Owner’s Representation

Your Building Smells Like Crap

By |November 20th, 2014|

We often focus on the aesthetic of our buildings, but unless the rendering comes with a scratch and sniff component, sometimes we are only seeing the pretty picture. Odors can ruin the quality of occupant experience, no matter how beautiful the building. Water, gas, and other elements can be sources of foul smells, haunting a building as they are very hard to trace. We have had two instances where this has been a project challenge.

In the first situation, the building would randomly smell like gas. There was no consistency to the situation, making it hard to resolve. We applied cognitive thinking and deductive reasoning:

Determine if there was a gas leak. There was no pressure loss, so that was ruled out.
Determined where the smell was coming from. The odor was coming through the vents.
Analyze the mechanical intakes.

It turned out that there was a gas pressure release valve located close to the exterior mechanical unit, far enough away not to be a concern under normal conditions, but the unit was in a recessed area with solid walls on two sides creating complications. When the valve released gas it would swirl around, and if the wind was blowing a certain direction, it would be sucked into the building creating unhealthy indoor air quality. We relocated the valve and the situation was resolved.

On another project, occupants complained of a strong sewage smell. The project was a large facility addition and renovation involving an extensive team of trades; the challenge to resolving the issue was not only tied to uncovering the source of the sewage problem, but also to who was to be held accountable. As you could expect, it was easy to make [...]

Do you have project stress?

By |June 17th, 2014|

Design and construction projects are filled with constant negotiations, decisions, and deadlines. The combination puts a lot of pressure on the core teams involved, and although usually evenly distributed across the life of the project, there are times when stress is particularly elevated:

1.  An estimate is over budget
2.  A design goal is not achieved
3.  Changes are requested or required late in the project

Over the years we have found that project stress brings our predictable behaviors for those with certain personality traits:

1.  Someone who is overbearing will dominate the conversation
2.  Someone who consistently makes ethical decisions will do so with stronger conviction
3.  Someone who avoids confrontation will do whatever they can to make the issue disappear

We recommend that during a project, starting at a selection process, you pay attention to people’s personalities. As you develop theses relationships focus on individual’s conflict resolution style and tendencies. Why is this important? When a project enters a stressful situation you will be more prepared to manage individual team members and lead a stressful situation to a successful outcome. You will find, as we have, that understanding the personalities of the parties involved will lead to more harmonious project management.

Paul Wember ~ Owner’s Representative

I Wish Owner’s Reps Would _______.

By |April 2nd, 2014|

At a recent meeting with a design team, we performed a market-survey of sorts. We wanted to gain insight into what we as Owner’s Reps should be mindful of in providing services. We covered many topics from writing better RFP’s to project frustrations. At the end of our discussions, we asked each participant to fill-in-the-blank: “I wish owner’s representatives would ______.” Below are some of the responses.

1. Generate better RFP’s by asking more relevant questions.
All too often RFP’s are copied from one project to another resulting in a document that sets all kinds of technical requirements but don’t seek to find the best fit. Rules and formatting requirements can force the submitting companies into boxes; it doesn’t take long for the teams to all look so similar that all that is left to differentiate is a quantitative scoring (how many similar projects have you completed). Although the RFP should call out expectations, owners and their representatives should focus on extracting the specific expertise that the proposing team can provide. Consider asking more detailed and insightful questions related to project type or specific challenges, such as:”What challenges are present with a negative pressure room such as a natatorium? What have you done to specifically address this issue?””Our project has a Board of Directors that believes the project budget should be reduced by 20%. How do we convince them the budget put together is accurate and appropriate?”

2. Help owners make decisions in a timely manner.
Owners may have other responsibilities in addition to working on the project at hand, but the hired design team is focused, and has allocated resources to the project. They need owners to make timely decisions to allow for continuous project [...]

Apps – Using Technology to Make Your Job Easier

By |September 7th, 2011|

The first time I saw an app was from the IT Director on a project during construction. He proudly showed me his level on his new Iphone. I advised him that he might not want to bring that out during the next OAC meeting. This initial experience and many following left me underwhelmed by the possibilities of this new revolutionary technology but times have changed and so has my opinion.

We have been using our phones for communication be it texting, email, and live video (showing consultants field conditions in live format) for some time but the field of applications has changed immensely and is continuing to evolve. Recently I was on a site walk with a client and we were trying to determine where the property line might be, comparing a concept drawing to a google map on my phone was ok but didn’t give me the confidence that I needed. Upon returning to the office I searched for an application that might help solve the problem. What I uncovered was an App called “pocket surveyor” which would have allowed me to answer the question of how big is the site, we would have been more productive in the meeting and we would have been adding more value to the client.

This led me to look into what other apps in the AEC industry might add value, here is the initial list.

Pocket Surveyor – Great for taking measurements on site. I haven’t tested the accuracy of it, maybe it will tell the client how big the conference room they are meeting is which always seems to be a question that comes up during design.
Heavy Construction Calculators – [...]

11 Reasons Why You Should Hire an Owner’s Representative

By |August 3rd, 2011|


You have a team of experts with your architect, contractor, legal, and accounting team but who sees the big picture? Having an Owner’s Representative facilitates communication across team members in a timely fashion. Note, the owner’s can often times be the culprit of why projects are delayed; an Owner’s Representative can assist on preventing these delays and miscommunications.

Cost Savings:

You hire an accountant to do your taxes and often their efforts often return results that cover their fees. Owner’s Representatives should not make a claim that they will save their entire fee through their efforts but it is a rare case when their involvement does not result in savings to their clients. Like an accountant you also are receiving piece of mind that your project is following industry protocols reducing your risk.


You as the Owner have a job and most likely it is more than full time, adding a large capital project just increases to the burden of your daily responsibilities. An Owner’s Representative will not replace the owner but they will do the heavy lifting related to project management that will allow you to be engaged and informed without being overwhelmed.

Software and Information:

A reputable Owner’s Representative will have implemented a project management software that allows the exchange of information and filing of records. As the owner you need access to information and it shouldn’t be housed in third party office. An Owner’s Representative will manage countless documents on the owner’s behalf.


The Architecture and Construction Industry is more than guilty of acronyms and terminology that is industry related. An Owner’s Representative can assist owner’s on continually reviewing the goals of the project and walking them through the [...]