To maintain a sound business model, it is important to keep acclimatizing oneself to the factors that define success, especially to clients and other stakeholders such as employees. Businesses that conduct renovation business must be familiar with client needs and expectations, to ensure that they counter competition. This study assessed the critical success factors in the renovation business in Hong Kong. Further, the study prioritized the critical success factors. To achieve this, the study conducted research that involved 64 participants drawn from different quarters in the renovation industry. The study revealed that the Hong Kong market is different from other markers. This factor was first identified in the literature review. The study revealed that the management’s experience and risk management were the most important success predictors in the renovation market. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used. This research has an important bearing on the renovation fraternity. It outlines the important aspects that must be given priority, to ensure that such businesses remain operational and competitive. Further, the study gives a glimpse of what clients expect from their contractors who should move in to fulfill such needs.  

Table of Contents

Abstract 1

Introduction 3

Literature review 5

Definitions 5

Factors 5

Project Management Success and Project Success 6

Project Success Criteria 6

Success Factors and Critical Success Factors 7

Recent Research Findings on Critical Success Factors 8

Summary of the Literature Review 9

Research Methodology 9

Participants 10

Materials 11

Data analysis 11

Reliability of data 11

Statistics 12

Presentation of Results 12

Conclusion 18

Recommendations 19

Research Limitations 19

Recommendations for Further Research 19

Importance of Critical Success Factors in Hong Kong Renovation Industry


The real estate business has many different types of business models. Being in the field calls for high levels of business acumen to ensure that such a company remains a going concern for as long as the market remains. As such, companies in real estate need to be versatile and dynamic with their business models. To sustain such versatility and dynamism, the need for sound economic decisions and the understanding of the reasoning behind such decision remain at an all-time high. Decisions, therefore, need to be conscious and supported by a considerable level of reasoning; most of which comes from scientific research. This paper will focus on renovations of a residential building – a business model in the real estate. 

Investors in real estate, especially those in residential buildings will opt to renovate buildings for different reasons. According to Ástmarsson, Jensen, and Maslesa, (2013), investors might be looking for the alignment of the landlord-tenant perspectives, especially in aspects such as energy consumption of the property (p. 356). Shipley, Utz, and Parsons (2006) explained that investors might be interested in sequential redevelopment, where buildings are upgraded to accommodate new and modern designs, which are appealing and impressive to the target clientele (p.505). Zavadskas, Kaklauskas, and Raslanas (2004) explained that the ultimate end when considering residential building renovations to an investor is the profit margins, which often accompany such a development (p. 179). Further, renovating buildings ensures that the building in question gets a new lease of life giving the investor more time to earn from the asset in the long run, especially if they are considering leasing or renting the asset. 

Hong Kong is a metropolitan city boasting of its diverse culture, which makes it pay special emphasis to contemporary architecture in terms of modernism, postmodernism, and building functionalism. The city is constrained in terms of space, as the available land is minimal. The city has the single largest concentration of skyscrapers more than any other cities as explained by So (2017, p. 1). The constant renewal of the city’s skyline using iconic structures and skyscrapers increases the appetite of the populace in the city towards high end and modern buildings. These developments coupled with the reasons described in the above paragraph are a testament that validates the need to renovate residential buildings.  

A renovation project is a complicated, non-routine, and a one-time effort that is often limited by constraints such as budgets, time, resources, without forgetting performance specifications that are aimed at meeting customer needs. To execute such a project, it is important to acknowledge that the completion of such an undertaking can only be realized through the perfect combination of numerous events and interactions that are either planned or otherwise. All these factors happen in a constantly changing environment and participants. As thus, the ability to deliver the pre-determined objectives is a critical objective. 

In the renovation process, certain factors are placed higher than others in relation to the success of a project. Such factors are the critical project success factors, a term that was first brought to the surface by a John F. Rockart, a scholar from the MIT Sloan School of Management (Babu & Sudhakar (2015, p. 3286). The definition of such factors is important, especially to the management of the project in that it helps in defining information needs, as well as, for planning purposes. Critical success factors are important to managers, especially when understood right from the start of a project. Besides, they provide directional assistance to both managers and project members in the execution of the project. As such, the project is most likely to be achieved within the constraints explained, especially with time, cost, and quality.

Understanding the critical success factors is a means to ensure successful completion of projects. Successful project completion is highly dependent on the management and control of different aspects. It is at this point that the critical success factors interject and provide important assistance in the decision-making support mechanisms. According to Rubin and Seelig (1967), the study and understanding of critical success factors is a vital method to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of project delivery (p. 134). Sanvido, Grobler, Parfitt, Guvenis, and Coyle (1992) explained that there is a direct correlation between the achievement of critical success factors and project success (p. 94).

This paper aims to study and eventually prioritize the critical success factors in renovation projects in Hong Kong. The study has been necessitated by a project, which has been commissioned by a private organization, who is the client and further involved are the project’s consultant and contractor. The project has been allotted a budget of HK $20 million and as such, it is important to determine the critical success factors to ensure that the project will be successful within the defined constraints. 

Literature Review


A renovation process is a process aimed at restoring or improving the structural, design, or functional characteristics of a structure as explained by Attalla, Hegazy, and Haas (2003, p27). Singh (2007) explains that such renovations can be in the form of modifications, conversion, or complete replacement. Al-Tmeemy, Abdul-Rahman, and Harun (2011) adds to the same and includes actions related to restoring, modifying, or improving a building (p. 339). Sanvido, Grobler, Parfitt, Guvenis, and Coyle (1992) defined critical success factors as those factors that predict the success of a project; it is those factors that when thoroughly and completely satisfied during the execution of a project, they will ensure that the expectations of the project stakeholders are met  (p. 94).


Different factors often come in handy to explain or predict the success of a project. Rubin and Seelig (1967) evaluated the relationship between a project manager’s background characteristics and some specified characteristics of a project such a manager is managing (p. 132). The study found out that organizations preferred their most experienced project managers to be in charge of high priority areas. However, the study found out that there was no relationship between project performance and a manager’s experience. 

Project Management Success and Project Success

The understanding of project success is important before understanding the critical success factors. As such, a distinction between project management success and project success is necessary. As explained by De Wit (1988), project management success is an aspect that is measured against traditional factors that define performance, which is cost, time, and quality (p. 165). On the same breadth, Munns and Bjeirmi (1996) understood and explained project management as the control of achievements of the objectives laid out during a specific project (p. 85). Project success is something entirely different. 

Project success as concluded by Cooke-Davies (2002) is an aspect that is complex beyond time, costs, and quality parameters (p. 189). It has more to do with perception. Project managers need to understand that the client’s perceptions have a lot to do with the final results. As such, it follows that project success is controlled by factors beyond a project manager. Due to the differential in project success factors, projects can fail or succeed independent of the management techniques and processes. 

Project Success Criteria 

De Wit (1988, p. 165) and Cookie-Davies (2002, p. 188) explain that project success criteria are the measure by which the success or failure of a project is judged. As mentioned earlier, the cost, time, and quality triangle, often known as the Iron-triangle have been widely used as the measures of project success criteria. Due to the evolution of management sensitivity to stakeholders, the concept of client emotions was brought into play as described by Pinto and Slevin (1988). Shenhar, Dvir, Levy, and Maltz (2001) opined that four major dimensions distinctly describe project success (p. 723). First, it is the project efficiency, second, the impact the project has on the customer, third, the direct organizational and business success, and fourth and last, future preparations. 

Success Factors and Critical Success Factors

Success factors, according to Han, Yusof, Ismail, and Aun (2011) are factors that influence and determine how successful a project will be (p. 90). It is the combination of inputs to the management system that directly or otherwise lead to the successful completion of the management as explained by De Wit (1988, p165). In essence, success factors are a management factor that is squarely under the control of the management. They can be either hard or soft factors. Soft factors are those factors, which are subjective and intangible and also are hard to measure, as explained by Chan, Scott, and Chan (2004, p154); for instance, management experience. Hard factors are those that are measurable, tangible, and objective. 

Critical Success Factors, as explained by Rockart (1982), are the relatively small but important matters in the construction industry that demand attention for success to be achieved. Sanvido, Grobler, Parfitt, Guvenis, and Coyle (1992) explained that critical success factors are those factors that predict the success of a project. It is those factors that when thoroughly and completely satisfied during the execution of a project, they will ensure that the expectations of the project stakeholders are met (p. 94). Critical success factors are the factors that are very important for managers to improve their organization. They are used to indicate progress in different areas. Considering that critical success factors are inherent to specific projects in specific locations, it is not appropriate to generalize them and apply them blindly across different industries, an observation made by Yong and Mustaffa (2013, p960).

Recent Research Findings on Critical Success Factors 

In a study conducted by De Silva, Rajakaruna, and Bandara (2008), it was established that there are more than 46 challenges faced by Sri-Lankan construction firms. The study further identified 13 major motivators that can be used to improve the performance of the construction industry (p. 158). On this same breadth, Gunasekera (2009) on his part identified 30 critical factors unique to the Sri Lankan construction industry but with a focus on controllable factors from the perspectives of the client, project manager, and the consultant. However, he did not dig deep enough to consider HR factors, which are relatively important. 

Garbharran, Govender, and Msani (2012) assessed the critical success factors in the South African construction industry and identified 17 such factors. In general, the findings point to the direction where project managers and contractors were of a strong opinion that critical success factors are important in the achievement of a project’s success. Biological factors in the process were found to be inconsequential in the achievement of such success. 

In the Norwegian market, Alias, Zawawi, Yusof, and Aris (2014), through literature review, identified five variables that are associated with project performance, especially in the execution phase of a project. To further support the findings, Zidane, Johansen, Andersen, and Hoseini (2015) identified nine factors that lead to delays in the Norwegian construction industry. Such factors include management and coordination, administration, decision-making, waiting, and quality aspects. 

Shifting the gears to Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, Yong and Mustaffa (2013) identified 15 factors under seven subheadings. The study concluded and recommended that human-associated factors should be given priority and further improved for projects to be executed successfully. Such human factors included commitment, communication, competence, and cooperation. Mitra and Wee Kwan Tan (2012) found that a project was delayed for nine reasons, which included the use of inferior tools and methods, as well as, inexperienced staff. Hong (2011) found that aspects such as scope, team, and change variables have a strong effect on project success and can predict a project’s success.

Critical Success Factors Adopted for this Study

After reviewing literature critically, six critical success factors of project management were adopted for this study. They are; 

  1. Quality control as cited by Love (2002, p20). Which has been defined as procedures or a set of procedures that are established and enforced to meet a set of quality criteria set by the client. 
  2. Time management as evaluated by Smith and Reinertsen (1998). It is the set of tools, skills, and techniques that come to play in the management of time when handling a specific project. 
  3. Budget and cost control as emphasized by Winch (2010, p279). It is the process of planning, estimating, financing, managing, and controlling the expenditure during project execution to ensure that the project is executed within or below the approved budget/cost.  
  4. Activity scheduling (Kim & Park, 2006 p386). Which is a mechanism that is important in communicating the tasks to be done, within what timeframe and with what resources. 
  5. Risk management advocated for by Cooke-Davies (2002, p187). It is the identification, analysis, and response accorded any potential risk during the lifecycle of the project to ensure that the project remains on track with reference to its objectives.
  6. Management experience (Munns, & Bjeirmi, 1996, p84). Management experience is the accumulated time spent by management of a project in technical aspects of a project, for instance, planning, directing, problem solving, negotiating and managing projects among others. 
  7. Communication effectiveness as emphasized by Hendrickson, Hendrickson, and Au (1989, p58). Communication effectiveness is how easy information and expression of ideas, feelings, and thoughts through the use of words and other methods happens during project execution. 
  8. Clarity of project objectives as emphasized by Pastorok et al. (1997, p91).  It is the ease at which a project’s outcomes and deliverables of the project are understood by important stakeholders.  
  9. Size and value of the project as asseted by Love, Tse, and Edwards (2005, p192). Size and value of a project indicate the scope of a project in terms of work to be done and the project’s dollar value. 
  10. Monitoring and feedback as enumerated by Costin, Pradhananga, and Teizer (2012, p7). It is the keeping of track of a projects performance and task duration and accompanying expenditures with the aim of taking corrective actions using information generated from the project. 

Summary of the Literature Review

In each of the mentioned countries, it has been identified that there are different critical success factors, which have different effects on different stages of a project. Depending on the researcher, a number of factors were identified for each evaluated country and it is clear that no country was similar to the other. As such, it is paramount that stakeholders in each country determine their own unique critical success factors and further prioritize them in order of how important they are to the specified country. This discovery necessitates the evaluation of Hong Kong as a different country with possible significant differences between the country and others, which have featured in this review. 

Research Methodology

The study started by reviewing critical success factors for different kinds of renovation projects. Through the analysis, the researcher managed to identify some aspects that need further analysis from the Hong Kong perspective. The review of literature above disclosed some critical success factors in construction management. However, no information in the study related directly to the Hong Kong market. This study is, therefore, aimed to fill the gap thus identified. 

This study operated within the precincts of the descriptive research design. As elaborated by Lambert and Lambert (2012), descriptive research design allows for the study of predetermined phenomena without influencing or manipulating them in any way. The study was established to do an evaluation of the perception of industry practitioners. In this case, participants’ perceptions and operational facts in the construction industry were gathered, without making any manipulations or interference with their courses to ensure that the actual scenario in the field was captured as it was. In the end, the factors that squarely contributed to the success of the renovation projects were the ultimate aim. 

The following research questions were to be answered at the end of the study;

  1. What critical success factors contribute to the successful completion of renovation projects?
  2. In what order of importance do the critical success factors follow each other?


To select the participants of this study the stratified simple random sampling technique was applied. Homogeneous subsets from different renovation sites were organized before sampling. The homogeneous subsets in construction sites comprised of different stakeholders in the project including the client, project managers, construction crew, and consultants. In the literature review, it was identified that critical success factors touch on the client perceptions and feelings and as such, it was paramount that the client is factored in. All the renovation sites considered allowed for the study to be conducted and requested for the sharing of the study results.

All the sites and the individuals selected to participate in the study were informed prior to their participation that they will be offered no incentives to participate. The participants were informed and they agreed that their participation was purely voluntary. Further, they were informed that no reprisals whatsoever would arise if they chose to decline the invitation or drop out of the study midway. In addition, the site managers and the individual farmers were informed that the reasons for the study were purely academic and their responses would remain anonymous in the entire study stages through the publishing of the study findings. In the end, 64 participants from nine renovation sites accepted to participate in the 10-minute survey. As such, the sample size of the study was 64. 


A questionnaire was developed and administered to the research participants (Appendix 1). The structured questionnaire was used to elicit data and information from the study participants. The questionnaire contained simple questions that had to be filled by the participants in a span of 5-10 minutes. The questionnaire had close-ended questions. In addition, the questionnaire was self-administered due to time and resource constraints.  

The principle of developing a questionnaire is to elicit specific information related directly to the research aim and objectives. The adoption of close-ended questions was meant to make it easy for the research participants to find it easy and fast to answer. 

Data analysis 

Reliability of data 

To ensure that the data was reliable for statistical analysis, it was tested first using the Cronbach’s Alpha test before commencing any other analysis. According to Dörnyei and Taguchi (2009), Cronbach’s Alpha test measures the internal consistency of the data. The minimum acceptance level of the Cronbach’s Alpha test is a value equal to or more than 0.7 for each of the provided variables. 

Table 1: Range of Values of Cronbach’s alpha

Cronbach’s alphaInternal consistency
0.9 ≤ αExcellent
0.8 ≤ α < 0.9Good
0.7 ≤ α < 0.8Acceptable
0.6 ≤ α < 0.7Questionable
0.5 ≤ α < 0.6Poor
α < 0.5Unacceptable

The analysis of the Cronbach’s alpha indicated that the data was consistent and fit for analysis as indicated by the table below.

Table 2: Cronbach’s Case Summary

Case Processing Summary
a. Listwise deletion based on all variables in the procedure.
Reliability Statistics
Cronbach’s AlphaN of Items

From the results above, none of the variables was deleted. Only 6 figures in the whole statistic had a Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.5, which indicates a poor internal consistency. As such, the items were allowed to proceed as they were of negligible influence. 


Two kinds of statistics were used in the study – descriptive and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics are used to provide an overview of the results, which are presented in simple tables and graphics. Descriptive statistics were used for the analysis of the first, second, third, and fourth questions. Inferential statistics are used for the purposes of comparison, testing, and forecasting or predictions. These statistics were used for the purposes of analyzing the fifth question. Excel and IBM SPSS statistical packages were used in the analysis.  

Presentation of Results 

To analyze demographic profiles, the study used descriptive statistics. The respondents were supposed to select their most fitting answer as presented in the questionnaire. Issues to do with the length of experience, educational background, and exposure to formal project management were used in the analysis. 

  1. The study sought to understand whether the participants were solely in renovations projects alone. It was revealed that 70% of the participants worked solely in renovation projects only as indicated in the chart below. The implication of this statistic to the study was to provide confidence to the researcher that the participants were in positions to provide information that could be relied upon. 

Figure 1: A review of participants’ loyalty to renovation projects 

  1. The researcher further intended to know whether the participants had been exposed to project management. The study found that 86% of the participants had been exposed to project management as indicated in the figure below. This implied that the researcher was dealing with people who were operating in a broader realm of the perspective of the renovation industry. As such, they were able to connect issues and give substantial information that would be relied upon. 

Figure 2: Participants exposure to formal project management

  1. When the experience of the participants was evaluated, it was revealed that majority of the participants, 33%, were having between 5 and 10 years of experience. This group was followed closely by those who were in the trade for less than 5 years as they were 30%. Those with between 10 and 15 years were 23% while the least group was that of people with more than 15 years of experience in the trade who represented 14% of the participants. 

Figure 4: Experience of the participants

  1. When the educational background of the participants was evaluated, it was found that majority of the participants had a background in building science with 20%. Civil engineers who held the 17% representation followed closely by, while quantity surveyors were 14%. The owners of the projects (clients) and consultants held 8% and 5% representation respectively as indicated by Figure 4 below. 

Figure 4: Educational Backgrounds of the Participants

  1. The main aim of the study was to evaluate the perception of the industry stakeholders into the critical success factors that contribute to the success of a renovation project. To handle the first research question, descriptive statistics were applied. To rank the factors, frequencies of the responses were used. Factors with the highest score were ranked higher while those with lesser frequencies were ranked lower. Table 2 below shows the SPSS output of the factors.

Table 3: Descriptive Statistics 

Descriptive Statistics
NMaximumMeanStd. DeviationVariance
Valid N (listwise)64

Table 3: Descriptive Statistics 

From the above table, it is clear that the Hong Kong market attaches more value to Management experience, Communication, risk, budget and planning control, clarity of objectives, activity scheduling, size and value of the project, quality control, time management and Monitoring in that order.

  1. When inferential statistics were applied, a correlational analysis of the variables was conducted as indicated by the SPSS output, Table 4 below
Proximity Matrix
Correlation between Vectors of Values
This is a similarity matrix

The table shows how the variables (critical success factors) relate to each other. From this analysis, it is clear that the quality control and clarity of objectives were found to be highly related according to the respondents. On the same breadth, risk management and quality control were found to be highly unrelated. Using the inferential statistics above, it is easy for the management for a renovation project to determine how to pair the critical factors should the need arise. 

Discussion of the Results

The results demonstrated above indicate that the respondents were of adequate knowledge of the renovation projects environment based on their exposure to management and periods of time they have been working on these projects. As such, based on aspects such as experience, exposure, and professional background, it is appropriate to infer that the participants were of reasonable knowledge and understanding of the operations and likely results in renovation project performance.

Operators in Hong Kong have been found to have an emphasis on management experience. This is not entirely surprising since people in Asia have a dimension for seniority. People who are more experienced in their trade attract more admiration and respect in their work. As such, it is perceived that experience is a predictor of success in renovation projects. With experience, one is perceived to be in a position of influencing people and coordinating group work. Risk management came in second. It was perceived to be an important predictor of success as risk management eliminates the propensity of work to slow down or fall behind schedule. 

A correlation analysis identified that management experience and budget management are two highly related factors. It indicates that quality control and the budget are highly tied to each other as activity scheduling and risk management. From this, it is easy to see that poor budget management or low budgetary allocation has a significant implication on the quality of the end product. This is a rational way of viewing the relationship. Quality control and risk management had the least correlation. This means that participants did not perceive quality control in any dimension of risk management. 

Comparing other studies to what has been shown in this study, it is clear that there are significant differences with what other markets perceive to be critical success factors. Foong (2017) indicated that in renovation projects, quality is a dimension that should rank high, since clients are more interested in the quality of finishes. When the quality of output is poor, Foong indicated that clients are on a high note likely to reject the work. On the contrary, this study has placed quality control as the second last variable. This indicates that there are critical differences in the two markets and the perceptions that are held by the stakeholders in the markets. 


This study was conducted on the precincts of two main objectives. The first objective aimed at identifying the critical success factors, which predict the success of renovation projects in Hong Kong. The objective was achieved after the assessment of the industry stakeholders using a questionnaire. To give confidence to the researcher that the participants were fit to provide reliable and valid information, the researcher incorporated important questions that proved the demographic characteristics of the participants was what was required.

The second objective of the study was to identify how important the critical success factors were in the order of priority. To achieve this, a Likert scale was used to gauge how important each of the mentioned variables was related to each other. To achieve this objective, data from the participants were coded and analyzed using SPSS. Using frequency analysis, it was revealed that management experience was held high as the most critical factor. This result was tied to the culture of the people in Hong Kong where seniority in the society is important. Further, it was identified that risk management came in second, which was an indication that the Hong Kong renovation experts were risk averse. Quality control and time management did not feature as very important, a dimension that is heavily disputed by Foong (2017). Foong ties quality management to the acceptability of a project in the perspective of a client. Renovation, which is basically a facelift to an asset, is a dimension that needs to be well articulated, especially in renovation projects. This was not shown to be the case in Hong Kong.

The study produced an in-depth analysis of critical success factors relevant to the Hong Kong renovation industry. The study provides important insights to industry players concerning what to focus on to ensure the success of their projects. The aspect of experience in project management, an aspect tied to people’s skills, is synonymous to studies conducted by Belassi and Tukel (1996) and Scott-Young and Samson (2004). These two studies found out that project management experience was a critical component to project performance or success. 


 Project managers need to have a clear understanding of those components that define the success of projects in the eyes of their stakeholders. To ensure that renovation companies deliver value and consequently stay in business, it is paramount to pay attention to the factors that define success. Failure to identify and pay necessary attention to success factors is tantamount to strangling the business. Competition is rife in the renovation industry and thus, it is important to pay attention to research findings to ensure that a company stays relevant in the industry. Research in this sense offers a business the opportunity to adapt to changes, as well as, operate with a concise sense of direction.  

Research Limitations

The study was conducted within a short timeframe implying that time was a constraint. The researcher is also a student and a practitioner and as such, lesser time was left for the study, which had to simultaneously run together with other aspects. This constraint does not rule out the validity of the results. Further, the sample size was not big enough. More participants would have been roped in to ensure that the margin of error was reduced. More of people such as owners and consultants in such projects would be wanted to ensure that the actual picture on the ground is found. 

Recommendations for Further Research

In future, approaches that are more diverse are needed. For instance, focus groups and a wider audience is needed. 


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Zavadskas, E.K., Kaklauskas, A., & Raslanas, S. 2004. Evaluation of investments into housing renovation. International Journal of Strategic Property Management, 8(3), 177-190.

Zidane, Y.J., Johansen, A., Andersen, B., & Hoseini, E. 2015. Time-thieves and bottlenecks in the Norwegian construction projects. Procedia Economics and Finance, 21, 486-493.

Appendix 1


  1. Do you work in renovation projects only?



  1. Do you have any formal experience in project management?



  1. For how long have you been in renovation projects? 

Less than 5 years                        

Between 5 and 10 years

Between 10 and 15 years                        

Over 15 years 

  1. What is your expertise?

Project management                         

Civil Engineering 

Quantity Survey                        

Mechanical/ Electrical Engineering 

Interior design                  


Building Science     



  1. On a scale of 1-5 (1 being least and 5 highest), indicate how much each of the following critical success factors is important to a project success from your own perspective.  
Quality Control
Time management 
Budget and cost control
Activity Scheduling/Planning Control
Risk management 
Management Experience
Communication Effectiveness
Clarity of Project Objectives 
Size and Value of Project 
Monitoring and Feedback

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