What is a Construction Manager?
Arrowsmith believes that a construction manager is a person with a knowledge base that is either technical, practical or a combination of both. In any case, this person is an experienced construction professional.
Because construction is as much an art as it is a science, and against popular opinion, this skill set is not something that can be taught in school but is, in fact, learned from hands-on experience from either on the tools or in a site office, starting with the basics of building and then moving into coordinating and lastly managing.
Responsibilities of A Construction Manager
Site Based Construction Project Manager
If from the tools, this person would work to the position of foreman and then superintendent. The skills developed here are a practical knowledge of construction safety, delegation and leadership of your team. Then, as a superintendent, that same person will quickly become a subject-matter expert in material procurement, logistics, and workforce scheduling.
Office Based Construction Project Manager
If from the site office, this person would work as a project coordinator or document control coordinator whereby they would learn the importance of documentation, records keeping and communication flow. These people drive to learn more about procurement, design interface, quality coordination and management, construction safety, and workforce scheduling. At approximately five to 8 years of experience, a choice is made to focus on the home office project manager’s duties versus that of a site-based construction manager.
There is nothing wrong with that decision. The home office project manager will generally focus on design, estimating, procurement and overall project planning and client interface.
By contrast, the construction manager will generally focus on procurement, logistics, with a detailed understanding of the contract and the project specifications. This person also has overall responsibility for project scope site safety. This responsibility is not the same as the legal responsibilities of a prime contractor.
An overarching theme in the construction manager’s duties is that of risk management
During the feasibility stages, the design stages and even the preconstruction stages, the construction manager works to reduce misunderstandings when engaged as part of the pre-execution planning team. This preconstruction scope involves value engineering (which isn’t an engineering function at all). All constructibility topics, means and methods and execution strategies are front and center in all project execution discussions.
Risk isn’t always a threat to the project. It can also be an opportunity. These sorts of items are where the art of construction comes into play. How can something be moved forward? Do we build or buy something for the project? Do we purposely ignore something to exploit another situation or condition?
Now, contractually speaking, the above applies to all types of commercial contracts. Now specifically, an owner can elect to engage a construction management team (one or more people) to address the previously outlined risk and now scope management, cost management, change management, schedule management, and quality management. This engagement is performed as a third party. The construction manager controls all things related to the construction project, removing the reliance of the typical general contractors’ cost markup on labor, equipment and materials. Under specific commercial engagements, a general contractor can perform as a construction manager but make no mistake; this does not remove the use of their labor force or internal equipment rentals. It also does little to act as impartial to the project and the owner.
When functioning as this third party, Arrowsmith will always provide unbiased, experienced commentary that will always have the best interests of the project in mind. These efforts promote a project team and eliminate the adversary relationships that appear on projects where the threats and opportunities have been interpreted differently by either side of the commercial engagement.
Under these third-party engagements, a good construction manager will prove to the client that the fee may appear high. The critical difference is that there are lower fees from the design professionals and no markup from the general contractor on their labor, equipment and material supply.
Therefore, choosing Arrowsmith Project Management as your construction management team will save your next project aggravation. This decision will also execute the scope as safe and practical as possible, delivering a quality project to the end-user with no unplanned environmental impact and saving both the overall budget and schedules.