing the planning permission to reflect what had actually been constructed. Fortunately, the developer was successful in obtaining that revised permission and went on to complete the development with the full support of the bank.
What to look for when selecting a project monitor
A project monitor should have considerable experience of construction and development schemes so that they will be able to put that experience to use when advising the client. Having an understanding of the construction risks at each stage of the development; what may not go to plan and what would be required to rectify is what must be asked for each stage in the development. An experienced project monitor will be able to add a level of experience and protection to the client’s interests in a development scheme.
Quality project monitoring is essential to third-party involvement with construction projects. Advising the client of what financial, legal risks and dangers are likely with a particular scheme and it’s contractor/s and designers and monitoring their performance throughout the project timescale. This is carried out in a pro-active and timely manner that keeps the client informed to make the best decisions for itself and all those involved.