What Does a Construction Manager Do? Here’s Why It Matters

The number of industries and tradesmen represented in a typical commercial construction project can make your head spin. Of course, there are architects, general contractors, and construction workers. Plus, you’ll find plumbers, electricians, masons, roofers, excavators, and the like. 

Many modern commercial building projects also involve stakeholders who oversee zoning, referendums, regulations, risk management, smart technology, green building initiatives, OSHA compliance, and a host of other considerations.

Coordinating all those moving parts is a major challenge. That’s where a qualified construction manager proves their value. 

Exactly what does a construction manager do and why is choosing the right one so important? 

What is a Construction Manager?

A construction manager is an individual or group of team members who oversee a construction project from beginning to end. Some in the commercial real estate or construction industry refer to construction managers as construction project managers or superintendents. 

No matter the title, a good construction manager must have excellent organizational skills in addition to outstanding communication skills to ensure a project’s success. 

Construction Manager Responsibilities 

  • Involvement in the early planning stages to provide input on phasing and project costs
  • Work closely with architects and designers to provide input on constructability and potential cost savings
  • Oversee contract administration to make sure all provisions are being met
  • Coordinate project budgets and cost estimations, and manage expenses
  • Schedule timelines to meet deadlines
  • Determine the materials required to meet specifications
  • Understand and ensure compliance with government and industry codes and regulations
  • Coordinate required building permits and approvals
  • Hire qualified subcontractors and ensure that they follow specifications 
  • Assist with public outreach and/or pre-referendum services and respond to community concerns
  • Demonstrate leadership skills to build consensus with key stakeholders
  • Ensure OSHA-compliant safety protocols are in place on the construction site
  • Help minimize scope creep and cost overruns

In short, a construction manager serves as the project owner’s eyes and ears and ensures that everything goes according to plan and that no details are missed.

GET THE GUIDE: 10 Questions to Ask a Commercial Builder

Qualities to Look For In a Construction Manager

A construction manager is involved early in the pre-construction planning phases of a project all the way to its final completion. Throughout this time, it’s critical that the lines of communication freely flow between all involved parties. Ultimately, what should you look for?

A construction manager needs to have just the right blend of detail-oriented professional skills paired with approachable and diplomatic relational skills.

When you have a construction manager, they’ll serve as your advocate and become an extension of your staff. As such, you need to know that you can trust their judgment and capabilities. 

RELATED: Should I Hire a General Contractor or Construction Manager?

Questions to Ask a Construction Manager

Choosing a construction manager is a major decision, and you want to make sure that you’ll have a good working relationship from the start. Many of the same questions you might ask a potential employee in a job interview may also be asked of a potential construction management hire. In addition to the considerations already noted, ask potential candidates about the following:

How do you manage risk? Their answer will indicate how confident they are in their ability to complete your project on schedule and on budget. 

How will my project benefit from your involvement? They should be able to clearly articulate how their efforts will save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. 

What is your work experience? Just because someone has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, construction management, architecture, or other related discipline doesn’t mean they’re qualified to oversee your project. Their experience should indicate a deep knowledge of your specialized industry and its unique challenges as they relate to building processes, compliance, community buy-in, and more. Look at their portfolio of work and ask for references.

What actions would be taken if a project falls behind? If a candidate has been in the field for any length of time, they’ll have had to deal with this situation. Their answer should indicate how thorough their processes are to get things back on track, and how well they handle difficult conversations with stakeholders.

What level of communication can I expect? We all hate surprises, and a potential hire should value transparency throughout the process. They should keep you abreast of the progress on a consistent basis so you never feel in the dark. At the same time, the project owner should be adequately informed without necessarily getting sucked into the minute details that can be overwhelming.

What level of responsibility will I have as the project owner? While it’s important to outline the construction manager’s role and responsibilities, it’s equally important to outline your role in working with them. This will help you indicate how hands-on you will need to be.

In the end, it’s a construction manager’s job to handle the majority of details associated with your project and to help you and your team make the best decisions. They’ll focus on every aspect of the building project from start to finish so you can focus on your daily operations. 

The First Step

Choosing a qualified construction manager is just one thing on the list of items you’ll need to cover, albeit one of the first. Perhaps you’re not even sure whether now is the time to build. If so, check out our Commercial Building Construction Checklist below to weigh the many factors involved.

Know that when you’re ready, you can avoid undue stress, frustration, delays, and cost overruns with the right construction manager.If you’re considering hiring a construction manager to oversee your next commercial building project, we’re happy to discuss the services offered through The Samuels Group. Bring your questions, ideas, and challenges to the table. We’ll help you identify opportunities and determine whether our team is the right fit, so contact us today.


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