Project management – building your dream in PortugalBy Kerstin Buechner Dias • Mar 2nd, 2005 • Category: Building a property, Companies, Quinta Lifestyle
A civil engineer by profession, David Banting came to the Algarve in 1989 to oversee a large-scale project around Quinta do Lago, and stayed on. He became fully independent in 1995, and now has his own practise with on-site supervision by Rogerio Guerreiro and offices at the entrance to Quinta do Lago. He talks about the role of a Project Manager and changing trends.
Building in Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo
A Project Manager looks after the interests of the client with the various professionals involved in the process of constructing a villa: architects, builders, landscapers and specialist suppliers. This is a very pro-active role and, says David Banting, a million miles away from the friend who says,
“I’ll keep an eye on things while you are away”.
It is only in recent years that people have really started to understand the value of project managers. “Sadly, lessons have been learned the hard way,” he says, “and clients who have had bad experiences now appreciate the value of having an independent professional on their side, here on the ground all the time, looking after their interests”.
Ideally, the client will appoint a project manager as soon as the plot of land has been purchased, pre- or post appointment of an architect. Clients are often out of the country for long periods of time, so the project manager assumes full day-to-day responsibility for the project with contractors. Rather than resenting the intrusion of another link in the chain, true professionals prefer to work this way. “I remember one project where the timescale was very tight,” says David, “the builder refused to take the contract unless there was a project manager on the ground, because too much time would be wasted tracking down the client and getting answers to questions that invariably crop up”. Having a project manager also relieves the builder of the responsibility of having to find sub-contractors for specialist supplies or requirements of the client. “It also means that they do not have that bit of extra profit which of course is advantageous to the client,” admits David, “but they usually recognise that it frees them up to do what they do best – building – while I sort out everything else”.
Sometimes David is called in when a project is already underway. “That is always a headache, because it means there has been a problem,” he says, “we have to try and understand what has gone before and then take it forward, which is never as easy as being with a project all the way through. Prevention is always better than cure in these things.“
He has seen various fashions come and go and says that nowadays, the trend is for clean, modern and efficient with certain luxuries included. “Home cinemas are taking over basements and garages, and saunas and steam rooms are becoming more popular for investment properties in particular. These things add value as well as giving enjoyment.”
What does he feel strongly about?
“There should be a secure contract with the builder to protect the client, with payment schedules and timescales clearly identified. We advise on such matters and liaise with the appointed lawyer accordingly”.
Advice for anyone thinking of building a villa?
“Now is a good time to build – quality contractors are available to do the work at a fair price,” he says and adds, “allow time for the paperwork to go through the local council and remember that once you have your permission, you are obliged to start work within 12 months according to current regulations”.
“Construction periods have improved over the past ten years or so. Providing materials can be sourced and supplied on time, all should go to schedule”. “And,” he smiles, “my fees are actually less now than before, because of the competitive situation.”
“Beware people who call themselves project managers without having the relevant qualifications or experience. Take time to talk to professional people and get their recommendations – it could save a lot of money and heartache.”