What Does a Construction Owner’s Representatitve Do & How to Excel in Their Role?

Owner’s Representative Guide: All About The Role & 4 Tips To Maximize Your Potential

The deck seems stacked against commercial real estate owners—especially those who need to strip down or rebuild a property.

After all, construction materials have skyrocketed an average of 19%, and construction managers lose an average of 14 hours a week on activities like scouring for project info, addressing conflicts, and tackling mistakes.

That’s why an owner’s representative plays an essential role in commercial real estate. Rather than owners juggling the complexities of construction, reps can serve as a go-between on the project. Owner’s representatives keep owners apprised of building progress while staying true to the project schedule.

So, how can owner’s representatives be effective in this crucial job? Below, you’ll learn more about owner’s representation duties and some tips and technology to help you streamline the many tasks on a rep’s to-do list.

What is an owner's representative?

An owner’s representative is an advocate for the building owner. In commercial real estate, an owner’s representative protects the owner’s best interests, including overseeing design and construction during a remodel and/or getting the space leased. 

To get granular, owner’s representatives can assist in tasks like facility management activities, commissioning designers to revamp a space, and managing construction projects.

The role of an owner’s representative in commercial real estate

As aforementioned, an owner’s representative takes care of a variety of duties on behalf of the owner of a commercial real estate property. Explore all the typical responsibilities of this role below.

Coordinating and communications between stakeholders

This is probably the most important responsibility of an owner’s representative. They’re the ultimate go-between for all the stakeholders—the owner, general contractors, subcontractors, designers, engineers, and the project manager—on the project. 

And owners know how crucial this task is: One survey shows the top reason owners hire owner’s representatives is to improve communications. 

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The owner’s representative is a central point of contact who keeps everyone on the project up-to-date on progress and any changes. The rep ensures everyone is working toward the same project goals and can collaborate effectively. This kind of streamlined communication can prevent disputes, potential misunderstandings, and pricey delays.

Overseeing project timelines and budgets

When owners can’t be on-site themselves to oversee construction on their commercial real estate property, projects can quickly exceed their original budget and schedule. This is an all-too-common issue—construction projects overrun their budgets by a minimum of 16% on average. But that’s where owner’s representatives can help.

Owner’s representatives collaborate closely with the project team to sketch out realistic timelines and costs. Then they work hard with everyone to stick to those plans—or even come in under expected costs.

One study showed that “when an owner decides to hire an owner’s representative on (design-build) projects, the project cost is more likely to be less than budgeted than when they do not hire an owner’s representative.”

They also tackle any necessary changes in a timely manner. By being there to directly address any issues that come up, they curb or minimize delays and cost overruns.

Quality control and ensuring compliance

While owner’s representatives strive to keep projects on track, they also ensure no one cuts corners to get there. 

Quality control and compliance are vital duties for an owner’s representative. Reps put measures in place to keep construction to the owner’s standard (and comply with local and state building codes).

Some quality control and compliance measures they use include:

  • Regular inspections

  • Going over construction documentation

  • Addressing issues on the spot

  • Reviewing relevant building codes to ensure work meets those standards

Managing construction project documentation and communication

A major responsibility of owner’s representatives is to keep up with the mountains of paperwork that comes with a major build or remodeling project. 

Organizing all the project’s documentation is almost a full-time job in itself. Owner’s representatives manage:

  • Change orders

  • Building permits

  • Project plans

  • Contract documents

  • Records of the project’s progress

And it’s important the right project stakeholders can review the right documents when they need them. So, the rep has to ensure these docs are centrally stored and easily accessible. 

Handling change orders and project scope

During a remodel, it’s easy for scope creep to crop up during the construction phase. And inevitably, the construction team will find something they didn’t expect and be forced to pivot the project.

Fortunately, an owner’s representative is there to tackle these challenges—that way, any changes can still meet the project’s original goals. If reps are involved from the beginning, they can work with the team to accurately scope the project and avoid any creep down the line.

The rep can also vet any proposed changes and estimate the potential hit to the project’s budget or timeline. From there, they can handle procurement and negotiate directly with contractors to land on a fair price for those approved changes.

Occupancy considerations

An owner’s representative’s value doesn’t stop once contractors complete their work. After the remodel or build is finished, an owner’s representative can transition to managing occupancy issues for the property.

For example, the representative can coordinate with tenants to organize their move-in. They can also oversee the process of setting up furniture, installing any fixtures, and setting up equipment.

Having this kind of single point of contact can keep the transition from construction to occupancy a smooth one. 

4 tips to achieve your potential as an owner's representative  (plus the technology to get you there) 

Construction owner’s representatives have a wealth of responsibilities to juggle. From overseeing a start-to-finish remodel to transitioning tenants to occupancy, the list of business-critical tasks is lengthy.

Fortunately, the right tech and tools can make an owner’s representative’s work easier at every stage of the construction process—from planning to design to monitoring progress and beyond. Specifically, tools like Matterport’s 3D digital twins can help keep your teams coordinated, quickly weigh design options, and better serve your owner across nearly every aspect of your project's scope of work.

Here are a few tips to help owner’s reps simplify their work, the tools to make it happen, and a few companies that directly benefited from using Matterport’s suite of tools.

1. Reduce project planning costs 

Expenses during the planning phase of the project add up quickly. Between multiple site visits to sketch out a design and adjusting those designs during engineering and construction, it’s easy for planning costs to stack up and eventually bust your budget.

Those were some of the challenges that pharmaceutical and biotech giant, Bayer Africa’s, Row Crop Seeds division faced. The agriculture organization has a big mission: develop new integrated solutions to help farmers and communities feed and protect our planet. And the team needed high-tech tools to accurately build the facilities and solutions to meet this mandate.

One of the organization’s major struggles was disparate or missing legacy site documentation. 

When the project engineers had no info at all, they’d have to hire an architect to manually create it, which took up to two weeks. That meant site visits, drawing up plans, creating building/equipment sketches, conducting existing condition surveys, and then building the out digital footprint. Not exactly the most efficient process. And it was easy for teams to miss capturing an element that would force them to pivot design during construction.

That’s where a 3D digital twin came to the rescue.

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Creating virtual replicas of the sites enabled faster and more cost-effective delivery of Revit design files and digitalization for legacy systems. Their new, streamlined process improved their entire workflow, from the design phase to construction to the customer.

Ultimately, using digital twins reduced their project planning costs by 75% across site visits, scanning, and sketching.

2. Assess multiple design and staging options for large-scale properties 

When owner’s representatives are present during the design stage for a commercial property remodel, they can directly collaborate with designers and architects. They can work with these design pros to create and fine-tune plans for the property. 

But in these scenarios, owner’s representatives need to see several iterations of a design to land on the right option—particularly for properties with a lot of square footage. That’s what London-based office design firm VRPM often ran into with its clients.

To give clients a high-impact visual of their interior designs for a large office space, they needed high-resolution, staged virtual tours. So, they leaned on Matterport and its 3D digital twin technology.

VRPM used Matterport’s developer tools to create a virtual staging app that seamlessly integrated with its 3D scans. This integration made it simple for VRPM and its commercial real estate clients to collaborate during the design and development process via an immersive digital twin. The result was an interior design of the property complete with furnishings decor and 360-degree views

For VRPM, Matterport also encourages creativity both in design and business—especially since digital twins made it simple to stage multiple design options to meet clients’ needs. 

“With Matterport, we can explore different versions of the same space to help our clients attract tenants. Matterport isn’t just our creative tool, but a powerful customer service resource that helps our clients quickly lease or sell their properties,” says Mike Merron, Founding Director of VRPM.

3. Collaborate more effectively with a single source of truth 

Complex projects require a variety of stakeholders to work closely: architects, designers, contractors, and owner’s representatives, just to name a few. But facilitating daily update calls and regular site visits is difficult to manage with so many schedules to juggle. Owner’s representatives need a simple, centralized way to work together. 

Matterport’s 3D digital twins proved to be the perfect solution when Tokyo’s ArchiTwin needed a better way to oversee site conditions and collaborate remotely. So, ArchiTwin used Matterport’s SDK and APIs to develop its own embedded navigation tools. Now, the company boasts a digital twin-centered platform that brings all its project info, documentation, and administrative oversight to a single workspace. 

ArchiTwin’s platform offers collaboration tools like an integrated real-time message board that can include short video messages, typed information, photos, or other attachments. The platform notifies users about new messages, while its to-do list feature helps everyone stay on top of their tasks. And managers have the permission controls to only grant access to certain digital twins to specific team members. 

This feature-rich platform was just the starting point for ArchTwin’s clients—the company also employed Mattertags to add images and videos that provided immersive context about properties.

“By listing the contents of Mattertags on the right side of the digital twin screen, our customers can instantly understand what awaits them inside each space and more easily navigate through it,” says Chris Christophers, Founder and COO of ArchiTwin. 

4. Remote monitoring of construction progress

Owner’s representatives can spend far too much of their time doing site visits during the construction process—wrangling schedules, commuting to the property, and reviewing the progress can all be time sucks. Still, keeping a close eye on construction milestones helps the project stay on track and ensures no one is cutting corners when it comes to quality.

Minneapolis-based Northfield Public Schools encountered a similar challenge when rebuilding Greenvale Elementary School. The school district worked with Knutson Construction on the project to start from scratch with a brand-new school and community buildings. 

While the project initially moved along smoothly, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and halted construction. The project was half-finished and safety protocols made it impossible to visit the school. Fortunately, Northfield was able to use Matterport to collaborate with Knutson to get the project back on track. 

Knutson Construction used Matterport Pro2 cameras to capture the project’s milestone progress—that way, Northfield could remotely monitor job milestone progress in 3D anytime and from anywhere. 

“Matterport allowed us to share progress with board members, our leadership team, and others as the building was constructed,” said Northfield Public Schools Superintendent Matt Hillmann. “Many people were unable to tour the site because of the pandemic but needed to see what was happening. The feedback was terrific.”

Have some lingering questions about becoming or hiring an owner’s representative? Below, you’ll find some of the most common queries and their corresponding answers.


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