The Age of Consultants How Do You Know When You Need One?

It appears we’re living in the age of the consultant. There are financial consultants, construction consultants, security and management consultants, and those that get you rebates on your building’s taxes and utilities. There are experts to confer with on elevator and roof repair, technology, and insurance, and still others who will evaluate your maintenance service. The question is, do you need all these people and the services they’re selling?

Consultants can be viewed as a large resource available to co-ops and condos. They can be called in to solve a single problem or manage a single project, or be retained to provide services year-round. They can supplement what a managing agent does, or they can be used by a self-managing building to handle certain duties and give advice on others. They can help your board find its way through a jungle of service providers, changing technologies, and reams of tax laws. They can take on tasks too large for busy board members and managing agents, and they can find your building money you may not know you had. By knowing what’s available, a co-op or condo board need not feel alone with any decision.

What Do They Do?

Depending on the situation, construction consulting firms fill a number of other capacities. If, for instance, a building has retail space they want to turn into condominiums, a consultant could develop a pro forma of the benefits. If it’s a landmark building, the consultant should know which architects to consider for the job, those that offer competitive fees, and those that do spectacular design work. Good consultants look for input from the board as well; according to Leith ter Meulen, president and chief executive officer of Manhattan construction consulting firm Landair Project Resources, construction consultants try to cast as wide a net as possible to capture the most appropriate architect for each building.

Very early on, a consultant develops a budget, making sure that not only are the construction costs accurately predicted and accounted for, but all of the other related costs as well–like insurance, possible legal fees, design fees, permits, and probes that they might recommend to get more information on any unforeseen conditions or problems within the building.

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Comments

  • I agree that there are a ton of consultancy firms out there. However, when it comes to something like constructing a building or retail space, I don't know how you could build something without a construction consultant! There are just so many different facets to building that it can be overwhelming. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a general construction consultant had employees that specialized in certain aspects of building. Not only would they need to know different architects, like you said, they would also need to know people who could discuss noise pollution, structural integrity, and many other things.