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 traditional subcontractors including plumbers, electricians, masons, roofers, excavators, and the like, but many modern commercial building projects also involve stakeholders who oversee zoning, referendums, government regulations, smart technology, green building initiatives, OSHA compliance, and a host of other considerations.

Coordinating all those moving parts is a major challenge – and that’s where qualified construction managers prove their value. Exactly what do construction managers do, and why is choosing the right one so important? Let’s take a look.

What is a Construction Manager?

Some construction companies may refer to construction managers as project managers or superintendents. For large-scale projects, there’s typically a team of people that help ensure no details get missed.

Construction manager responsibilities include: 

  • Involvement in the early planning stages to provide input on constructability, phasing, and project costs
  • Overseeing contract administration to make sure all provisions are being met
  • Coordinating budgets and cost estimations, and managing expenses
  • Scheduling timelines to ensure deadlines are met
  • Determining the materials required to meet specifications
  • Ensuring compliance with government and industry codes and regulations
  • Hiring qualified subcontractors and ensuring that they follow specifications 
  • Working with architects and engineers on constructability, costs, phasing, etc.
  • Assisting with pre-referendum services
  • Build consensus with key stakeholders
  • Ensuring safety protocols are in place on the construction site
  • Responding to community concerns

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 judgement and capabilities. 

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 moving forward. 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 managed various construction projects doesn’t mean they’re qualified to oversee yours. Their qualifications should indicate a deep knowledge of your specialized industry (healthcare, education, government, finance, etc.) and its unique challenges as they relate to building processes, compliance, community buy-in, and more.

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 and keep you abreast of the progress on a consistent basis, and as on-demand when necessary. As the project owner, you need to be adequately informed without necessarily getting sucked into the minute details that can overwhelm you.

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 their 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 your mind can be put at ease, allowing you to focus on your daily operations. Without the right construction manager, you’ll likely experience undue stress and frustration, and put your entire project at risk of significant cost overruns and delays.

The First Step

If you’re considering hiring a construction manager to oversee your next commercial building project, we’re happy to discuss in more detail the construction management services offered through The Samuels Group. Bring your questions, ideas, and challenges to the table, and we’ll help you identify opportunities and determine whether our team is the right fit. Just reach out.

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