Project manager engagement for school property projects

Information about how to engage a professional or non-professional project manager for your school property projects.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Proprietors
  • Property managers
  • Project managers

All school property projects must have a project manager. This guidance provides details about how to procure, work with, and pay for a professional or non-professional manager. You will also find information about the Ministry’s project manager panels which provides schools with pre-screened, and qualified contractors available for hire.  


A project manager must be nominated for all school property projects. We recommend working with a professional property manager for projects of high value (even if they don’t need building consent), such as replacing all your carpet.

Does your project require building consent?

You must use a professional project manager. They will ensure all work complies with the Ministry requirements.

What if my project does not require consent?

You can use a non-professional project manager (eg board member or caretaker). You are still required to follow the Ministry’s project management requirements.

This guidance details your role when engaging a project manager, and includes helpful information about our panels which support you to hire qualified professionals.

Procuring a project manager

When you are engaging a new project manager, you need to follow the Ministry’s procurement processes. In this way, you follow a fair and open process that gains the best value and service for your school.

Procurement processes

  • Different procurement processes are required depending on the value of the contract, and whether it is an emergency project.
  • Once you and your chosen project manager have signed the contract, store it in the project file.

Project file

We recommend that you engage your project manager from a list of pre-selected project managers that meet our criteria below.

Engaging a professional project manager

You must engage a professional project manager if your project needs building consent.

Professional project manager qualification requirements


Has proven expertise in:

  • planning, and contract and property law
  • Ministry of Education design standards (see: Design standards)
  • working in multidisciplinary design and construction teams
  • cost–benefit analysis
  • feasibility studies
  • time, cost and quality planning, and quality control
  • procuring goods and services
  • contracting and construction methods
  • contract administration
  • risk management
  • dispute management.


An appropriate tertiary qualification:

  • an architect
  • an engineer
  • a quantity surveyor
  • a registered clerk of works.

Your project manager must have professional indemnity insurance. Even if they are engaged on a term contract, check that their insurance is current from time to time. 

Insurance procurement

Term contracts 

Project managers can be engaged on a specific project contract, or on a term contract.

The advantages of a term contract include:

  • making savings over a number of projects
  • not having to go through the procurement process for each project
  • the project manager overseeing both large construction projects and smaller refurbishment and maintenance projects
  • consistency in the way your school is being developed.

The term contract must include a clause that:

  • allows you to use the same project manager for new projects (if new projects were approved in the procurement plan)
  • allows you the option to use another project manager if you choose.

Fee negotiation

You can negotiate fees as either:

  • a percentage of the value of the 5 Year agreement (5YA) (Option 1) project, or
  • a range of predetermined rates, with an inflation clause.

5-year agreement (5YA)

Option 1 protects the fees from inflation, such as when a project starts in year 4 of the 5YA.

The predetermined rates might be better for an expensive project, for example, the project manager would get a high fee for a roof replacement on a percentage basis, even though it would involve less work.

If you set a range of predetermined rates, review them after a project is fully scoped and you know how much work is involved.

Using a non-professional project manager

A non-professional project manager may be:

  • the caretaker
  • the principal
  • an appropriate board member.

Before you determine who will manage the project, consider the following questions:

How complex is the project? 

Project work not requiring building consent can still be complex and very detailed. A project manager may need to engage and coordinate several contractors.

How big is the project? 

For example, painting a large school can take considerable time and coordination.

What is the level of risk? 

A non-professional manager cannot get professional indemnity insurance. You need to consider the potential risks of legal action and any subsequent costs.

Using a staff member

If a staff member, such as the caretaker, manages the project, the scope of work must be:

  • fully covered in their employment agreement
  • in line with their collective or individual agreement.

Using an existing project manager

If you are planning to use a project manager who has already contracted with your school, consider these questions:

  • Does the project manager already have a contract that allows your school to use them to provide project management services?
  • Is your school contractually bound to use them?
  • Does this project manager have the right skill set for the project? For example, have they previously managed a similar project in terms of the work and money involved? Would specialist skills, such as building knowledge, be an advantage for this project?
  • What other commitments do they have? Do they have the capacity to carry out the work?

If you decide to use an existing project manager for a new project:

  • confirm the initial contract terms
  • extend the original contract
  • complete a new procurement plan if required.

Contracts for school-led property projects and maintenance

Paying your project manager’s fees

Professional project manager

Their fees are part of your project costs, and must be included in the project budget.

Create savings by:

  • using the same project manager for several projects under a term contract
  • working in clusters with other schools with a term contract.

Paying a staff member

A staff member’s labour cost on your property project is a cost to the school’s operational funding as an employee. You can’t charge it to the project.

Parents or board members

If either has volunteered to become the project manager they cannot charge a fee. Any payment would trigger a contractual relationship and you would have to follow the Ministry’s procurement process before beginning any work.

As with any procurement process, we recommend keeping detailed records that demonstrate a fair procurement has occurred – this also provides proof in the event questions of conflict of interest arise later on.

Orientate a new project manager

When the project manager starts at your school, you need to introduce them to your school and the project.

Give the project manager details such as:

  • the project site, with an orientation tour
  • key staff and project staff
  • members of the project control group
  • health and safety requirements
  • details of any related contracts
  • details of any known issues or risks
  • reporting lines and functional relationships within the school
  • the project manager’s own work location or office space
  • school technology and systems (if relevant).

Appointing a project control group

Also make sure the project manager has access to:

  • the project brief
  • your 10 Year Property Plan (10YPP)
  • your school’s development plan, if it has one
  • information on any delegations for the project
  • the Ministry’s design requirements
  • your school’s property maintenance manual
  • your school’s hazard register
  • the Ministry’s website, particularly this section on project management. 

Developing a project brief for your project

Delegating project management functions for your project

Design standards

Managing the project manager’s performance

You may need to manage your project manager’s performance if you think they are not meeting their contractual obligations. Your school representative appointed for the project should raise the matter with you and the project control group, and address the problem before it affects the rest of the project.

Appointing a project control group

The project manager’s contract will have terms and conditions for non-performance.

Ministry project manager panels

The Ministry has created a range of Project Management Panels from which boards can select a project manager to deliver required services. Depending on the services required you have a number of options for which panel to use to engage a project manager.

The panels have been established through a robust procurement process, in line with Government rules and regulations. Selection criteria for the panels included experience and qualifications as well as references and understanding of health and safety requirements. A key aim of the panels is to improve the quality of services that schools receive.

Deciding which panel to use

There are different panels for minor services and major services. 

2 panels reflect the different requirements (skills, qualifications and experience) of suppliers to provide these services.


Value of individual construction/capital project

Up to $500K

$500K to $2 million

$2 million to $10 million

$10 million plus

To help you decide which panel to use follow this flow chart:

Panel Selection Flowchart
If you have trouble using the databases in the Project Management Panels, email

Getting quotes

Where the total service fee is less than $50,000, you must obtain at least one quote from a supplier on the list.

Where the total service fee is greater than $50,000 you must obtain at least 3 quotes from a supplier on the list.

But to get a good comparison we recommend you obtain a minimum of 3 quotes whenever engaging a project manager.

Minor services panel

Send your project management minor services request for Quote (RFQ) documentation to the suppliers you selected to quote. The documentation must contain:

Major services panel

Once you have decided which sub-panel to use identify the suppliers which you intend to request quotes from. Contact your local Ministry property advisor if you need help to choose which suppliers you should ask to quote. 

When using this panel you must obtain at least 3 quotes from a supplier on the list.

Send your project management major services request for quote (RFQ) documentation to the suppliers you selected to quote. The documentation must contain the Project Management Major Services Specification and supporting documents (included in the RFQ) and:

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback