Successful Capital Improvement Projects - Part 2: The Capital Improvement Project Team

Successful Capital Improvement Projects for Commercial and Multi-Family Residential Buildings

Part 2 – Building a Team

Capital improvement projects are great – when they’re complete! Everyone loves a roof that doesn’t leak, beautifully-redesigned public areas and brand-new warehouse facilities. It’s getting there that’s the headache for every building manager. In addition to your normal duties, you now have this major project to manage, along with all the struggles it entails. That’s where a strong capital improvement project team can really help. This post is the second in our five-part series that will provide tips on completing capital projects successfully.

Who should be on a successful capital improvement project team?

Building Owner or Association Board

If you manage a commercial property, the building’s owner is going to be a key member of the capital project team. They approve the need for the project and the budget. And, they will benefit from the improved value of their asset once the project is complete.

If you manage a condo property, you have a board that advises you on projects. They help prioritize and residents’ requests and act as a liaison to the residents. Capital expenditure approval is their responsibility.

Beyond approvals, owners and board members can provide valuable insight to a capital improvement project. If they’re bought into the project team, board members can help field resident’s complaints and concerns about the inevitable inconvenience capital projects cause.

Property Manager

As the property manager, you are the most valuable resource to the capital improvement project team. No one understands the building and its quirks better than you and your team. Plus, you are responsible for making sure the building meets tenants’ and residents’ ongoing needs during construction.

In many cases, the property manager acts as project manager on capital improvements. Sometimes, building managers hire third parties as project managers. This is often true on larger projects.


Construction law is mostly about contracts. And, those contracts have hundreds of factors to consider. Who will bear the cost of project delays? When is a change order justified? What if an injury occurs on the jobsite – who is responsible? How will you resolve disputes? It’s the team lawyer’s job to help manage some of this risk through smart contracting.

Insurance Agent

Your insurance needs change when you start a capital project. Adding an insurance agent to your project team means he or she will know exactly what’s involved in the project. Good agents will suggest appropriate levels of coverage for the job. They can also help you make sure your contractors have the insurance they need to keep your risk at a minimum.

Licensed Professional Engineer or Architect

As the property manager, you have an intimate understanding of your building. Licensed professional engineering firms will provide an objective point of view, helping you see things that may have faded into the background

Does managing a construction project in addition to your everyday responsibilities seem impossible? That’s where an engineering firm with construction experience can really add value. Your engineering firm may be able to manage some or all the project phases with minimal involvement on your part. Engineering firms like ESS can manage:

Building evaluation
Specification and plan development
Capital improvement project team building
Contractor evaluation and selection
On-site contractor supervision
Overall project management


Skilled and honest trades people are the core of any successful capital improvement project team. The bid process, if managed properly, can help ensure you find the best contractors at the most reasonable prices.

By developing a comprehensive and detailed bid package, you’ll ensure contractors can propose accurate time and cost estimates. Detailed bids from contractors can help prevent time and cost overruns.  This is another place where and experienced engineering firm can help. They know the best contractors in the area. They’re able to streamline the process and result, saving you time and money.


The right lender knows all the options for financing the project. Is the building located in a historic area? Are there grants available for façade improvements in your area? The answers to these and other questions might provide funding options you hadn’t thought of previously.

What happens when the right people aren’t on the team?

Not having the all the right people on your capital improvement project team can derail the entire process. How?

  • Not having the board on the team can result in you addressing the wrong problem. Even if you have the right problem, your board can help manage residents expectations about the outcome.
  • Poorly drafted contracts that haven’t been vetted by an attorney can result in risk to owners for claims, leans and unfinished work.
  • Project management by an engineering firm with construction experience can help prevent cost overruns and delays due to unclear specs or unrealistic plans.
  • A consultative, experienced insurance agent can insure you against unexpected events and claims. Without that coverage, you could be liable for things you never thought would occur.
  • Including your lender in the team means he or she will know exactly what you’re funding and may be able to prevent you from financing more than you need or from under-funding the project.

At Engineering Support Services, we specialize in helping building managers through all types of capital projects. Come soon for our post on preparing project documents. Our experienced capital project engineers will provide the why and how of building a great project foundation with thorough and comprehensive documentation.