There are six key phases of real estate project management: assessment, planning, design, construction, relocation, and closeout. The easy answer to the question, ‘which is the most critical phase,’ is that, in their own right, they are all the most critical.


However, as real estate project managers acting as owner’s reps, we put a particular emphasis on the initial assessment and project planning phase.  At the start of a project, the project management team will do a comprehensive assessment with the client to gain a very clear and all-encompassing understanding of the client’s purpose, needs, goals, priorities, and objectives of the real estate project. With a thorough assessment, the PM will be able to precisely watch for the client’s best interest throughout the entire project, because the team will have a full understanding of what success looks like to the client. The rest of the project will flow through with more ease when enough time has been taken to carefully understand the client’s needs, vision, culture and top priorities.

Planning– The planning phase usually begins with procurement. The PM will create RFPs and issue them to several bidders per discipline. Upon response to RFPs, the PM will analyze results and award contracts to the best vendor for the job.

Design– While the design is completed by the architect and engineer on board, the PM will coordinate and participate in all meetings to ensure that the design team is on board with the client’s vision and needs (and schedule and budget).

Construction– Throughout construction, the real estate project management team will closely monitor all construction activities. This includes weekly job site meetings, monitoring change orders and tracking project progress against schedule, budget and construction documents.

Relocation– The physical move is a crucial point in the project for most clients. The move most directly impacts the entire employee base so it is important that this process is organized. A real estate project manager will coordinate with client IT (internal or external) to ensure all phone and data lines are good to go on the first day of business. A dedicated PM will also be on site throughout the physical move, prepared to assist and work out any questions that come up during this process.

Closeout– The closeout includes developing a punch list and overseeing the progress of that list. Finally, a strong real estate project management team will deliver all project documents- warranties, invoices, contract records, lien waivers, etc. are delivered to the client in an organized fashion.

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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