What is a Construction Manager? 6 Must-have Qualifications

A commercial building project involves many more players than a typical residential project, and managing all those moving parts requires having a team of construction experts who can anticipate challenges and ensure everything runs smoothly from start to finish.

When a business, municipality, school, healthcare facility, or other organization decides to build or renovate, they will often enter into a contract with a construction manager (also known as a CM). What is a construction manager? In short…

A construction manager is a partner that oversees the project planning, pre-construction, and daily operations of a construction site as well as securing, managing, and communicating with vendors, subcontractors, owners, regulatory agencies, and any others involved throughout the course of a building project.

So, what should you expect?

Pre-construction Services

Construction managers are often involved in the planning phases before actual construction begins to help determine the project’s needs, timelines, and budget. Having a CM who’s there from the beginning helps everyone involved understand the full scope of a building project by working with facility planners, architects, and other stakeholders.

In addition to conducting site evaluations and feasibility studies, some projects may require pre-referendum services to get community buy-in. When the CM is involved from the beginning, their experience and industry knowledge are applied in a way that helps ensure the likelihood that there will be a realistic timeline and budget to share with key stakeholders and the community.

Estimating and Cost Control Measures

Tied closely to procurement and project management is estimating the costs of those materials, labor, and services. A major responsibility of a CM is to ensure accurate estimates. Typically, a CM will leverage technology combined with their knowledge of the industry to assist in creating accurate real-time estimates.

As the project progresses, your CM will run reports to keep things on track and address any potential issues that could place the project timeline or budget at risk.

Vendor & Subcontractor Procurement and Management

The large number of construction subcontractors and vendors involved in a commercial building project is impressive. Your construction manager will be responsible for vetting, hiring, and managing them all. Examples may include:

  • Heavy equipment rental, licensing, and operation
  • Green industry and alternative energy experts
  • Commercial plumbers, electricians, roofers, finishers, and other tradesmen
  • Historic preservation or restoration specialists, where appropriate
  • Specialty products for industries such as healthcare and education
  • Interior finishes, designers, and installers
  • Building material suppliers and delivery
  • Smart technology providers
  • And much more

Logistics Planning and Execution

The day-to-day operations of a construction project need proper oversight and quality control, and coordinating all the vendors and subcontractors takes a team that works together like a well-oiled machine. Scheduling deliveries of materials, goods, and services when they’re needed is crucial. One missed detail, like not pulling a permit or having a delivery scheduled for the wrong day, can bring work to a standstill and add cost to your project.

Your CM will serve as a supervisor to ensure everyone and everything is in place and working together. In the event construction delays do occur because of weather or other unforeseen issues, schedules will be adjusted to keep things running efficiently.

Regulatory Oversight

Commercial projects in particular are often under greater scrutiny when it comes to regulatory compliance, and an experienced CM will know how to navigate the complexities associated with various rules and regulations. Some considerations may include zoning laws, permits, ordinances, environmental restrictions, contaminant remediation, and other factors impacting the job site.

Regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also require strong adherence to ensure the health and wellbeing of workers and owners. Many public sector projects have their own set of compliance concerns, such as schools, courthouses, and jails; some industries, such as healthcare, require sanitation, dust control, and other measures to help ensure patient health and safety.


There is one critical aspect of a project that won’t cost the owner or CM more money – yet without it could be a project’s downfall: communication. Project owners and construction managers should be able to rely on each other’s clear, honest, and transparent communication throughout the project. Project owners should not feel like they need to keep checking in with their construction manager for updates or to see how things are going. Set clear expectations for both sides up front.

A record of strong communication is one way a construction manager builds a solid reputation. This reputation also extends to subcontractors, vendors, and others in the trades that they work with every day. Building mutual respect helps build a solid, cohesive team to get the job done right.

Looking for more info? Check out 10 Questions to Ask a Commercial General Contractor and when you’re ready to get started on planning your building project, contact the experienced team at The Samuels Group. Our commercial construction company specializes in high-profile projects from healthcare, educational, and government facilities, to specialized buildings like museums, planetariums, sports complexes, and others. We’ll work closely with you to make your project a standout success.

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