What Is A Construction Manager?

We’ve all heard of the term ‘construction manager’, but it often has a vague, catch-all meaning in the minds of the unenlightened. Does it refer to the head carpenter on a building site? Is it the owner of the contracting firm or the building company? Or perhaps it could be the company’s building supervisor in charge of the job?

 What is a Construction Manager?

 While many people with a lot of experience in the building industry will take on the role of a project’s construction manager, it is a professional role that involves training and qualifications. A construction manager may be an individual, or a construction management firm, and is often called a project manager. They will employ best practices for their client’s project, and they will liaise with all relevant stakeholders including the owner, the architect, the local authorities, the surveyor, the engineers, consultants, and the building contractor, from start to finish.

 What are the responsibilities of Construction Managers?

 The in-depth knowledge that a qualified construction manager needs to master is broad and demanding. Along with specialist training, the construction manager usually has many years of hands-on experience in the building industry, often in a supervisory or management role. They need to have a thorough knowledge of planning and design, drawings and documentation, engineering, materials, and specifications. And that’s before a construction project even gets to the site.

Once approvals and permits have been put in place, all engineering and the relevant reports have been finalized, the estimator has finished the costings and raised the purchase orders, the construction manager can start coordinating the arrival of materials and timetabling the workflow. Now, the various contractors and trades can arrive in turn at the site once building gets underway.

The construction manager has to understand and coordinate the smooth progress of the entire construction process to ensure there are no delays due to hiccups with supplies or booking the various trades. They are in charge not only of the build but also of onsite safety, the application of best practices, risk management, and the quality of the work. In construction, building to a deadline is critical.

construction manager looking at blueprints

Home Building and Home Remodeling never goes exactly as expected

A successful construction managers challenge is to minimize downtime due to revisions, botch-ups, or delays and enhance productivity from the beginning of the build to completion, preferably in time and under budget. The construction managers represent the owner's interests and oversees the entire project, on their behalf. While it is a well-paid role, using a professional construction manager saves the client money through increased productivity, prompt and effective problem mitigation, and accurate budget forecasts brought in on time.

Monitoring Possible Challenges

As well as planning and scheduling, construction management involves monitoring and risk mitigation. Carefully designed pre-planning is a major factor in successful risk mitigation. There is a long list of what can go wrong from pre-construction, through the build to close out. Some major areas include:

·       A schedule that is too tight

·       Architects failing to meet deadlines

·       Too many designs variations by the client

·       Delays in the approval procedures

·       Shortages or long delays for materials supplies

·       Delivery hold-ups

·       Unavailability of any of the trades

·       Lack of coordination between the stakeholders

·       Inaccurate cost estimates

·       Site safety breaches

·       Site theft

·       Natural events like weather causing site shutdowns

·       Funding hiccups

These days, professional construction managers rely more on than ever on construction management information systems and sophisticated planning and project management program packages, like critical path, to streamline the job. Gone are the days of plans on paper, with alterations scribbled around the margins, budgets calculated longhand on bits of paper, and handwritten purchase orders. Technology has finally infiltrated the industry and serves to boost productivity and efficiencies.

Skills and Qualifications

A professional construction manager needs the following toolkit of skills and personal qualities:

  • Communication
  • Budgeting
  • Planning
  • Scheduling
  • Delegation
  • Leadership
  • Team management
  • Organization
  • Prioritizing
  • Supervision
  • Site safety
  • Risk management


You would have to agree they need a wide range of skills, qualifications, and experience to pull off a successful project every time. Of course, many projects still suffer overruns, but not necessarily due to poor planning.  There are factors outside the control of the construction manager that can impact the efficiency and deliverability of the project.

When you weigh it all up, successful construction management is a complete professional service that provides the client with total effective management, with control of the scope, scheduling, costs, risks, safety, quality, and ultimate delivery.