Commercial construction can be a large-scale project with many moving parts and problems that need solving.
It can be challenging for project owners to keep up with every aspect of the project while staying on time and within budget.
Company owners hire managers to plan, organize, and direct employees. Similarly, project owners can enlist the help of a commercial construction manager to aid in their builds.
Table of Contents
1. What Is Commercial Construction Management?
2. How Are Commercial Construction Managers Different Than Contractors?
3. Responsibilities Of A Commercial Construction Manager
4. 5 Stages Of Construction Management
5. Benefits Of Using A Commercial Construction Manager
6. How To Add Commercial Construction Management To Your Project
What Is Commercial Construction Management?
Commercial construction management is the planning, coordination, and execution of a commercial construction project from start to finish.
A professional individual or team is responsible for making the project more efficient and successful using sound business principles and construction know-how.
This individual represents the project owner’s interests, ensuring that the project follows their specifications.
How Are Commercial Construction Managers Different Than Contractors?
Construction managers (CMs) are different from contractors in several distinct ways.
The first way is when they are hired. A CM is generally employed at the very beginning of the project. They will take part in the project’s planning and be responsible for hiring the contractor and subcontractors.
A construction manager has much more input in the project as a whole. A CM represents the project owner’s interests but can also serve as an advisor to the project owner.
Very closely related to input is each individual’s degree of control. While a contractor can manage his employees, a CM heads the entire team.
This means that the CM has a different relationship with the owner and hired labor than that of the contractor.
The payment model for a CM is often very different than that of the general contractor. With this comes more risk and liability for the CM.
Responsibilities Of A Commercial Construction Manager
Construction management services carry a broad range of responsibilities throughout the entire project.
Creating A Plan
A CM is involved in the pre-construction stages. They take part in planning out the building project. This includes the procurement of real estate, designing models, and following building codes.
Project planning is a complex process with many variables.
Luckily, professionals in the construction industry have software called building information modeling (BIM). This creates a 3D model of the commercial building.
The BIM allows all project team members involved to have the same vision. This is especially crucial during the construction phase of a design-build project.
Construction managers often streamline their processes through the use of other software tools. These tools help a CM with resource management, scheduling, and financials.
Read about the top 10 construction management tools here.
One of a CM’s primary responsibilities is ensuring the project schedule stays on target throughout its life cycle. From milestone to milestone, the CM will track each task to completion.
When project delivery is in danger of being pushed back, the CM is responsible for finding a solution to the problem causing delays.
In the planning process, a CM helps stakeholders to determine cost estimates based on their initial building design.
A CM can also determine the profitability of using certain materials over others. They will be responsible for keeping the project on budget and preventing cost overruns.
For a high-quality finished project, the CM must make periodic observations, reviews, and inspections during each construction phase.
Quality control includes:
- Testing materials
- Ensuring project participants meet the required qualifications
- Monitoring the quality of completed milestones
The construction manager handles the entire bidding process, from sending out the bid invitations to selecting the winning bidder.
This process is an integral part of the CM’s work. If the CM chooses a reliable contractor, the scheduling, cost management, and quality control will be much easier.
Once they have selected their contractor, a CM is responsible for administering a contract to the contractor. This includes choosing the contract format, scope, cost, and delivery method.
A CM must have impeccable communication skills to ensure that all team members are up-to-date on new developments.
- They must maintain communication between the project owner and architects/engineers in the design process.
- During the building phase, they also maintain effective communication between engineers and contractors.
- Lastly, they ensure that the project owner knows of and approves each milestone from pre-construction to closeout.
Safety administration is one of the most critical aspects of managing a job site.
This is yet another responsibility handled by the construction manager.
A CM will identify possible sources of safety risks, deal with and enforce OSHA regulations, and document incidents.
While considering which contractor to hire, a CM should pre-qualify them according to their Experience Modification Rate (EMR).
This expresses a contractor’s incident frequency, measuring how high they enforce safety adherence from their workers.
Contractual And Legal Compliance
Construction managers also ensure that both parties follow agreed contracts and meet any legal compliances.
This includes following state and local building codes and employment laws. It also involves adherence to environmental regulations and acting with a fiduciary responsibility to the project owner.
For a complete list of construction manager responsibilities, read the CMMAs guide.
5 Stages Of Construction Management
All types of construction, from small-scale to large-scale — and even remodels — have five stages to completion. A construction manager needs to complete distinct tasks during each phase.
In this stage, the construction manager sits down with the stakeholders to determine whether this building project will fill the company’s needs.
If everyone agrees, the CM writes the project initiation documents and proceeds to the next stage.
This stage also entails a lot of document creation. One of the biggest is the Project Management Plan (PMP). This is a document that all team members will follow for a coordinated effort.
The PMP will outline the project’s scope, cost, and schedule.
The planning process includes:
- Risk management
- Communication plans
- Clearly defining deliverables and objectives
- Breaking down the work structure
The CM oversees all processes done during the planning phase.
After expectations are clearly laid out, it is time to implement them.
The execution of the PMP includes designing, constructing, and following through on all goals.
The implementation of each task must be carefully completed according to the PMP. A CM will delegate and track all resources and tasks to ensure no step is left out.
4. Monitoring And Control
As the execution of the PMP is being carried out, the CM must monitor and control each chunk of the work to check for quality, safety, and schedule. This includes routinely measuring and assessing progress and performance.
At times, a CM must adjust the PMP to better manage budget, time, or risk.
When the project is complete, the CM aids in the closeout. A meeting is typically held with all top team members to discuss any lingering concerns or unfinished tasks.
If everyone agrees that all objectives have been met, the CM writes the final project report and budget and presents it to the project owner.
Benefits Of Using A Commercial Construction Manager
A commercial construction manager shoulders a lot of responsibility on a project. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that a project owner gains many benefits from hiring one.
Here are a few of the biggest benefits that a CM can bring to your next commercial project:
A CM cares for most of the responsibilities usually imposed on the project owner.
So, consider the amount of stress relieved when the project owner can sit back and relax while the CM takes care of business.
Even though the owner has little daily dealings with the project tasks, the owner still retains primary control.
Since the CM acts as an extension of the project owner, the owner can voice their concerns, and the CM will carry out their orders.
CMs are professionals at finding ways to cut costs through materials used, hired labor, and reducing mistakes.
A project owner could potentially let one of these cost-cutting efforts slip through the cracks.
Construction managers have their eyes on all aspects of the construction process. They can easily identify and avoid any delays in the schedule.
Construction managers also have more flexibility in their timing, putting in long hours to meet the project goals.
CMs ensure that all construction processes are done to the highest standard, that no corners are cut, and that the best materials are used.
A construction manager combines knowledge with project management skills — helping them run a very tight ship.
A project that a CM has carefully monitored will have a higher quality than one without.
How To Add Commercial Construction Management To Your Project
First, you’ll need to decide whether to hire a solo professional, a construction management firm, or delegate the role in-house.
Types Of CM Roles
You must also decide what role your CM will fill. There are three main types of CM roles to choose from.
When the CM takes on the pure construction manager role, they:
- Take the place of a general contractor
- Oversee the project’s construction
- Hire subcontractors
- Order materials as needed
The difference is that they are completing these tasks for itemized fees, not one fixed bid.
CM as Agent (CMaA)
As a CMaA, the construction manager plays a larger advisory role for the project owner.
Instead of making the decisions based on what the owner says he or she wants, a CMaA helps the owner make the decisions.
The project owner still deals directly with the contractor with this type of CM role.
CM At Risk (CMAR)
This is the most popular commercial construction management role due to the amount of work the CM takes on and the amount of risk that stays with the CM.
The CM gives the owner a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the project. If the project cost goes over that price, the CM is responsible for paying that cost.
In this role, the CM:
- Advises the owner during the design phase
- Oversees the hiring of contractors
- Procures materials and resources
- Closely monitors all tasks
Steps To Hiring A Commercial Construction Manager
- Request qualifications.
- Screen these submissions.
- Ask those who qualify to submit proposals.
- Evaluate proposals.
- Interview top proposals.
- Choose a winner.
- Write up a CM contract.
What To Look For In A Construction Manager
It can be difficult to hand over so much responsibility to one person. It only makes sense that you want to ensure that this individual has the qualifications needed to get the job done.
A construction manager should hold a Bachelor’s in Construction Management, Engineering, or Architecture in order to have the knowledge to oversee the project.
When interviewing construction managers, look at their experience.
They should have decent experience managing medium or large-scale commercial construction. If they have never handled a project of that size, they may get overwhelmed.
The years of experience they have is also important. If they are extremely new to the field, you may not want to take a chance with them.
Also, the scope of work they are proficient in is essential. Are they experienced using construction technology, BIM, and other planning software?
A true professional construction manager will hold certifications in their field.
The leading association that awards professionals with this type of certification is the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).
There are other certifications that CMs can pursue to improve their expertise. Indeed has a great article listing some of these.
A construction manager can bring many benefits to your project. If one professional can improve the quality of the project while cutting the overall cost, they are well worth the investment.
A reputable CM can take a lot of the load off of project owners while still allowing them to have full control.