Any building project, however large or small, ought to have a manager. This applies whether you're constructing a new house or the Olympic stadium – hiring one person to plan and oversee the task of a residential build, from conception to completion, ensures proper organisation and a smooth workflow.

What are the responsibilities?

Make no mistake, a PM's responsibilities are great; it's no wonder they wear a hard hat. The PM is responsible for almost everything, from following blueprints to planning permission issues and building codes, ordering materials and organising the hiring of contractors. It is also the PM who must ensure that mistakes and accidents don't happen on the site and, if they do happen, fix the cause as soon as possible. Project managers need to be on site for most of the build, as they oversee all aspects of the project and supervise all those employed in it. In small residential builds, it is often the client themselves that take on the role of project manager – a role that can be bigger than many bargain for. It is therefore worth considering whether the extra cost of hiring a professional, experienced project manager will be worth it in the long run.

Who are project managers in charge of?

Project managers are in overall charge of everyone involved; the builders, plumbers, electricians and the decorators. It is the PM's job to make sure all employees turn up on time, do their work correctly and without mistakes, and in the right order, coordinating laying floors with plastering, for example, and making sure the decorator doesn't appear before the plumber has fitted the pipes.

The importance of organisation

With so many different tradesmen working on the same project, it is vital that a project is organised correctly to avoid costly delays or mishaps. It's also vital that a schedule is drafted that is both realistic and practical, and this means understanding and managing workflow – something most professional project managers will have learned either through a university course or similar, or through many years' experience - preferably both.

Hiring contractors

It's best to hire just one main contractor if a project is to remain as simple and smooth-running as possible. Hiring multiple contractors can lead to problems with communication as well as the friction caused by different working styles. If one considers the close proximity in which contractors work on a build, it's vital that all those involved complete the job they are paid to do, to the exact specifications and to the correct deadline.

For this to happen, it takes more than just good chemistry: it is essential that contractors be paid on time and correctly. This includes any expenses they might have incurred through transport, waste disposal, purchasing materials, etc. It should always be remembered that if contractors are not paid, the work will not be completed!

The best way to avoid problems with payroll between project managers and contractors is via an umbrella company. Umbrella companies can act as middlemen between project management and the contractors themselves, ensuring not only that they are paid on time but that all proper tax and employment forms are filled out and filed correctly and punctually. That way, a project flows smoothly and everyone is happy.