Project manager engagement for school property projects

A project manager must be nominated for all school property projects. As a board of trustees, you must engage a professional project manager if your project needs building consent. You can use a non-professional project manager if the project does not need building consent but there are a number of issues to be aware of when using non-professional project managers.

Engage a professional project manager

You must engage a professional project manager if your project needs building consent.

Your professional project manager must be experienced in property project management and have proven expertise in:

  • planning, and contract and property law
  • Ministry of Education design standards (see: Design standards)
  • working in multidisciplinary design and construction teams
  • cost–benefit analysis
  • feasibility studies
  • time, cost and quality planning, and quality control
  • procuring goods and services
  • contracting and construction methods
  • contract administration
  • risk management
  • dispute management.

The project manager should also preferably have an appropriate tertiary qualification. For example, they could be qualified as:

  • an architect
  • an engineer
  • a quantity surveyor
  • a registered clerk of works.

Using an existing project manager

If you are planning to use a project manager who is already contracted with your school, consider these questions.

  • Does the project manager already have a contract that allows your school to use them to provide project management services?
  • Is your school contractually bound to use them?
  • Does this project manager have the right skill set for the project? For example, have they previously managed a similar project in terms of the work and money involved? Would specialist skills, such as building knowledge, be an advantage for this project?
  • What other commitments do they have?

If you decide to use an existing project manager for a new project:

  • confirm the initial contract terms
  • extend the original contract.

See: Contracts for construction works and professional services.

Procuring a project manager

When you are engaging a new project manager, you need to follow the Ministry’s procurement processes. In this way, you follow a fair and open process that gains the best value and service for your school.

You follow a different procurement process depending on the value of the contract, and whether it is an emergency project.

See: Procurement.

We recommend that you engage your project manager from a list of pre-selected project managers that meet our criteria.

See: Project management panels.

Once you and your chosen project manager have signed the contract, store it in the project file.

See: Setting up a project file for your project.

Entering into a term contract with a project manager

You can engage a project manager:

  • to deliver a specific project, in which case the contract will end when the project is satisfactorily completed, or
  • on a term contract to deliver projects that occur within the term of the contract – for example, a contract with a 5-year term to deliver projects in the school’s 5 Year Agreement (5YA).

The advantages of a term contract include:

  • making savings over a number of projects
  • not having to go through the procurement process for each project
  • the project manager overseeing both large construction projects and smaller refurbishment and maintenance projects
  • consistency in the way your school is being developed.

You can negotiate the project manager’s fees as either:

  • a percentage of the value of the 5 Year Agreement (5YA) project, which protects the fees from inflation, such as when a project starts in year 4 of the 5YA
  • a range of predetermined rates, with an inflation clause – this option might be better for an expensive project, for example, the project manager would get a high fee for a roof replacement on a percentage basis, even though it would involve less work.

If you set a range of predetermined rates, you can review them after a project is fully scoped and you know how much work is involved.

The term contract must include a clause that:

  • allows you to use the same project manager for new projects
  • bases the fee on a percentage of the value of the projects
  • allows you the option to use another project manager if you choose.

Your project manager must have professional indemnity insurance

A professional project manager must have professional indemnity insurance.

See: Insurance procurement.

Even if you have engaged your project manager on a term contract, check that their insurance is current from time to time.

Manage the project manager’s performance

You may need to manage your project manager’s performance if you think they are not meeting their contractual obligations. Your school representative appointed for the project should raise the matter with you and the project control group, and address the problem before it affects the rest of the project.

See: Appointing a project control group.

The project manager’s contract will have terms and conditions for non-performance.

Use a non-professional project manager

You can use a non-professional project manager for projects not requiring building consent. Make sure that person is suitable for the role. This might be:

  • the caretaker
  • the principal
  • an appropriate board member.

A non-professional project manager must be capable of managing the project. Before you decide on this option, consider the following points.

  • How complex is the project? Even if it doesn’t need consent, the work can be complex and the manager may need to engage and coordinate several contractors.
  • How big is the project? For example, painting a large school can take considerable time and coordination.
  • What is the level of risk? A non-professional manager can’t get professional indemnity insurance. You need to consider the potential risks of legal action and any subsequent costs.

Using a staff member

If a staff member, such as the caretaker, manages the project, the scope of work must be:

  • fully covered in their employment agreement
  • in line with their collective or individual agreement.

Paying a staff member

A staff member’s labour cost on your property project is a cost to the school’s operational funding as an employee. You can’t charge it to the project.

See: Property Maintenance Grant.

Pay your project manager’s fees

If you have a professional project manager, their fees are part of your project costs. You must build them into the project budget.

You can make savings by:

  • using the same project manager for several projects under a term contract
  • working in clusters with other schools with a term contract.

If a parent or board member has volunteered to become the school’s project manager, they cannot charge a fee because it would create a contractual relationship with your board. You would have to:

  • follow the Ministry’s procurement process before you could use them (see: Procurement)
  • keep records that show you have followed a fair and transparent procurement process – this protects the school if anyone is later concerned that a parent or board member had an unfair advantage.

Orientate a new project manager

When the project manager starts at your school, you need to introduce them to your school and the project.

Give the project manager details such as:

  • the project site, with an orientation tour
  • key staff and project staff
  • members of the project control group (see: Appointing a project control group)
  • health and safety requirements
  • details of any related contracts
  • details of any known issues or risks
  • reporting lines and functional relationships within the school
  • the project manager’s own work location or office space
  • school technology and systems (if relevant).

Also make sure the project manager has access to:

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