What are the differences between a project manager and a client?


When we embark on a construction project, we hear about the project manager and the owner. If these two terms are close, they do designate two different people whose missions are quite distinct. Indeed, the project manager is responsible for the proper performance of the work while the owner is the client who orders the construction. Let’s take stock to fully understand the differences between these two roles.

Project manager and client: very different missions

The project manager

The project manager is a professional performing in charge of the proper execution of the commissioned work. It can therefore be a craftsman, a design office or an architect.

Its role is to carry out the construction work in accordance with the expectations of the client, who is the client. This building expert must design the project in accordance with the wishes of the owner and within the limits of his budget, but also to ensure that the deadline for the work is respected by means of a strict schedule. . For this, he follows the entire project since he participates in the design of construction plans and the organization of the site. He must supervise the work and organize and coordinate the interventions of each professional that he himself has selected, through site meetings in particular. Finally, he can ensure the reception of the site as a technical assistant to the client, as he could have worked as an assistant for the administrative procedures at the start of the project.

In addition, throughout the process, he works as an intermediary between the client and the various professionals working on the site.

The project manager is remunerated by the owner for his services. This remuneration is made through the payment of a percentage of the total amount of the work or of a fixed sum previously defined.

The contracting authority

The owner is the one who orders the construction. It can be an individual or a professional. However, you should know that the client can delegate his power if he does not consider himself competent enough to express his needs. He can then appoint a craftsman, a design office or an architect who becomes the owner in his place, and who can also be the project manager.

The client has several roles. It is he who defines the needs of the construction, in particular because he is generally the end customer. He establishes the specifications of the work, alone or with the help of a professional. Finally, he sets his budget and the deadline for completion of the construction with the project manager.

What are the differences between the project manager and the owner?

Everyone has their role, but that does not prevent confusion between the sometimes blurred limits of these two people. Here are the differences between these two entities to help you see more clearly.

The final decision

This belongs totally to the client, since he is the client. Thus, even if the project manager intervenes at multiple levels, the project owner remains the sole final decision-maker, including for the choice of professionals intervening on the site.

Reception of the works

The project manager is present and organizes the acceptance of the works, but it is the client who validates and signs the acceptance report, or even indicates the points of non-compliance to be raised.

Technical skills

The project manager is a building professional and his role is to provide his technical skills to the client. He is indeed an expert capable of managing the whole of a site, from A to Z.

Conversely, the client is an individual or a professional who does not necessarily have knowledge in the building field.

The obligation of means and results

The project manager has an obligation of means and results towards the project owner. If the latter considers that the result is not in accordance with his wishes and established plans, he may well engage the responsibility of the project manager.

The service

The project manager and the client are bound by a contract, the first being the service provider of the second. He is also remunerated for this.

The insurance

The project manager and the owner do not have the same obligations on the construction site. Consequently, they do not have to take out the same insurance policies.

The project manager is a professional who must take out a ten-year insurance contract before the start of the work, in order to cover any damage impacting the work and which may make it unfit for its use. He can also take out a general civil liability insurance contract to cover damage caused to third parties during construction.

The contracting authority, for its part, must take out a structural damage insurance contract before the start of the work in order to cover any damage linked to the ten-year guarantee from the project manager within a very short period of time.