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A Day in the Life

When you think about what goes into a home renovation or remodel in Victoria, BC, you can usually see what the designers envision and how the carpenters bring it to life, but without the project manager, the process is far more challenging and full of opportunities for things to fall through the cracks. If you said the project manager is the glue that holds the renovation together, you wouldn’t be wrong.

At MAC Renovations, we’re a Design-Build construction company, which means we take a team approach to your home renovation project in Victoria. With this method, you — the homeowner — have a single point of contact throughout the life of your project. Your project manager is there to help you meet the crews working on your home, and they’ll walk beside you on the other end of the project, showing you everything that’s been done to make your home better.

Margaret Cormode, senior project manager at MAC Renovations, gave us a glimpse into what a project manager does and how she helps the MAC Renovation team stay on time and on budget.

What is a Typical Day for a Project Manager at MAC Renovations in Victoria?

“Usually, I’ll start the day in my inbox,” said Margaret. “I’ll see if there are any pressing concerns and deal with them immediately. Then I’ll check the schedules on BuilderTrend, our project management software. I’m always looking a few weeks ahead to coordinate timelines for the different components required at the homes. My priority is the projects that are in construction, and once those jobs are on track, I can move on to the jobs that are in the planning queue. Monday’s start with a kick-off meeting, and Friday’s usually end with a review of the coming weeks so we can stay on top of everything.”

“On top of project management, as the senior project manager, I support the development of our SOPs — standard operating procedures — to ensure everyone on our internal teams are on the same page, working through how we operate as a company and how we deliver to our clients: are we beating expectations or is there room for improvement?”

What makes a great project manager?

“I’ve always been a great multi-tasker and a high achiever, and these are vital qualities for a successful project manager,” shared Margaret. “You have to be motivated by the project: your only goal is the successful completion of a project. Done and done right.”

“You need to be someone who enjoys the details. You also need to be great with people, understanding that you’re only as strong as your team. Building that relationship is essential to our success.”

“My education has been organic. I was a project coordinator for JC Scott Design Associates, and then I began my Project Management Program (PMP) with a prep course at UVic, which led to me earning my certification. What I learned in my program is relevant across multiple industries: the project might be different, but you end up solving similar issues, managing stakeholders the same way, and using a lot of the same language. It’s just the scope that’s different. I like rules. I like to follow a process, and I like things that are organized the right way.”

“The best parts of this job are usually the site trade meetings and camaraderie,” said Margaret. “We introduce the customer to the crew who will be working on their house. It’s a blast, and everyone is keyed up and ready to make the magic happen.”

“Most of my day is on the computer or phone, where the communication happens, but since we work anywhere from Sidney to Sooke – and beyond – I travel to the job sites and see what’s going on. That’s when I can fully appreciate the beauty and variety of neighbourhoods across Victoria. I’ve seen parts of the city that I likely wouldn’t have if I didn’t have this job.”

What Does ‘Done’ Look Like?

“I like to stimulate conversations with the team to get a good idea of what ‘done’ looks like to them,” said Margaret. “It’s a great question to lead with and helps me ensure that when we have completed a task, there aren’t any lingering to-dos. The job site is clean, there’s nothing on the punch list, and the project is fully complete. 

“One of the great things about working at MAC is the commitment to collaboration,” said Margaret. “You can raise your hand when you need support, especially in the field, where it’s hard to feel like it’s OK to ask for help and guidance. But everyone here is quick to offer suggestions and support because we’re all working towards the same goal: to make the project right for the homeowners and to be proud of our part in each project.”

If you can see yourself on the MAC Renovations team —in project management or on one of our other teams — check out our profile on Indeed.com to see our current opportunities.

Different by Design - home renovation

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a designer or project manager for one of Victoria’s leading renovation teams? We’ve connected with a few of the professionals at MAC Renovations to find out what a typical day is like for them – it’s a tad more complex than what you see in the one-episode renovations on HGTV.

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As a full-service remodelling team in Victoria, BC, we use the best tools, technology, and talent available to make each project perfect. Whether we’re designing a home renovation to add more space for your family, or we’re updating your home to help you enjoy it for as long as you want, it’s our people who make it possible to turn your dream into a reality.

Over the next few months, we’ll feature some of the professionals who take your home renovation project from concept to completion, starting with the pros on our construction team.

Meet the MAC team

What does a typical day look like for a carpenter at MAC Renovations?

Shawn Jacobson, Production Manager

 “With renovations, our construction crew can expect to see a wide variety of tasks and challenges throughout the week,” explained Shawn Jacobson, MAC Renovations production manager and Red Seal carpenter. “Renovations are a different platform than new-build; we regularly find houses that are out of level, spaces that were built to a different – or non-existent – code, including poorly executed DIY projects buried under layers of drywall and old flooring. Our crew has to be able to follow a plan, but they also need to think on their feet to come up with a long-term solution to seamlessly marry the old to the new.”

Adrian Winter, Red Seal carpenter and lead carpenter at MAC, shared, “with home renovations, we often encounter unique engineering challenges that require creative solutions. On a recent project to lift a house, we were separating the chimney from the foundation when a portion of the basement collapsed unevenly. To give it the support it needed, we built a form and poured concrete through the chimney from the second-floor fireplace. There was no other way to get the concrete in there, and this gave us the ability to place beams and columns underneath so we could continue with the lift. Not a typical carpentry technique, but a fun one to figure out.”

What kind of training does MAC offer its carpenters?

Blaise McDonald, Owner/Operations Manager

Blaise McDonald, Owner and President, said, “we have a fantastic employee education program and have made a serious commitment to investing in the development of our people. We offer a $1000 training allowance to every employee, per year, to help them develop their skills and further their career. We also pay the tuition for our apprentices, with the time they work applied towards their apprenticeship hours.”

What kind of career path can a carpenter or framer expect with MAC?

Shawn said, “many of our guys have come in green, and we’ve helped them learn to work in and around a job site. They learn the critical importance of clean up and safety, then start being trained to work with the tools in a supervised environment. As they build their experience and demonstrate initiative and competency, they’re assigned more responsibility.”

“If someone on our team comes to us with a training opportunity relevant to the business, we do our best to make that happen,” explained Blaise. “We’ve sent team members through leadership courses, time management seminars, and project management programs where they earn credentials and develop skills and knowledge that improve our ability to serve the homeowners of Victoria.”

How does MAC promote a safe working environment?

“On every jobsite, every person can tell you where the Red Book is – it’s a binder that has everything we need to know about that specific project,” said Shawn. “It covers the scope and the materials being used, as well as the safety aspects: where the shut offs are for water and gas, where the electrical panel is, how to control the alarm, and a hazardous assessment checklist. And on the back of the main door, there’s another document that provides contact numbers and the fastest route to the nearest hospital.”

How is MAC different than other renovation companies in Victoria?

“One of the things that makes us successful is that we have formalized policies and procedures,” said Shawn. “We’re not shooting from the hip – there’s an established way to do things, and this helps us be efficient with time and resources and consistently provide high-quality renovations. With everything written down, our teams know exactly what we expect from them and what they can expect from us. That’s just one thing that has made us Victoria’s leader in residential renovations.”

Whether we’re updating a bathroom or replacing kitchen cabinets, or completing an entire home remodel, when it comes to home renovation there are many aspects that need to be effectively aligned to ensure your project is completed on time, on budget, and to the level of quality you expect from Victoria’s most trusted renovation team. And we keep you connected throughout the process with smart solutions, such as Buildertrend.

Our team of professionals have the experience, education, and creativity to do it well and do it right, bringing you the home you’ve always wanted.

Give us a call to find out how we can help you.