Canadian Contractor

Rob Blackstien   

Staying in the office

Recently, Canadian Contractor solicited the opinions of our RenoFocus alum from 2015 and 2016 to find out what they paid their project managers. Here’s one of the responses.

For context, our PMs are responsible for project scheduling, sub/supplier bid solicitation and selection, budget control, quality control and—because we do much of our work with our own in-house team—staffing and company equipment logistics relating to their project(s). It is primarily an “office” job, with attendance on site generally once or twice weekly though more often at key milestones/activities. They additionally are generally provided with a Working Site Supervisor (WSS) who behaves as the PM’s eyes and ears on site and handle/monitor the day-to-day site and staff logistics and oversight, including peer review of subcontractor work and general quality and schedule adherence, while getting on the tools themselves once these duties are attended to.

Our PMs do not generally have any responsibility for/oversight of design nor sales though are frequently brought into those conversations/processes to support the design and sales staff. They also do not generally have any responsibility for communicating directly with the clients (or their own third party designers), which instead is handled by different, client-facing, office support staff known as Project Coordinators (PCs). Thus, our PMs effectively take a set of plans, scope and specs and just look forward. Others are charged with ensuring that their PMs are armed with the necessary information to do so.

Our target wages for the role start at $50k up to $80k, with the median at about $64k. Our PMs generally manage two concurrent major projects, each at differing stages of completion, plus potentially some punch list items on any project they might have recently completed. The net annual output per PM is approximately $1M (our workload mix is presently about 80 per cent new custom homes, 20 per cent renovations/additions).

Our geographic market spans relatively higher value real estate communities – Guelph, Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge, Dundas, Caledon – with lower value real estate areas – mostly across rural Grey County, Owen Sound, Markdale, Arthur and north Wellington County. Wages across most fields of work are commensurately lower in these rural communities versus the larger (and nearer to GTA) centres. Our own wages reflect a bit of an average of the market rates across these service areas.

Because of our team approach (PM + WSS + PC) to project management, we are able to have family/community friendly policies in place to guarantee that they will not be required to work more than 44 hours at peak… so we are often hiring people who are not necessarily aiming to be top earners but instead are looking for a family-first environment. (It has also had the benefit that our staff tends to skew young, in an industry that is aging… though our PMs do still tend to be older at the stage of mid-career to late-career.) That said, I have been interested in aligning project margin (and other KPIs) success with PM, WSS and PC wages by way of incremental bonus.

Ben Polley
Evolve Builders Group Inc.
Harvest Homes
Fermata – Works of Earth


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